Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Be Our Guest’ category


Here is our interview with the Swedish Psychedelic band Dungen. This interview, years in the making, almost didn’t happen. I had been in talks to bring the band in for an interview & performance, but the situation at KPFK made it virtually impossible to do the interview at the station. After a suggestion from a friend, I decided to do something I’ve never done before and I booked a couple of hours at Bedrock LA rehearsal space, paying for the time, space and equipment out of my own pocket. In order to understand why I went through so much to make sure this interview would happen, I have to take you back a few years.

I began my career in radio at WRAS, Album 88, and while I did a number of amazing interviews while there (particularly of my heroes Max Roach and Bobby Seale), when I left the station I was really turned off from interviewing artists after a few bad experiences towards the end of my time in Atlanta. At WORT & KALX, I did exactly two interviews (one at each station) and had no real desire to do any others. But in 2007, as I was driving around Berkeley, I heard Matthew Africa play “C. Visar Vagen” from Dungen and later walked into Amoeba as “C. Visar Vagen” was playing and for the first time in years, I really wanted to not only know more about this band, but to have a conversation with them about their music. That spark is what eventually led me to not only return to radio at KCRW, but to eventually land at KPFK where I could produce my own show and book my own interviews. During my time at KPFK, I had around 60 guests into the station for interviews, guest DJ sets and performances. I’m proud of all of them, but for all the reasons mentioned above, this one holds a special place in my heart. DungenBedrock

During our interview, we talk about the earliest years of the band, how the core quartet, featuring Gustav Ejstes, Reine Fiske, Mattias Gustavsson and Johan Holmegard, came together organically over the course of the band’s history, the latest release Allas Sak, which translates roughly to “Everyone’s Thing” and what that phrase means to the band and we spend quite a lot of time talking about the process of making music for this band, including some fascinating insight into how the band visualizes their music through images (such as “this is more like a gentle stream” or “more like the morning dew”) and the precious influence of Gustav’s mother. The interview also features music from the band, “Flickor Och Pojkar,” “Allas Sak,” and “En Gång Om Året” from the new record, as well as a couple of older songs that are personal favorites (including the much discussed “C. Visar Vagen”). Big thanks to Jessica Weber, Mark O’Donnell and Rachel Barnhart for their help setting this up, Mark Maxwell for helping with the sound, Bedrock LA for the space and most importantly thank you to the band for being so gracious with their time and so exemplary with their music. While it is a shame that the recording of their performance ended up being unusable for airplay, I am so very thankful to have been able to spend that time with the band and very proud of the interview that we were able to record and broadcast and share with you here.

Dungen Interview on Melting Pot: 10-25-2015

Annabel (Lee) KPFK (1)

The stars finally aligned for us this past week, after not having nearly as many guests as I’d hoped, we were able to bring in Annabel (Lee) for an interview and performance, a debut in many ways for this version of the ensemble, headed up by Annabel and Richard E. As I’ve mentioned previously, the album from Annabel (Lee) is one of my favorites of the year, just the right mix of moody, nearly supernatural sounds that skirts with a variety of genres, styles and time periods without sounding firmly ensconced in any particular one. I was especially looking forward to how this music would be translated into live performance and it turns out to have been beautifully done, here as a mostly acoustic (with only the keyboards needing an amplifier) sextet, with vocals, guitar, upright bass, keys, violin and harp. From conversation with Richard and Annabel, this particular ensemble (which also might include a cello) hasn’t performed live just yet, but live shows here in LA and abroad should be forthcoming. As you can tell from the three songs they performed for us, “Far,” “Alone” and “Suki Desu,” whenever/wherever Annabel (Lee) performs, it will be an event not to be missed. Special thanks to Mark Maxwell for his sonic wizardry and to Annabel (Lee) for blessing us with a truly magical performance.

Annabel (Lee) on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 07-14-2015


{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

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