Berry flavored Mambo!

DJ Rata and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swing at the Mambo Jambo.

Our pal DJ Rata hosts a groovy night at Otto’s Shrunken Head called Mambo Jambo. It usually takes place on the third Saturday of the month (and sometimes it takes place at the Robert Bar!). At the Mambo Jambo, one may expect to hear plenty of mambo records, that’s for sure… but also Jambo! What does that mean? It means basically that Rata and his guest DJs play all sorts of reet music on these nights—especially jumpin’ blues, Fifties R&B, ska, rocksteady, surf, boogaloo, calypso and rock’n’roll. Otto’s Shrunken Head is the perfect place for such an affair—this kind of music sits well with the punk rock tiki motif of the venue and the clientele bop along with it all night.

For Saturday March 18, Rata invited Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus to come swing with him. This is a gig The Boog looks forward to. He has a box marked, “mambo,” where he places records that he feels may be appropriate for the Mambo Jambo. Some of them are new acquisitions; others are those that he comes across in his collection that he thinks will be appropriate for the night. Most of these records are cha-chas, latin soul, boogaloos, skas, or somehow mambo-influenced—records that have that certain Spanish tinge. So, when it comes time for an appearance at the Mambo Jambo, The Boog grabs a handful or two of the records in the Mambo Box, then adds some assorted favorite records and/or recent finds into his play box.

DJ Rata spins a boss mambo record at the Mambo Jambo!

During the afternoon of March 18, it came to the attention of The Phast Man that one of the architects of rock’n’roll had died: Chuck Berry. A truly sad turn of events, sure, but it meant that Chuck Berry’s records must be played at the Mambo Jambo that evening! And so they were. The Boog played seven and Rata played at least five, if not six or seven. (At the end of the night, Rata put on a side of The Great Twenty-Eight and let it rip!)

Don’t let us forget that another musical giant passed away during the week—James Cotton, the great blues harmonica player. So a track by him was played in tribute.

Since this was ostensibly a mambo night of sorts, Phast also played four versions of “Caravan”—one to lead off each of his sets (the first set starting after a three song salute to Chuck Berry). Of course, “Caravan” isn’t really a mambo, however it is often played with a seriously syncopated rhythm that brings to mind Caribbean cultures. For the final hour, Rata and Phast traded spins, playing reggae, cumbia and other jams with exotic rhythms. The vibe of the evening was enhanced further by the presence of two spectacular DJs who showed up to groove: Tony Salvaje and DJ Xerox.

Here is a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at the Mambo Jambo:

None of these records are for sale. Some of the songs listed above have links to the youtubes—click on them and one may recreate the Mambo Jambo experience in the privacy of your own home. All photos by Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner.

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