On any given Friday night at the Lincoln Road swank spot Gemma, with its touch of Euro-class and cosmopolitan attributes, you'd never think the DJ propelling the room happens to have a background in metal. And not just any metal, but the particular brand of nu metal made meaty by a band named Endo. You'd be even more surprised to learn that while the man and the band were signed to Columbia, they toured with the likes of Ozzy, Korn, and Megadeth, and shared Ozzfest billing with Marilyn Manson, Disturbed, and Chevelle.
But none of it would bother you in the least. Why? Because these days Joe Dert isn't drumming; he's DJing. And what he spins is about as far removed as you can get from what he drummed.
Dert (born Joe Eshkenazi) began flipping platters of funk back when a joint named Moe's Cantina existed. Theoretically, the place was a Mexican restaurant, but in reality it was the kind of inside/outside hang where one could ride a hangover without suffering any judgment. Dert spun alongside Sugar — one of South Beach's all-time greats — and his brother Lino, both of whom at the time headed up an outfit called the South City Funk Mob.
DJ Joe Dert
DJ Joe Dert: Thursdays at Aerobar. Fridays at Gemma. Saturday nights/Sunday mornings at Nikki Beach. Wednesdays at Glass.
When Endo called and needed Joe's stick skills, he dropped the vinyl and hit the road (wouldn't you?), which enabled him to see a slice of life few would want to imagine, even if they had the imagination. And when that fizzled, Joe came back to a Beach pretty much as he had left it, with one exception: Now there were three times the number of venues needing someone who knew how to spin.
And Joe Dert was happy to oblige. Automatic Slim's was first, and he was among the first with the mashups of rock and hip-hop. Then came Rokbar, where the mash had some Hollywood sass, and the Seminole Hard Rock's Pangaea, where his customized blend of hip-hop and house proved he was no mere mash potato. By the time Joe got to the now-defunct Suite and Snatch, it was all he could do to stay out of the stairwell — that's how much each adjoining venue wanted him in their respective booths.
These days he's spinning for the swells at Gemma, as well as at Nikki Beach, Aerobar, and Glass. Is he throwing any metal into the mix? Well, you'll have to hit one of his gigs to find out. But this is guaranteed: Whatever Joe Dert is spinning will be syncopated to blow your mind.
DJ Joe Dert's current top five:
1. "I Just Want to Love You (Danny Daze Mash)," Led Zeppelin
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2. "Twilight Zone (Dert Remix)," Day-n-Nite
3. "Blind," Hercules & Love Affair
4. "Atomic Dog," George Clinton
5. "Serenade (Dert Mash)," Steve Miller