By Sue Moore
“Wedding celebrations rely on me to keep the party going, so that the reception is fun and timely for the guests and worry-free for the bride and groom,” says Joe DeBiak, a long-time DJ in the Vicksburg area.
He’s been in the business for almost 30 years, getting his start playing music on his boombox during the ride home from sports events, baseball in particular, for his teammates. “It was locker room music then as I was trying to please others with the excitement of music. In college I started buying records after borrowing my roommates’ turntables to play them on. Everything has changed today as there have been so many different format changes over the years. Now, the music is all on computer and downloaded to play on demand. Brides often find unique versions of songs on YouTube, so being able to download exact versions of their event songs is part of my preparation,” DeBiak explains.
He plays about 20 weddings a year in the area. “It’s hard to stop doing this, even after lugging my equipment everywhere and being sore on Sunday because of it,” DeBiak quips. The biggest changes he sees are in the addition of sound for the ceremonies. He can mic up the officiant and provide a separate mic for the prayers, the soloist, the vows and the readings. “I bring a second smaller sound unit for the ceremony and use my main system wherever the dance floor is going to be.” His company is called Joe DeBiak Entertainment.
“Anybody can have a million-song library. But, knowing what to play and when is the key. What not to play is important too,” he says. “I interview the prospective couple on the phone and explain the packages I have. I’ll generally go anywhere for the same package price.”
He specializes in making professional announcements and the coordination of events that take place during a wedding reception. He also has to make sure his equipment is out of the way of the dancers so they don’t come stumbling into it. Sometimes, a glass gets broken on the dance floor and he has to stop the music until it gets cleaned up. He doesn’t want any barefoot dancers to get hurt, he explains.
DeBiak is from New Buffalo, Mich. and was recruited to play baseball at Western Michigan University. When he was a junior in college, his arm was injured so he had to start thinking of how else to make a living if it wasn’t going to be baseball. He had studied communications, broadcasting, English and journalism in hopes of becoming a news broadcaster. His first paid DJ event was in 1987 for a WMU fraternity back when his sound equipment was big and bulky. He ended up in advertising, working for area newspapers, then continued his newspapering career in Indiana for six years. He returned to Vicksburg in 2014 and now works as a real estate agent for Jaqua Realtors.
“I’m still having a blast doing all of this.” DeBiak exclaims.