Strictly vinyl DJ, champion selector, and owner of the best record store in Washington, DC, used and otherwise, Som Records.
A Florida native, Neal Becton was raised in Atlanta, GA and is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia.
Neal started DJing in 1990 while maintaining careers in hotel management and journalism. He gave his life over completely to vinyl when he opened his own record store in 2003. His personal collection is formidable, to say the least; he currently owns more than 14,000 records. With those kinds of deep crates, no style of music is beyond his grasp.
Got his start at Washington DC’s famous State of the Union club in the early 90’s. Hosted “Around the World in 80 Beats” on XM Satellite Radio for over two years. Has DJed in Madrid, Auckland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York at that great house party you went to in Mount Pleasant back in ’95. Venues played include the 9:30 Club, Nation, Metro Cafe, Black Cat Club, State of the Union, Science Club, The Bayou, Zanzibar, Bossa, Taste of DC and many more.
[Neville C. also played a killer set of classic soul cuts at my own wedding and got the dancefloor jumping. What more proof do you need?]
Read Neville C’s blog posts
How often do you get on the mic?
Depends on the client. As needed. I’m not chatty in general (I let my music do the talking) but can MC no problem.
How long have you been DJing?
About 20 years.
How long have you been DJing weddings?
Maybe 10 years.
What are some of your all time favorite wedding songs?
The ones that make everyone smile. “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel is always fun.
What kind of music do you DJ when you’re not at a wedding?
Anything funky! I have a particular weakness for Brazilian, Latin, African and Jamaican music.
What is your philosophy on weddings?
Watch the bride. As long as she’s happy you’re doing OK.
[image courtesy Moshe Zusman Photography]
What size wedding do you prefer to DJ?
Doesn’t matter. Over 100 people is usually better for the dancefloor though.
What makes you different from your competition?
Experience and a deep musical knowledge that comes from 30 years of buying records. I also play all vinyl (except for a few CD’s). No computers.
What do you do to motivate the crowd if no one is dancing?
Buy them a drink and/or play some Michael Jackson.
What training have you received?
I’ve DJed over seventy weddings and have hundreds (maybe over 1,000) club gigs under my belt so I’ve had pretty good on the job training.
What problems have you encountered at a wedding and how have you solved it?
Over the years I’ve learned how to troubleshoot gear. At one wedding I stepped on a cable while I was setting up and broke the connection to the amp so that it was rendered useless. I had to put together three or four adapters and extra cables to get everything to work but I got it going and the wedding party never knew what happened. This is one of the reasons I like to set up early!
[image courtesy Moshe Zusman Photography]
Who are your preferred DJ gear Manufacturers?
Tehcnics, Rane and Shure.
What are your favorite record labels?
Too many really but for starters Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Philips, Blue Note, Studio One, Apple and Fania.
what are some of your preferred clothing labels?
What are your favorite DC nightspots?
Basically the places I play-Marvin, Cafe Saint-Ex, Dodge City and the Eighteenth Street Lounge. For live bands The Black Cat, The 9:30 Club and the Velvet Lounge.
What is the best DJ moment of your career (so far)?
DJing at the famous monthly soul night in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Lots of very well known Brazilian DJ’s were in the crowd and before my set I got introduced by the emcee. Played a great set!
What is your favorite live show(s) (strictly as a member of the audience)?
Can’t pick one, so here’s five. The Replacements, The Pretenders, The JB Horns at Blues Alley, Talking Heads and Kraftwerk.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Nepenthe (Big Sur, CA), Wilber’s Barbecue (Goldsboro, NC), Safe Harbor Seafood Market and Restaurant (Atlantic Beach, FL), Toki Underground (DC) and Chick fil-A.
“I can’t hear myself thing in here!” Favorite spot for a quiet cocktail?
My backyard on a nice summer evening.
What are your five desert island discs?
Gal Costa S/T (1969)
The Beatles Revolver
The Clash London Calling
Miles Davis Kind Of Blue
Curtis Mayfield Live
What’s your dream DJ gig?
New Years in Rio.