The moment after David Jones heard the first record he bought in the early ‘70s, he must have known music would become his life. Now older and wiser, David has gone from owning records to running Vinyl Records, a great place to buy some of the most soulful grooves on vinyl in Vancouver.
But if radio is your thing, you might know that DJ David “Love” Jones has long been airing all this soul and funk, along with the rarest of grooves, on CiTR’s African Rhythms since 1994. And just like the first hit record he bought, The Sound Of Philadelphia by MFSB — the most famous theme song of the 35 year-old American TV show Soul Train — it seems David “Love” Jones is on a smooth soul train himself, one that will keep on spinning.
– Chirag Mahajan
Discorder: Where did your name get its “Love” from?
David “Love” Jones: I used to work at Manhattan Books, a bookstore on Robson, where I met this gentleman named Dennis Mills who was the lead singer of theJazzmanian Devils, a local jazz and funk band. I made them a rare groove funk tape, and so Dennis asked me to DJ for them in between their sets. That became one of my first professional gigs. Dennis said we needed to have a name for me and so, out of the blue, he said “Love Jones!” At first I was weirded out; I didn’t want to call myself “Love” because people would think I’m a Casanova [laughs]. But Dennis was all about the entertainment and knew that being called David Jones was not enough. So I went along with it and, over time, it just became a part of my persona.
D: You have a long history with vinyl: you worked at your first record store at the age of 17; you joined Odyssey Imports in ‘82 and started DJing underground events; you started African Rhythms in ‘94 and took over Vinyl Records in ‘99. After all these years, what does the sound of vinyl mean to you?
DLJ: I think I’ve always been sensitive to the sound and quality of vinyl records and that has always been meaningful to me. Early on, I learned how different types of records can enhance the sound differently, and I began to appreciate the unique soundscapes of one country’s pressing over another. For example, British pressings from the ‘60s had fantastic dynamic range from certain labels. So, in my life, as a purveyor and a DJ and a radio host, the quality of the vinyl means the world to me.
D: How did you start African Rhythms?
DLJ: When I was working at Odyssey Imports, as far back as 1984, I met Mike Johal, who was a CiTR host on Friday nights. He invited me to CiTR to do a spotlight on his show. I thought that was great since I wanted to do my own show, too. After I did two or three of those spotlights, Mike encouraged me to go further. I also knew Don Chow who was also on CiTR’s Friday nights at that time. Around 1993, Don told me about a spot on CiTR that was opening up and he encouraged me to go for it. I definitely remember my first show: a friend of mine, Bill Reiter — a famous radio voice who started the show Groovin’ Blue [on CKLG-FM] in the late 1960’s, playing R&B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, and Blues — was actually on my first show, along with Don and Nardwuar. From day one, Nardwuar was really supportive of what I did. It definitely helped to have such people as mentors, because they cared enough to facilitate my creative energies here.
D: What has been your most memorable on-air moment?
DLJ: There are two instances that have been highlights of my radio life. One of them was a three hour Black History Month special with guests Riley Inge — a local soul singer who was formerly with the Temptations — and Andre Benjamin, both of whom sang and read poetry on air. It was a magical moment. I would also have to mention Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers. Bobby was a famous local soul singer. He once invited me to his gig to interview him. At one point, in the dressing room, I got him singing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” something even he hasn’t recorded. I worked hard to put together that interview for my show, by adding his music and overlays. I gave Bobby a copy of that and he said I did a great job. It felt good to hear that from him.
D: If you could only bring one album to a deserted island, which one would it be?
DLJ: That would be The Show Must Go On by Sam Dees.
D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?
DLJ: I definitely look to Nardwuar [on Nardwuar the Human Serviette Presents] for inspiration. I enjoy his humour, his angles, his preparation, and his post-production work.
D: What does the future hold for African Rhythms?
DLJ: When you’ve been doing a show for 18 years, there are moments when you start to lose your momentum, or moments when you find it hard to have the same inspiration. It can be intimidating, but I always find ways to get around such things, especially by keeping connections with the local and international community. They make it worth putting all the hard work into making shows that will be heard for years to come.
African Rhythms airs Friday nights on CiTR 101.9 FM, from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Listen to his podcasts here.
Visit his website, africanrhythmsradio.com
Interview by Chirag Mahajan