For those of you who haven’t visited Dunedin Brewery, it’s Florida’s oldest, possibly friendliest, and a hugely important cornerstone of Dunedin and the Craft Beer community. One of the characters who brings some of the magic to this place is Jon Ditty: rapper, brewery employee, and all around artist.
If you’ve been to the brewery even once, you may have noticed him by his mass of awesome dreads and welcoming manner. Jon has been bringing folks together at the brewery (and other Dunedin spots!), from near and far, for years, with his unique hip-hop shows. His turning 30 is a great excuse for another sick concert to be planned!
With performances by Jon, himself, Stick Martin Trio (All Hip-Hop Set), DJ J-Storm (3x DMC USA Finalist), BC of Red Tide, Bee-Low Brass & Slim Taper, and Foundation & DJ Hurley, this promises to be a can’t-miss event!
THE EVENT INFO
What: Jon Ditty’s Birthday Party
Where: Dunedin Brewery
When: Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 7 pm
Info + Price: All Ages, Free
In honor of Jon’s birthday and the upcoming showcase, we got to ask him a little bit more about his passions, favorite beer, and how the heck he raps so fast.
1. When did you start creating music? Who/what influences your music?
I’ve always made (fine) art since I can remember. I even got a degree in it. Music came much later. I wrote tons of poetry as a kid—more so rhyming poetry, not anything actually poetic, Haha. Among a bunch of other goofy/childish stuff, I had a series called the “I Hate Math” poems. Occasionally, I’d put together songs that I would just sing the lyrics to or hum the melodies in my head—nothing ever recorded or concrete. I took some piano lessons in Elementary School and helped write some parody songs at summer camp, but it wasn’t until January 2006, at the end of High School, that I made a deliberate attempt to write a rap (song). I’d say that was the defining moment where I made a choice to formally start creating music. Granted, my first few years of writing gave birth to some horrific, shameful pieces… but it gradually got better. As for who/what is influencing my music? That answer has kind of evolved over the years. Predominantly: the mundane, topics/things that aren’t considered “safe” or are less talked about, and any art, music, or social action that makes me respond with a righteous “f@$k yeah!” Haha, I know some of that might be kind of nebulous. I’m influenced/inspired by a lot. Oh yeah, MF DOOM.
2. When you’re not at Dunedin Brewery, what are you doing?
That’s a loaded question and might get me in trouble depending on who’s reading this. Haha, who wants to know? I’m at Dunedin Brewery A LOT. Besides bartending, I handle most of Dunedin Brewery’s graphic design, social media, and other behind-the-scenes stuff. Lately, I’ve dumped most of my spare moments into fine-tuning my solo live performance. Otherwise, it’s a constant balancing act between creative endeavors, relationship, family, friendships, and preserving my own sanity. Time for a f@$king vacation…
3. What is your average day like working at the brewery? Favorite thing about working there?
Usually, I’m starting my day trying to figure out what to take photos of for publishing on our various social media outlets. Otherwise, I might be working on a beer logo, populating our website event calendar, filming/editing a promo video, brainstorming a new shirt design, updating our food/drink menus, etc… my background work can be really unpredictable depending on the day. However, usually during the evenings, I bartend, so you can catch me behind the bar slanging some brews. I guess I’m OK at it. Somehow I was nominated for “Best Bartender” in Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay 2017. That definitely caught me off guard. I’m personable and I know how to pour a beer? It was very much an unexpected surprise. Nevertheless, I’m genuinely flattered.
My favorite thing(s) about working at Dunedin Brewery are probably the ideals of the establishment and it’s staff. Of course, everyone has their beef/co-worker drama once in awhile—at any employer. That being said, I have worked a City job, and several others, where the age range and salary range, between employees, are vast. While one might argue that this type of diversity is normal or healthy, I would beg to disagree. In these situations, I often found myself raising an eyebrow at competing values, neanderthal/automaton behavior, and unbending policies and procedures, brandished by those ranked, seemingly, untouchably higher than me. Now (thankfully), I’m in an environment where everyone is relatively in the same age bracket, and are predominantly progressive thinkers. There’s an openness for conversation and the precedent for inciting change when/where needed. It’s a good fit for me. What could be bad when you’re constantly surrounded by good friends, beer, food, and music? I mean, even our House iPod is badass—no top 40 BS (Deltron 3030 has been on rotation there for years now). Yeah, we’re pretty cool. And if your job ain’t as cool, you can come hang out with us after work! 😉
4. Favorite beer right now?
I’m definitely biased to Dunedin Brewery’s beer, both because I work there AND because, well… they make GOOD BEER. I’m actually not that big of a drinker, but I do enjoy a cold one every so often. Being a coffee fiend, the Bière de Café tends to be my go-to (Brown Ale with Coffee & Chocolate).
5. You are turning 30 next month and hosting an event at Dunedin Brewery. What can people expect?
6. Favorite 90’s jam?
Despite listening to a lot of alternative rock growing up, it’s 100%, without a doubt, Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack.”
7. Did you teach yourself to fast rap or is it more of a natural talent?
I got some of my chops from Swamburger (of Solillaquists of Sound). He schooled me on a handful of rap concepts that I still work on to this day. Rap’s kind of a wormhole of sorts—it’s pretty easy to keep learning, challenging yourself through it’s many different creative aspects, and all the while, maintaining your interest in writing. As for the “fast rapping” part, Haha, I think it just fell into place naturally with what I was doing lyrically—pairing certain words together and whatnot. Maybe it’s a result of what I like and to what I listen? I’m no Tech N9ne, but I suppose I’m a decent “fast rapper.” Once I found that niche, I think I kind of just went with it and it became a thing for me. And while, I like rapping fast, lately I’ve been encouraging myself to find my voice/style in a slower, more laid back cadence as well. We’ll see what transpires next go-round …
8. Whats the last thing you watched on TV/Movie?
Rick & Morty.
9. Has working in the Craft Beer industry helped your music/art reach more people?
I don’t know if specifically the Craft Beer industry has helped me. I think more so, the fact that Dunedin Brewery is so music-centric, that has helped me. I’ve met a lot of great musicians over the years, there. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate and perform with artists, so talented, they make my brain explode. All of this, is, of course, through Dunedin Brewery. Mike, our General Manager, has really put this place on the map, music-wise, and pumped quite a bit of money and effort into cultivating the music scene. He has given me the forum to help him throw a handful of amazing Hip-Hop shows. When artists like Blueprint (Rhymesayers) & Sage Francis are calling Dunedin one of their favorite stops on tour, you know you’re doing something right. So, to answer your question? Yes. Absolutely. Working at Dunedin Brewery has given me innumerable performance opportunities AND an internal, built-in audience with whom I can regularly share my music.
10. You have won the 1st place award for Dunedin Brewery’s Inaugural Open Jam Challenge, what is next on the horizon?
Hah! That was in like 2013. I’ve really been lame since then… no more trophies to show. Honestly, I’m ready to start diving into a new full-length album (my third release). I have a lot of the concepts already worked out in my head. I just need to put them to paper.
11. Anyone you want to work with in the future?
I recently (officially) befriended DJ J-Storm (3x DMC USA Finalist, and too many other credentials to count). He served me with some very humbling compliments on both my music and my performance. He wants to work with ME, and I’m like, turning red, Haha. My buddy, DJ Hurley, is also a fantastic producer/DJ, originally from Switzerland. He just wrapped up an album with our mutual MC friend, Foundation. My next effort will probably involve my working with J-Storm, Hurley, and per usual, local Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Engineer, Stick Martin. As for other collaborations, I have a handful of ideas for album features on the back-burner. Hah! I’m not trying to reveal all my cards yet. Stay tuned.
12. Describe life in Dunedin for you and has it enriched your life/career?
Dunedin’s a very welcoming, laid-back bubble. That’s both good and bad. There’s a lot of bleak regression surrounding the state of Florida, as a whole, and I stay relatively ignorant to that, living in my bio-dome. Dunedin’s always been a progressive small-town, but not always this cool. I grew up here, and 10+ years ago, there wasn’t as much happening. Now, this place is booming, as a facet/destination for the Tampa Bay Area, on multiple avenues. Some of the development of high-rises makes me a little wary, but I see the necessity for growth and how it will benefit the City’s future. There are several community groups speaking out and petitioning against some of these changes, one, branded as “Preserve the Vibe.” Haha! That literally makes me LOL. I AM the vibe! Michael Lyn and Dunedin Brewery ARE the vibe. All the Downtown Merchants who have nurtured their local businesses for a decade plus ARE the vibe. The local personalities & native Dunedinites, with whom you interact on a daily basis, ARE the vibe. No offense, but as far as I’m concerned, a single, or several, oversized edifices aren’t going to ruin this City for me. The real criteria that make Dunedin, Dunedin, are the reason people are flocking here. Change and growth are inevitable, even if you might not agree with all of it. Do I agree with all the ways in which the City has made reform? Hell no. Personally, I felt the way in which the City introduced paid parking was too extreme and all-at-once. It was very necessary to implement, but they launched that sh*t full-force and aggravated a lot of local residents, in the process—to the point at which some people are suddenly disowning their once-proclaimed paradise. This disowning Dunedin for the sake of parking, though, I think is also asinine. Is paid parking going to stop me from doing my thing? Of course not. When I moved back here from attending UCF, there was no Hip-Hop in Dunedin. In fact, those two words were a joke to be in the same sentence together. Dunedin House of Beer had literally removed all rap music from their TouchTunes jukebox, because, apparently, that wasn’t what their clientele wanted to hear. On the same note, it was also Dunedin HOB that gave me a platform for hosting the Dunedin Lyricist Society, a weekly Freestyle Hip-Hop Open Mic. Fast forward five years, and not only do I casually hear Run The Jewels bumping in their establishment, but Mike & Dunedin Brewery are helping me throw blowout Local AND National Hip-Hop shows in, what is essentially, my backyard. I guess the point to all of this is, with persistence (and not simply whining), you effectually make what you want to see, and Dunedin is a fertile garden for planting seeds. It’s definitely a “Big Fish, Small Pond” type of scenario, but I have a lot of support from this community, doing what I do. It’s hard to say at 30, if I’ll always live here (as there is a giant world out there to be explored), but I do know, that I will always call Dunedin, home.?