Today’s mix is from my old friend DJ Pari. In school he shared with us his passion for Prince and funky music. And he was the craziest Prince fan at this time in our hometown and for sure on of the craziest in the world, too. Without him, I would certainly have not a music nerd as I am today.
Traveling the world with the Impressions of Curtis Mayfield fame, DJ Pari has pulled the strings behind the group’s comeback and got them a new record deal with Brooklyn’s Daptone Records. A passionate fan of Chicago Soul, Pari has also helped put Leroy Hutson back in the spotlight and toured with with Natural Four.
But the Richmond, Virginia, resident first made a name for himself when he traveled with the James Brown show and opened at many shows for Soulbrother #1 in Europe and the United States. Later, he managed Gwen McCrae, Lyn Collins and Soulsister #1 Marva Whitney, for whom he produced and co-wrote her comeback hit “I am what I am.” Pari has also toured and worked with Bobby Byrd, Vicki Anderson, Sir Joe Quarterman, Ann Sexton, Fred Wesley, Mandrill, RAMP, Osaka Monaurail and many more. As a DJ, he slings records in clubs and at festivals in more than 20 countries on five continents. At home in Virginia, he has hosted his weekly radio show “Midnight Soulstice” and monthly Soul party “SOULPOWER.”
What was your first self-bought album on vinyl?
“Sign O’ the Times” by Prince. I was 12 years old when I first heard the title song on radio. I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics then, but the sparse arrangement and the melancholy lingering in the vocals immediately caught my attention. And then there was this incredibly funky rhythm guitar. I had never heard anything like that before. I first bought the 7″ single and then the complete album when it first came out. It changed the way I listened to music. I still have it today.
What is your secret weapon in your record bag?
It depends on the gig. Back in my Funk days, it was “Soul Power” by James Brown for the masses or “Let me come within” by Renaldo Domino for the Deep Funk nerds. I play mainly Soul these days, and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on up” is a certified winner to pack every dance floor when nothing else works, or modern uptempo burners like “I was born to love you” by Timeless Legend. And pretty much anything by Jackie Wilson.
With whom would you like to change the record collection for a weekend?
I’ve had the honor of playing with some of the greatest Soul DJs and collectors of our time, and their crates are deep beyond comprehension. In Japan, there’s Daisuke Kuroda, whose mixes have inspired me a lot because of their seamless blend of Soul and Funk. Richard Lewis aka DJ Honky, host of the Dig Deeper concert series in Brooklyn, NY, has an incredible collection. And over in the UK, my friend Richard Searling, one of the original resident DJs at the Wigan Casino, definitely has an archive of rare Soul 45s that very few of us will ever amass in our lifetime.
What is your current musical secret that we should listen to?
I listen to very little contemporary music, so that’s a tough one to answer. A few years ago, I did some shows with a group from Milwaukee called Kings Go Forth, who were brilliant in their own right because they brought back the long forgotten art of male vocal harmonizing in Soul music. Their first and only album “One day” includes the ballad “High on your love” which is one of the sweetest moments in contemporary Soul music. Unfortunately, the group has somewhat disbanded.
What is your favorite record store and why?
At home here in Richmond, it’s “Steady Sounds” on Broad Street. Marty and Drew always keep a good selection of vinyl, including a stack of rare Soul 45s behind the counter, all for more than fair prices. “Groove Merchant” in San Francisco has been around for more than 20 years now and they never disappoint. In Tokyo, “Disk Union” is a mandatory stop for me when I’m in town, and I usually pencil in at least three hours to dig. But generally, I rarely buy in record stores because prices for Soul 45s are highly inflated these days. I’d rather go check out a record fair like the one in Washington DC or buy from private sellers and a few secret spots — I’d have to kill you if I told you.
What is your favorite club?
It’s hard to pin down one spot because I’ve played at so many over the years. But I made some good memories at the Jazz Cafe in London, when Adrian Gibson ran it, Tempo Club and Cafe Berlin in Madrid, Le Jam in Montpellier, Bohannon in Berlin and the Le Fonque in Hamburg. In Tokyo, The Room is the #1 spot for Funk and Soul fans. Here in the States, I had some great times at the now defunct Southpaw in Brooklyn, Liquid Kitty in L.A. and Balliceaux here in Richmond, where our monthly Soulpower party had a great four-year run.
High Society Brothers – Spill the Wine
Bad Medicine – Trespasser P. 1
The Energettics – You make me nothing
Sir Joe Quarterman – The Trouble with Trouble
Ripple – A funky song
Chocolate Milk – Milky Way
Miami – I can’t help myself
The Voltage Bros. – Feeling Good
The Crown Heights Affair – Dreaming a Dream (Disco)
The Blackbyrds – Future Children, Future Hopes
The Sisters Love – Give me your love
The Devils – The X-Sorcist
Aggregation – A child is born
Hott Snow – Let nature take its course
Soul Hustlers – Super Party P. 1
Bobby Williams – Let’s work a while
Bootsy Phelps – Fun in your thang P. 1
Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro – Too High
Shelley Fisher – I’ll leave you girl
Black Fur – Feel the shock
Black Soul Express – Party Time
Beginning of the End – Bahamian Boogie