His first name may be Troy, but many know him as DJ Barnett. A facilitator of dancing, smiles and good times, this disc jockey has a lifetime of experiences that’s helped fuel his passion and hone his craft of entertaining and bringing people together.
A Class of 1990 graduate of Winters High School, Barnett’s DJ debut was at a Youth Day dance in 1988. As the story goes, a local radio station set to DJ the dance backed out that day. The dance coordinators knew Barnett had an extensive hip-hop collection and asked him to fill in. After a ‘heck yes,’ Barnett took part in his first gig with a most-unexpected co-DJ.
“David Faustino (Bud Bundy), his brother and his mom were in town for Youth Day, and my mom was in charge of picking them up at the airport, bringing them to their hotel in Woodland and bringing them back and forth to Winters,” said Barnett. “We hung out that whole weekend and became friends. And after the radio DJs backed out, David Faustino and myself DJ’d that dance.”
From there, calls came in from all around the area beckoning Barnett’s DJ skills for various events. One of the calls that came in was from his twin brother Todd, who was in the Navy and stationed in Jacksonville, Fla. After a sell of the city as a great place to start a DJ business, Barnett packed up his turn table and purchased a one-way Amtrak ticket to the sunshine state in 1994.
During his tenure there, Barnett DJ’d a wedding in which the mother-of-the-bride invited him and his friends to the afterparty at her place. He accepted and unwittingly walked into an experience that would bolster his drive to succeed.
“We walked into her house and it’s filled Green Bay Packers stuff. One of the rooms we walked into had all this Vince Lombardi stuff with his family. I was taken aback and said, ‘Suzanne, I know your last name is Lombardi, but tell me you’re related to Vince Lombardi somehow?’ She goes ‘yea, he was my father,’” said Barnett, who is an avid Minnesota Vikings fan. “We talked about her father and what he did to inspire his team. She gave me all these positive affirmations and speeches her dad would use. I used those as motivation and told myself if I want to be the best at something, I need to treat my career as such. You can’t do something second hand.”
Barnett moved back to California in 2005 after a hiatus from DJ’ing and tossed around the idea picking the passion back up. He eventually got back into it until he lost his fiancée in 2017. In a dark place mentally and emotionally, Barnett didn’t have the heart to keep DJ’ing and found someone to purchase his business. All the weddings were booked for 2020 and the transfer was close to complete, but the buyer backed out of the deal right before the COVID pandemic hit.
“We had about 35 weddings booked for 2020 and we ended up doing six. It was a struggle, but I owned the equipment at the time and focused on trying to get loans to get through it, which we did,” Barnett said talking about how the silver lining of returning from the pandemic reignited his passion for his craft. “So, getting back into the weddings in 2021 really lit a spark in me because I missed how fun it can be, and watching these people have a good time. I have a talent that needs to be shared and that’s why people hire me. It’s one of those things I need to be doing to make other people happy. I’m in a better headspace now, too — have been in a relationship for a year and the weddings in 2022 have all been fantastic!”
Challenges abound and overcome, DJ Barnett is ready to make good times great. To keep up with the business, visit his Instagram account @therealdjbarnett. To learn more about Barnett’s services, visit djbarnett.com.