DJ Brett Koshkin has spun old soul and R&B 45s the first Saturday of every month at Boondocks since the bar first opened in summer 2007. In what has become a Boons rite of passage, he got his first noise ordinance ticket early last month.
His monthly "Dirty Honey" sets at Boons, featuring beautiful vinyl slabs by artists like ZZ Hill, Rufus Wood and Clifton White, are the things of crate-digging magic. Before Koshkin started bringing Dirty Honey to Austin, the event began with Boons, and every month his night has brought out a motley crew of listeners and dancers.
"When it started, it was mainly white twentysomethings having a good time," Koshkin says. Now you get middle-aged folks from Sunnyside to mods in their thirties. A real eclectic bunch with no false pretenses. Hell, even my 90-year-old grandmother has made it out a few times."
The party ends this coming Saturday after nearly five years in the booth, when Koshkin throws his last DH party and sets sail for New York City. I caught up with him over email to get the lowdown on his future plans. Koshkin is a former Houston Press employee, and in fact I replaced him here at the paper upon his exit in late 2008. He's also a damned fine man to drink with.
"I need to face some new challenges. I work as both a DJ and a journalist and I have a few good opportunities up north that I can't pass on," he tells me.
As anyone who has left Houston, or even Texas, for an extended period of time can tell you, leaving the Lone Star State isn't easy. There are innumerable things that you miss in the process.
"There's the square footage, mariachi bands, Lone Star beer, huevos a la Mexicana, Southern hospitality, and some of the best people the world has to offer," Koshkin jokes. "I definitely won't miss sound ordinance tickets, but I still have a few gigs left in Houston before I move, so you never know. I could rack up a few more fines if the mayor really has it out for me."
In the beginning, Koshkin wasn't sure if Dirty Honey would go over so well.
"Dirty Honey started the month Boondocks opened and has continued ever since. There was nothing like it going on at the time in Houston," he says. "Michael 'Witnes' Zapata, whom I started the night with and [bar owner] Shawn Bermudez actually had to talk me into doing Dirty Honey."
"I was pretty apprehensive about how well a soul night would work in Houston, even though I had been doing one in Austin for years. Now, there's other nights like A Fistful of Soul that do a damn fine job and I'm proud of my hometown for recognizing and coming to embrace such a thing," he says.
As a veteran of many DHs at Boons, grabbing a Lone Star and perching up at the upstairs bar, there are so many memories from Koshkin's parties to list.
"The people dancing with grins from ear to ear, enjoying themselves without a care in the world," he says. "All I've ever wanted to do is play strange old soul records to shake and shimmy along with friends while having a few drinks. Loads of other people not only accepting such a silly thing but reciprocating the sentiment will always be a great memory.
"There's been lots of crazy physical events over the years too, but they blend together in a haze," adds Koshkin. "People dancing so hard I was actually scared of the floor buckling. There were a few impromptu lap dances and loads of amazing performances by guest DJs."
I sort of remember the lap dances, and yes, the floor has always given many in Houston a shudder with all of the human bodies trampling over it around 1 a.m. on a weekend night.
Of course, with Koshkin's family still based in Houston, we haven't seen the last of our soul-loving brother. He's also installed an annual James Brown tribute every Christmas night since the legend passed on in December 2006.
"I plan on coming back to town at least a few times a year and definitely during the holidays to see family. I'm not ready to commit to putting on the JB Christmas show but it's really hard to say no to such a fine ruckus. DJ Sun has been a big component of that, perhaps I'll ask him to carry it forward."
Rest assured that no matter where Koshkin lands, or what he ends up doing, his heart is in a special place when it comes to the music he plays and the joy he brings in those near the PA.
"I collect records because I'm constantly looking for new sounds that evoke emotions that you can feel in your bone marrow," he says. "If I've ever managed to help turn someone else on to music that moves them in similar ways, well, then I've done my job."
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Come say goodbye, for now, to Koshkin and Dirty Honey this coming Saturday at Boons. The event is free, and of course, you must be 21 to enter the building.