Classic Melting Pot


We made the move to Friday nights and began our tenure at our new time with our traditionally way of closing out the month, an all vinyl freeform kind of show. For this first show on Fridays, I brought what I guess you could call “comfort records,” some things that I really really love, in most cases that I’d played for listeners on Melting Pot before, during our 5 years on Sundays. It will take me some time to find my rhythm in this new slot, though I think we’ll have just as much fun, if not more, in this new time slot. My plan is to post the audio/breakdowns of the Friday shows here on Sundays, for you Sunday Melting Pot kind of folks, you can still listen to the show on Sundays with the promise of more each week. Next week we’ll be doing our “Best So Far” show, looking at the best music of 2015 released thus far, and always a few sleepers from 2014 that slipped under my radar originally. Enjoy the show!

Melting Pot on KPFK #201: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #201: Second Hour


Nina Simone – The Backlash Blues
Nina Simone – Do I Move You?
Nina Simone – Blues For Mama

Though I’ve had a hiatus here and there, this is the first Sunday since 2010, that I don’t have my show on Sunday. Melting Pot has moved to Fridays from 8-10pm and it definitely feels a bit weird, somewhat like the discombobulation that occurs at the beginning of daylight savings time for us in the US. I’ll work it out, and probably end up posting Friday’s shows on Sundays, so it’s almost like it’s still on Sundays. Today thought, during the time I used to be doing my show, I’ll be watching the new documentary on Nina Simone, Liz Garbus’ “What Happened, Miss Simone?” 2015 has been a pretty great year for documentaries, but this one in particular I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been a fan most of my adult life of Miss Simone. When Simone passed away, I was lucky enough to host a tribute show with Oliver Wang on KALX to celebrate her music and life. Hell, even my dog is named Nina, after Simone. Strangely though, until fairly recently, I had a lot of music from Nina Simone, but not actually a lot of records from her.

That all changed when I saw a beautifully rendered dance routine to “Do I Move You?” My admiration for the dancer and her dance was one thing, but part of the effect it all had on me is that it was like I was hearing this song for the first time. The album that “Do I Move You?” is from is one of her biggest. Released in 1967, it was her first album for RCA, and contains several of her signature songs, including House Of The Rising Son, Put A Little Sugar In My Bowl and Backlash Blues. All of those songs I knew well and had digital copies, but for whatever reason, I’d just never bothered to get this record. When I was blown away by that dancer and that song, I knew I had to rectify that situation immediately. The experience caused me to redefine a number of things and led to a couple of months of tracking down classic albums that should be in my collection because of how much I treasure the music, but like this album were not in my possession.

Over the past year, as we’ve seen greater civil unrest, related to police brutality and racism, the music of Simone has remained as relevant as when it was originally recorded in the 1960s. With the week we just had here in the US, I feel it’s a particularly apt time to reflect not just on Simone, but especially her song, “Backlash Blues.” Written by the legendary poet Langston Hughes, “Backlash” takes a very different tact as a protest song. There’s a defiance here, that’s not always present in songs like this, and something that of course really comes through in the performance of Simone:

Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash
Just who do think I am
You raise my taxes, freeze my wages
And send my son to Vietnam

You give me second class houses
And second class schools
Do you think that all colored folks
Are just second class fools

Mr. Backlash
I’m gonna leave you with the backlash blues

When I try to find a job
To earn a little cash
All you got to offer
Is your mean old white backlash

But the world is big
Big and bright and round
And it’s full of folks like me
Who are black, yellow, beige and brown

Mr. Backlash
I’m gonna leave you with the backlash blues

Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash
Just what do you think I got to lose
I’m gonna leave you
With the backlash blues

You’re the one will have the blues, not me
Just wait and see

When you look at the amazing changes that have happened in the last week, the stunning quickness with which Southern states have begun the process of removing the Confederate battle flag from public grounds after the Charleston Church Murders and the Supreme Court’s decision that legalizes gay marriage throughout the country, it can feel like Nina & Hughes song has prophetically come true. But it should also be a reminder, that in moments of change, which was very true of the turbulent 1960s as it is for this moment, what is positive for one group is often viewed negatively by another, and the backlash can sometimes be severe. It’s worth noting that this week we’ve seen at least 5 churches set on fire throughout the South, and this summer has only just now begun. But when you’re on the right side of history, you keep fighting, because you know eventually, we’ll leave the inequality, oppression, discrimination and the backlash in the past. And when we do, we’ll still be marveling at the music and majestic of Nina Simone.



P.S. If you haven’t seen it or heard about it, here is the trailer for “What Happened, Miss Simone?” the new documentary on the life and times of Nina Simone:


The Precisions – What I Want

Generally I use this category for newer releases, but after working for quite some time getting that Dale Warren special together, I haven’t listened to much newer music in the last couple of weeks. Instead, pretty much from the moment I discovered it, I’ve been obsessed with this track Dale Warren recorded with the Detroit group The Precisions. Like so many of the tracks that have a bit of Warren’s feel, there’s a dark, almost bittersweet element to the way the strings roll out at the start, along with that single note playing of the piano throughout the first verses. Lyrically the song is just about perfect, both as a declaration of the kind of love we all desire and a recognition that often when we fall, we don’t always get what we want or expect.


For several months I’ve been planning this show, knowing that for #200 I wanted to highlight a favorite artist, as with the Dirty Three for show #100, and though this time I’d take a look back and feature an artist that I love but might be a bit unsung or under-appreciated. Ultimately I settled on highlighting the music of Dale Ossman Warren, perhaps best known as the mind behind the 24-Carat Black. Warren should be seen as a musical genius and one of the great talents of the era, but there is relatively little publicly known about the man and his methods. What we do have are a wealth of recordings that feature Warren as a writer, arranger, producer, engineer or musician.

With the 24 Carat Black recordings as a guide, in the first hour of the program I tried to choose songs that seemed to have been clearly touched by Warren’s hand. Some of them are well known, such as his first Stax related collaboration with Isaac Hayes, “Walk On By,” others are less well-known but just as amazing, such as the Precisions “What I Want,” which has been on repeat since I tracked it down recently. I also highlight several tracks from the “lost” album that the Numero group issued in 2009. With the few tracks that they were able to salvage, the mind boggles at the music Dale Warren might have been able to create given a full budget or perhaps a different period of time.

In the second hour we have the best statement of Warren’s vision, the 1973 album Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, played from start to finish. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought to play that whole album on the air until now, but I’m glad that I got to do it this past Sunday, on our last show on Sunday’s before we move to Fridays at 8pm this week. Big thanks to Rob Sevier of Numero Group and Oliver Wang of for help tracking down a few of the tracks, eternal thanks to Matthew Africa (RIP) for turning me and others onto this music, and of course to the maestro himself Dale Warren, for leaving such a rich musical legacy.

Melting Pot on KPFK #200: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #200: Second Hour

Playlist: 06-21-2015
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Isaac Hayes – Walk On By – 7” (Stax)
The 24 Carat Black – Best of Good Love Gone – Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday (Numero)
David Porter – I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over – Victim Of The Joke?: An Opera (Enterprise)
Isaac Hayes – Ike’s Mood I – …To Be Continued (Enterprise)

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The 24 Carat Black – I Began To Weep – Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday (Numero)
John Kasandra – The Other Brother/We Gotta Go On – The True Genius (Respect)
The Mad Lads – Gone, The Promises Of Yesterday – A New Beginning (Volt)
Strings’n’Things – Charge! – 7” (Jet Set)

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The Embraceables – Here I Go – 7” (Sidra)
Gloria Ann Taylor – World That’s Not Real – 7” (Selector Sound)
The Precisions – What I Want – 7” (Drew)
The 24 Carat Black – I’ll Never Let You Go – Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday (Numero)

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The 24 Carat Black – Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth (Enterprise)


John Kasandra – Down Home Ups/Good Whiskey & Bad Women
John Kasandra – The Other Brother / We Gotta Go On
John Kasandra – You Can Go Now

On Sunday, I’ll be doing my 200th show on the KPFK airwaves, and my last on Sundays before moving to Fridays from 8-10pm on June 26th and will spend those two hours highlighting some of the music associated with Dale Ossman Warren. Warren spend a number of years producing, writing and arranging songs for Motown, Shrine, Sidra, Drew and others before finding a home on Stax. At Stax he worked on a number of classic albums, particularly with Isaac Hayes, David Porter, and his own project, The 24-Carat Black.

As I’ve been prepping this tribute (which will feature, from start to finish, the “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth” album in the second hour Sunday at 5pm), I’ve been digging into a number of projects that Warren was associated with, but that I hadn’t heard before. This album from John Kasandra is an especially interesting one, as it comes a year before the concept album “Ghetto.” It’s clear, since Warren produced, engineered, arranged & conducted the music for the album, that this album carries much of his vision.

What’s interesting to me is how this album fits in his discography, coming just before the 1973 masterpiece. The album doesn’t necessarily sound like the 24-Carat Black project, but there are elements that show that Warren was working through some things that would later on show up on that album. This is clearest on the intro to the monologue “The Other Brother.” As the female singers sing, “We Gotta To Go On, We Gotta Keep On Moving Along” you hear an electric piano playing the same theme that would later show up as a recurrent theme on the “Ghetto” album. The sparse and stark style of the horns and drums also share similarities with the sound of that underground classic.

It is a shame that Warren wasn’t able to keep moving along with his vision and continue to record more during this very furtive period of time, with Stax records folding in just a few years after these records were recorded. But we should be glad that we have all of these examples of quality (and especially glad that Numero was able to save some tracks from the “lost” album from the 24-Carat Black a few years ago). I’m thankful to have found this music and to be able to share it with you here and on the radio.




Russo Passopusso – Flor De Plastico

This album got on my radar courtesy of former KALX DJ Kitty, who moved from the Bay Area to Bahia a while ago and mentioned this album as one of her favorite recent releases from Brasil. The busy-ness of the end of the semester distracting me from singing it’s praises and playing it more often on the radio show, but I’ll be making up for it now. I don’t know very much about Russo Passopusso, other than he has a fantastic name and he blends together the last 40 years of Brazilian music seamlessly, with shades of Samba Funk, Tropicalia, Soul Negro and more. Paraíso Da Miragem, sounds like a Brazilian version of my show, from song to song, many different styles but all soulful. “Flor De Plastico” might be my favorite song, with it’s late 1970s slower funk, reminiscent of Tim Maia’s later material. If you’re like me and you’re coming in a little late on this fabulous album, don’t fret…you can download the whole thing from Russo Passopusso’s website!


Number one thing to mention is that this past Sunday’s show will be the next to last Sunday we’re on the air on KPFK. Starting June 26th, we’ll relocate to Fridays from 8-10pm. Very little will change in terms of the show, though being on at that time does change my mood and will likely change the mood of the show as well. Good amount of new music in the first hour, including more from Kamasi Washington, Jones, The Sandwitches and an artist from Brasil I’ve been meaning to share for a while Russo Passopusso. Our second hour belongs to Ornette Coleman, and some of my favorite songs from the earliest period of Coleman’s career, in some ways the most innovative period as well. Next Sunday, our last Sunday, will be our 200th show on KPFK, we’ll be doing a special show (similar to how for our 100th show we focused only on the Dirty Three) focused on the music of Dale Warren, especially his 1960s & 1970s legendary work with Isaac Hayes, Gloria Ann Taylor and the 24-Carat Black!

Melting Pot on KPFK #199: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #199: Second Hour

Playlist: 06-14-2015
Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Dale Warren & the Wattstax ’72 Orchestra – Salvation Symphony – Wattstax: The Living Word (Stax)
Kamasi Washington – The Rhythm Changes – The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Gal Costa – Mamae, Coragem – Tropicalia (Philips)
Jones – You – Indulge EP (37 Adventures)

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The Sandwitches – Miggy – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
Spain – You Were Meant For Me – I Believe (Restless)
Annabel (Lee) – Alone – By The Sea…And Other Solitary Places (Ninja Tune)

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Russo Passopusso – Relogio – Paraiso Da Miragem (Self-Released)
Gil Scott-Heron – Alien (Hold On To Your Dream) – Nothing New (XL)
Terry Kath + Dusty Rhodes, The American Dream – Tell Me (Remix) – Electra Glide In Blue (United Artists)

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Ornette Coleman – Free – Change Of The Century (Atlantic)
Ornette Coleman – Focus On Sanity – The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic)
Ornette Coleman – Una Muy Bonita – Change Of The Century (Atlantic)

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Ornette Coleman – First Take (Free Jazz) – Twins (Atlantic)

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Ornette Coleman – Beauty Is A Rare Thing – This Is Our Music (Atlantic)
Ornette Coleman – Embraceable You – This Is Our Music (Atlantic)
Ornette Coleman – Lonely Woman – The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic)


Jon Lucien – Would You Believe Me
Jon Lucien – Rashida
Jon Lucien – Luella

When you spend a lot of time (and money) on tracking down rare records, you sometimes will skip right over more well-known and easier to find things, precisely because they are well-known and easier to find. That was the case with me and this record for years. At some point in passing I’m sure I had heard “Rashida,” but because I always seemed to see this record around, and rarely for more than $5, I didn’t feel any burning need to add it to my collection. Earlier in the Spring I had a bout of record therapy that largely entailed me tracking down more classic, well known records (mostly Jazz from Mingus, Coltrane and the like) that everyone should have and that are great listening experiences. It was around that time that I picked this record up finally and I’m truly glad that I did.

Lucien’s sound strikes me as a kind of cross between Leon Thomas, Eugene McDaniels and Jorge Ben, with an emphasis on rhythmic wordless singing anchored often by acoustic guitar around soulful backing. “Rashida” is a classic, beautifully constructed and worthy of it’s reputation. It was the other songs that really surprised me, especially “Luella” and “Would You Believe Me,” that have a funkier approach that is right in my wheelhouse. Though this section, especially after 5+ years, is generally reserved for out-of-print and hard-to-find records, I think you’ll see me “Dig Deep” on other perhaps under-appreciated classics like this, just to keep reminding us just how good REALLY good music is.




The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick

I’ve raved and raved about my love for The Sandwitches in the past, their session back in 2011 remains one of my favorites that we’ve done in the five years I’ve been on the air at KPFK. With the release of their third full-length release, Our Toast, we also learned that the band is calling it quits and this will be the final record for the group. This is especially saddening as Our Toast represents the best recorded work from a band that has just gotten better and better and better with each successive album. The girls will continue to play music, in each of their respective projects, Grace Sings Sludge, Pruno Truman and Roxanne Roxanne, but the sound they made together was really something special. “Play It Again Dick” might stand as a signature tune from the group, featuring all the elements that endeared them to all who heard them and listened, slight country feel to Roxanne’s drumming, the twin harmonies where, in this case, Heidi sings in a lower register in between Grace’s lines and those mountains of lovely reverb on those twin guitars. Every time Grace belts out that “Honey aren’t you glad like me,” at the end it sends shivers up and down my spine. I can all but guarantee that this will be one of my favorite songs of 2015, and definitely one of the best records of the year.


5 Years…that’s pretty much as long as I’ve been at any of the individual stations I’ve worked at in my radio career. Part of the whole appeal of moving from KCRW to KPFK was to be able to have 100% control of the show and be able to bring in guests for interviews, DJ sets and performances. Over the past 5 years there have been some incredible sessions, last Sunday’s show highlights all of the musicians who performed on our show over these first 5 years. I also attempted to incorporate a little bit of some of the stellar guest DJ sets that we’ve had too, though with all of this music, there wasn’t much of a chance to incorporate many of the interviews themselves. It’s been a great ride, and one that I hope will continue for many more years to come. Each and every interview, Guest DJ set and performance is archived here on this website under the “Be Our Guest” category. You can get a taste for each one from this show, but there’s so much more music waiting for you if you missed them the first time around.

Melting Pot on KPFK #198: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #198: Second Hour

Melting Pot’s 5 Year Anniversary:
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Pacha Massive – Your Love – Recorded Live At KPFK: 08-01-2010
Francoiz Breut – Les Jounes Pousses – Recorded Live At KPFK: 09-29-2010
Quadron – Untitled – Recorded Live At KPFK: 10-29-2010
Belleruche – Clockwatching – Recorded Live At KPFK: 11-29-2010
La Sera – Never Come Around – Recorded Live At KPFK: 01-28-2011
DJ Lengua – Guest DJ Set (Excerpt) – Recorded Live At KPFK: 08-28-2011

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Bing Ji Ling – Like We Used To Do – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-27-2011
Corin Tucker – 1,000 Years – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-08-2011
Pollyn – Sometimes You Just Know – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-08-2011
Boogaloo Assassins – No, No, No – Recorded Live At KPFK: 10-12-2011
The Sandwitches – My Heart Does Swell – Recorded Live At KPFK: 11-02-2011
DJ Spinna – Guest DJ Set (Excerpt) – Recorded Live At KPFK: 11-10-2012

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Barry Adamson – People – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-08-2011
Spain – Untitled No. 1 – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-16-2012
Chicano Batman – Itotiani – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-16-2012
Kenny Dope – Guest DJ Set (Excerpt) – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-14-2013

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Hot 8 Brass Band – Rock With The Hot 8 – Recorded Live At KPFK: 02-04-2013
Lady – Money – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-17-2013
KING – Supernatural – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-26-2013
Dom La Nena – Anjo Gabriel – Recorded Live At KPFK: 05-31-2013
Ruben Molina – Guest DJ Set (Excerpt) – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-28-2013

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The Summer Twins – I’m No Good – Recorded Live At KPFK: 06-17-2013
Matthew Sweet – Time Capsule – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-10-2013
Hiatus Kaiyote – Lace Skull – Recorded Live At KPFK: 10-29-2013
Bart Davenport – Every Little Step – Recorded Live At KPFK: 04-18-2014
Natasha Diggs – Guest DJ Set (Excerpt) – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-12-2014

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Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon – Recorded Live At KPFK: 06-13-2014
Zara McFarlane – Open Heart – Recorded Live At KPFK: 06-16-2014
Charnett Moffet – Spirit of Sound – Recorded Live At KPFK: 07-10-2014
Jungle Fire – Tropicoso – Recorded Live At KPFK: 09-24-2014

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