Helms and Turntables

Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Martin, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, sets up for his first public disc jockey show at the Imperial Saloon in Juneau, Alaska, May 2, 2013. Martin’s passion for electronic dance music led him to performing for during his off-duty time. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Martin, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, sets up for his first public disc jockey show at the Imperial Saloon in Juneau, Alaska, May 2, 2013. Martin’s passion for electronic dance music led him to performing for during his off-duty time. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Pulsing, multi-colored light dances across the disc jockey’s body as he moves almost frantically from the knobs and sliders to the turntable and back again. His concentration on the beat of the lively electronic dance music is palpable, and the results are evident.

All at once the song takes an unexpected turn: skipping and dipping, something entirely other than its original form. The audience, though only a handful of people on this Thursday night, moves sometimes gracefully and sometimes erratically across the dance floor. A cheer goes out as a popular song starts to fade in as the last one fades out. 

It’s a scene that would feel right at home in Miami, but this is the furthest thing from it. This is Juneau, Alaska.

Looking down on the dancers from his perch in the DJ booth, Josh Martin smiles.

It is his first show open to the general public, and he is going at it like a pro. But what made a DJ specializing in electronic dance music decide to move to Juneau?

For Martin, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, there was not much of a choice. As a second class petty officer at the station, his duties include serving as the training petty officer, standing the officer of the day watch, and operating smallboats as the coxswain during search and rescue cases and training.

Thousands of miles from his native Lakeland, Florida, protecting mariners from the treacherous waters of Southeast Alaska, Martin found a way to make himself at home.

“It all started in 2011 when my wife wanted me to go to Ultra Music Festival in Miami,” said Martin. “From there I was hooked. Dance

U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

music is about uplifting beats and happiness.”

After being stationed in Juneau, Martin decided to take his passion for electronic dance music to the next level, and in late 2012 he started buying DJ equipment. With a few months of practice and a couple encouraging shows in front of a Coast Guard-only crowd, he was ready to take his show public.“We’ve got pretty much the whole station listening to this music now,” he said. “Out in town in was a mixed reception for a Thursday night.”

Martin’s uncertainty about the performance was soon put to rest when the venue called, asking him to return on any Thursday night he is available.

Most Coast Guardsmen are faced with a big move from familiar to unfamiliar territory during their career, and finding a way to turn a new location into a home can make all the difference.

Switching between a spinning record and a smallboat’s helm was not that big of a leap for him, either.

“I can relate it to working cases,” Martin said. “The steps I go through in my head to prepare for a performance are similar to those I take for stressful cases at work.”

The symbiotic relationship between his hobby and his job worked flawlessly. The Coast Guard prepared him for the stress of live performances, and being a DJ allows him to make his position in Alaska just a little more like home.

“Most of the crew, when off duty, will meet up where Josh is playing, so it’s an unofficial morale event,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Philip Ketcheson, Station Juneau’s executive petty officer. “He is one of many unit personnel with productive, off-duty hobbies.” 

So, the next time you are walking through charming downtown Juneau on a Thursday night and hear the lively tempo of electronic dance music, stop in and see one of Station Juneau’s coxswains doing what he does best, because when Martin isn’t picking up search and rescue cases, he’s dropping beats as a DJ.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Martin, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, plays electronic dance music for an audience at the Imperial Saloon in Juneau, Alaska, May 2, 2013. Martin performs as a DJ in his spare time, when he is not working as an officer of the day or coxswain at Station Juneau. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Martin, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, plays electronic dance music for an audience at the Imperial Saloon in Juneau, Alaska, May 2, 2013. Martin performs as a DJ in his spare time, when he is not working as an officer of the day or coxswain at Station Juneau. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

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