Wang for Waller.

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Don Waller was a friend of The Boogaloo Bag writers for more than forty years. Suffice to say that he was pretty close to Phast Phreddie, especially during the latter’s years in Los Angeles (early Seventies to 1991, when he moved to New York). Early in their lives they influenced each other in very positive ways, most of which involved music. Waller died on November 17, after a battle with lung cancer that lasted nearly a year.

The Boogaloo Bag writers are much too saddened by Don’s death to supply much background information on their dear friend. They suggest you read his obituaries in the L.A. Times, the L.A. Weekly and one that our friend Steve Hochman wrote for buzzbands. By doing so, you will start to understand the scope of the person Waller was.

There is one truth in this world: No matter what happens, no matter if the event is tragic, terrifying, ground-breaking, or no matter how extreme, life will go on. The death of Don Waller has been devastating to us here at The Boogaloo Bag because he meant so much to us. However, life goes on; and so do DJ gigs.

It was with Don Waller in mind, about a week after his passing, that we selected records for our November gig at The Commodore. Waller dug all kinds of reet music. In the early Seventies, he turned us on to The Stooges, Mott the Hoople and The New York Dolls. Blue Öyster Cult adapted one of his songs, “This Ain’t the Summer of Love.” He dug The Clash and The Sex Pistols, X and The Blasters, The Faces and The Rolling Stones. He wrote a book about the great soul music record company Motown.

Don Waller loved soul music. After his book came out in 1985, he became the go-to guy for soul music information. He interviewed just about every living soul singing legend, semi-legend, and one-hit wonder still alive in the Eighties, from James Brown on down. He enjoyed every minute of it.

When it came time to select records for The Commodore DJ night, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus found himself picking records connected to Don Waller—either ones that Waller had played when they DJ’d together, had turned the Phast Man on to, had written about or had some other association with Waller. So The Boog decided to turn the night into his own personal celebration of Don Waller and their friendship. In all, about 300 or so 45s must have been pulled—way more than the Phast Man could ever play in the five hours allotted at the Friday night gig. It was hard to edit them down: He would only have time to play less than half that many records and his box only held about 160. So it was decided: Leave the hard rock, punk rock, and garage rock at home and bring only the soul and funk records.

The Boog did a little homework. He found a Waller set list from a DJ gig he did a few years ago in an old email and used it as a guide. It included many fabulous funk records, and The Boog noted that the opening and closing records were by Georgie Fame. Obviously, a preponderance of Motown (and associated) records was in order. Waller’s DJ name was Agent Double-O Soul, so the Edwin Starr record was a must (as was the Sonny Stitt instrumental version). When Waller interviewed a soul singer, he asked every one of them this question: Of your performing contemporaries, who do you think was the most underrated? Every one of them, except one, answered that they themselves were underrated. James Brown said Joe Tex. So Joe Tex records had to be played. Waller had seen Labelle play at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, so “Lady Marmalade” was played. Other songs we learned from cassette tapes that were sent to Waller by a Detroit music collector who was helping him with research for the Motown book. In April of 1980, The Clash played a show at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. DJ Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus was the opening act with Don Waller as his assistant. The last record they played before the band went on was Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose.” At the time, The Clash was opening its shows with a cover of “Time Is Tight” by Booker T & the M.G.’s, which has a very similar riff. The group started playing while the Otis record was spinning and it sounded as if the band was playing along with it. Waller and The Boog cracked up!! So that event was sort of recreated at The Commodore. There was one LP track that was played–a song by Major Lance that Waller dug but was never issued on a 7″ 45 RPM record. The original version of “Back Door Man” by Howlin’ Wolf had to be played, since it was the name of the hard core rock’n’roll fanzine that Waller, Phast and their pals DD Faye and Tom Gardner (among others) worked on during the mid-Seventies. And so it went.

In a sad coincidence, two artists that Waller admired, Mose Allison and Sharon Jones, also recently passed away. So their records were added to the mix as well.

Although few people in New York City knew Don Waller, the folks in attendance at The Commodore enjoyed the evening. Who doesn’t love soul music? Toward the end of the night, during one of the funk portions of the program, the place went absolutely wild, with folks frolicking and falling all over themselves; losing themselves in the music—as did The Boogaloo Bag writers.

For more than twenty years, Don Waller lived with his partner Natalie Nichols—herself an excellent music journalist. Once the tremendous shock of Waller’s death has receded somewhat (it can never recede fully for those of us who knew him), she may plan a proper memorial in Los Angeles, where many hundreds of people knew and loved him. It may be a full-on party, where we can listen to The Stooges and The Miracles and The Sonics and The Zeros and Chocolate Watchband and Wilson Pickett and Patti Smith and Little Richard and watch the video of his band The Imperial Dogs and everyone there will understand and dance and laugh and sing as we celebrate the passing of this great human being.

Maybe then we can stop crying.

Here is a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus in tribute to his friend Don Waller at The Commodore on November 25, 2016:

None of these records are for sale.

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Keystone State Soul Weekender!

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Julio Apollo XII is a Spaniard. David Raistrick is an Englishman. Somehow, they both ended up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They are record collectors and soul music DJs. A couple years ago, Julio  founded the Red Rose Soul Club there with DJ Salinger. Mr. Raistrick also lives in Skegness, England, where he runs the Tamala Coffee Bar and Record Shop. Early last year, they started planning to have a Northern Soul weekender in Lancaster. They found a beautiful venue for it—the Elk’s Lodge on N. Duke Street—and rounded up a bunch of DJs who were known nationally and internationally. One of those caught in the dragnet was Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus. The dates chosen were November 11th through the 13th. And so the Keystone State Soul Weekender was on.

Jason Thornton and Bruno Jerez swing at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

Jason Thornton and Bruno Jerez swing at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

By all rights, this should have been a completely joyous occasion—with frolicking and dancing and all sorts carrying on. However, a virtual cloud hovered over the event when the national election that took place on November 8 surprisingly selected a man whose fascist and extreme nationalistic tendencies are very troubling. Many of those who attended the Weekender worried about the future of our country. Being in deep Pennsylvania, a state that turned red for the first time after six elections, felt a little like being behind enemy lines. However, here we all were at a boss soul weekender with some of the finest soul music DJs in the world, trying to make the best of it. You can be sure that the music that was played was fabulous. We were happy to see smiling faces and dancing feet that came from all over the place—especially a contingent of our friends who came from New York City that included Lady Dawn of the Subway Soul Club and Connie T Empress of the Empire State Soul Club.

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Among the DJs who took part were: Quincy Bright (Philadelphia), John Burns (Philadelphia), Tom Dechristofaro (Cleveland), Kev Draper (England), Ian Friend (Pittsburg), Bruno Jerez (a Frenchman living in New York), Gene Merideth (Allentown), Andy Powell (England), DJ Salinger (Lancaster), Jason Thornton (Boston), Greg Tormo (Hoboken, NJ) and The Thing With Two Heads (Bazooka Joe and X-Tine 16 of Dallastown, PA). Each of the DJs brought their own style to the dance—especially The Thing With Two Heads, which will never be confused with a Northern Soul DJ, but its excellent choice of hot R&B numbers had the place boppin’.

The Thing With Two Heads swings at the Keystone State Soul Weekender!

The Thing With Two Heads swings at the Keystone State Soul Weekender!

The Volcanoes made great records that Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus likes to play!

The Volcanoes made great records that Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus likes to play!

Saturday afternoon at the Elks Lodge was very special. Some vendors were set up to sell records and the legendary soul vocal group from Philadelphia The Volcanos sat and signed autographs. Singer Steve Kelly wrote a book about his experience with the group, and The Trammps into which The Voclanos morphed, called Behind the Curtains. The book was available and he signed a copy for The Boog. On Sunday afternoon the event was visited by Howard Washington of The Tranells and Dennis Brennan of The Intentions.

Julio Apollo XII, Howard Washington of The Trenells, David Raistrick and Dennis Brennan of The Intentions swing at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

Julio Apollo XII, Howard Washington of The Trenells, David Raistrick and Dennis Brennan of The Intentions swing at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus, though the resident DJ of the Subway Soul Club, is not really a pure Northern Soul DJ—unlike most of the DJs who selected at this event—but his sets were well received, especially the one on Saturday that featured Go-Go dancing by Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner!

Nancy "Jeannie" Gardner" Go-Go dances at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner” Go-Go dances at the Keystone State Soul Weekender. Photo by Frank Lipsius.

On Sunday morning, the Keystone Record Collectors monthly record show took place at the Continental Inn—perhaps the best monthly record show east of the Mississippi. Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus was attending said event when he got a call from Miss Nancy: our close friend Billy Miller of Norton Records and The A-Bones had just passed away. He had been very ill, but still, this was incredibly sad news.

Phast Phreddie hurried to the hotel room and quickly confirmed that this was true, as per a posting by his wife Miriam Linna on the facebooks. Billy had been fighting diabetes, cancer and seemingly a half-dozen other ailments in the past two years that kept him in and out of the hospital—mostly in.

Phast Phreddie had committed to an afternoon DJ slot back at the Keystone State Soul Weekender and he was determined to fulfill that commitment unless he had a broken leg. So he decided to do so with a broken heart. Phast Phreddie returned to the record show to look for a good record to end his set with, in order to salute Billy Miller. Although he was a heavy record collector, Billy Miller didn’t really like Northern Soul music, so it is with a bit of irony that this salute was done at all. However, Phast Phreddie couldn’t justify executing his set that day without some sort of tribute to his fallen friend. So it was for Billy Miller that Phast Phreddie closed his set with a song by The Shangri-Las—one of Billy’s all-time favorite acts—and one by Andre Williams—one of the acts whose career Norton Records helped to revitalize. The Thing With Two Heads was also very close to Billy Miller and its Sunday set was cancelled.

Directly after his set, Phast Phreddie and Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner climbed into their rented car and drove back to Brooklyn, wiping tears from their eyes the whole way.

Here is a complete list of all the songs played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at the Keystone State Soul Weekender:

Friday Night set list:

Saturday Night set list:

Sunday Afternoon set list:

None of these records are for sale.

PS: Thank you so much to Julio Apollo XII and David Raistrick for asking The Boog to spin records at their wonderful event. All of the DJs played amazing records every night. The Boogaloo Bag writers made so many new friends and were very happy to hang with some old ones. Here’s hoping that there is another event next year, and that everyone we know stays healthy!

Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus

David Raistrick, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus, Bettie Mojoros, Julio Apollo XII

David Raistrick, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus, Bettie Mojoros, Julio Apollo XII

Dave Raistrick, Greg Tormo and Gene Merideth

Dave Raistrick, Greg Tormo and Gene Merideth

Dave Raistrick

Dave Raistrick

friends

Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner, Kiki Lenoue, X-tine 16, Bazooka Joe, Greg Tormo, Connie T Empress

Gene Merideth

Gene Merideth

Ian Friend

Ian Friend

Julio Apollo XII

Julio Apollo XII

Quincy Bright and his record dealer!

Quincy Bright and his record dealer!

Quincy Bright

Quincy Bright

Tom Dechristofaro

Tom Dechristofaro and Ian Friend

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus on Sunday.

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus on Sunday.

Tom Dechristofaro and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus

Tom Dechristofaro and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus

 

WHAM-O’s Extra Hour!

Mike Mortician and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swing at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

Mike Mortician and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swing at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

What’s not to like about Mike Mortician? He is a groovy cat who sells sharp suits for a living. He is also the lead singer for The Memphis Morticians—a band that seems to play once every five years, but is one of the finest psychobilly bands you will ever hear. For a while, he was DJing regularly at Otto’s Shrunken Head for an event called The Midnight Monster Hop, but he doesn’t do that very often any more. Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus has DJ’d with him before—most notably at a Mods Love Rockers event several years ago at the Bushwick Beauty Bar. That was a gas; Mike Mortician played some most excellently rockin’ sides that drove all the hep cats in attendance wild.

Mike Mortician mixes another monster musical gem in to his set at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

Mike Mortician mixes another monster musical gem in to his set at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

When Mike Mortician agreed to DJ at the WHAM-O WATUSI on November 5, we expected more of the same—and brother, did we get it. Mike played some boss jams that kept the folks at the Bootleg Bar boppin’ all night long. Since this was only a few days after Halloween, both Mike and host Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus spiced up their DJ sets with monster records. Plus, because the clocks were adjusted back an hour in order to return to Standard Time at 3:00 AM that Sunday morning, The Bootleg Bar opted to stay open an extra hour and Mike and Phast obliged with an extra hour of rockin’ tunes!

Here’s a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus a the November 5 WHAM-O WATUSI (don’t forget to check out the links to the youtubes in order to dig the actual tracks!):

None of these records are for sale. Photos by Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner.

The Boog and Mike in a pensive mood at WHAM-O WATUSI!

The Boog and Mike in a pensive mood at WHAM-O WATUSI!

 

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