Feeling cooped up and want to get your groove on? Feeling disconnected and want to get as close to a club experience as you can — shared with others — from the safety of your own home? Got restless teenagers to entertain on a Friday night? Sterling Bishop, aka DJ Smooth B, has got you covered with his livestream club night, Club Quarantine, every Friday and Saturday night at 8:30 pm on his Facebook page.
Bishop, who works as the director of Community Outreach for the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, is considered “essential” and is still going to work, but when he’s not at work, like most other Islanders, he is at home with his wife, India, their 17-year-old son Kai and 11-year-old daughter Kamryn, and Bishop’s 18-year-old daughter Andersyn.
“The way I handle stress is through my passion for music,” Bishop says. “I was raised in a home where there was always music playing, or someone singing, and it became a part of who I am.” He picked up his first record and started trying to DJ at age 14 and has never looked back, and thinks that passion for music might be hereditary. “My daughter Kamryn has been dancing since the age of 3, on the stages of RISE and Island Hip Hop,” he says. “Having an in-house DJ had something to do with that.”
DJ Smooth B has been DJing on Martha’s Vineyard for over a decade; prior to that, he was a high school mix-tape go-to guy, college radio DJ, and campus party DJ. As the current coach for the MVRHS girls varsity basketball team, he often makes pregame warmup music for the team, something he did for his own high school teams.
“[I’ve] performed in almost every venue for entertainment on the Island, as well as every wedding venue imaginable,” Bishop says. “I even have the honor of playing for the Obamas each year.”
The idea for Club Quarantine came out of boredom, he says. “We were confined to the house, and a couple other people were doing it at first . . . they had different names for it. They were just trying to be creative.”
He says he’s seen other DJs, including celebrity DJs, doing live-stream performances during this period of social distancing or lockdown, but that he isn’t aware of any other DJs doing it on the Island. “I spend a lot of my time doing music and just practicing, so I figured why not?”
For Club Quarantine, in addition to the music, Bishop incorporates music videos — including official produced videos and copies of live performances — to create what he calls a “Digital Dance Party.”
“It’s a little bit more engaging — you’re not just hearing your favorite song, you’re seeing the artist actually performing that song,” he says. “I think with something like this, where it’s broadcast, when it’s digital, you have that option of ‘Hey, I might want to sit and watch a couple videos, or I may want to just turn it up and dance.’”
Club Quarantine is live streamed on the DJ Smooth B Facebook page using Facebook Live, and starts at 8:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and will continue for as long as live gatherings are discouraged or forbidden. “As long as we’re quarantined, we’re gonna be doing some club nights,” he says. With the Facebook Live platform, Bishop is able to interact with listeners as they comment in real time during his sets.
“I play to the crowd, which is probably one of my strengths,” he says. “I can go from a club DJ, to a high school prom DJ, to a wedding DJ — the versatility, it covers everything, every genre of music.” He put invites out to his own high school class, locally, and to college students and had a great response. “I think the last stream hit maybe 1,000 [viewers].”
“People have been calling me, texting me, sending me messages — thinking about times they’ve had in the past, how certain songs bring back certain memories, so it’s been cool, it’s been fun.”
So far, he’s been trying to focus on a theme for each night. The first night he did an Afro beat/reggae theme, and the next night a 90s hip hop and R&B theme. “I think the 90s hip hop and R&B one was the most popular,” he says, “because the majority of the people listening were that generation of people, who are 30, or 40, 50 years old, who remember that music, who really enjoyed that music at the time.”
Some themes that Bishop is planning for future club nights are a Latin night and maybe a disco night, and possible separate events for kids.
“[India and I] were discussing earlier maybe doing something for kids, like an afterschool dance party, so it’s not late at night, it’s 3, 4 o’clock in the afternoon, kids want to kind of settle in for the evening before dinner, and [I’d] have my dancing child co-host the party, have fun with it, you know?
“Before we had this quarantine in place, I’d just done a middle school party of 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the Teen Center at the YMCA, and they had over 50 kids that attended, and it was awesome,” Bishop says. “I don’t have a problem doing their music, what they want to listen to — [but] I’m not gonna pretend that I can dance the dances that they do!”
He’s also open to the possibility of doing online collaborations or co-host shows with musicians or other DJs. He also may be adding Instagram to the platforms he streams on.
In an email, Sterling quoted reggae great Bob Marley: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
“These times can be both painful and stressful,” Bishop says, “and if my ability to share my passion of music with others can help them escape mentally, even for a little while, I’ve done my part.”
Find DJ Smooth B live by following his Facebook page @djsmoothbmv as the guest DJ of #ClubQuarantine on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 pm, and keep your eyes open for other future events.