Podcast: Digging deep in Ghana

We’re back with our 4th podcast of Pelanga en La Sala. Hosts Arjuna (dj smokestack), Jacobo (dj pozole) and Federico (dj papicultor) welcome guest DJ and collector Juan G into La Sala, the man behind Diggin4Gold, as they discuss his record digging experience in Ghana and explore much of West Africa via vinyl treasures.

You can download it for free on iTunes along with all our previous episodes. Leave a review and let us know what you think.

Happy New Year – Super Sweet Talks

I just got back from a wonderful December in Colombia with my lady, my family, a few dear friends, and the obsessively knowledgeable DJs, dancers, musicians, organizers, record collectors, and cowbell-in-the-back-pocket melómanos at the Feria de Cali. (We’ve got plenty of music to share from that trip. Stay tuned!)

It’s never easy to leave Colombia, and especially not this time, on Dec. 31st. So we were incredibly grateful for a warm welcome to the Bay, and especially for welcoming 2013 with the Pelanga family — sharing a delicious meal, a few good records, a bottle of arrechón, and stories of our growing families. We even got to witness DJ Djumi’s first gig at age 3 (weeks)!

Adjoa - Super Sweet Talks

Adjoa – Super Sweet Talks

I woke up the next day with mixed feelings, a bit of a hangover, and a desperate craving for a nice, strong cup of coffee. Wait. Shit! Did I leave some coffee in the kitchen when I left weeks ago? Where am I gonna find a coffee on New Year’s morning?

For no good reason I checked our mailbox downstairs, and we had just received a package from our dear-friend-whom-we’ve-never-met Adjoa, sending good New Year’s vibes, a killer Ghanaian compilation, and — you’re not gonna believe it — a fresh bag of sweet coffee.



Adjoa, I have to return the favor, hermanita. I don’t imagine you’re opposed to starting the year with an elegant Lord’s Prayer:

The Lord’s Prayer

You might also enjoy the title track, Adjoa.  🙂

Adjoa by Super Sweet Talks


Happy 2013, everybody! Here’s to another year of enjoying music, building community, and dancing our asses off. Much love to you all,


A is for Azonto, B is for Booty… K is for K-Pop

My sweet Pelanga brothers have encouraged me to post again, after a long hiatus. Today I’m going to drop you two tracks that I have sworn to mix together, and one day hope to gift you in a sweet mixtape.

Part 1: Lapaz Toyota – Guru (Ghana)

What do you expect to see when you hear “Lapaz Toyota”? Tunda said it makes him think of a Bolivian mototaxi dealership. It turns out Lapaz is an area of Accra, Ghana – working class. It’s not every day a music video shows women swooning or dancing on top of crappy cars. I did a bit of looking around and apparently the song is about being happy with what you have – it deliberately counters imagery that implies fancy cars and happiness are connected. Watch the moves, they come in around 1:30.

Then there’s a tonne of random videos showing other people dancing Azonto to the Lapaz Toyota track, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvpvCaxUnHo


Part 2: Gangnam Style – PSY (Korea)

This video has been making rounds like wildfire on the interwebs, and my friend sent it to me a day after I came across Lapaz Toyota. Gangnam is also a neighbourhood – but in contrast with Lapaz, it’s one of the shwankiest districts of Seoul, South Korea. Now, if you look closely at a few of the moves, you _will_ see some similarity to the Azonto, I swear. And that’s not the only similarity you’ll spot: watch for similar shots, little kids breaking out some sick moves, and comment on anything else you spy!


Conclusion? Booty. Get yours moving.

Next Pelanga is August 25th.


Yours in full blown dance nerdery,

DJ China Tu Madre

che che cole

When it comes to salsa, I’ve always been biased towards the Nuyorican and Colombian salsa dura from the 70s. Understand: I learned about salsa in the seedy billares of Bogotá from a bunch of drunk dudes, dancing with their billiards sticks, singing out of tune: “Mete la mano en el bolsillo, saca y abre tu cuchillo, ten cuidao.” No salsa romántica there.


Back then, as a 15-year old, I considered myself a punk rocker – though I don’t think anyone noticed. I really didn’t want to like salsa, but there were some songs I could never get out of my head. One of them was Willie Colón’s “Che Che Cole”, from the album “Cosa Nuestra”. You’ll have no trouble finding the original recording in your nearby music store or on the internet. Here’s a great video from back in the day (with a little Bang Bang Lulu at the end, nice!)

I’d always heard that Che Che Cole was based on an old African tune, so I was psyched a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon this (Ghanian?) record which I knew nothing about, except that it had a track called ‘Che Che Kule’. For $4.50, why not?


Che Che Kule by Kumbi Saleh

Che Che Kule

Ok, that’s pretty cool too.
But do they have anything on these kids?

PS – As a bonus track: Here is an incredible recording of Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe’s band (see Chapters 9-12) at their prime, courtesy of my teacher Louie Romero. He’s the timbalero in the bee outfit on the video, and also the timbalero on the ‘Cosa Nuestra’ record. (And also the corpse on the cover!) If you are lucky enough to be in the SF Bay Area like we are, go check out his current musical project ‘Mazacote’. Ataca, Romero! (This is where you plug into some good speakers or headphones if you have them.)


(On that same page you also get to see 1972 footage of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tito Puente, Taj Mahal, Earth, Wind & Fire, Max Roach, Ron Carter, … Massive thanks to thirteen!)


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“Asante Kotoko”, Pat Thomas

photo: Kumasi Daily

Back in 1998, I was a student at the University of Ghana in Legon, studying African religion, playwrighting, Colonial history, and Islam, while also dealing with the intense heat, and the fact that no one seemed to believe an American was interested in or could play soccer. I went out on the pitch only once in my five months there, ran up and down the field for an hour, wilting in the sun, calling for the ball to no avail. No one bothered to cover me, perhaps because they knew I’d never get a pass. It was as if I were completely invisible. (Oddly, on the basketball court, the Ghanaians showed me deference I did not deserve, as if by virtue of being American I somehow magically had a mean crossover…) Still, I hold no grudges, and am posting this Pat Thomas song “Asante Kotoko” in support of the Ghanaian side in their very difficult match with Germany tomorrow. Asante Kotoko (seen above celebrating a goal) is the club team from Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, capital of the Ashantis. Like most African sides (and Latin American sides too), the majority of the Ghanaian national team now play in Europe; but most got their start in the local  league, and a few once proudly wore the red jersey of Asante Kotoko. The complete version of this track is fifteen minutes long, but here’s a five minute groove for your enjoyment…

Asante Kotoko by Pat Thomas

Asante Kotoko

— juancho