An Interview with DJ Big Dog About The Success of Mi Yard Reggae Night: Continuing Over Ten Years, Since November 2006
Published on Church Street DJs Blog, by Josh Kerman on June 4, 2017
Burlington Vermont has always been a home for the musical genre of reggae. The love and appreciation for reggae is considered to be one of the greater musical influences in Burlington. In the late 90’s local disc jockey Jon Demus began to host weekly reggae nights every Tuesday at Ruben “RJs” James, which later moved to Red Square. Demus called the reggae night Bashment Tuesdays, which grew in attendance each week, moving to a larger venue up the street. Demus’s advanced ability to spin reggae was quickly noticed by another local disc jockey, Matthew “Big Dog” Robinson, who is now recognized as one of Burlington’s most active and talented reggae selectors.
Demus and Big Dog were always friends throughout high school, and in the mid 90’s Big Dog started to look up to Demus as a mentor. The teachings that Big Dog pickup are rare, “I can’t explain the skills he has, because they are unique to him” says Big Dog. As their friendship grew stronger they decided to collaborate a weekly reggae night, establishing Mi Yard Reggae Night (Mi Yard) in 2006. Since then, Mi Yard has stayed consistent every Sunday night from 9:30pm to 2am, with the exception of four cancellations due to renovation on the building, interference with an outside event, or a holiday closing. “I can’t imagine myself stopping Mi Yard anytime soon” says Big Dog, “I’ve never walked through the door on that many Sundays and never had a bad time… I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else.” The feeling is mutual for many people in the reggae community, that’s why Mi Yard has been successful for over a decade.
When it comes to supporting reggae, no other Burlington venue has exemplified their love and commitment to the Jamaican culture more than Nectar’s current owners. Upon walking into the venue, you immediately notice the amount of Jamaican influence, because most of the current owners have strong ties with Jamaica. So when deciding what venue was the right fit to host Mi Yard, Nectar’s came out on top. “The dynamic in sharing the same love for Jamaica with the owners is a win win” says Big Dog. In addition to the love that is expressed from the owners, Big Dog feels extremely welcomed by the staff and especially the sound engineer, Sergie. That’s the type of vibe that is presented at Nectar’s. “Sergie is one of the most passionate sound engineers in Burlington and comes into sound check every Sunday, which is his day off” says Big Dog. It’s the right atmosphere, venue, and sound system to produce Mi Yard Reggae Night.
In 2014, Demus had decided to pursue other ambitions outside of New England, which is when DJ Jahson jumped at the opportunity to co-host Mi Yard with Big Dog. Jahson is also a Burlington local and good friends with Demus and Big Dog. Whenever Demus needed a cover DJ, Jahson was always the disc jockey they’d ask first. Big Dog says that his own reggae collection has always been inferior to Jahson’s collection. “I would almost call Jahson the reggae dictionary… There is never a time that I couldn’t ask him who’s singing or what BPM the track is… He is beyond knowledgeable in reggae music” says Big Dog. The collaboration between Big Dog and Jahson has advanced the Mi Yard brand image. Big Dog admires everything that Demus did for Mi Yard and also has admiration for all the work that Jahson has put forth. Big Dog says that “they are both amazing disc jockeys and equally love reggae and dancehall music, but it was really cool to have a whole new vibe of reggae night when Jahson stepped in.” Together, they built Mi Yard into a brand of quality entertainment, where reggae lovers know to expect a great show.
Over the years Nectar’s and Mi Yard Reggae Night has collaborated to host live reggae shows, where today, people know that they’re going to get a good production. Big Dog says that there is a thorough quality control in what they do, so when people see Nectar’s and Mi Yard Reggae Night Presents, it stands out as something special. Under their brand they’ve presented a wide range of artists that include Kabaka Pyramid, Jah9, Anthony B, Barrington Levy, Chronixx and many more that have taken the stage with Big Dog, Jahson and Demus.
Mi Yard is surly a brand name that has grown into something bigger than any individual who is involved. It is because of the inspiration that two people who share a bond over their love for reggae, and music in general, created something unique for their community.
For all of whom are interested in trying something new, head down to Nectar’s (188 Main St.) on a Sunday night and enjoy your evening with today’s most authentic and pure sounds of reggae that Burlington has been offering for over a decade. Consider a more chill vibe from 9:30 PM to approximately 11 PM or an upbeat dance vibe for the second half of the night, until 2 AM. Some additional features that have truly made Mi Yard successful are the DJs spinning, and how approachable they are. If you have a reggae song request or an interest in reggae, Big Dog and Jahson always love to talk music.