Bringing back the R&B beat

March 30, 2017

ITEM PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
Local DJ Jay Brown is pictured outside Bruno’s Bar + Burger.

By DAVID WILSON

LYNN — You may never see Ryan Seacrest walk the city streets, but you may see Jay Brown at the Stop & Shop on Washington Street.

Brown, one of the newest voices of Boston-based radio station The New 97.7, can be spotted all over. At 6 feet 4 inches, in a black newsboy cap, he’s hard to miss.

Thursday afternoon, at Bruno’s Bar + Burger on Western Avenue, the Lynn resident gives a quick history of R&B.

The genre started in the 1940s, but it would be a few decades before the “R&B era,” as he calls it, begins.

The New 97.7, which launched in January, plays R&B from the 1970s to today: Stevie Wonder to Drake; Al Green to Ne-Yo. Coming on board the first weekend of March, Brown can be heard from 3-7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

His station is one that, he says, is returning R&B to the masses. “Turn on 97.7 and (people) feel the difference,” he said. “They can actually hear the difference … their kids love it because they’re hearing songs that they know, and the parents are liking it because they’re hearing songs they know.”

In a small booth at Bruno’s, Brown speaks about the “musical journey.” Think of it as time-travel: a trip from decade to decade, and back again.

“Music is endless; the possibilities are endless with music. If you can connect a memory with a song, that’s part of the musical journey,” he says.

The 38-year-old wants to help bring the musical journey to Lynn. He will be deejaying an “old-school” night, beginning 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 at Bruno’s, 858 Western Ave.

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Brown says he grew up in Salem and moved to Lynn about 20 years ago. His love of music appears to have started early, following him through most of his professional life.

“When I was in eighth grade, I was deejaying in a club, which was a college night,” Brown said; yes, he says he was over 6 feet then, too. “I had experiences that the average eighth-grader wouldn’t have experienced.”

In the early ’90s, R&B faded as hip-hop became more prominent, Brown said. But some of today’s hip-hop has taken a dive with talk of drugs, violence and “things that nobody wants in their community,” he said.

You won’t hear anything like that on Brown’s station. “Not at all; there’s not even a song we would play that has a word that would need to be bleeped out,” he said.

It’s a family-friendly, out-in-the-community, live-and-local station, Brown said; it’s something a lot of other Boston radio stations lack.

“It’s incredible to be on the radio in Boston, and be able to entertain everybody not only in Boston, but also on the North Shore; family, friends,” he said.

And after less than a month on 97.7, Brown says he gets recognized all over the place. He’s bound to see someone wherever he goes: Boston, Lynn, Salem, he said. But he’s always shocked when he’s asked for his autograph.

“Who am I? I don’t make a million dollars,” he says. “But I love what I do at the end of the day.

“A million dollars, to me, is putting a smile on people’s faces when they hear the music.”


David Wilson can be reached at dwilson@itemlive.com.