Melting Pot

MeAndMikeWattKPFK

It was a dream come true and a complete honor to interview Mike Watt at KPFK this Summer. For several months I’d been thinking about doing a tribute to the Minuteman’s album Double Nickels On The Dime, and the thought crossed my mind to interview the remaining members, Mike Watt and George Hurley, about this classic record. In a perfect world, it would have been great to have brought in George Hurley too, but I had no way of contacting him. Thankfully, I was able to get in touch with Mike Watt and after a couple of attempts, I was able to get him to come into the studios at KPFK. From the moment I shook hands with him to the moment he said goodbye, we talked about this band and about this record. There was probably about 30 or 40 minutes of conversation before I even had the bright idea to turn on the microphones and record. What followed was a far ranging roughly 75 minute interview discussing the band and the recording of this landmark album. On the tribute that aired live on KPFK, I had to edit large sections of the interview in order to be able to make enough time to play the entirety of Double Nickels. It really pained my heart to have to cut out so many of the stories, so here is the full interview, unedited and uncensored. Some of these stories Watt has shared before, but there were a few that a hardcore fan like myself had never heard. Absolutely one of my favorite interviews I’ve done in my career and I’m really thankful that I was able to do it and that I get to share it here.

Mike Watt Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 7-31-2014

DoubleNickels

Earlier this Summer, Double Nickels On The Dime, the classic album from the Minutemen, celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. Double Nickels is one of my favorite albums, something I’ve listened to hundreds of times over the years. It’s an album that has deep personal meaning for me, along with a handful of others, because it’s something that really changed the way I hear music and informed my personal and political sensibilities. When the idea for a tribute show came to mind, I knew I wanted to play the entire record, from start to finish. I wanted to include some information about the Minutemen and the recording of this album and considered using clips from the documentary We Jam Econo. Thankfully I was able to get a hold of Mike Watt and he was extremely gracious with his time, driving up from Pedro on a traffic filled hot summer weekday and spending almost two hours with me about the band and this album. Given the constraints of time, I had to edit down that conversation for the on-air program, but you can find our full conversation right here. All together this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. One of the shows that I’m most proud of in my 20+ year radio career. Enjoy this one to the fullest.

Melting Pot on KPFK #175: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #175: Second Hour

Playlist: 08-31-2014

{opening theme} Booker T & The MGs – Melting Pot – 7″ (Stax)

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Mike Watt – Interview – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-31-2014

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The Minutemen – Side D. – Double Nickels On The Dime (SST)

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The Minutemen – Side Mike (Part 1) – Double Nickels On The Dime (SST)

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The Minutemen – Side Mike (Part 2) – Double Nickels On The Dime (SST)

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The Minutemen – Side George – Double Nickels On The Dime (SST)

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The Minutemen – Side Chaff – Double Nickels On The Dime (SST)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Gonzaga

Luiz Gonzaga Jr. – Rabiscos N’Areia
Luiz Gonzaga Jr. – Galope
Luiz Gonzaga Jr. – Uma Familia Qualquer

Picked this up around the same time as the Richard Menexes 45 I’ve mentioned earlier. During the tail end of that same auction, the seller put up this record for a scant $5. It seemed that there really wasn’t anything wrong, except that the cover was missing. All I needed was a quick listen to “Galope” to swoop this one up, especially at that price. When it arrived, I was surprised that the album actually did have a cover with it and so the price seemed all the more perplexing, that is until literally this morning.

As I was preparing to record songs and then post this album to the blog, I finally realized that the cover was actually for his 1973 album, but this was his 1974 album. Brazilians, for whatever reason, often only gave their albums the title of the artist. Thus, it becomes important to know which year or which songs are on an album, because if you only went by the artist’s name, you might be dealing with 4 or 5 or 6 different releases.

Hadn’t heard of Gonzaguinha, as he’s also known, before this one. He definitely has a different style than many of his contemporaries, much darker and not as overtly funky, but it’s mighty tasty nonetheless.

Cheers,

Michael

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Kasai All-Stars – The Ploughman (Le Laboureur)

The Congotronics series put out by Crammed Discs has been one of the most ear-opening experiences of the last few years, highlighting contemporary music out of the Congo. Kasai All-Stars have finally released their latest entry into the series, following up from one of the best releases of 2008 with Beware The Fetish. The band hasn’t lost any of it’s verve, or it’s penchant for unusually long titles (the best one this time around is “As They Walked Into the Forest on a Sunday, They Encountered Apes Dressed As Humans”). Great representation of the incredible sounds coming out of Africa today.

They’ve even made a video for the song, “The Chief’s Enthronement” and it’s every bit as fantastic as you’d expect:

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First “real” show in a real long time, and this one is a doosey. When we have fundraisers and special programming, the music really piles up, plus I’ve been buying a ton of vinyl of late so there were all kinds of sounds that I’ve been waiting to share with you. Also, last week I went to New Orleans for a small-time getaway just before my birthday and the start of the new semester here at Long Beach, so there’s a few of my finds in the mix too. The show begins with a recently released protest song from Lauryn Hill, connected to the ongoing injustice in Ferguson, MO here in the states. The show also features a lot of anniversary music, a couple albums celebrating 20th anniversaries, Brother Sister from the Brand New Heavies and Grace from Jeff Buckley. I also play a Minutemen track that a different version is featured on their landmark album Double Nickels On The Dime, which I’ll be paying tribute to next Sunday for it’s 30th anniversary. Speaking of anniversaries, there’s also a couple songs dedicated to Chicano Batman’s Bardo Martinez and his new wife Laura in the second hour.

Finally, I also play some new music from Joanna Gruesome in the last set. The band played a couple of shows here in LA over the weekend and only deepened the heavy music crush I had on them, especially lead singer Alanna McArdle. I ran out of time, so I wasn’t able to read the amazing statement she posted after recently having to cancel a concert to take care of her mental health. It’s so incredibly rare to have a statement like this, here’s the link to it, please read it when you have a chance. If Alanna and Meredith of Perfect Pussy ever join forces in the same group, I’m not sure my heart could bear it, we’re lucky to have these fierce rock’n’rollers with us right now. Enjoy the show, next week it’s allllll Minutemen folks!

Melting Pot on KPFK #174: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #174: Second Hour

Playlist: 08-24-2014
{opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Lauryn Hill – Black Rage (Sketch) – Single (Self-released)
Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse (Atlantic)
Jungle Fire – Comencemos – 7” (Colemine)
Dr. John – Where Ya At Mule – Sun, Moon & Herbs (Atco)
Sidney Bechet – Blue Horizon – Jazz Classics Vol. 1 (Blue Note)
Antibalas – Tattletale Pt. 1 – 7” (Daptone)

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KING – Mr. Chameleon – Single (Self-Released)
Brand New Heavies – Back To Love – Brother Sister (Delicious Vinyl)
Ed Motta – Dried Flowers – AOR (Dwitza)
Erasmo Carlos – Mane Joao – Sonhos E Memorias (Polydor)
Louiz Banks – Song For My Lady – Spritiual Jazz Vol. 5 (Jazzman)

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Oy – Marketplace – No Problem Saloon (Crammed Discs)
Los Hacheros – Toma Tu Pilon – Pilon (Daptone)
Jeff Buckley – Dream Brother – Grace (Columbia)
Ismael Lo – Tajabone – All About My Mother: Original Soundtrack (Universal)
Lost Midas – Archetype Forgotten – Off The Course (Tru Thoughts)

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Electric Wire Hustle – Look In The Sky – By & Bye (Okay Player)
Betty & Angel – Everlasting Love – 7” (Every Day)
Chris Connor – Try A Little Tenderness – Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (Bethlehem)
Dirty Three – Ashen Snow – Toward The Low Sun (Drag City/Anchor & Hope)
Chicano Batman – La Tigresa – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Souls of Mischief & Adrian Younge – Panic Struck – There Is Only Now (Linear Labs)
Angkanang Kunchai – Lam Plearn Mee Mia Leaw Pai – The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2 (Soundway)
Allah-Las – 501-415 – Worship The Sun (Innovative Leisure)
Gales of Joy – Oh Yes – 7” (King)
Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues – Enchanted Evening (imperial)

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Joanna Gruesome – Psykick Espionage – 7” (Slumberland/Captured Tracks)
The Minutemen – Little Man With A Gun In His Hand – Buzz Or Howl Under The Influence Of Heat (SST)
Louis Prima – Oh Marie – The Wildest! (Capitol)
Kasai All-Stars – The Chief Enthronement / Oyaye – Beware The Fetish (Crammed Discs)
Chico Hamilton Quintet – Siete Cuatro – Chico Hamilton Quintet (Pacific Jazz)

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Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Rhambo1

Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues
Bo Rhambo – Blues For Two
Bo Rhambo – Dream Awhile
Bo Rhambo – My Mother’s Eyes

Yesterday was my 39th birthday, and I celebrated earlier in the week by taking a trip down to New Orleans. I haven’t to “the Big Easy” since I was a kid, which seems strange given how much I love the music and culture of the city. With only a few days there, predictably, I spent most of my time in record stores. I’ll likely be posting many of the things I picked up there on this blog in the coming months, but this record was the one I wanted to share first.

I picked up this album from trumpeter/saxophonist (a rare combination) Bo Rhambo while at Jim Russell’s Records. While most of the DJs who had suggested going to Jim Russell’s (or JR’s as I like to call it) talked about the 45s, I was able to find a number of really high quality jazz LPs while I was there. Sadly, Mr. Russell recently passed away, but his daughter-in-law Denise Russell has been running the place for a long time and it doesn’t seem like the store is going to close anytime soon. At JR’s the vast majority of LPs are $5 (or $10 if it’s a double record) and the 45s are $3 ($5 if it’s a picture disc) which leads to some extraordinary deals. If that wasn’t enough they also have a deal where every two records you buy, you get a third one free…needless to say, this was just my kind of store.

I’ll be sharing a story about my adventure looking for 45s here in the coming weeks, but for now I wanted to focus on my favorite record from the 7 or 8 I ended up getting. Recently I’ve been buying a lot of jazz, more so than usual, especially 1950s jazz. Most of the records I picked up were from “cool” female vocalists, like June Christy, Chris Connor and Anita O’Day. When I first saw the cover for this album, I thought for a moment that the model on the cover was Bo Rhambo, and she might be another vocalist. The cover art screams late 1950s early 1960s so it seemed like it would be in my sweet spot. When I found out the woman pictured wasn’t the musician, I almost put the album down right there, but something told me to give it a listen. I’d never heard of Bo Rhambo and the stylized cover made me curious to find out what the music might sound like. Rhambo2As I took out the record to see what kind of condition it was in, I was absolutely amazed at the level of smoke “damage” the record had. Dust looks very different. Sun damage looks very different. When smoke builds on a record it has a very distinctive look. I don’t know who originally bought this record, where it was played, but that must have been one seriously smokey joint!

Smoke doesn’t necessarily mean that the sound quality will be compromised, especially if you can clean some of the gunk off. So I gave the record a spin on the house turntable and was greeted with even smokier music in the lead track, “Two For The Blues.” At the time it seemed like there was some kind of warp, but since it also seemed to be perfectly on beat, I couldn’t tell if it was actually a warp, or just the percussive sound of the heavy organ on the track. Pretty much from the moment I heard that song I was hooked. Rhambo3I kept on shopping and kept on listening just to see if the condition of the record was going to be good. Sure enough, it played straight through with all kinds of smokey feeling. Earlier today I set about trying to clean up the record. I got about 1/2 of the smoke cleared from Side 1, but noticed that (aside from the phantom warp, which now had disappeared) there really wasn’t much of a difference between the two sides, so I decided to keep side 2 just as smokey as I found it. As the liner notes detail, this is an album that really does sound better in the evening. It was built for late nights and nefarious activity. It really has an old-school Los Angeles feel to, very noir-ish, even though I ran into it in New Orleans, I guess it fits that city too. So very thankful that I took a chance on this one, I really love this sound and hope you do to.

Cheers,

Michael

FindingFela

Fela Kuti – Viva Nigeria

Last week we played you an interview with Adam Kahan, who’s made a brilliant documentary, long in the making, for Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This week we’re highlighting another, by all accounts, exceptional documentary, just released on the life of the legendary Fela Kuti. Fela has enjoyed quite a resurgence in popularity over the last several years. Virtually all of his records are back in print, multiple Afro-beat outfits from Antibalas in NYC to Mexico 68 here in LA, have popped up to pay tribute to his sound and to top it all off, there was even a well regarded Broadway show in his honor. Finding Fela comes to us in the midst of this Fela-surgence. The soundtrack does its best to provide a cross-section of Fela’s career, opting to provide largely vocal edits of songs that in their original versions run from 15-30 minutes in length. “Viva Nigeria” is a very early track, recorded here in LA while Fela was in the States, having his consciousness raised and coming up with blueprint for his signature Afro-Beat style. The soundtrack also features a few tracks recorded by the “Fela! Band” which is essentially an all-star outfit based out of the Broadway show. All in all, it’s a nice introduction to those who are still new to Fela’s music and a great sing/dance-a-long collection for those of us who have been grooving to Fela for years and years.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for the film, Finding Fela:

KahanKPFK

It was truly an honor to talk with Adam Kahan, director of the remarkable new documentary on the life and times of Rahsaan Roland Kirk entitled, The Case Of The Three Sided Dream. As many of you know Rahsaan is a personal hero of mine and one of my all-time favorite musicians. When we recorded the interview I hadn’t seen the film, but I have since and in all honesty, I think it’s one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen, truly a film worthy of Rahsaan…Bright Moments!!!

Adam Kahan Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 7-24-2014

Please make sure to check out the website for the film, and if you haven’t seen the trailer, make sure you check it out below:

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Really nice to be back on the air again, I’ve been waiting and waiting for this one for what seemed like months. In the first hour of the show we have an interview with Adam Kahan (separate post to follow) the film-maker behind the truly beautiful documentary on Rahsaan Roland Kirk, The Case Of The Three Sided Dream. The second hour of the program is an hour long tribute to one of the greatest and funkiest drummers to have ever walked the planet, Idris Muhammad. I’ll write a bit more later Monday, enjoy the sounds for now!

Melting Pot on KPFK #173: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #173: Second Hour

The Sonics

The Sonics, one of the most influential garage bands of all-time, will be performing here in Los Angeles at the Roxy this Friday night, August 15th!!! The Sonics were one of several bands that put the Pacific Northwest sound on the map back in the early 1960s. They set themselves apart because of the raw energy and power of their performances. It’s not hyperbole to saw that whole scenes of music and legendary bands like the Gories or the Cramps might not have even been formed without the music of this band. Having reformed a few years ago, with original members Gerry Roslie (keys/vox), Larry Parypa (guitar) and Rob Lind (sax), even though the boys are now well into past their 60s, they’ve lost none of their verve and fire. If you’d like to go courtesy of Melting Pot, make sure to e-mail me by 5pm on Thursday, August 14th at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com!

I’m not sure there’s a greater song from this period of time than “Strychnine,” certainly it features some of the greatest opening lyrics of all-time:

Baby…you driving me crazy!:

Now if you’re not convinced that you should see this band here in 2014, just take a gander at this video, recorded earlier in the year:

RahsaanLeftRight

Rahsaan Roland Kirk – The Black Mystery Has Been Revealed / Expansions
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Lady’s Blues
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing

Here at Melting Pot, every August 7th, we celebrate Rahsaan Roland Kirk day! Rahsaan is the patron saint of this blog and one of my all-time favorite musicians and this year’s celebration brings with it a review and head’s up for the fantastic documentary directed by Adam Kahan on Rahsaan, called The Three-Sided Dream. So far, it’s been screened on a very limited basis at a few festivals around the country. When Melting Pot returns to the air on August 17th, I’ll be running an interview I did with Adam ahead of the screening here in LA for the Don’t Knock The Rock fest that Allison Anders curates. I’ll likely close the interview with a song from this 1969 album, “Lady’s Blues,” which according to Adam was the first song that he really “heard” from Rahsaan.

Left & Right is an interesting album. It’s one of the few that features Rahsaan with strings on most every track. The title, and the iconic cover photo, certainly reference the multiple sides of Rahsaan’s musicianship, as do the two sides of the album. The first side begins with a short call to arms from Rahsaan, titled the “Black Mystery Has Been Revealed,” which gives a bit of a preview of the direction Rahsaan would turn to on his later album Blacknuss. Most of the side is taken up with a long, seven-part piece called “Expansions,” which features the always brilliant Harp of Alice Coltrane.

Side two almost entirely features (aside from the aforementioned “Lady’s Blues” which Kirk wrote) covers of songs that are clearly inspirational to Rahsaan, including songs associated with Mingus (“I X Love”), Billy Strayhorn (“A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing”) and Quincy Jones (“Quintessence”). The inclusion of these songs, with the strings, acts as a real stark contrast to the more experimental “Expansions,” and gives another layer to the “Left & Right” metaphor with Rahsaan, something Adam & I talked about in our interview, the tension between pushing the music forward as an innovator and holding on to a sense of reverence of past traditions and styles. When I think of the criticism I’ve read of Rahsaan, it always seems like this dichotomy, described in the album’s notes as composer/entertainer, is the thing people who don’t dig him can’t wrap their head around. Rahsaan was many things and like the multiple instruments he often played, he was all these many things simultaneously. Which is precisely why we loved him so.

Bright Moments,

Michael

p.s. If you haven’t seen the film just yet, or even just the trailer for it, here it is. Once we run the interview with Adam, I’ll use that post to update about the status of the film and any scheduled screenings or (hopefully soon!) a release date to see it in theaters…the film is exactly what every fan of Rahsaan’s music could have hoped for:

BrownSabbath

Brownout – Hand Of Doom

Adrian Quesada’s Latin Psych Funk outfit Brownout + the music of Black Sabbath…do I really need to say anything else??? Didn’t think so…Rock on!

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Took a bit of a hiatus here at the start of August, but I’ll be back full-time here on the blog for the rest of the month. Here’s the fundraising special we did a couple weeks ago, we’ll be back with a new show on August 17th! Thanks to everyone who supported Melting Pot and KPFK!

Melting Pot on KPFK #172: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #172: Second Hour

DeepestDigs5

Year number five boiled down to the best twenty tracks from the past twelve months of our Dig Deep section…Later this year I hope to have a special 5th anniversary mix put together by one of the best DJ’s here in LA, but until then, Dig On It!

Melting Pot’s Deepest Digs Volume 5

1.  Phil Upchurch – Adam and Charlene – Upchurch
2.  The Emotions – Take Me Back – Untouched
3.  Johnny Frigo Sextet – Gardens On The Moon – The Electric Jazz Of Gus Giordano
4.  The Peppos and Jones Straightjacket Band – Humanity – 7″
5.  Clifford Coulter – Yodelin In A Whatchamaname Thang – Do It Now…Worry About It Later
6.  Miguel De Deus – Fabrica De Papeis – Black Soul Brothers
7.  Lenny White – Sweet Dreamer – Big City
8.  Gabor Szabo – Galatea’s Guitar – Dreams
9.  Ame Son – Eclosion – Catalyse
10. Joe Henderson – Earth – The Elements
11. Richard Menezes – Nova Jersey – 7″
12. Marcia Griffiths – Here I Am Baby – Sweet Bitter Love
13. Little Richard – The Rill Thing – The Rill Thing
14. Jean Kassapian – The Snake – 7″
15. The Latinaires – Camel Walk – Camel Walk
16. Horace Silver – Won’t You Open Up Your Senses – Total Response
17. Billy Harper – Soulfully, I Love You – Capra Black
18. Jerry Butler – Ain’t Understanding Mellow – The Sagittarius Movement
19. John Mayall – Looking At Tomorrow – Back To The Roots
20. Erasmo Carlos – Minha Gente – Sonhos e Memorias 1941-1972

Jun1

Jun Mayuzumi – Black Room
Jun Mayuzumi – Miracle
Jun Mayuzumi – Answer To Me
Jun Mayuzumi – Yagi-Bushi

I’m not entirely sure where or how I first heard the sounds of Jun Mayuzumi. I thought it might have been from the Nippon Girls collection, but that wasn’t put out until 2009 and I’m pretty sure I must have at least heard this while I was still living in the Bay Area on KALX Berkeley (probably due to Mathew Africa…R.I.P.).

Jun accepting her trophy for the most breaktastic Japanese song of all-time!

Jun accepting her trophy for the most breaktastic Japanese song of all-time!

I do know for sure the moment I freaked out for the song and had to get a copy. I’ve actually mentioned it here already, back in 2010, thanks to Scott Craig at the old Records LA spot. “Black Room” is quite possibly the greatest dancefloor filler, break-beat champion sound to have ever been released out of Japan and its one of my top five favorite songs to dance too (which I was reminded of this past weekend when Soul Marcosa dropped it in his set, followed by Los Kifers “El Sol Es Una Droga,” almost resulting in murder on the Funky Sole dance floor at the Echo). It’s got the great drums courtesy of Akira Ishikawa, big heavy bass lines, snappy horns and this fantastic long call “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww” from Jun with the drums only behind her at the start of most verses. Just a brilliant, brilliant tune.

A couple years ago, I found out that in addition to the 45, the song, along with 13 other tracks, was featured on this album from Mayuzumi, released in 1968 (I think, since I don’t read, speak or write Japanese). Most of these songs are also featured on 45s from Mayuzumi, and so instead of spending a small fortune tracking all of them down individually, I got this one as a birthday gift to myself. From what I can tell the cover of the record depicts Mayuzumi winning the Japan Record Award in 1968, sort of the equivalent of the Grammy’s here in the States. The same group that backs her on “Black Room” is featured on every track and while half of the songs are slower pop ballads, things still get soulful and funky just about everywhere else. There isn’t a lot of information on Jun in English on the interwebs, I know she also did a fair amount of acting, but not much more than that. One day hopefully I’ll be able to add her story here, but until then let’s just be thankful for the tunes.

Cheers,

Michael

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