Silent Disco Boogaloo!

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The Silent Disco headphones! Photo by Phillip James.

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus has been asked to DJ at Lincoln Center’s out of doors Midsummer Night Swing events just about every summer for at least 15 years; maybe more. He has provided the dance music between sets by such acts as Buster Poindexter, a cumbia group, several swing orchestras, Chubby Checker, a tribute to the great songwriter Doc Pomus, Bobby Rydell, Binky Griptite, a boogie woogie group that featured Charlie Watts and who can remember the others? Every time it has been a wonderful experience for The Boog, with folks dancing to his records and enjoying the groovy vibes provided by the good people who put on the shows.

But this time it was different. This time, on the 13th of July, the nice Midsummer Night Swing people asked The Boog to play his records for the Silent Disco portion of the show, after the main event: The James Hunter Six. The Silent Disco is a genius idea. It consists of three DJs playing their recordings, each program going out (via the miracle of some sort of wifi-type of hustle) to wireless headphones worn by the folks on the dance floor. Each set of headphones has a switch on it so the listener can change to any of the three DJs playing music, and when it does, it lights up in the color that corresponds with each DJ’s booth: blue, red or green.

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Monica Sharp, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus and Rita Houston swing during the Silent Disco portion of Midsummer Night Swing. Photo by Nancy Gardner.

The other two DJs enlisted to perform during the Silent Disco were Rita Houston and Monica Sharp.

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Rita Houston controls the dance floor during the Silent Disco. Photo by Phillip James.

Rita Houston is a legendary radio DJ and the program director at WFUV, New York City’s Bronx-based NPR station that features an eclectic assortment of music, but mostly what may be deemed as ‘modern music for thinking people.’ Ms. Houston is a smart music person. She has done these Midsummer Night Swing things before. She knows what people like.

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Monica Sharp had the whole place rockin’ during the Silent Disco. Photo by Phillip James

The Boogaloo Bag writers met Monica Sharp that evening. When setting up her DJ booth, she hooked up a laptop to Serato-fueled turntables. Very often this is a clear sign that the DJ knows what she is doing. She also has been a regular DJ at the Midsummer Night Swing things. She struck the Boogaloo Bag writers as someone who is professional and knows how to work a crowded dance floor.

The Boog’s competition for the dancers’ headphone time was heavy, to say the least.

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Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus plays old 45s during the Silent Disco. Photo by Phillip James.

The Boog’s contract clearly stipulated that he was to provide music for dancing: “Soul Blues, Rhythm & Blues and rock’n’roll.” Noting that the James Hunter Six draws much influence from records from the Fifties and early Sixties, he figured that a program of hits from this period would be popular with this audience. He pulled a bunch of 45s that would work really well with folks who want to twist, hully gully or do the jerk.

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James Hunter of The James Hunter Six swings at Midsummer Night Swing.

The early part of the evening went great. The James Hunter Six puts on a swingin’ show. How can you not like a band who covers“Baby Don’t Do It” by The “5” Royales? The guy has excellent taste. Ms. Houston was the DJ between the band’s sets and she played an assortment of oldies via a laptop computer. The Boog figured she would play a similar fare for the Silent Disco. Who knew what Ms. Sharp would do, but it would be cool.

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Jill Sternheimer introduces Rita Houston and the other DJs preceding the Silent Disco portion of Midsummer Night Swing. Photo by Phillip James.

Midsummer Night Swing hostess Jill Sternheimer came out and introduced the DJs.  Rita Houston had the blue DJ booth. Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus was in the middle with the red one. Monica Sharp was in the green booth.

Phast Phreddie started with an instrumental, as he often does, then went straight for the jugular by playing The Isley Brothers record. He looked up to see what headphone colors were lighting up on the dance floor. It was mostly blue and green with a smattering of red here and there. He kept going, hoping he could win folks over. Several minutes into the night the whole place seemed to go blue and the dancers were jumping up and down with glee. What was Rita playing that got them so excited? The Boog switched his headphones to her program. “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye. Wait, she’s playing disco records? Then many headphones turned green. What was Monica playing? Talking Heads. This is how it seemed to go all night. The two gals played modern records using modern technology the crowd was lovin’ it! The old guy in the middle was playing old records on old technology. Nobody seemed to want to twist, hully gully or do the jerk.

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The whole night it seemed if the folks weren’t listening to Monica Sharp’s program, they were listening to that of Rita Houston. Photo by Nancy Gardner.

Every time the Boogaloo Bag writers looked up it seemed the dance floor was a sea of blue; Rita’s playing a Michael Jackson record. Suddenly it is a sea of green; Monica is playing the Marvin Gaye record! Rita and Monica had the hearts and minds–and more importantly the dancing feet–of the folks on the dance floor. They played Donna Summer records, James Brown funk records, Eighties new wave records, disco records–and the place was blue and green the whole ninety minutes, with only a smattering of red from time to time. Some old folks in the far corner seemed to be red most of the night. “Louie Louie” got some to turn red. So did “Twist and Shout” and “La Bamba.” The most red headphones appeared at the very end when The Boog played the record by The Contours, but it was cut short when time ran out.

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A rare moment when folks did the Hully Gully–probably during “La Bamba.” Photo by Nancy Gardner.

To say that this Silent Disco was a humbling experience for Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus would be putting it mildly. After all, it was Friday the 13th! When it was over, Ms. Sternheimer came over and graciously thanked him for participating and that they appreciated the diversity that his program provided.

At least it didn’t rain, as it did three out of the last four times Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus was guest DJ at Midsummer Night Swing. Here’s a list of all the records he played that night:

None of these records are for sale. Some of them may have youtubes clips for your own edification. Thanks to our pal Philip James for most of the photos here.

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Do the Monkey with WHAM-O!

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Apollo XII and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swing at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

On July 7, The WHAM-O WATUSI returned to its international theme with guest DJ Julio Fernandez, AKA DJ Apollo XII, who is from Spain. The WHAM-O WATUSI, of course, is held on the first Saturday of the month at the Bootleg Bar in beautiful downtown Bushwick, Brooklyn.

For the last eight years or so, Mr. Apollo XII has been living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a musician who plays drums for the cool rocksteady band The West Kensingtons, based in Philadelphia. He is also an avid record collector who takes advantage of the many record collecting opportunities presented to those who live in the south-east area of the state. About three or four years ago he and DJ Salinger started the Red Rose Soul Club. It did so well that Mr. Apollo, along with the noted British Northern Soul DJ and record dealer David Raistrick, who also has a pad in Lancaster, put together the Keystone State Soul Weekender–a fabulous affair held in November that features DJs from around the country and flown in from England. Suffice it to say, Mr. Apollo is hip to the scene and has records that are clean!

We were happy to see our pals Eric Svirida and Miss Claire who blew in all the way from deep Long Island. Mr. Svirida hosts the Flip Side Soul Club in Philadelphia; and we’ve seen him in action at the Keystone State Soul Weekender.

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Miss Claire, Apollo XII and DJ Eric Svirida swing at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

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Apollo XII and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus are in a pensive mood at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

For the WHAM-O WATUSI, Apollo XII brought a lot of soul records–which was to be expected–but also some boss R&B, some “Jamaican things” and a few garage rock records. Dig some of them here:

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For his part, host DJ Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus played his usual trash–that is to say rockin’ instrumentals, garage rock, soul, R&B, a couple Mod movers and a few that were recorded in Spain. Recently, our new pal DJ Parka Pat from Montreal shared a blog post of his Top Twenty Monkey Records on The Boog’s facedog page. The Boog replied with a list of more than ninety monkey records that he has played over the last five years or so. When getting ready for this particular WHAM-O, it reminded The Boog that he has yet to play some of his favorites; thus a set of eight more monkey records were played. However, none of them were as good at the one Mr. Apollo XII played!!!

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Nancy “Jeannie” Gardner once again rose to the occasion by making excellent chocolate crinkles, banana bread and vegan brownies. The BOOGALOO BAG writers are thinking about turning the WHAM-Os into a bake sale in order to generate extra cash to buy records!!!

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Apollo XII is eyeing the fabulous treats baked by Miss Nancy at the WHAM-O WATUSI!

Here’s a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at the WHAM-O WATUSI:

None of these records are for sale. Some of them have links to the Youtubes, click on them for outstanding audio action!

Here’s another look at the sweet snacks Miss Nancy baked:

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Sunday Soul Screeeeeeeeeem!!!!

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Our pal Jonathan Toubin, truly a premier DJ of reet music if ever there was one, hosts the groovy Sunday Soul Scream on the rooftop of Our Wicked Lady through the summer months. He is a very busy man. On Sunday July 1, he was scheduled to be in Los Angeles for a series of events and could not make the Scream. To host the night, he roped in Haley Griffin and Bailey Leiter to make sure the evening ran smoothly. One of Brooklyn’s bossest bands The Othermen agreed to appear. Our new  friend The Wig Doctor was signed on to spin records before the band played. Post band DJs picked for this occasion were Avi Spivak of Rebel Rouser and Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus. The night was warm and humid–indeed, everyone was sweatying–and Our Wicked Lady responded with an assortment of frozen cocktails. The moon was out and a lot of our friends showed up to swing with us.

The secret of the evening is the room on the ground floor which is air conditioned. The music from the rooftop is piped in, so no one missed a single needle-drop. Phast Phreddie‘s favorite thing: they have an excellent ginger beer on tap!

On the Googles, Our Wicked Lady is noted as a “hip music venue, arts complex & roof bar.” And so it is. Although the bar itself is of average size, the rooftop area is fairly sizable, allowing for a stage on one end and a bar, with DJ setup, on the other. It is situated in a very industrial area of East Williamsburg where few people live. Thus it can have loud music playing well into the night with nobody complaining. At about five minutes from the Morgan Avenue L Train stop, it is in a very convenient location.

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Bailey & Haley swing at the Sunday Soul Scream

As Mr. Toubin so aptly put it, Haley and Bailey are “two snazzy babes.” After being on the scene and witnessing things going down for several years, they started their own event Je T’Aime Oh No, which takes place every Monday at Berlin. These gals know how to party, that’s for sure.

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Bailey & Haley introduce The Othermen at the Sunday Soul Scream.

The Othermen is a grunge rock band in the pure sense of the word (having absolutely nothing to do with the so-called grunge rock movement of the early Nineties). At dictionary.com, “grunge” is defined as “dirt, filth, rubbish.” That’s exactly what this group sounds like, in the most fabulous way imaginable. With every instrument played at levels that achieve stunning audio distortion, this group makes a righteous, rockin’ noise unlike any other–with the optimal word being “noise” and the noise is boss! Highly recommended.

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The Othermen in action!

The Boogaloo Bag writers first met The Wig Doctor when they DJed together at one of DJ Rata’s Shake It Up Sundays last summer. He played some heavy, heavy mambos and cumbia records that we all dug. He is often seen working on Thursdays at Friends and Lovers in Prospect Heights and spins at Our Wicked Lady fairly regularly. He also pals around with Drew Redmond and they often DJ together, such as their Gettin’ Ugly night at the Beauty Bar. On this night, The Wig Doctor mixed it up with an eclectic set of rock, soul, funk, mambo and several other exotic styles. It was a gas.

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The Wig Doctor swings at the Sunday Soul Scream.

Besides being an incredible artist, Avi Spivak is a cat with a bunch of boss trash. He swings at the Rebel Rouser, a cool record and groovy stuff store. LPs, 45s, books, horror magazines, underground comix, and weird cult movies are all there for the buying. Located on Broadway, near the edge of Bushwick, it may seem small, but everything the place sells is gear. Rebel Rouser has hosted Rebel Rouser Club House nights at Ceremony with Josh Styles, William Martin, usually a rockin’ band and always Avi Spivak. A solid good time.

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Avi Spivak swings at the Sunday Soul Scream.

The rooftop space was place was full of folks to dig The Othermen, and most of them stayed to dance to the solid sounds laid down by the two late-night DJs. Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus did not fool around by playing any lukewarm jive. Every record he played had super Go-Go Beat excitation. He must have gotten hungry around three quarters through the night as he played five food records in a row. Six if you count the Phil Flowers record (“…having to scrounge your next meal”)!

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Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swings at the Sunday Soul Scream.

Here’s a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at the Sunday Soul Scream:

None of these records are for sale. Some of them have links to the youtubes for you to dig.

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