Category Archives: DJ

January’s Featured Expat: Tyler Huffman, Full-Time Teacher, Full-Time Entrepreneur, New Father and Expat Philanthropist

January’s Featured Expat: Tyler Huffman (by Rachel Crow Deyo)

Tyler Huffman: Spinning in Preparation for His BBC Joplin Fundraiser

Tyler Huffman: Spinning in Preparation for His BBC Joplin Fundraiser

Recently, Joplin welcomed back one of its own, as Tyler Huffman (Joplin High, ’95) reunited with fellow band members of Big Bad Chubba for a benefit concert over the Holidays (read The Joplin Globe‘s coverage here).  He not only lent his guitar skills, but he also rocked the Blackthorn Pub with the same DJ skills he’s used for years, running his very own Chicago-based DJ business. It was an incredible night of entertainment, raising over $3,000 for rebuilding efforts.

Huffman was one of the founding members of Big Bad Chubba, which originated from the merger of two existing ska bands.   Many band members also lent their talents to Joplin High’s own Ska Band.  Big Bad Chubba, or BBC, played many gigs between 1995 and 1997.

Tyler Huffman and His Daughter Ella

Tyler Huffman and His Daughter Ella

“We used to practice in Kelsey Richardson’s garage,” said Huffman.  “For a period of time, our home base was the upstairs of The Grind, an old coffee shop on Joplin Avenue,” he continued,  “They were extremely supportive of us and we had some of our best shows there.”

BBC had opportunities to play with lots of great bands like The Urge, O’Phil, The Gadjits, and The Scofflaws, traveling to shows in Wichita, Lawrence, Kansas City and Springfield.  “My favorite memory was playing at The Grind during the Local Musicians for Children Benefit in 1997,” said Huffman.

Until their Holiday reunion, BBC had not played together since their last show in 1997.  That same year, Tyler left for college in Columbia, Missouri.  He received his degree in elementary education in 2001 and worked as a Residence Hall Director until landing his first teaching position in Chicago in 2003.

“I feel that teaching is the best job a person can have,” said Huffman.  “I get so much out of every year, that I could never leave it.  I get to work with some amazing kids who constantly inspire me and remind me that the simplicities of life can keep us young-at-heart.”

In 2006, Tyler earned his Masters in Educational Leadership.  Currently, he teaches a 5th and 6th multi-grade classroom in a Japanese Dual Language program.  He feels very lucky to be a part of such a “forward-thinking” learning program.  “I teach during the day and run a small business and parent at night,” said Huffman.

Tyler Huffman Practicing for the Big Bad Chubba Fundraiser Reunion Show

Tyler Huffman Practicing for the Big Bad Chubba Fundraiser Reunion Show

While studying in Columbia, Missouri, Tyler was introduced to a photojournalism student, and it was love at first sight.  Tyler and Shelley were married in 2007. Tyler started Cage and Aquarium Productions (C&A) that same year, and business has grown steadily in the past five years.  C&A offers event entertainment with live musicians, DJ’s and photography.  Tyler said owning a business can be stressful, but believes things have fallen into place because he has surrounded himself with the “right” people, whom he believes to be their strongest asset.

In 2009, Shelley joined Tyler to help continue C&A’s growth. “My amazing wife not only offers her photography talents, but she manages a staff of more than 30 talented individuals,” said Huffman, “C&A has blossomed under her talent and leadership.”  He said Shelley leads by example and keeps everyone on track; she is as professional as she is talented.

What is Tyler’s favorite part of owning his own business?  “C&A satisfies my need to be creative,” he said.  “Our staff is the best in Chicago, hands down.”

Cage and Aquarium averages 4-7 private and public events weekly but keeps any one day limited to 4 events in order to uphold their quality of service.  This may be key in maintaining order to a dual-career lifestyle and raising a family.

In 2010, Tyler put on yet another hat as he and wife Shelley welcomed their first child, Eleanor.  Fatherhood seems to be his favorite role, and he “plays” it well.  “It is everything everyone says it is and more,” said Huffman.

Although they stay very busy, family time is very important.  Tyler appreciates his summer breaks because he gets to spend the days with Eleanor.  “She keeps us grounded and reminds us not to sweat the small stuff,” he said, “Her smile can make you forget all the challenges life brings you professionally.”

Tyler is a passionate and talented musician

Tyler is a passionate and talented musician

Tyler takes his role of fatherhood very seriously.  “It is not just about the obvious rewards of unconditional love for someone,” he explained, “I base all my decisions on what is best for my daughter, so I like having that responsibility to answer to.  She keeps me motivated.”

Tyler needed little motivation to reach out to his hometown in the wake of the May 22 tornado.  Like many people, he was glued to his TV in disbelief.  He has many good memories of Joplin and immediately began reconnecting with people, planning ways to help out where he could and joined the Expats.  Last August, he helped organize a Joplin Expats back-to-school fundraiser in Chicago to benefit Joplin students.

Tyler was thrilled to share some of his hometown pride with fellow Big Bad Chubba band members in a reunion concert to benefit people in their native community.  The December show had been in the works since word spread of the tragic event and was a great way to bring people together who had dispersed to other areas.

“Obviously, we wanted to do as much good as we possibly could in the form of funds,” Huffman said.  “We brought in merchandise and sold special tickets to boost our final numbers; it was great to see so many people we know come out to the show”.

Tyler said Joplin is a wonderful place to grow up.  “There is something special about Joplin, since so many of us tend to blossom wherever we land,” said Huffman. “People tend to be leaders and become successful when they move to other regions.  It sounds crazy, but the phenomenon is on full display in the Joplin Expats.”

Although deeply affected by the destruction in his hometown, Tyler is excited to see the rebuilding now taking place.  He hopes that the town becomes even stronger and learns from other towns like Greensburg, Kansas, implementing greener technologies and making better choices for the environment.  “I hope Joplin rebuilds faster than the experts are saying,” he said.  “Joplin has a way of proving people wrong.”

In our exclusive monthly Featured Expat series, the Joplin Expats are documenting some of our shining lights living throughout the world. If you have a recommendation for a featured Expat, we’d love to hear about them! Email us at info (at)

New York City’s Back-to-Joplin-Schools Happy Hour Fundraiser

Joplin Schools Foundation and Joplin Expats

The NYC Chapter of Joplin Expats Raises Funds for The Joplin Schools Foundation

Joplin Schools are returning on time, even after the tornado devastation less than three months ago. And you can help! Have fun and show your support during Happy Hour on August 23rd, Joplin’s first full week back to school.

At 6pm Copia on 53rd & 2nd will host Broadway performers, some of the most talented DJs in NYC, Joplin Missouri natives and friends for an amazing night showing support for a school system recently devastated by an EF5 tornado. You can view the invitation, and make advanced donations by clicking here.

The night will begin with a cheerful Happy Hour where party-goers will have the opportunity to bid on fantastic silent auction items including professional massages, Broadway Show tickets and memorabilia, gift cards, hand-made jewelry boxes and Yankees tickets.

The public is invited to join in the fun from 6-9pm and enjoy the entertainment and festivities–all for a worthy cause.

Copia NYC and Joplin Expats

Copia NYC on 53rd & 2nd is the site for the Back-To-Joplin-Schools Happy Hour Fundraiser on August 23rd

Denise (Thomas) Joly, NYC Chair of Joplin Expats, is excited for the opportunity to help children in her hometown by raising funds for the Joplin Schools Foundation. “As if educating an entire city’s children is not enough,” says Joly, “the struggles faced by the School District since the tornado are unparalleled. Their needs are virtually endless, and we vow to assist”. Joly is doing just that, along with fellow Joplin Expats members in the New York City area.

During the May 22 tornado, over thirty percent of Joplin was leveled, destroying and damaging 10 schools. Joplin Expats hopes the Back-to-School Happy Hour Event will raise funds and show much support to a community in need. All funds will go to the Joplin Schools Foundation.

All donations are tax deductible. If you are unable to attend but still want to help, you can make an online donation of any amount by purchasing one of our available ‘virtual’ ticket options here:

Event Details

When: August 23rd @ 6pm
Where: Copia in Midtown (visit Copia website)
Why: Raise money for Joplin Schools, and have fun doing it!
What: Great drink specials, professional DJs, Yankees tickets and dozens of other awesome silent auction items
Who: The (official, non-profit) Joplin Expats of New York

Chicago Expats Host Fundraising Mixer on July 22nd

Chicago Fundraising Event for Joplin Tornado Victims JULY 22, 2011

Chicago Fundraising Event for Joplin Tornado Victims JULY 22, 2011

Joplin Expats of Chicago will host their kickoff fundraising event to aid the recovery of Joplin, MO, where you will have the chance to win many exciting items, including backstage passes to West Side Story and a full autographed poster for the play on August 2nd.

If you’re in Chicago, join them at the Joplin Awareness Mixer, a networking event to spark awareness. Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Joplin native DJ Steve Jefferies.

Guests will enjoy beverages from a Missouri themed open bar and will be entered into a raffle for donated items.

LOCATION: Elastic Arts
2830 North Milwaukee Avenue, Second Floor

DATE: Friday, July 22nd, 2011

TIME: 7-10 pm

PRICE:  $20

BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE (or make a donation if you are unable to attend):