The Bay Area hip-hop community celebrates the life of Stephanie “DJ Stef” Ornelas with one of the most unique lineups to touch the stage at the Elbo Room in recent memory, a testament to her widespread impact on the local scene.
A Celebration of DJ Stef on Tuesday, Oct. 17 ($35), offers a diverse selection of styles from DJs and lyricists, topped by performances from Hieroglyphics co-founder Del the Funky Homosapien and Stones Throw Records founder and producer Peanut Butter Wolf. Eclectic singer-songwriter Gary Wilson, Gurp City collective duo Sacred Hoop and Anticon stalwarts Yoni Wolf, Jel and Odd Nosdam are also on the bill, among several planned special guests.
Ornelas passed away suddenly after a heart attack at her home on Oct. 1, prompting an outpouring of tributes and memories from family, friends and people from all corners of hip-hop. She was an integral part of the Bay Area music scene since the ’90s, when she published the Vinyl Exchange, a zine that would become an influential online presence and a champion for emerging artists.
More recently, Ornelas could often be found at venues and parties throughout the Bay Area, either behind the decks spinning selections from her vast vinyl collection or in the audience at local shows. She was also a talented professional graphic designer who sometimes lent her skills to local flyers and other projects.
The Elbo Room celebration features several of the acts she worked with throughout more than three decades in the hip-hop scene. It was organized by New York booking agent Peter Agoston, a longtime friend and collaborator with Bay Area artists who first met Ornelas when he was a contributor to the Vinyl Exchange.
“This deep lineup speaks volumes to the Bay Area music community that Stef loved, nurtured and promoted for years,” he said in a Facebook post announcing the show. “So, as I built this bill together, honoring her with a truly one of a kind throwdown was the aim.”
One of Ornelas’ last events was also at the Elbo Room, where she opened for influential New York producer Prince Paul with an early DJ set. She snapped pics on her phone, talk with old and new friends, and served as a de facto stage manager when a troublesome PA threatened to interrupt the flow. True to form, in the mix all along.
A Celebration of DJ Stef, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. – midnight, at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St. $35; elbo.com.