The NBA semifinal series between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat gripped the country for the past week, and a Mahoning Valley native had a unique role in it.
DJ Bandcamp, otherwise known as Earl Barron, is the DJ at Pacers home games in Indianapolis, energizing the Bankers Life Fieldhouse before the game and during stoppages. He sets up courtside in front of the G2 Zone, the raucous section of young fans that brings a level of fanaticism usually seen only at college games.
The Pacers’ playoff run ended Monday when the Heat won the decisive Game 7, so Barron came to Canfield to visit his parents, Teresa Barron-Lloyd and James Lloyd (and yes, he’s the same James Lloyd of acclaimed jazz duo Pieces of a Dream).
In a phone call Wednesday, Barron told me about his short but rapid rise as a DJ.
The 2004 Ursuline High grad (he was living in Youngstown at the time) went to the University of Cincinnati on a full scholarship to study pharmacy. He graduated and began working in the field with Humana in 2010. That’s also when he began DJing.
Not satisfied, he quickly changed careers. Barron took a job as a chemistry teacher at a Cincinnati high school while continuing his DJ gigs at night — sometimes on school nights.
Last year, he met hip-hop artist Stalley, who hails from Massillon, and the two decided to team up. He resigned as a teacher in June 2012 and went on tour with Stalley, and later with red-hot rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Barron first approached the Pacers about becoming their DJ in October, but the time wasn’t right. By February, when the Stalley tour ended, he again contacted the Pacers and was invited in for an interview.
Bandcamp was given a chance to DJ a game, and was such a hit that he was invited back again.
And again. And again. And again.
The game-by-game gig got steadier, and Bandcamp is now in talks with the team to come back next season with a more permanent contract.
“At first, I just wanted to do a game or two,” he said. “I did, and they loved it, and the players loved it too, and they said, ‘Can you come back and do the next game?’”
As for the name he chose: It has everything to do with his background, and it has deep meaning for him.
“I was in the marching band at Ursuline and at the University of Cincinnati,” he said. “A lot of people think of band as for geeks and nerds, but I thought it was cool, and I wanted to be the person to make it cool.”
Band camps, he explained, are the regularly scheduled boot-camp retreats that the bands at both Ursuline and Cincinnati went on to learn their routines.
“We lived in cabins and had to be up at 6 in the morning,” he said.
Barron credits those training sessions — and, of course, the musical knowledge he learned from his father, who is also a mega-producer — with teaching him the finer points of the DJ trade.
Although he has had three careers in the past three years, it’s safe to say that Bandcamp is sticking with DJing.
After all, what could possibly match the fun and frenzy of ground zero of the NBA Playoffs?