Caracas is the capital of Venezuela, the South American country. It is also the name of three arepas bars in New York City. The first is located on E. 7th Street in the East Village. The second one is in Williamsburg. The third is at Rockaway Beach–right on the beach–and is only open seasonally. Arepas are food–good food–and for the uninitiated, may be described as a northern South American version of a falafel sandwich. The thick, round flatbread is baked, then fried, then cut and yummy, spicy ingredients are stuffed between the two slices. The arepas at Caracas Arepa Bars are among the best in town.
During the three summer months, the Caracas Arepa Bar in Rockaway features live music and DJs on Sundays. Our pal DJ Rata hosts a party there each month called Shake It Up Sunday. In July, he booked The Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Company–a rockin’’ little hillbilly combo whose name is bigger than the group; a trio of musicians who, at the first hit of a guitar chord, harken the listener back to about 1955 and somewhere southwest of Pittsburg. The group’s brand of blues, ballads and boogies belongs on the radio as much as it does in a museum. When they have a guest thrush on hand, as they did with Stella Rose Saint Clair, the band is even better. Miss Stella looks flash(back) and sings as if the only record she ever heard was Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits.
Rata is one of our favorite DJs. Ever since we first met him–spinning mambo, R&B and rocksteady 45s at a Yana Lil-Jerk party at Otto’s Shrunken Head several years ago–we have tried to follow his exploits. We often find him selecting the music for some of the finest parties in Brooklyn. Whenever he asks Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus to work with him, the Boogaloo Bag writers get excited. He did so for this July 21 event.
This scene at Caracas Rockaway is what summer is all about. Rata played some fabulous music, employing his custom Super Hero 45 RPM adaptors. SIT and Die played a good, long set. The food at Caracas was fantastic. Boogaloo Bag photographer and baker Miss Nancy made some excellent chocolate/oatmeal/peanutbutter cookies.
The ocean was about a hundred yards away. The sun was out but a cool breeze often blew through. Why do hot summer days like this have to end? Everyone had such a grand time, it was kind of sad getting on the subway for the long ride home.
In order to do his part, Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus played surf records, R&B records, mambo records and songs sung in Spanish. Here’s a list of all the records he played:
- Milt Rogers and His Orchestra–Let’s Go Trippin’ (Dot)
- Larry & the Loafers–Let’s Go to the Beach (Shurfine)
- The Pyramids–Penetration (Best)
- Dick Glasser–Jeannie’s Bikini (Columbia)
- Little Ray–Come Swim With Me (Faro)
- Los Surfs–Tu Seras Mi Baby (Be My Baby) (Gamma; Mexico)
- Jimmie Dodd the Mickey Mouse Club Chorus and Orchestra–The Mickey Mouse Mambo (ABC-Paramount)
- The Hawketts–Mardi Gras Mambo (Sapphire)
- The Killer Joe Orchestra–My Girl Sloopy (Cha-Cha–Watusi) (Atlantic)
- Cal Tjader–Evil Ways (Fantasy)
- Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra–Gesundheit (A-Choo! Cha-Cha) (RCA Victor)
- Johnny Zamot–Johnny’s Boogaloo (Decca)
- Warren Covington and His Orchestra–El Watusi (Decca)
- The Olympics–Everybody Likes to Cha Cha Cha (Arvee)
- The Mystics–The Jumpin’ Bean (King)
- Joe Liggins and His Orchestra–They Were Doin’ the Mambo (Mercury)
- Rufus Thomas–Do the Funky Chicken (Stax)
- The Radors–Finger Licking Chicken (Leoso)
- Seeburg Spotlight Band–Chicken Back (Seeburg)
- The Sherwoods–Ice Cream (Kapp)
- Los Johnny Jets–Cul Jerk (Cool Jerk) (Discos Columbia)
- Los Rockin’ Devils–Gritos (Shout) (Orfeon; Mexico)
- Los Javaloyas–Barbara Ann (La Vox de Su Amo; Spain)
- Bruno Lomas–Zapatos Azules de Gamuza (Discophoa; Spain)
- Los Yaki–Nadie Como Yo (Capitol; Mexico)
- Los Rockin Devil’s–Gloria (Orfeon; Mexico)
- Sonny Ace & the Twisters–Wooleh Booleh (Atlantic)
- Bill Haley and His Comets–Mambo Rock (Decca)
- Jimmie Heap & His Orchestra–Gismo (Dart)
- The Arrows featuring Davie Allan–Apache ’65 (Tower)
- The Challengers–Wipe Out (GNP Crescendo)
- Los Corraleros de Majagual–Cumbia Campesina (Discos Fuentes; Colombia)
- Leticia Estrada–La Burbuja (Musart; Mexico)
None of these records are for sale. Some of them may have links to the youtubes in order to enlighten the reader, if necessary.