Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Be Our Guest’ category


{As you might have guessed, I’m taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog and radio show as I finish this semester’s grading. I’ll be back on May 19th, Malcolm X’s birthday, with a review of Kamasi’s new album. Until then enjoy the music!}

Had the pleasure of sitting down with Kamasi Washington this past week as the world finally gets to hear his stunning masterpiece, and winner for the most appropriate title in the history of history, The Epic, a 17 part, 172 minute tour-de-force. In our interview we talked about Kamasi’s musical upbringing here in Los Angeles, how he found his way to the saxophone and the collective of musicians and friends that make up his groups The Next Step and The West Coast Get Down. We also dig deep into the multiple stories of The Epic, including some insight into two of the songs that you’ll hear in the interview, “Henrietta Our Hero” and “Malcolm’s Theme.” There’s a very strong chance we’ll be able to welcome Kamasi back in the Summer, but until then, enjoy this full version of the interview (the version we played on air featured edited songs and focused solely on the new album) and make sure to get this album as soon as you can when it is released tomorrow!

Kamasi Washington Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 04-29-2015

{If you’re here in Los Angeles, you still have time to catch what should be an epic night of music at the Regent Theater in DTLA, as Kamasi, his 11 piece ensemble, The Next Step, along with an 8 piece string section, a 7 piece choir and many special guests, will grace the stage to perform music from The Epic, in celebration of it’s release. Tickets are still available at this moment and this is one show you DO NOT want to miss!!!}

ADS - The Epic - 5x5 - v2


It was an absolute joy to have Rodrigo Amarante return to our studios at KPFK, just ahead of a recent show in Los Angeles. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, Amarante is one of my absolute favorite contemporary artists, with a sound and style that touches my soul. In this interview, we dig a little deeper into his experience recording his first solo album, Cavalo, and also talk a bit about how performing this album, on stage, around the country and around the world has shaped his sensibilities regarding this music, the first that fully and solely carries his name. Rodrigo performs three more songs from the album, “Tardei” “Hourglass” and “Irene” and also sang a beautiful little lullaby on KPFK’s very own grand piano, “Fall Asleep.” I hope you cherish this as much as I did in putting it together. Obrigado Rodrigo!

Rodrigo Amarante on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 03-24-2015


Longtime listeners of Melting Pot are very familiar with Morgan Rhodes. She’s filled in for me on the show a number of times and she was a regular fixture on my fundraising shows on KPFK. Up until recently Rhodes was the host of KPFK’s Listening Station, but she’s now moved on to bigger and better things. Morgan returned to our studios to talk about her work on Ava DuVernay’s exceptional film Selma. So much of the power of a great movie lies not only in the imagery and performances from the actors, but also in the way the music connects to the narrative. This is the work of the Music Supervisor. During our interview we talked with Morgan her work on the film, how she went about making choices between 1,000s of songs to land on the 15 or so that actually make their way into the film and some of the specific choices made for particular scenes in the film. I hope you enjoy this fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the best feature films on the Civil Rights movement.

Morgan Rhodes Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 01-10-2015


As I mentioned in the Breakdown for this show, we’d originally planned on doing a show with Watt and his group Il Sogno Del Marinaio, but the band arrived into Long Beach airport too late to make it all the way up to North Hollywood and KPFK. Watt promised he’d come in once he was done touring and this time everything worked out and he was able to swing through. We spend most of the first part of the interview talking about his latest projects, but if you’ve listened to Watt on his own radio show, The Watt From Pedro, you know conversations often start in one place, but cover a wide amount territory before closing up. For me, this felt less like a radio interview or even doing a show and more like just a conversation. As I mention, I almost wish I’d had the forethought to set up some kind of microphone when we weren’t on-air, because those conversations were just as good as what you’ll hear here. Watt also shared a few tunes, somethings that he’s loved over the years, somethings that influenced him as a musician and we close up with another recent project of his, Cuz. It’s been a really special treat getting to sit down with Watt on two occasions this year, these are without a doubt some of the my favorite interviews/shows that I’ve done in the 20+ years I’ve been in radio.

Mike Watt Interview and Guest DJ Set on KPFK’s Melting Pot 11-30-2014


It was our great pleasure to welcome Jungle Fire into the KPFK studios for a suitably fiery set of live tunes plus an interview. We did things a little different than we normally do, deciding to not break up the songs and instead just let Jungle Fire get fully into the groove and play for the people. The band played five songs, “Tropicoso,” “Culebro,” a medley of “Firewalker” and “Village Hustle,” Fela/Phirpo’s “Comencemos” and a mini-medley featuring a bit of Ray Barretto’s “Together” mixed with Jungle Fire’s version of the Luis Santi song “Los Feligreses.” During the interview that follows we talk about how the band got together, how they describe the unique blend of styles that is the Jungle Fire sound, recording their debut album, Tropicoso and their plans for the future. We’d been trying to bring the band in for a while, but as we discuss in the interview, it was probably for the best that this was the moment they were able to come in, now that they have a really fully realized sound, combined with the release of their new album. Enjoy!

Jungle Fire Recorded Live on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 09-24-2014


It was truly an honor to interview Souls of Mischief at KPFK. Having spent 8 years in Oakland, I know how much the Hieroglyphics crew means to the city and to the Bay Area’s Hip-Hop scene. Like so many, I first became a fan of the group some 20 years ago, when their indelible classic “93 Til Infinity” was released. Unlike many groups that emerged in the early 1990s, but haven’t been able to stay relevant, Souls Of Mischief have always managed to balance their creativity and integrity in bringing new sounds to their fans. Their latest release is a collaboration with LA’s Adrian Younge, who is making quite a name for himself after providing sounds for Ghostface Killah and being sampled by Jay-Z. Originally, we had hoped to have Adrian’s band come into the studio and play with the group, but things didn’t quite work out the way we planned. We were able to spend time with all 4 MCs from Souls Of Mischief and we spent close to an hour discussing this new album, going in deep on a few of the songs (the discussion connected to time that bridges “93 Til Infinity” with “There Is Only Now” is one of my favorite exchanges in my entire career) and talking about their views on the current state of Hip-Hop. Enjoy this one, it’s one of the best we’ve done on the show thus far.

The Souls Of Mischief Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 9-05-2014


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


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:


Charnett Moffett on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 07-10-2014

I first saw Charnett Moffett at Yoshi’s when he was playing in McCoy Tyner’s band. I knew his name and likely had heard a few records with his playing, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that night. Pretty much from the moment he played his first note I was completely transfixed, such is the power of Charnett Moffett’s virtousic talent. A little less than two weeks ago, I had the great fortune to bring Charnett into the KPFK studios to record an interview and performance. He was in town performing at the Catalina Jazz Club and was good enough to come to the station shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. The experience is one I’ll treasure for the rest of my days. We spent almost three hours together, working on the sound of his two basses, taking a lunch break, collaboratively discussing the structure of the interview and changing course, in a true improvisatory spirit, when either of us felt it might be good to go a different way. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience, especially because while he was performing I was essentially only a foot away from him. In the interview we discuss a bit about his upbringing and the influence of his father, Charles Moffett, quite a lot about his most recent album Spirit Of Sound (the interview features 5 songs from the album, and two live performances on piccolo and fretless bass of the tracks “Spirit Of Sound” and “Overpass”) as well as his general philosophy on making music and how it connects to the lives we lead. Many many inspiring words and sounds from a true master of his instrument and one of the all-time greats in my opinion on bass. Big thanks to Mary Ann Topper for her help in setting this up and of course to Charnett Moffett for his generosity, patience and exuberance while sharing the gifts of his time and music with us.


Natasha Diggs was our guest this weekend on Melting Pot. Though she’s been a DJ and collector for over a decade, I only recently find out about her. In the last several months, it seemed like I kept hearing about this incredible DJ based in New York, first from Seano of KPFK’s Soundwaves, where she did a Guest DJ set in May of this year (and also in June 2013) and especially in the run-up to the latest edition of Danny Holloway’s Blazing 45s series, which occurred this past Friday with Natasha featured as one of the many fantastic DJs on the bill. On the regular you can find her in NY as one of the residents for Mobile Mondays at Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery @ 2nd St, along with Just Blaze, Joey Carvello, Misbehavior, Operator EMZ and others. NDiggs2 It took me all of 5 minutes of watching her skills in the mix in some videos online for me to feel deeply sorry for missing out all these years, and also to immediately contact her to try to bring her into the studio for a chat and guest DJ session. Thankfully she was able to come in and spend sometime with us, despite a weekend where she was busy spinning at Amoeba Hollywood, The Echoplex and The Ace Hotel.

In our short interview (Natasha was a bit under the weather and losing her voice, next time she’s in town we’ll dig deeper into things) we discuss a little bit about her background and how she came to collect and mix primarily 45s. We also talk about her approach to spinning at a variety of venues. One of the many things I appreciate about Natasha is that when you watch her DJ, aside from the top-notch skills and selection, it’s really clear that she absolutely loves this music and loves playing it for people who also love to dance. Her mix is almost a full hour long, featuring all vinyl and all 45s, and moving through a variety of genres and styles in that space of time. Throughout the guest set she showcases her great ears for tunes and also battle ready skills to match, especially on some classic breaks like “Hot Pants,” “Impeach the President,” “The Handclappin’ Song” and “Cold Feet.” She didn’t let on too much about upcoming plans, but I have a feeling there are big things in store for Natasha Diggs in the next year, including hopefully a return trip to LA. Don’t make my mistake…do not sleep on this one…she is a mighty mighty force with those tiny records.

Natasha Diggs Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 07-12-2014
Guest DJ Set from Natasha Diggs on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 07-12-2014


One of the best months we’ve ever had on KPFK ended with one of our best Guest DJ sets, courtesy of Mr. Nick Waterhouse. Nick spent a little time talking to us in the first hour of Sunday’s program about his early days as a DJ and Musician. We also talked a bit about his approach to creating his signature sound. Freedom45Nick is known as a big time fan of raw, gritty rhythm & blues, and his guest DJ set certainly did not disappoint. For the most part he kept things mid-tempo and extra smokey, with some particularly choice cuts from Junior Wells, Ronnie Hawkins, Sonny Til, Lonnie Sattin and brand spankin’ new music from the Boogaloo Assassins, recorded by Nick himself. One 45 in particular I flipped out for was the Civil Rights inspired “Ride Freedom Riders from Harold Jackson & the Jackson Brothers. This might just be the best non-jazz Civil Rights song that I’ve ever heard, even though I’d never heard it until Nick played it on the show. Turns out this is a LA record, and Nick actually learned a bit more about it from Allen “Charmin'” Larman of Folkscene, who actually had met Harold Jackson. Deeply soulful set from Mr. Waterhouse, well worth many many listens for fans of this kind of music. Big thanks to Nick for coming on down with his big box of 45s and to Tenni Gharakhanian for setting everything up. Enjoy!

Nick Waterhouse Guest DJ Set on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 06-30-2014

Ronnie Hawkins – Southern Love – Roulette
Miles Grayson Trio – You Were Wrong – Hill
Ray Agee – Leave Me Alone – Kratton
Jackie Shane – My Tenament – Sue
Boogaloo Assassins – One and Only – Pres Records
Sonny Til – Hey Little Woman – C/P Parker Records
Dee Dee Sharp – Comin’ Home Baby – Cameo
Barbara Dane – I’m On My Way – Trey
B.B. King – Think It Over – Bluesway
The Clovers – One More Time – Porwin
Junior Wells – (I Got A) Stomach Ache – Vanguard
Jimmy McCracklin – What’s That Part 2 – Mercury
Harold Jackson & the Jackson Brothers – The Freedom Riders – Edsel
Jackie Ross – Hard Times – SAR
Young Jesse – Brown Eyes – Vanessa
Lonnie Sattin – Sweetheart – Sunbeam


Our 5th year at KPFK has gotten off to a rather stunning start and it continued this past week when we welcomed UK vocalist Zara McFarlane into our studios. Earlier in the year McFarlane released her second album, If You Knew Her, on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood record label, and she’s garnered just about every accolade you gain get since then. The album is a collection of songs inspired by the women in McFarlane’s life, as well as a call to dig deeper and move beyond the stereotypes for Black women in particular. At KPFK she performed three songs from this album, accompanied by pianist Lincoln Cleary, “Open Heart,” “Her Eyes” and “You’ll Get Me In Trouble.” With just the piano backing her, there’s a much stronger emphasis on McFarlane’s voice and her songwriting, both of which are simply fantastic. In the interview we talked about her background, how she found her way into Gilles Peterson’s ears and on his label, a bit about the differences between her debut and this follow-up as well as some discussion about several of the standouts from the record, “Open Heart” and two covers of Jamaican songs, “Angie La La” and “Police and Thieves.” Big thanks to Stan Misraje for his production work on the sound and to Jessica Weber and Yolanda Martinez for helping set things up. Most of all, thanks to Zara McFarlane for spending this time with us.

Zara McFarlane on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 06-16-2014


I’m still in disbelief that this session actually happened. It all seems like a dream, too beautiful to have occurred in real life. I’ve been a fan of Rodrigo Amarante’s music since 2008, when I first heard his song “Evaporar” from the Little Joy record. His music is deeply affecting and moving, particularly when it is performed as it was for our session, acoustically with just guitar and Amarante’s vocals. When music is this intimate, it almost feels like you’re experiencing something that you shouldn’t, as if you’re trespassing in someone’s back yard as they play their music on their back porch for the ones they love. Thankfully that is not actually the case, Amarante writes songs and performs to be heard by all who care to listen.

For us, Amarante plays 4 songs, “I’m Ready,” “O Cometa,” “Mon Nom” and “The Ribbon,” all of which are on his new album, Cavalo. However, on record there are added elements, and while all of the songs on record are very nicely put together, this session presents a stark contrast with them. Here in this performance you are left with Amarante stripped down to his essence, and the effect is stunningly beautiful. While the songs are certainly a treasure to behold, I’m also appreciative of Amarante’s openness in discussing the themes of the album, how they relate to his personal life and his personal beliefs about the nature of songwriting, performance and the role of the artist in society.

I still don’t have the proper words to describe how exceptionally powerful this music is. Every bit of praise I come up with still seems unable to full capture how I feel about Amarante’s songs. I’ve been blessed to have been involved with some remarkable artists over my 20+ years in radio, but I’m not sure if there’s a better session that I’ve done than this one. It was truly an honor and I feel profoundly privileged to have taken part in it. I hope those of you who listen to this session will share it with your friends and loved ones, and that you all appreciate it as much as I do. These songs and these sentiments are works of a rare and profound beauty, brought to life vividly by a remarkable musician, a true artist, Rodrigo Amarante.

Rodrigo Amarante on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 06-13-2014


Beat Swap Meet is quite possibly the best record fair I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend. Certainly, there are plenty of records, but you can find quality records anywhere. What the Beat Swap Meet has that other record shows do not is personality and a culture. DJ 671, one of the organizers of the Beat Swap Meet joined us for a short chat about the event and also dropped a very “Melting Pot” kind of Guest DJ set, with a variety of styles, all mixed together expertly (and with some subtle politics and Father’s day tuneage thrown in). Due to time constraints we weren’t able to bring the entire set to you yesterday on-air, but here it is in its entirety. I’ll see you at the next Beat Swap Meet, (I should be spinning some tunes around 2-ish) coming this Sunday, June 22nd…just in time for the official start of Summer!

DJ 671 of the Beat Swap Meet Interview and Guest DJ Set on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 06-13-2014

1. Intro – The Musical Story of the Streets of Laredo (Aim)
2. Zero 7 – When it Falls (Elektra)
3. Bill Cosby – Section 9 (Capitol)
4. A Bird On a Poire – Mirabelle Mirabeau (Labels)
5. V/A – Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Analog Burners)
6. The Cool on Notes – You’re Never Too Young (Abstract Dance)
7. Pedro & Capricious – Superstition (Atlantic)
8. Break: Veterans Administration Public Service Announcements – Rehabilitation Qualification
9. Latimore – Yes We Can (Glades)
10. Jimmy McGriff – Sky Hawk (Lester Radio Corporation)
11. Brian Ellis feat. Egyptian Lover – Love Is (7″) (Voltaire)
12. The X-Man – That Body (Peoples Potential Unlimited)
13. Frank Zappa – I Come From Nowhere (Barking Pumpkin Records)


For the past three years I’ve been trying to set up an interview with Eilon Paz, the creative force behind one of my favorite websites, Dust and Grooves, only to strike out at the last minute. After years of unsuccessful attempts, I was finally able to bring him in for an interview to talk about his project and especially the recently released and absolutely fabulous book, Dust & Grooves: Adventures In Record Collecting, which features photos and stories Paz has accumulated over the past 6+ years. As you’ll hear in the interview, though we only had 30 minutes, we discussed a broad range of issues, including the origins of the project, how he chooses collectors, the gender dynamics and politics involved in collecting, the experience of bringing together communities of collectors in ways that they never had been before and his plans for the future.

One of the more interesting aspects of this project we discuss, and something that I really only fully realized once I got a look at this book, is how ultimately what is most interesting about a collection isn’t it’s size or the rarity of the records, it’s how that collection often connects to the individual’s life in unexpected ways. DustGroovesMix Some of the pictures really act as windows into the soul of these indivdiuals, as Paz gains access to perhaps their most personal space, the room where they keep and listen to their vinyl. Talking about these collections and getting a chance to view enlarged versions of the photos at an exhibit/book launch/vinyl party that took place after our interview inspired me to think about some of the stories behind some of the records I own. We’d originally planned on having Paz put together a guest DJ set, but ran out of time (next time for sure!) and during Sunday’s show my thoughts had only started to form around this set, so I decided to add the 45-minute mix (titled Collected Memories) to this post, and also share the stories behind these 10 records, how they came into my collection and what they mean to me.

Eilon Paz of Dust & Grooves Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 06-05-2014
Collected Memories: An All Vinyl Mix Inspired By Dust And Grooves

Collected Memories: Tracklist and Notes

Mtume Umoja Ensemble – Alke-bulan: Land Of The Blacks

{I was first exposed to the music of the artist controlled label Strata East while I was hosting Stompin’ Grounds on WORT Madison. The station had something like 20 albums from the label and every single one of them was amazing. This copy came into my hands while looking through records at a store in Oakland called House Of Soul. I noticed that in addition to the records in the bins, there were 45s and LPs stacked haphazardly underneath the bins. Didn’t take long to dig up this rare double LP of spiritual jazz. The cover was in poor shape, with some severe water damage, but the LPs looked decent. I asked about buying it and the clerk said he didn’t know since it didn’t have a price tage and he’d have to call the owner. The first response from the Boss (who I later found out used to own one of favorite stores in Atlanta, Red, Beans & Rice) was something to the effect of “That records not supposed to be there,” but after a bit of sweet talk from me he decided to sell it and it’s been a prized possession in my collection every since.}

Jorge Ben – From Brazil (O Bidu Silencio No Brooklin) & Wilson Simonal – Wilson Simonal

{These two don’t follow each other in the mix, but they’re very much linked together as I’ve detailed before on this blog, here and here. Short version of those longer stories is that I picked up the Jorge Ben album at Amoeba in Berkeley, loved it dearly, but it was one of many records I sold in 2004. It was years and years before I broke down and decided to by another copy of it, opting to get the Brazilian version. I was shocked to discover that the music was completely different than what I remembered, I then bought the US version of the same album and the music was the same as the Brazilian copy, but still different than what I remembered. Listening to dubs of the original songs I finally put two and two together and realized that I had a mis-press which featured a collection of music from Wilson Simonal on the album instead of Jorge Ben. My guess is that these two records were pressed up at around the same time and so maybe there are a few mis-presses out there, or maybe that copy was unique. Both albums are stellar and I’m thankful to have solved the mystery}

Jean Kassapian – The Snake

{This one slithers it’s way into the mix between Jorge Ben and Wilson Simonal. Earlier this year I bought a 45 from an Ebay dealer who happened to be local and willing to hand off the 45 in person instead of sending it in the mail. When I arrived I noticed that there were boxes and boxes of 45s just lying around the place. He told me that the 45 I had bought had come from this collection and I convinced him to allow me to look through them to see if there was anything else I’d be interested in buying. Took a couple of days but I pulled out a few nice 45s, including this private press belly-dance shaker (I’ll actually be featuring this and a few others from this dig in a post in a couple weeks). When I showed the guy the ones I was interested in, he immediately took them to the back room and returned with prices based off of quick internet searches. Some of the prices must have been based on what some of these would have gone for in 2001, but were way inflated for today (for example, he wanted $100 for a Shadows Of Knight 45 that you can find for $10 or less), but through some intervention of the record gods, he wasn’t able to find information on this 45 and a couple others. It’s not that the information isn’t there, he just missed it. So, this one is one of my best digs, a super rare 45 that I got for $5, though it’s probably worth over $200.}

Booker Little – Booker Little

{If the Jean Kassapian is maybe my most recent steal, this record from Booker Little was the very first one. I started really seriously collecting vinyl in 1994/1995. One of my favorite dealers was a guy out in Brookhaven by the name of Bill Wolfe. He always had amazing records, stuff no one else ever had and they were almost always in perfect condition. His store was the one that nobody told anyone else about and you’d give a sideways glance if you ran into someone you knew when you were there. One Saturday morning he had a $1 record sale outside his store, with records that he clearly didn’t think were worth much and wouldn’t mix in with the gems he kept inside. Digging through those brought me this album from an artist who now is one of my all-time favorites. The cover had a major seam split and some other damage, but for the most part looked really good. The record itself looked beautiful. There’s just no reason this record should have been $1, even in this condition these days it would likely fetch $100-200. This Time record is the second rarest record in Little’s catalog and features work from the legendary Scott La Faro on bass, both artists tragically dying in the same year 1961, about a year after this was released. I don’t have a lot of stories digging up steals, nothing else as rare as this record and Kassapian mentioned above, these were definitely moments where good record Karma came through.}

Arnold Bean – Cosmic Bean

{This is a record I’ve featured here before, and one of the few records I’ve just gotten for free. I was expecting some crazy price, given that the store where I found it, Action Records (aka As The Record Turns aka A-1 Records), has some serious heavyweight pieces. Every time I’ve gone in there though, the owner has just thrown in one of the records I brought up to the counter. It’s not something he generally does when you see him at the PCC record swap, so I wasn’t expecting it at all, though I’m really thankful for it. “I Can See Through You” is one my favorite songs from this period of time.}

Cactus – Cactus

{As I’ve mentioned, “Can’t Judge A Book” was a song that I originally heard on WREK’s Stonehenge over 20 years ago, which was one of many shows I used to record on cassette while in High School. The tape ran out before the hosts mentioned what it was, so in those pre-Google days I was just left to wonder what the song was. I stepped up my efforts after getting to KALX Berkeley, playing it for other DJs (one of the rare times I stumped Matthew Africa) and even playing it on the air and asking listeners if they knew what the song was. Eventually I figured out two or three candidates based off of a industry book that listed song titles and the artist who had recorded them. The mystery was finally solved at The Record Man, which had all of the albums on the list and with a listening station allowed me to figure out which one it was. Remains one of my all-time favorite slices of brash and bloozy Rock’n’Roll…I especially love that the back cover suggests playing the album at a “high” level.}

Ohio Players – Ecstasy (Matthew Africa Edit)

{Probably the single most personal record in my collection is this dub plate that I made as a tribute to my friend Matthew Africa. Close to his death, Matthew was doing some of his best work as DJ, in terms of mixes and edits. This perfectly edited version of the far too short “Ecstasy” retains all of the charm of the original while expanding it into a 4 minute epic dance floor burner. One of the best moments of my entire DJ career was playing this at Funky Sole earlier in the year and having the response be just as ecstatic as the song itself.  Through another moment of good record karma, I actually ended up with two copies of this due to an imperceptible pressing issue on one. No other record in my collection means as much to me as this one.}

Leigh Stephens – Red Weather

{It doesn’t happen too often, but every know and again I’ll walk into a store and walk into a fantastic record that I’ve never heard before but immediately desire. One of the places this happened several times was at the “old” Records LA (The owner Scott Craig has essentially moved everything to the Last Bookstore in DTLA) but my favorite was walking into the store and about 30 seconds later Scott dropping the needle on a reissue of this album from former Blue Cheer member Leigh Stephens. I really dig psychedelic rock, have since growing up listening to Hendrix and making cassettes of 96 Rock’s Psychedelic Saturday. When all of those washes of feedback and those heavy drums came through the speakers, I couldn’t even concentrate on looking at the other records, I had to know what the album was. When I found out it was a reissue, I immediately went about tracking down an original. I trip out that if I had left home later, or gotten stuck in traffic and arrived at the store 15 or 20 minutes later, or hadn’t even bothered to have gone that day, I would have never known about what now is one of my favorite psych records of all-time.}

Billy Harper – Capra Black

{Another record I’ve talked about here and how this is one of many records that reminds me of Matthew Africa, since Harper was one of our favorite Saxophonists and we discussed him at length and saw him perform in the Bay Area. What I didn’t mention is that this was actually the very first album I ever bought off of the internet. At the time Ubiquity/Luv’n’Haight records had an online storefront that not only featured their music, but also rarer things. Having heard this album through the aforementioned WORT Library, when I saw it listed online I snatched it up immediately. What I didn’t realize is that I had bought the album from Cool Chris of Groove Merchant, until he mentioned it during a conversation we were having years after that. This record symbolizes not only the friendship I had with Matthew, but it also highlights just how important this music and these records have been in shaping my life. When I was admitted to Berkeley, the #1 thing I was excited about was being able to go to Groove Merchant. Chris was actually the first person I knew in California, even before I moved there for Graduate School. As mentioned above, when I started to think of the records I have as not only music that I enjoy but as a source of collected memory, memories of finding the albums, memories of conversations about music, of friendships built around shared passions for music, it is really true that our collections tell stories about our life, big thanks to Eilon Paz for digging up those stories and thank you all for listening to mine.}

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