About ten minutes into our interview, Josh Stowers and I got sidetracked talking about the music we love. What started as a question about which genres are requested the most at the events Stowers works at as a DJ quickly turned into an exploration of new and old music. We agreed that today’s pop songs, while fun and upbeat, do not hold a candle up to the 70’s and 80’s rock we both grew up with and were amazed at how slowly, but surely, the stylings of some of the best get-you-moving-on-your-feet-songs were making a comeback amongst young kids today.
“I was at a school dance recently and the kids kept asking me for older music,” Stowers said. “What brought them out to the dance floor was ‘Come and Get Your Love,’ then I went into ‘Safety Dance,’ and ‘Come On Eileen,’ and the kids were going crazy.”
While he continued to think back on the songs that pulled the high school students onto the dance floor, Stowers got stuck for a minute trying to figure out the name to a song he played.
“Oh man, I can’t think of the name,” he said. “It goes ‘bah, bah, bah…’ Oh what is the name of that song?”
We moved on after a minute of trying to figure it out to no avail. I later realized it was Neil Diamond’s classic “Sweet Caroline,” a song I distinctly remember singing with my family, our heads bobbing along to the same “bah, bah, bah” Stowers and I couldn’t place. Later, as I was searching for music to listen to on Spotify, I found myself searching for old rock songs I listened to growing up, like David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” or ABBA classics like “Waterloo” and “When I Kissed the Teacher.”
Josh Stowers grew up in a music filled childhood, but it was when he was attending Chesterton High School that his career in music started. While other students were taking part in afterschool sports and clubs, Stowers could be found in the high school radio station, WDSO 88.3 FM “The Rock,” a class the school offered that allowed him to touch on his childhood passion.
“I was always interested in music ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I remember recording songs on cassette tapes and playing DJ. I was always a music guy.”
For the entirety of his high school career, Stowers continued taking the radio station classes and by the time he was a junior, he was given his own radio show.
“Every Tuesday night, I was playing the ‘Funky Beat Show’ and was playing all of the new hip-hop and more,” he said. “That was the start to my DJ career.”
His move from young radio station host to DJ was a little more serendipitous. After completing a live broadcast of a basketball game from the radio station, Stowers made his way over to one of the gyms where a DJ company was setting up for the traditional after-sporting-event Sock Hop.
“It just so happened that I knew one of the guys working there, so I stopped in and said hi to him,” he said. “He introduced me to the owner, explained that I was part of the radio station, and he asked me if I wanted to be a DJ.
“I immediately said, ‘Yes, I would love to.’”
The following week, he went to the office of B&B Music to continue talking with the owner. At the age of 15, Stowers started working for the music company as a DJ.
“I love to entertain,” he explained. “It’s a little bit of I like to be at the center of attention, but really, I love seeing a packed dance floor. There’s a thrill, an adrenline rush to really getting a crowd going. I love to DJ because I love seeing people have a great time.”
From there, Stowers began DJing at different popular spots like Bin Willy’s in the 90’s and Hooligans in the 2000’s in Chesterton. But as he continued building an impressive resume, Stowers was also working a full-time job at the same time to be able to support his family and his love of DJing.
“I was a sale service representative for a company and before that, I was a delivery driver for Gordan Food Service,” he said. “A full-time job with DJing on the side meant that I didn’t have a life. But then in 2016, I decided to go full-time with my business and make a run at it. It’s been a little challenging- of course, that’s how it is with any business- but the feedback I get from clients always reminds me that I made the right decision.”
In the almost two years that Stowers took his side gig as a DJ to a full-time job, now called Party Djs, the company has grown into the go-to DJ business in Northwest Indiana. Offering its services to weddings, school dances, corporate events, quinceannera’s, and more, Stowers specializes in getting people up on their feet and dancing to their favorite music without shame.
The past few years, Party Dj’s has even filled the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual 4th of July Fireworks show with music that reverberates around the Dunes and out onto Lake Michigan.
“This year, I had some friends out on the water in boats, and all night, they were texting me saying how they can hear the music I was playing on shore. It was a blast,” Stowers said. “That has become one of my favorite events to do. 15,000 people are there, it’s always a great show, and it’s just a blast being there.”
The company has even turned into a bit of a family business. Stowers’s wife, Angela, and three stepchildren, Matt, Cody, and Hailey, have helped out with the business in their own ways, whether it’s supplying new ideas or support for Stowers’s journey to a full-time DJ.
“I’m the first to admit that I’m high maintenence,” Stowers said. “Angie puts up with me and I just know that I would never have been able to do any of this without her. She’s the best fishing partner I could have ever asked for. And it was actually her idea to add a photo booth to our services, which we now bring to a lot of events and is always a ton of fun.
“One night though, Angie got sick and couldn’t make it to the event, so my 17-year old stepson, Cody, stepped in and said, ‘Hey, I can do it.’ And he has taken over the photo booth and I get such awesome feedback from the customers that he was a pleasure and he made it his own. I couldn’t have been more proud.”
While all of these aspects of Stowers’s career- entertaining people, running the business with family, living his childhood dream of being a DJ- are things that have been Party Dj’s the success it is, when that is all stripped away, what can be found is a foundation that holds everything up: an unwavering love for music.
“Music is what picks me up. If I’m down, I throw on some music, it’s just what makes me happy,” Stowers said. “You can ask anyone. If we go somewhere and there isn’t music playing, I’ll make it happen. We’ll be at a party and there won’t be any music, and I’ll say, ‘Give me one minute.’ Then I’ll pull out my phone and open one of my apps, and I’ll get the music going.
“You have to have music.”
I understood then that Stowers passion for playing music at a wedding or a school dance is not about adding substance to the background. It is about giving that moment, that soon to be memory, a pulse that everyone can feel and everyone can move to. Just talking about the music we love brought me back to some of the songs and memories that never fail to bring a smile to my face. Just searching for the song that went “bah, bah, bah” made me gently bob my head.
Young or old, music has a power to bring people together, to be in a moment. That is something that Josh Stowers not only understands, but also wants to share with everyone so that we can fill our memories with the music we love, and the music we love with more memories.
For more information about Party Dj’s, please visit www.partydjsnwi219.com.