For the last several years, our pal DJ Rata has been hosting fabulous parties at Rockaway Beach on certain select Sundays during the summer. Called Shake It Up Sunday, it takes place at Caracas, an open-air Venezuelan restaurant located along the boardwalk at the beach (the coconut smoothie is godhead!). The place has a huge patio, and that’s where the festivities took place on June 25. The date was close enough to Rata’s birthday (the 29th) that it was celebrated, too. Since Rata is a big Batman fan, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus (who was invited to play a few rekkids) and Boogaloo Bag photographer Nancy Jeannie Gardner surprised him with a batch of Batman cupcakes, Batman napkins and Batman balloons. Oh, did we mention that The Boog wore his Batman socks?
Rata also invited a few other boss jocks: Grace of Spades, Wig Doctor and Disreputable Shaman. (There may have been one or two others, but they must have left before the Boogaloo Bag writers arrived, or else they kept low profiles. Tony Salvaje was in the house, but forgot to bring records!). Plus, The David Hillyard Quintet played two sets of funky, vibes-driven, soul jazz.
But let’s start the Sunday the way we should–at Field Number One in Prospect Park, where Phast Phreddie pitched a 9-4 win game in the early afternoon. (One of the players on his team, Joel Wilhelmi, showed up with his family to make the scene at Shake It Up Sundays later that day. Mr. Wilhelmi played a key roll during the game when: while playing short stop, he went for a ground ball, tripped, knocked the ball toward the second baseman, who picked it up, stepped on the bag and threw to first base for a 6-4-3 double play!). Then, after the game and a quick presto-change-o, The Boog and Nancy Jeannie were off: F Train to the A Train that will take them to Rockaway Park. However, the wait at the Jay Street station was a l-o-n-g forty minutes. Plenty of trains came and went, but not the train to Rockaway. However, the wait was made quite pleasurable by a fellow playing a steel drum and singing Bob Marley songs on the platform.
Finally the train came and the hour or so trip was completed. The Boogaloo Bag writers showed up at Caracas around 5:30–just in time for The Boog to sneak in about 30 minutes of 45 RPM records before the jazz combo played.
And what a jazz combo! It was lead by David Hillyard, an excellent tenor saxophonist who also plays with the ska/reggae influenced rock band The Slackers as well as The Rocksteady 7, a Jamaican jazz outfit that also features Larry McDonald. Mr. McDonald is a legend among Jamaican music aficionados, as he has played on a myriad of rocksteady and reggae records. In fact, that very day, The Boog had a record in his box that Mr. McDonald played on–one by Carlos Malcolm. The David Hillyard Quintet also included a talented vibraphonist and the group spiced its improvisations with Latin and reggae rhythms for an exciting mix of grooves.
Grace of Spades has been mentioned in the Boogaloo Bag a couple of times. Once when she worked with him at an Out of Sight night at the Beauty Bar. Another time, she invited The Boog onto her radio show, Watch This Sound, for a tribute to Sam Cooke and Etta James. She has great reggae records and The Boog’s vinyl glands salivate when she plays them!
The Wig Doctor is a cat we met through the ubiquitous and inimitable Drew Redmond (they often DJ together at the Bootleg Bar). He played some fabulous records.
Disreputable Shaman is a fellow we met that day. He specializes in South American rhythms and often plays them at Club Barbes in Park Slope. He is said to have one of the finest collections of Peruvian and Colombian records in the Northern Hemisphere. Indeed, he played several tremendous ones that day.
After the second set of the jazz combo, the DJs took turns playing two songs apiece until the Caracas people turned the lights off and kicked everybody out. It was about as magical as any night could have possibly been in the borough of Queens. The Boogaloo Bag writers all had a blast and they wish Rata a very happy birthday.
Here’s a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at Shake It Up Sundays:
- Johnny Dupont–Caravan (Columbia)
- Frankie Brent Revue featuring Little Linda Lou–Summertime (Epic)
- The Spotlights–Batman and Robin (Smash)*
- The Swingin’ Apolloes–Summertime Blues (White Cliff)
- The Revels with Barbara Adkins–Church Key (Impact)
- The Pygmies–Don’t Monkey With Tarzan (Liberty)
- “Baby” Earl & the Trini-Dads–Back Slop (S.P.Q.R.)
- Millie Small–Carry Go Bring Come (Fontana; UK)
- Jack Costanzo Mr. Bongo–Chicken and Rice (Discomoda; Colombia)
- Olé Jose and the Golden Leaves–Tequila ’68 (Challenge)
- Eddie Bo–We Like Mambo (Ace)
- Carlos Malcolm–Ska-Ramouche (Amy)
- Los Yetis–Cumbia A Go-Go (Fuentes; El Salvador)
- Grupo Guerra – 78–Soul Makossa (Discoland; Venezuela)
- Eddie Lovette–Boomerang (Steady)
None of these records are for sale. Many of the songs have links to the youtubes so you can dig them in the privacy of your own head!
* After it was played, this record was presented to Rata as a birthday gift.