Local DJ brings old-school beats to northside Amarillo parks

DJ Tonee Jai decided to celebrate a big birthday in a big way last year.

 

When he’s not moonlighting as a DJ for Rillo Rock Productions, Jai is Tony Johnson, husband, father and a 29-year ASARCO employee. And when he turned 50 last August, Johnson wanted to do something special.

“It was an experience that I’ve always wanted,” Johnson said. “That was for my 50th (birthday) and I wanted to do something special, so why not do it with the community?”

And after months of inquiry, he decided to bring back his Northside Community Park Tour.

To commemorate his 51st birthday — which was August 7 — Johnson will spend every Sunday in August spinning tunes for the crowds that join him as he sets up in local parks. Rain postponed his August 5 kickoff, but he was at it on Friday and Amarilloans showed up to dance, sing and have a good time at Sam Houston Park.

“This is one of the greatest things that ever happened to Amarillo, Texas,” said Veto Harris. “This is magnificent. Tonee is phenomenal. I think he’s the best DJ Amarillo has ever had.”

Johnson entertains the crowd with a very specific genre of old-school R&B from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — music the DJ said residents don’t hear locally.

“I play the old school music people don’t really hear on the radio today,” Johnson said. “I’m vintage with my music. Most everyone knows I represent grown folks with my music.”

Learning from last year, Johnson said he made some changes to his park tour this year.

“I want it to feel like we’re at home even though we’re at the park,” he said. “I wanted to add more details. I brought lighting for the people in the audience so they can see and still feel comfortable at night.”

He hopes his month-long birthday parties will be an Amarillo tradition.

“What I’m mainly proud of is that a lot more people are getting more involved and participating in the betterment of our community,” he said.

“If they keep with the support, we’ll keep doing this every year. This is something that our community needs because it’s something we’ve been missing. Twenty, 30 years ago, we used to have all types of community entertainment — bands and block parties. Now, if anyone is doing it, it’s me. I’m ‘The Last of the Mohicans.’”

The free park tour will continue today at Bones Hooks Park and on Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 at Mary Hazelrigg Park.

DJ Tonee Jai, lending his talents to Amarillo for free, played music at Sam Houston Park on Friday evening as part of his Northside Community Park Tour. (Lisa Lamb / Amarillo Globe-News)

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