Meet DJ Seven Whales: the Official DJ of Detroit Bookfest

Meet DJ Seven Whales: the Official DJ of Detroit Bookfest

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”-DJ Seven Whales

Detroit Bookfest wouldn’t be Detroit Bookfest without the power of music. It helps transform and enhance the event into something visceral and multi-dimensional.

We especially like the funk, the whole funk and almost nothing but the funk. Our deep love o’ great gobs of funk music was initially inspired by attending Frank Raines monthly Funk Night parties in Detroit where one discovers you can levitate without actually levitating.

For years, DJ Zig-Zag (Jason Ratcliffe) graciously spun for us since the beginning of Bookfest but life has taken him beyond the Motor City. We thank Zig-Zag for his support and will miss his vibes at Bookfest. After his departure, the first great DJ whose named popped into my cabeza was Seven Whales.

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales, real name JR Jones, is a native Detroiter and an eminently creative individual. He is also Market Operations Analyst @ Eastern Market and has been a treasured member of the Detroit Bookfest Committee since our inception.

Born November 30, 1989 on Detroit’s Northwest side, JR graduated Mumford High School (off Wyoming and McNichols) and went on to graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts with a degree in graphic design.

But most of all, JR hails from a highly creative family.


The Creative Lineage of Seven Whales

DJ Seven Whales & DJ Sam Morykwas (photo by George Gregory Clothing)

I’m into all types of music, rock, rap, whatever. I just love music.

“Growing up, everybody in my family was listening to music all the time. My dad is a big jazz and funk fan. Two of his favorites are Grover Washington Jr. and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. My mom loves soul, especially Erykah Badu and Sade.”

My dad was born in Detroit and played piano when he was younger. My mom is from White Castle, Louisiana near Baton Rouge and was a painter. And me, being a kid growing up in the 90’s, I was influenced by their natural creativity and all the great music coming out at that time.”



Eastern Market: pull out a map and mark it

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

JR started working at Eastern Market Partnership in February 2014.

“Initially, I was working security. We call it CSS, which stands for Customer Support Service. Then I was promoted to Market Operations Analyst.”

I love the Eastern Market community. Our neighborhood is a great mix of young to old, artists to nutritionists, it’s very diverse. I also just love the art community in Detroit in general.”

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“I work at the Market with the infamous Lonni Thomas. She’s great, we have a lot of fun together. My favorite Lonni Thomas story is one time we were closing up after a Sunday Holiday Market. We were carrying stuff down to the basement and I fell slowly down the stairs and Lonni just watched me. She did help me up afterward though. It was one of those funny slow-motion can’t stop from falling falls with her just staring at me.” (laughs)

I love Detroit Bookfest at Eastern Market. It brings out the diversity, everyone, buying amazing books and materials. It’s especially impressive during an age in history where everything is mad digital. It’s also far from what you think of when you think of a typical book event. Reminds me more like an all-inclusive community block party. It makes the concept of reading and collecting books fun, especially for younger people. It’s a one-of-a-kind event, honestly. I look forward to it every year. And now I’m excited to be DJ’ing it.”

“My favorite book is ‘The Tao of Wu’ (2009) by Wu Tang’s RZA. It’s a philosophy book about the many paths to enlightenment. RZA has a unique mind, the way he puts different concepts together is interesting.”

Tao of Wu-RZA


JR Jones becomes DJ Seven Whales

DJ Seven Whales (Photo by Doug @wndrlstmedia)

JR has been DJ’ing since March 2019.

When I spin, I like to create a vibe. I spin with emotion and energy.”

“I’ve had a lifelong love of music and always wanted to DJ. My uncle took me to Guitar Center one day and showed me a DJ controller and I was hooked.”

“I gotta give a shout out to my man Sam. Sam Morykwas is the senior marketing manager here at Eastern Market and he’s also a great DJ. He taught me a lot about the craft and even gave me some equipment to help get me started.”

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“Mainly, I’m a house party DJ, spinnin’ the dopeness, but I love DJ’ing all types of events.”

“Don’t have one particular style of music. I try to spin stuff the world would love to hear, whether they know it or not. I’m tryna hit y’all with things you don’t know. The idea is to put you onto good music.”

“My DJ name Seven Whales came from two sources. One is the book ‘The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti’ (1988). It’s an African legend about a tohunga transforming seven whales into seven hills.”

The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti

“Another influence was a song in which Sir Michael Rocks talks about saving the whales. We misheard it as seven whales. The song is called ‘What do you Do’.”

“My favorite DJ’s are Kaytranada, Joe K, Detroit’s own PBH (Problematic Black Hottie), and honestly my man Sam Morykwas. My goal is to learn, not copy, but learn from other DJ’s.”


The Fun Stuff

Island Jerk Ribs w/ Guava BBQ Sauce @ Coop Caribbean Fusion Detroit (photo by: Coop)

“Favorite eateries in Detroit? Man, how much time we got? Could be here a while, there’s so many. At this particular moment in time, my top three are:”

Coop Caribbean fusion inside Detroit Shipping Company (474 Peterboro St, Detroit) “this is my guilty pleasure place”

Bash Izakaya (5069 Trumbull, Detroit)

Fat Salmon Sushi (11411 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck)

“When I’m not DJ’ing or exploring the rich culinary scene in Metro Detroit, I’m usually exploring different ways to be creative.”

Ink drawings, photography, watercolor painting, etc. I also like cruising the city on my bike. You can see me riding my Fuji Absolute around town.”


Upcoming Developments

Wednesday Night Vibes Detroit

“Sam and I spin Wednesday Night Vibes every week on Zoom from 8pm-11pm. You can find the link on IG @djsevenwhales.”

We also did a commercial for the Detroit Tigers and one for George Gregory Clothing and we have some more things in the works.”

“I’m a sneakerhead, a cool nerdy kid from Detroit. You’ll see me at events. I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”



DJ Seven Whales is available for gigs. Book him for your next event!

[email protected]







DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales (photo by Nefertitti)

DJ Seven Whales (photo by Eastern Market)

Vinyl Records @ Detroit Bookfest and What We Love About Record Stores, Funk Music, MC5 and YOU!

Vinyl Records @ Detroit Bookfest and What We Love About Record Stores, Funk Music, MC5 and YOU!



Books and vinyl records go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Yes, several vendors will be selling vinyl records @ Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest).

We will also have DJ Zig-Zag playing funk music.


The Joy of Vinyl Records



LP’s (aka: vinyl records) are currently outselling digital downloads and CD’s by $200 million dollars!

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), this is a new and positive trend. And we hope it continues. Why? Because there is no adequate substitute for vinyl records.



When you download an MP3 audio file, the music gets compressed and you lose the fullness of sound that you get on vinyl records. The sound on vinyl is more expansive, nuanced and loaded with delicious sonic subtleties that are lost on all other formats. You can feel the music when listening to LP’s.

Plus, vinyl record listening, collecting and appreciation is a wonderful culture. Buying records at a store and listening to it is a fun and meaningful experience. You develop great relationships with record store owners and come to enjoy the variety of eclectic tastes out there.



If you’re just starting out, make sure you:

  • Buy a good, quality turntable
  • Buy at least 2-4 good, quality speakers
  • Buy some record crates to store your records in
  • Buy some record sleeves to protect your records
  • Get some good chairs for you and your friends to sit in



You don’t need to worry about cork mats, titanium tone arms, 180-gram vinyl, etc, when starting out. Just enjoy digging in crates and listening to good music that you like.

Audiophiles are vinyl connoisseurs whom appreciate hi-fi records and the sport & hobby of amassing an incredible collection of high grade records. Audiophiles are very knowledgeable and have years of experience. But you do not need to be an audiophile to appreciate good records.

We also want to thank Third Man Records Detroit and Archer Record Pressing Plant for making vinyl records in Detroit!





DJ Zig-Zag will be bringing the funk, the whole funk and nothing but the funk to Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest).

Why do we love funk music?

Because it’s fun, upbeat, and there’s a certain Detroitness to funk music and a certain funk music vibe to the city of Detroit.


photo by: Nostalgia King


One of the big inspirations for us having funk music at Bookfest is Detroit DJ Frank Raines and his Funk Night Music parties.

Going strong since 2001, they are held the last Friday of every month at a different spot in Detroit. Frank spins funk records and they have live funk bands. We highly recommend you check them out!


MC5, Wayne Kramer & 50 Years of Kickin’ Out the Jams!


The rock band MC5 formed in Lincoln Park, Michigan in 1964.

On Devils Night and Halloween 1968, they recorded their famous ‘Kick Out the Jams’ album live at Detroit’s legendary Grande Ballroom. This album propelled them to international acclaim.



2018 marks the 50th anniversary of MC5 and leader Wayne Kramer is leading MC5 on a historic 50th Anniversary concert tour that will culminate in an October live show at the Fillmore Detroit.



Mr. Kramer is also releasing his memoir ‘The Hard Stuff’ this August 14th via Da Capo Press.

Make sure you check out the book and tour!



Vinyl Record Stores in Southeast Michigan


The city of Detroit, Greater Detroit area and city of Ann Arbor are loaded with great vinyl record stores.

There are probably 40+ record stores in Southeast Michigan.



Here’s a random sampling of some:


Dearborn-Stormy Records

Detroit-Third Man Records

Hamtramck-Detroit Threads

Warren-Village Vinyl

Detroit-Paramita Sound

Hamtramck-Lo and Behold!

Detroit-People’s Records

Detroit-Hello Records

Royal Oak-UHF

Dearborn-Dearborn Music

Garden City-Rock of Ages

Hamtramck-Record Graveyard



Ypsilanti-Technical Equipment Supply

Ferndale-Found Sound

Mount Clemens-Weirdsville Records

Eastpointe-Melodies & Memories

Clawson-Flipside Records

Oak Park-Street Corner Music

Royal Oak-Solo Records & Tapes

Roseville-The Road Show

Plymouth-Finders Keepers

Ann Arbor-Encore Records

Ann Arbor-Underground Sounds

Ann Arbor-Wazoo Records

Ann Arbor-PJ’s Used Records



Wayne Kramer MC5


Third Man Records Detroit


Archer Record Pressing (Detroit)


Buy Peaches Record Crates (Peaches was a famous record store at 5120 Schaefer Road, Dearborn, Michigan in the 1970’s-80’s)


The Vinyl Factory (cool vinyl record blog)



Stereophile (high-end vinyl records and gear for audiophiles)


Vintage King Audio (Ferndale, Michigan)


Paragon Sound (Ann Arbor, Michigan)


David Michael Audio (Royal Oak, Michigan)


Audio Dimensions (Royal Oak, Michigan)



Ryan M. Place with his record collection in Detroit!