The Rocks Off 200: DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist
Photo by Nick DiFonzo
Who? DJ Piam is one of those Houston treasures that is hard to translate to outsiders. A bike mechanic by day, Piam slips into DJ mode when the sun goes down and lays down a mighty smorgasbord of late-'60s/early-'70s old-school funk that would tie even a music critic's head in a knot.
He started collecting obscure funk about nine years ago after "listening to a lot of jazz and blues, a little reggae, a few other styles," he says. After just a couple of years, Piam's collection grew to the point where one of his DJ friends suggested maybe he should start sharing it. So he bought some equipment and taught himself the basics by making thematic mix discs for friends.
His first gig was at the then newly opened Pearl Bar on Washington Avenue. That lasted until "they remodeled the bar and the crowd turned yuppie and wanted radio music." But via the Pearl Bar gig he met DJ Relentless, who invited him to do guest gigs at the Davenport on Tuesday nights. The pair also opened for Solange Knowles' DJ set at the Flat.
These days his main gig is the first Monday of every month at Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge on Westheimer, where he lays down a steroidal slab of bacon-fat funk ranging from Houston's own Crusaders to Chocolate Snow.
Home Base: "After going quite a while with no regular gig after the Pearl Bar thing, I got a regular first-Monday-of-the-month residency at Poison Girl which began late in 2010," Piam says.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I'm from here, so it's easy for me to stay," he says. "I've got family, friends, and I'm fortunate enough to have a good job where I've been for 15 years, and a nice place to live."
Good War Story: After Hurricane Ike, Piam's street didn't have power for three weeks or so. It was hot and really boring at night with no electricity, so he was staying with some good friends over in Montrose and wasn't around much.
Some scumbag noticed I wasn't around and broke into my house, stole all my DJ gear and quite a bit of music. Luckily, most of the CDs were copies, but I still had trouble tracking down replacements for some of the harder-to-find CDs.
A generous group of friends all pitched in and gave me some money to replace my stolen gear, which I'll never forget.
Story continues on the next page.
Piam working his tables at the old Pearl Bar
Photo by Kenny Haner
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "Establishments not living up to what they promise, or not wanting to give a DJ something fair for a night's work," he says. "The folks that own Poison Girl are good people who do what they say, they're generous and treat the DJs that come through with respect. That's probably why I've been there for so long. We've had an easy relationship the whole time."
Five Desert Island Discs: "A lot of folks may not recognize some of these, but I've got some obscure discs I'll never let go of," he says.
- Scientist, Scientific Dub
- King Tubby, King Tubby's In Fine Style
- Donny Hathaway,Live
- Thelonious Monk, Monk's Dream
- Various Artists, Funkaphonix 1
Best Show You Ever Saw: "Most DJ gigs are pretty much like another," reckons Piam. "But for live music, I have to go with the Kashmere Stage Band at Fitz in 2012."
"The last mix CD I did was Rockers Galore, an 80-minute reggae mix," Piam says of his next project. "It's been a few years, so I'm overdue on putting out a new one. I've got a few ideas for the next one, so stay tuned."
DJ Piam digs into the crates 10 p.m. Monday, April 7 at Poison Girl, 1641-B Westheimer.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200 and a link to the Rocks Off 100 on the next page.
Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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