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Phat-N-Jazzy’s DJ BMF puts a different spin on the ’80s night

From skating to R&B classics at Semoran Skateway to New York radio discoveries to DJ'ing 20 years of parties, BMF’s search for ’80s soul didn’t stop when the decade did

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9 p.m. | Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. | 407-748-8256 | willspub.org | $7 | 18 and up

In an era where most were through being cool and donning sunglasses at night (and the like), pop, dance and new wave ruled the radio. So for a kid in the ’80s attending Lake Highland Prep who was prematurely obsessed with innovative hip-hop like Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest, high school could be a difficult time to relate to your peers. And while Orlando’s DJ BMF (Greg Lentz), who most know best as a founding member of the long-running Phat-N-Jazzy crew, appreciates all the soulful elements of the massively popular, wide-spanning ’80s discography, his definition of an ’80s night is not your typical one-hit wonderland.

“In the ’80s, I was more about hip-hop,” BMF says. “I was all about Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys. And it was not until I went up to New York in probably ’89 that I really encountered ’80s disco and soul music, and what is considered New York dance classics. It wasn’t really hip in mainstream Orlando in the ’80s. There wasn’t any outlet for that type of music.”

His earliest exposure to these sounds came when skating laps around Semoran Skateway, but that was as far as his appreciation went until he relocated. By 1989, the indomitable pop forces of Janet Jackson, Prince and Michael Jackson overshadowed a treasure trove of active soul artists. Even in New York, where BMF credits legendary stations like WBLS-FM and Kiss-FM for turning him on to favorites like Colonel Abrams, George Clinton and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, it took a sincere search to feed the DJ’s fast-developing intrigue.

DJ BMF Michael Jackson Video Mix by djbmf1

“I think a lot of us, in terms of DJs who were into hip-hop, later went back to find out where the samples came from and then, naturally, got more into where the samples came from,” BMF says. “With that [more obscure] stuff, it takes a lot of searching or maybe hearing another DJ play it to encounter it.

My biggest influence at that time was New York radio. I found that, and I was like, ‘Wow, this music exists?’ And I just fell in love with it, and I’ve been working it into my sets ever since.”

BMF builds his DJ sets – sometimes themed, like the upcoming ’80s Soul Nite, which also features Gerry Williams performing live covers with his band Square Biz (a nod to Teena Marie) – from his extensive collection of 45s, which currently revolves around 6,000 records and at its most sprawling stood 10,000 strong. His favorite local spots to seek new material are Rock & Roll Heaven and area flea markets, but he admits Orlando’s selection has long been tapped out for his specific needs as a full-time DJ, active since 1993.

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