Medley Fool

DJ Jester mixes and mashes up Willie Nelson, Ice-T, the Carpenters and LL Cool J

What do Devo, Young MC, George Strait, Ice-T, B.B. King and the Carpenters have in common? Absolutely nothing, you say? Okay, how about songs such as JJ Fad's "Supersonic," Asia's "The Final Countdown," Men at Work's "Who Can It Be Now?," the themes from Dallas and The Greatest American Hero, and Suzanne Vega's "Luca"? Nada again? Ordinarily you'd be right, but these are not ordinary times -- DJ Jester the Filipino Fist is coming to town, and you're likely to hear all of the above and more mixed, mashed and macerated in one of his sets.

Jester is one of the featured attractions at Reprogram Radio's Krunk Rock show Saturday, February 28, at Walter's on Washington. The Killers for Hire DJs -- Reprogram's Ceeplus and Samplistik -- will also spin, as will San Jose, California, DJ Babel Fishh. Filthy McNasty and the Rhinestone Life are also on the bill. (Under his "Brian McManus" pen name, Mr. McNasty is a Press contributor.)

Krunk co-organizer Ceeplus says he wants to weld punk spunk and crunk junk with this show. Don't go expecting a Lil' Jon love fest, though -- the show is crunk mainly in spirit, though the various DJs will be spinning a little of that pulverizing hip-hop subgenre.

Crunk music is about the only thing DJ Jester doesn't have in his mix. Nothing about this temporarily Austin-based beat-matching maven and mash-up magician is ordinary. First, there's the fact that he's an Asian-American originally from the distinctly unsophisticated and insular Brazoria County town of West Columbia. After moving first to San Antonio and then to Austin, he's gone on to tour Europe and Japan with Canadian scratchmaster Kid Koala.

He's also the self-described "king of odd jobs." Over the years, he's been an ad sales rep at The Current, San Antonio's alt-weekly paper; the arts editor at his school newspaper; and a freelance writer for deceased local mag Urban Beat. Right now, he's on lunch break from his current one as a recruiter for the air force. I thought you had to be, oh, I don't know, a member of the air force to do that.

"Yeah, that's what I thought too," laughs Jester, who was born Greg Michael Pendon. "Whatever, quick money. Last year I was a Trojan condoms rep. I managed the booths at all the concerts and stuff. It was pretty fun."

An earlier job was even more fun and much, much odder. Jester was a vehicular veggie burger evangelist, the driver/chef for the Bocamobile. He says he drove that soyburger-shaped van all over the country. "That's how most of this DJ stuff happened," he says. "That's how I met Kid Koala. His band Bullfrog was playing a show in Boston, and I was there with Boca Burger for the Boston Marathon, and I was like, 'Cool! Kid Koala's playing. I've always wanted to see him.' So I went, and I had my River Walk Riot CD with me, and I was like, 'Hey, man. Have you ever tried a Boca Burger? Do you want to hear my CD?' That was in 2001, and we kept in touch, and he asked me to go on tour with him. Pretty crazy how things work like that."

The Bocamobile angle reminds me of an anecdote. Just over a decade ago, I was sitting in a Nashville bar early one evening chatting with the late Walter Hyatt. Outside, over Hyatt's shoulder, a strange apparition rolled into view: a 12-foot-tall hot dog on wheels. Weird as that was, it soon got weirder still. All three members of ZZ Top emerged from the giant wheeled wiener.

Turns out Jester's got the 411 on that food car, too. "The same people that ran the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile also ran the Bocamobile," he says. "That's how I got that job -- initially I applied for the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile job when I finished school -- you know, I got an American studies degree, so I didn't know what I wanted to do with that, or if there was anything I could do with that. So I was like, 'Oh, cool' when I saw the job posted at the career services office at school -- the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile! But then they called back and said, 'We've got this other thing -- the Boca Burgermobile,' and I was like, 'Yeah! I'll do that.' "

As with the air force recruiting gig, don't read too much into his soyburger affiliation. "There this misconception -- everybody thinks I'm a vegetarian," he says. "Come on! I'm from Texas. I grew up in West Columbia. That's as Texas as you can get, really."

And so is his music. After all, not many non-Texan DJs mix in the Red Headed Stranger and "Amarillo By Morning." "It's got a Texas kind of flare to it," he says. "A lot of people think the mash-up thing is kind of a novelty, but to me it just comes naturally. It's not like I'm trying to be different -- it's just where I come from. I think it's natural to play OutKast after a Willie Nelson record."

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