I sit here just a few short days after getting a call no one ever wants to receive. It still doesn’t feel real. I have wanted to post some kind words on social media since hearing the news, but I’ve found it difficult mustering up the energy to go to that place. I ultimately decided to do it here so it doesn’t simply dissolve into the ether of social media. This is more conducive to the therapeutic ability to take my time to honor a fellow DJ and friend, Blake Vaughn.
Last Thursday morning around 11am I was about to hop in the shower when I got the call letting me know that Blake had passed earlier in the day. Sam delivered the news and I simply didn’t know what to say. What do you say in that situation? It was just unreal. I immediately thought about our interactions just two weeks prior at a conference in Tennessee.
Little did I know at the time, a couple weeks ago when he and I (and a few other local DJs) were in Tennessee for a conference that that would be the last time I’d ever have a chance to hang out with Blake. ARMDJs in Greeneville, TN had been a yearly visit for Blake and myself for the last several years, minus 2020. It was always a chance for us to be away for a short time and reconnect and catch up. (Sad that I didn’t connect more in our own city.) I arrived to the conference on Monday evening just in time for the DJ takeover outside in the tented rooftop area where the kickoff night always takes place. I walked in, grabbed my badge and with 2 minutes here comes Blake, bellowing “J Reid” and gives me a hug and tells me he’s glad to see me. We immediately hop in conversation and step outside the tented area to have a chance to speak (DJ shows are ALWAYS loud). It was the first time we had spoken in a good while. We caught up, he told me what was good with him and Robin and Jumping Jukebox and I shared what was new in my life. After chatting for a few, he said “let’s go to the bar, what ya drinking?’“ We grabbed a drink then he proceeds to introduce me to a new friend, Tim, that he had already connected with. Tim is recently out of the military and trying to start his next chapter as a DJ, so Blake was trying to help him. I can recall several instances from that week where Blake spent his time with someone with the sole intention to help them. This was one of Blake’s gifts, no doubt.
The second day of the conference I had a chance to grab lunch with the guys from Greenville – Tim, Josh, and Blake. They had heard this BBQ place called the Smokin’ Pig was good, so made the short drive to check it out. The food was good, but the laughter and banter was far better.
I was set to leave that Wednesday night, but for some reason I decided to book the room for one more night (I had already packed the car) and hang out just a little longer. Talk about a blessing in disguise. We all had dinner together and then went back to hear some DJs and hang out. This time is something I feel extremely grateful for.
The next morning, I was heading out and Blake and a group was going to a venue for some additional education for the day. We saw each other in the lobby and he explained that he was sorry he never made it upstairs for some late night convo, but that he had stayed and helped a couple that hadn’t set their business on very steady footing. He told me he had offered to help them to get them in the right direction.
I am forever thankful to have the time we had in Tennessee. We had some honest, frank discussions in person and via text (he loved to text me during conventions and have our own conversation) about life and business.
THIS, this is the takeaway for me…Blake’s servant mentality and nature. His attitude of willingness and desire to help and give. If you never met Blake, you missed out on meeting a guy who was heart first, always. A guy who was always smiling and ready to make your day better. A guy who genuinely LOVED what he did, day in and day out.
To Blake: You were one of the good guys. One of the best. I wish I would have told you that more. I appreciate you pulling for me and your willingness to help us out if we ever need it. I know your family and the Jumping Jukebox family is hurting tremendously right now and there is surely a void that will NEVER be filled. You have my word that I will do anything and everything for Robin and the JJ crew, as I know you would have done for me. We’ll keep the party jumping down here, and you keep the party jumping up there. That party just got way better! Love you brother. -Justin
Blake Vaughn | May 27, 1965 – August 19, 2021
1200 Woodruff Road Suite A-18, Greenville, SC 29607
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