• Chad Johnson – also known as DJ Mad Hatter – dresses as Tigger to ring in the new year at the Daily Grind and Wine. Photo by BEN KATZ
    Chad Johnson – also known as DJ Mad Hatter – dresses as Tigger to ring in the new year at the Daily Grind and Wine. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Entertainer celebrates the new year all over town

    Most people who have celebrated New Year’s Eve in downtown Murphy have likely enjoyed the talents of Chad Johnson.
    Each year, he starts the night as the disc jockey for The Daily Grind & Wine’s celebration that ends shortly after Dublin, Ireland, rings in the new year. Then he packs up his equipment and moves on to the next gig, either as a drummer in a band or as a DJ.
    One year, Johnson was booked at The Daily Grind from 5-7 p.m., Parson’s Pub as the drummer for Celtic Keg Stand from 8-10 p.m., then Doyle’s Cedar Hill Restaurant as its DJ from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. He said it was hard because it takes a while to break down his drum set, and had to get started as soon as he finished playing the last song.
    “But I made it,” he said. “I wasn’t late.”
    This year, he only had two gigs – once again starting at The Daily Grind, then making his way down the road to Chevelles Restaurant & Bar, where he played drums for his new band, Dottie, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
    He also entertained patrons at Hoppy Trout Brewing Co. in Andrews on a previous New Year’s Eve.
    Johnson’s parents gave him his start as a DJ. He always loved music, and when he was a child his parents got him a disco ball, which he hung on the ceiling fan. He used his music tapes and the disco ball to throw parties.
    When they moved to Murphy in 1999, his parents opened The Daily Grind. His mom, Amy, got him to lead the karaoke machine, which evolved into becoming a DJ.
    Johnson’s parents also purchased him a keyboard when he was young, but he didn’t take to that instrument. He knew he could keep a beat, though, and decided drums would be the best instrument for him. He started getting lessons when he was a teenager.
    When he joined Dottie – he was the second of the five band members to join – he had to find a new way to take lessons, since he had never played reggae music before. He went to YouTube to learn the style.
    Johnson said he likes being in the band a lot because he likes working with his bandmates. He also likes being around people in general, and making others happy, as he does as a DJ.
    While his parents gave him his start, the new owners of The Daily Grind, Matt and Lane Lowe, continue to book him to honor the New Year’s Eve tradition and because he’s good at his job.
    “He’s a great DJ,” Lowe said. “Chad makes everybody have fun because he’s having fun.”
    On this New Year’s Eve, Johnson – dressed as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh – often got on the dance floor at The Daily Grind and danced with partiers. Johnson said he feeds off the energy of the crowd.
    “If you have a good crowd, it’s like taking an energy drink,” he said.

Cheeseball competition returns in Andrews
    The best cheeseball in the county is wanted at Calaboose Cellars at 565 Aquone Road in Andrews from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, for the fifth annual Cherokee County Cheeseball Competition.
    There is no entry fee, and there is no limit of entries. Crackers are provided, but contestants may bring their own if preferred. Those present vote to determine which cheeseball is the winner.
    Owner Eric Carlson said the champion wins the admiration of his or her peers. Last year, Tommy Rodeck won with a spicy Mexican cheeseball.
    The event is held rain or shine, as the Calaboose has a heated lounge. The competition was created to provide a winter gathering for the community.
    The evening will continue with a performance by 2018 American Idol contestant Alma Russ starting at 6 p.m. Russ is a singer/songwriter who plays fiddle, claw-hammer banjo and guitar.
    For details, call Calaboose at 321-2006.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.