Junkanoo Time with The Beginning Of The End

In the spirit of the holiday season and Junkanoo parties around the world I share with you an incredible interview with the legendary Bahamian musician Raphael Munnings (posted on Youtube by the man himself!), who breaks down his families rich musical and political history, the unprecedented musical feats of his band The Beginning Of The End, and of course their jumping Junkanoo roots. Rather than bump my gums, I’ll let Ray speak for himself. Be sure to check all fours clips in sequential order, as some heavy history is dropped chronologically. Take it away Ray!

– Smokestack

Chicano Batman – Joven Navegante

chicanobatIt’s crackin’ this summer for many of our compañeros here at La Pelanga! Just a week after futboling, singing, dancing, and breaking bread with Las Cafeteras on their recent trip to the bay for all the Copa Communidad festivities, the good homie Bardo rolled by the house to update me on the latest Chicano Batman project – Joven Navegante.

After a hiatus filled with their individual travels and musical wonderings, these four Chicano soul brothers will be reuniting in their hometown of Los Angeles later this month to promote the recent release of their new four track EP Joven Navegante through a series of live shows and the filming of a music video for the EP’s title track.

While at times their new recordings are reminiscent of their first full length self titled LP, as a whole Joven Navegante offers an even more exploratory effort, layering drunken wah wah guitar with psychedelic organ vamps, bouncing reggae bass licks, exceptional drumming throughout, and of course Bardo’s inspired vocals. Some true ear candy for the auditory freak and a perfect fit for any car trip to the sun! Check the EP’s title track below.

Chicano Batman – Joven Navegante (2012)

To satiate the vinyl cravings of folks like myself Chicano Batman has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for a proper 10″ vinyl pressing. Take a moment to watch their Kickstarter video and hear about what they’ve been up to. Real talk – they have some of best gifts I’ve seen on Kickstarter. To my folks in Southern California – pledge $250 and have Chicano Batman come thru for a pop-up beach party con music and fresh fruit!

DJ Smokestack

The Brain Connection

Picking up from my last post that featured the heavy hitting Latin rock sounds of Little Joe and La Familia, this next one – The Brain Connection’s “Mari Menari” – offers a perfect example of the wailing blues-based guitar solos that Santana inspired in garage rock bands all over the globe after the group’s 1970 cover of Tito Puente’s perennial hit “Oye Como Va”. Over the years I’ve dug up covers and musical impersonations of the genre-defining group from India to Africa and now from Malaysian, courtesy of The Brain Connection!

Mari Menari – The Brain Connection (1980)

– Smokestack

Little Joe x B-Boy Whacko

I can’t agree with Pozole more! Within Pelanga’s broad musical range you’ll definitely find several common themes: soulful rhythms meant to uplift your spirit and make your body move. Whether it’s a hyphy Papicultor cumbia remix or a choice kompa selection from Pozole, you’re guaranteed to learn something new with each record and party while you’re at it! Because we each have our own musical inluences we constantly inspire each other to dig a little deeper.

In fact, last month I wasn’t able to make it out and I hear Tunda played some James Brown and ESG. Who knows, maybe I’ll play a little Little Joe y La Familia at the next Pelanga! In the meantime check out Necessary Whackness – the full 50min afro-latin-funk-rock mix that features this monster latin-funk tune “Recognize Me”.

The mix, released just earlier this week, is a collaboration with my friend and Forever We Rock crewmate, B-boy Whacko. You might be wondering about his name? Well basically dude goes whacko when his jam drops! See what I mean (check the toprock battle clip below)?

-DJ Smokestack


Little Joe y La Familia – Recognize Me (1977)

This is probably one of my favorite latin-rock songs ever – some true message music! Little Joe’s production defines the DIY concept of the hard working independent Chicano musician – on down to the hand drawn cover (I’m guessing by a close friend or relative?). Of his ridiculously deep catalogue La Voz De Aztlan is one of Little Joe’s harder to find LPs. While “Recognize Me” is heavy funk fit for any breakin cipher, the rest of the album is made up of polkas, rancheras, and even a salsa track. Make no mistake, Little Joe plays it all…earning Grammies and playing/recording every style you can think of since the 60’s.

Here’s a message from Joe, from the back cover:

From the dusty hills of Tejas, to the smoggy barrios de Califas, to the steel mills of Gary and Pittsburgh, to the snow covered mountains of Denver, La Musica lives. La Musica is listened to, lived to, danced to, and low rided to …La musica Chicana comes from EL CORAZON Y LA ALMA. LA VOZ DE AZTLAN is a portrait of love, energy, and identity.

DJ Smokestack & B-Boy Whacko – Necessary Whackness



Why Zumba when you can Rumba?


…with Franco and L’Orchestra TP OK Jazz! I mean no offence to Zumba enthusiasts out there, but with Franco’s hypnotic guitar playing and trademark Congolese Rumba, why workout to anything else? Here’s a 9 minute groove that’s guaranteed to get your whole body loose!

 – Smokestack

Minuit Eleki Lezi 1 & 2 197?


The Mongoose


Since we were just talking about Jamaica, I can’t help but share a song that has been haunting me off-and-on for a couple weeks. Authentic Jamaican Folk Songs is a collection of “work” and “spiritual” songs from the internationally acclaimed choral group, Frats Quintet.  While their song Mongoose (or any of their work for that matter) doesn’t fit my usual dance floor-focused flavor, their rich vocal range and playful lyrics are comforting and somehow familiar.Give it a listen, and see if it’s not stuck in your head for at least the afternoon! – Smokestack

None Shall Escape


For me, half the fun of searching for old vinyl records is found in the unforeseen stories and experiences that unravel with every new record digging adventure. One could argue that hunting for music online similarly uncovers some interesting artifacts, but scour your local flea market or try finding the last remaining record store in town while traveling the globe and you’ll find the computer just doesn’t compare! Here’s a short list of surprises that have turned up in the last year while in pursuit of my next blog entry….

  • Someone’s family photos from the 1920’s, in a record sleeve
  • Hand written song lyrics and love notes, also in a sleeve
  • A toilet plunger used as a 45 rack! (the seller said the plunger was unused)
  • Unopened bottles of whiskey from the 60’s
  • Met an original recording artist from a local funk band from the 70’s, and helped him fix his broken keyboard

And, of course there’s the life stories that every old collection you’re flipping through has to tell. For example, what exactly is going on when you find a sealed copy of a local funk EP in a collection full of country records? Or, how about the lone cumbia 45 that was trashed and buried in a pile of Broadway show tunes in pristine condition? Here’s a more recent discovery that surprisingly turned up in a pile of weathered jazz albums.

None Shall Escape is an independently released collection of excerpts, largely from a forum on Caribbean politics, held in San Francisco in 1983. According to The Anarchist Library, the edited commentary belongs to former frontline organizer and workers union activist Fundi. The site features Fundi ‘s writings and includes the following introduction…

The basis for his (Fundi’s) critical analysis of Grenada and the English-speaking Caribbean comes from a history of first-hand experiences with collective revolt in Jamaica.In 1967 he worked as a refrigeration mechanic at Western Meat Packers in the parish of Westmoreland. This area of Jamaica has the largest meat packing plant and the largest sugar refinery in the Caribbean outside of Cuba. Fundi was one of many workers who started the first strike in the history of Western Meat packers when a woman co-worker was fired for refusing to stand in a puddle while working on tile assembly line.

By Jamaican law and institutional practice, workers must keep working while the dismissal of a Co-worker is being challenged. But in this instance, tile meat packing workers spontaneously shifted the fate of rebel workers from union office negotiators to instantaneous strike action.Later in 1968, Fundi again became involved in a six week strike of sugar workers at the West Indies Sugar Company. This led to the formation of a broad-based Sugar Workers Council which took the government and unions by surprise.

The ongoing conflict between autonomous workers action and union/state representation has been detailed by a group of Caribbean Situationists in the LP recording “None Shall Escape.” In that album Fundi describes the resistance against hierarchical, representational forms of organization by Caribbean radicals:

From the start we saw through the fraud of the “independent” unions that ground up the meat packing and sugar factory workers. We decided that the union bureaucracy must stop; that there should not be any mediation between us and the boss for this has been responsible for suppressing confidence in ourselves to take up the total task of ending capitalism. So we took control of our union dies. We developed the capacity for instant strike action. We had meetings on the factory compound and the farms during work hours against the wishes of the boss and traditional unionism. We took control of the canteen. Such actions are the bedrock of direct participation which stands in truth against the lies of centralized leadership.

Wow, we really went down the rabbit hole! If you’ve made it this far, perhaps you now want to hear Fundi speak for yourself?…

– Smokestack