Lots of records use his namesake in Bongohead’s extensive Latin collection

Bongohead, Northampton, MA

Just call me Bongohead, said ?#$%?# when I asked him how should I call him. I had to agree. you don’t argue with a Bongohead.

So here is Bongohead, and he’s quite a music head, and he’s from Northhampton, MA.

If you girls and boys are into Latin music, then this one is for you!!

Dale, Dale!! disfrute el sabor!!!!!

Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?

A: I would have to say The Beatles,Revolver. My first records were gifts from my mom. But my first record I chose myself, I stole it from someone, well, “borrowed” it and never returned it, I forget if it was from my parents, a friend’s older sibling, or a babysitter. I was like 6, so I guess it was around 1970. I used to just love putting it on my little portable record player, dancing to it, or sitting looking at the amazing cover art and trying to imagine the Beatles coming to play right there in front of me. First record I actually bought with my own money was probably a 45 by KC and The Sunshine Band or Sly and The Family Stone’sGreatest Hits. I was into funky music as well as rock! I also used to take my dad’s 8 track tapes to listen to in my room, especially the first two Santana and this Ravi Shankar live album from California. The morning raga was great for Sunday in the a.m.!


This is my CD room, under the stairs. Yes, I have CDs, too many. Some complain about CDs, how they are little and sound bad. But I say what about one of those mad Japanese paper sleeve jobs, where they recreate the original album exactly but in miniature and the sound is great? My favorites are the reproductions of the Hipgnosis covers for Led Zeppelin.

Cosmic salsa album cover for Libre, one of the best bands of the 70s-80s, by unsung genius, Walter Velez, ex-design partner of Izzy Sanabria. Andy González and Manny Oquendo = La combinación perfecta!

A great one dollar flea market find, Mr. Desi Arnaz, the Latino Elvis (white man imitating black man). People used to mistake my dad for him; he once got a free cab ride from a guy who refused to believe my pops wasn’t Ricky Ricardo. Sad to say the real Mr. Babalú, Miguelito Valdés, is not so well known in the Anglo world ‘cos he never had a sitcom with Lucille Ball.

One of the classic 10” records my dad smuggled out of Cuba on that fabled New Year’s airplane ride. Note the racist kitsch illustration, but it does point to the Afro-Cuban origins of the danzón and cha-cha-cha.

Q: What prompted you to start collecting? What age did you start? Was there a specific event in your life, an era, which signifies your transition from music lover to a collector?

A: Well it was interesting – I think I have always been into collecting things, from back as far as I can remember. I think what prompted me to do it was tat I just loved having material examples of things I was interested in so that I could come back to them time and time again – to play with them and later to study them, from rocks to toy cars. I used to collect shells in all the Caribbean places we stayed, or leaves and rocks from the forest in Vermont at the commune I stayed at for a while, or stuff like geodes and cactus branches from the desert in Arizona where my grandparents and uncle moved to after they left Cuba. In the city with my mom, it was little treasures I’d find in the trash in the alleyway behind our apartment, like bottle caps, or I’d maybe stuff my pockets with junk I collected from the muddy bottom of the ponds drained in the Boston Gardens (a park) in October – you never knew when you might need some string or a tampon applicator – it was all free and fascinating. Plus I liked the exotic or far away places conjured up by my cocktail “swizzle sticks” or postcard collection from all over the world. I used to take those cards out of a shoe box and re-read the ones from my dad’s travels. Later as an older kid, when I had earned some money, it was stamps, coins, marbles, even military insignia (patches, medals), ordinance (spent shell casings and grenades), and war memorabilia – that was until I became anti-war in my teens. What boy is without comics? It all started when I was in Mexico as a little kid – the comics there weremuy loco! Of course the American comics turned me on too (Marvel, Westerns, and horror stories were my favorite), plus Mad Magazine, Heavy Metal, Fangoria and Monster mags, baseball cards and the old “girly” centerfolds by the Peruvian graphic artist “Varga” (Antonio Vargas) that I’d cut from the Esquire magazines of the 40s and 50s. I loved those perfect pinup girls! I think the obsession with collecting came mainly from my dad – he had a huge book, record, and curious object collection from as long ago as I can remember. The only thing he took with him from Cuba when he fled Castro’s revolution was a suitcase of his most beloved records! In addition, my dad used to take me on these “antiquing” trips in New Hampshire in the 70s where we’d spend all Sunday poking around at auctions, antique fairs, and junk stores. Plus I used to go to the big flea markets they used to have in my neighborhood in Boston at the Cyclorama. At the same time I got into playing records – mostly 45s – at school for kids, like when I was 8 or 9. I found the girls liked me better because they liked to dance to my records and the boys thought it was cool to “lip sync” along to The Jackson 5 or the Rolling Stones. I also was into actually playing music and singing – I took piano so I could some day play the church organ – not for religious or classical music, but so I could play creepy horror movie music like fromDraculaorFrankenstein!! I guess I really got serious in high school because that’s when I’d start making mix tapes for our dances. My dad was always around musicians, my mom loved music and she and I always listened to the radio, and they both had a lot of records. So I guess my transition from listening to collecting was really early and subtle and whatnot, so it was so natural I never really noticed the change.

Barretto was a real intellectual man as well as a spiritual drummer, and Izzy and Walter did a great cover here, presenting him as a leader the barrio could believe in. Their theme for Ray was POWER! But ironically enough, Ray rejected this role, and he told me in his grumpy, gruff way that he never really liked playing the “cuchi-frito” circuit (Latin dance music venues); and he always maintained that his salsa album covers sucked, because in his opinion they cheapened the music (he absolutely HATED the James Bond cover and the Superman session as well). Hmm. But your fans would beg to differ, Ray.

Latinos were right there at the dawn of hip-hop and rap. Two fine examples.

And the common denominator and basis of hip-hop? Africa. Cuba has Africa right in its own back yards and alleyways, as this classic pre-revolution folkloric rumba record attests.

Q: Why vinyl?

A: It’s what I grew up with. It’s the ritual of playing records, collecting records, discovering treasure hidden in the grooves. Dealing with vinyl records is so labor intensive, it’s not for just anyone; playing, caring for, and collecting vinyl is a holistic pursuit because you are a very active part of the process, you have to interact with the medium, you have to care. I dig the participation in vinyl, you know? As for the record as an “object” as opposed to downloading and storing a digital file, vinyl is attractive to me because of the size of it, the object-ness, its many parts. Also, I am a graphic designer so of course the cover art makes me high. Yes it’s great that CDs have shrunk down how much space music storage takes up, and double yes it’s great that the digital revolution had made it even smaller and taken the emphasis off our obsession with rarity, collecting, and objects in general, but Hell, call me old fashioned; I love vinyl all the same, and the evils of capitalistic materialism be damned!

Q: Are you following any specific genre when you collect? Or perhaps fixed on a specific album cover artists? Or maybe pressing years? Or maybe it’s just the music, no matter what.

A: Depends. Sometimes I collect only what I am currently working on ( like something for a specific book, article, exhibit, radio show, live club gig, or compilation), or sometimes something will just grab me and I go for it even if I wasn’t looking for it. For a while I was into collecting a specific label, or graphic designer – covers are always important to me for the art; sometimes I will buy a record because it has not been released on CD so it’s the only way to hear the thing! But always, it’s an economic concern – my choices of necessity are bounded by the wallet – I can’t afford a lot of stuff outside my immediate music/record collecting needs, so I tend to forgo buying vinyl I might have bought if I were rich or something! I am not so much into the minutia that geeks or nerds get off on, but I will go for an original pressing if it sounds better or has a more dope cover.

Q: What’s your digging habit in these digital days? Do you go out to dig in basements and fleas, or are you an eBay expert? Has things changed for you since the web days?

A: Sometimes I do go out physically and dig – I always love record shops, flea markets, record fairs, etc; but more often these days, I don’t have the time, and when I am looking for something specific for a job, and I need it right away, I go on line and get it – not just EBay though – I have dealer friends and stores I regularly go to as well. I really hate dealing with other collectors at record fairs though because they can often be nasty, pushy, inbred geeky types that are a big turn off – they are always jostling me out of the way, or spouting on and on about rare Lithuanian pressings and special serial numbers – plus I hate the pressure of flipping through stuff at the same time as someone who also is looking for the same stuff as me, especially one of these desperate Latin music collector/DJ dudes who just flew in from Japan or Colombia with a wad of cash burning a hole in his pocket!! I do like seeing women collectors/DJs digging through the dusty crates though, that’s kind of a turn-on because it’s so rare.

Q: In a world of endless musical sources, streaming music, MP3’s, Serato and other digital substances, do you sometime stop and ask your self “what for???”

A: Not really – it’s OK, I kind of like the easy access, democratization and de-materialism that the digital age has brought on. I mean it’s great that musicians can now sell their stuff through the web directly to the consumer. Of course piracy is really bad, but that in turn makes bands want to perform live more to make money to compensate for losses in product revenue. I do hate the sound quality of digital, in particular the old MP3s, but it’s gotten better and people can download and store bigger files so you can actually have AIFFs and WAVs being sold, not just MP3s. Let the vinyl heads do their thing, the digital media mavens do theirs, man! I’m a little of both.

Well, I guess a little chest beating is OK; this is one of my early covers for Tuff City. The graphics are kind of lame – I didn’t know shit about no graphics programs at the time – but I like the drum sculpture I did for it anyways. The tom toms are coffee cans covered with Korean plastic beads arranged in colors that depict the different deities of orisha and vodun worship. I love you, funky old New Orleans, New World cross-roads!

Prime example of Izzy Sanabria’s humorous early work that owed a debt to Playboy magazine’s big-breasted cartoon aesthetic. Amazing record, musically speaking. Al Santiago, the eccentric founder of Alegre Records, was Latin music’s first home-grown Nuyorican record producer genius.

Yo, they don’t call me Bongohead for nuthin’! What’s funny about this particular recording is that was re-issued about five or six times, each time with a different cover, depending on the era it was re-released in. All I can say is there must have been something special about Mongo’s recording for it to be reissued so many times! Of all the cover art, I like the rare first version, the 10” calledChango, and the Drums and Chants collage cover done by Charlie Rosario in the ‘70s. This is an in-between one probably cashing in on the early 60s popularity of Olatunji and the Afro-centrism promoted by jazz artists. Some day I will have ALL the versions in my sweaty little hands.

Q: How do you organize your collection?

A: Pretty poorly, actually, because I am always taking out records for gigs or studying, so the categories are just pretty vague – like my Latin ones here, Brazilian and south American next to those, my 10” jazz over in that corner, 78s in this corner, my jazz over there, my funk and soul next to those, my rock, reggae, and rap and international in the garage. I have boxes of records that are part of projects or are ready to go to gigs, etc. My Latin is alphabetically organized by letter but within each letter, it’s just pretty messy and random. I am not like my uncle Jorge who used to number his records and catalog them. He spent all this time doing that, organizing them with extra care, then when he had an ugly divorce, his ex just threw them all in piles, stacked on top of each other and it was a real horror show, all that preservation and cataloguing for nothing, man, gone in a “poof” of vengeance from his old lady – that’s life! Why agonize too much over the objects when it’s your life and your family’s life that matters most. I learned that when an arson burned my friend Glenn’s house practically down to the ground – one minute everything was fine, next minute there was smoke and flames, and they lost all their stuff. He had a huge music collection in his capacity as a long time radio and concert booking guy, and it got all messed up, but thank the gods he and his family escaped with their lives, know what I’m saying?

Q: Tell me a useful record storage / shelving tip!

A: I use cardboard inserts to separate sections and to protect records at the ends of my stacks. The cardboard inserts come from the mailing packages I get when I order records – they are the perfect size and are nice and clean. I also take the record out and store it in back of the cover to avoid ring wear when ever possible – and put the whole thing in a bag (unless I’m DJ-ing with it that night or something). Who said I wasn’t anal retentive when it comes to records?

Q: What do you look for in a record?

A: depends – sometimes it’s the genre or artist, sometimes it’s a particular version. Usually the thing I worry about most is the cover condition. But what do I look for? Something interesting, something I have not seen or heard, music that pushes the envelope, familiar yet different. And to be honest, sometimes I look for a record because I’ve seen it in someone else’s collection or read about it somewhere! You know when you learn about some cool new album from someone and you just have to have it too, even if you have not heard it?

Q: What’s your partners’ reaction to this obsession?

A: Yikes. I think she’s very tolerant because she knows how much it means to me and because it’s part of my career, but she also probably thinks I am nuts and not good with my money. She is the one though who really showed me the way when she insisted I set up an office in our guest room and allowed me to move a mess of my most important records from the garage to the home office! She also encouraged me to go to ikea and get some proper record and CD storage furniture so it wouldn’t look a mess, and I would be able to easily access stuff for projects I was working on. Bless that woman, she is a pillar of tolerance and she is my inspiration. Honey, if you are reading this, hopefully you will not mind the latest batch of vinyl purchases now that I buttered you up! It’s a sickness, really.

Joe Cain was a beautiful man. Fabulous Italian-American arranger and producer with incredible taste. His bolero arrangements for La Lupe and Vicentico Valdés bring tears to my eyes. A real joy to hang with, and a behind-the-scenes man who could really tell stories about the crazy Latino/a musicians and singers he worked with. This is a baaad proto-boogaloo record too, featuring my hero, Cachao! A case of a kind of silly cliché cover hiding deep music inside.

Eddie Palmieri is one of our most gifted musicians and a true artist. He had a special relationship with album cover graphic designer Ely Besalel, and I think for a little while in the 60s they really connected – it shows on records like this one.

Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez is one of my favorite vocalists from the Fania era. He was black pride personified, and aside from the Spanish title, this could be a record cover from any of the conscious r&b; artists of the same era, like Curtis Mayfield, Eddie Kendricks, or Marvin Gaye. And that’s what we can’t forget – that even though Nuyorican salsa is a Latino form, it evolved NOT in the Caribbean or South America, but HERE, in the U.S.A., right next to the Black Panthers, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Rosa Parks, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire.

In terms of modern Latin music, especially mambo and so-called Latin Jazz, this cover by David Stone Martin says it all. Ecstatic, trance-inducing dance music from Cuba, translated and re-born in New York, for red-blooded people of all stripes and hues, from all walks of life, forged from the New World union of black and white, creating dancing musical vibrations in Technicolor that took America by storm during the Atomic Age.

Q: Name some golden grails from your collection history.

A: The vinyl I consider to be the holy golden grail would be New Orleans music. The Meters, Alan Toussaint, Lee Dorsey, Dr. John, Eddie Bo, Wild Magnolias, Wild Tchoupitoulas – this is what I can turn to for inspiration again and again, and it has so many other kinds of music wrapped up in it. Plus of course any late 60s/early 70s James Brown record, they are all great and have so many things happening in them. Anything that man touched was golden and nasty. But you have to get some of the CDs for the rarities, sad to say. A couple of my all-time J.B. favorites have mos def got to beHellandBreaking Bread.

Q: Do you have a record collecting philosophy or routine when you enter a store?

A: Take your time, I always say, you might miss something that’s right in front of you. Look for the stuff you want but keep an eye open for something new that might be worth taking a chance on – you never know. Ask the owner if they have something special behind the counter or in back. Don’t pay crazy prices though – you can often negotiate or find it later for cheap.

Q: Out of your great collection, there must be a few records that you like going back to at any time. Name a few. What makes them so special for you?

A: I always go back to the basics because they fill me with nostalgia and I can always learn something new from them. Early funk and soul, classic Cuban, first-generation reggae and punk, Ska (first and second generation), second-generation hip-hop (always love hearing the first Jungle Brothers, for instance), Chicano/Tejano, and Afro-Pop from the 70s – 80s like Fela or Orchestra Baobab. Key slabs of vinyl for me that I purchased back in the day and still turn to on a regular basis for healing and entertainment: The Clash’sLondon Calling, the first Funkadelic record, Bob Marley’sKaya, Hendrix’sAre You Experienced, early albums by Arthur Lee’s Love, The Rolling StonesAftermath, any of Cachao’s descarga records on Maype or Panart, plus the CubansonalbumsMusicalidad en sepiaby Felix Chappottin and Arsenio Rodriguez’Viva Arsenioon Bang. For jazz, I love to play Randy Weston and Archie Shepp records. I still cherish some classic boogaloo jams I purchased in the 80s like Joe Cuba, Joe Bataan, Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive – these are the building blocks of my musical consciousness.

Q: I know that every “your favorite” question is a tough one, but try to remember. Can you name a few of your favorite album covers?

A: As far as the Latin ones, they are all in my book, especially those by Izzy Sanabria, Charlie Rosario, Ron Levine, and Ely Besalel. For non-Latin, I think I love Fela’s record covers the most, especially those designed by Lemi, and anything by Pedro Bell. And also various 70s covers by Tony Wright and Neville Garrick. And you can’t forget the classic Blue Notes. As far as illustration, it would have to be a toss up between Jim Flora and David Stone Martin, who used to be a neighbor of my dad’s. What an artist he was. Going back to the beginning, you got to praise the grand-daddy of them all, Alex Steinweiss – now there was album coverART! Some of my faves are on my blog, so check it out.

Q: Did you have any covers that scared you as a child?

A: Dude, I think the Sex Pistols’God Save the Queenfreaked me out when it first came out, even though I was a teenager. Not only the whole ransom note thing but also the concept of their name – scary! I was also a bit freaked by some of the psychedelic covers I saw among the hippies at the commune, but mostly I liked them all, as far as I can recall.

Q: Dirtiest, sexiest,filthiestalbum cover you know or own?

A: A 70s compilation from Venezuela with a rude, nude lady that I can’t describe in detail, but I can say this: it’s nas-tay. Music as hard-on! Some of those Latin covers are without shame, like Spinal Tap south of the border.

Q: Bad album cover that hides great music inside the album?

A: Most Discos Fuentes covers! All merengue covers! Most heavy metal covers! Some Bobby Valentin records.The White Album.

Q: Is there a specific musical instrument that attracts you when listening to music?

A: Hand percussion, trombone, harpsichord, Cuban tres guitar, zither, cimbalom, organ, Tuvan throat singing and yodeling.

Q:Tell me about a dollar bin record you would never part with!

A: I got the first 3 Meters albums (on the Josie label) for $2 from these homeless Brazilian brothers down on Canal Street in Manhattan back when there used to be a flea market in an empty lot there by Church St.! Those were the days, before hip-hop drove up the prices for funky beats! There were only 2 jackets; the third record was stuffed inside the second jacket. Still looking for an empty 3rdcover!

Q: Have you ever kept a particular purchase secret from your partner?

A: Most of them. Shhh, don’t tell. I just slowly integrate them into the general pool, ya know?

Q: What about digging buddies? Do you share or you go solo?

A: I have a few digger friends but sometimes it gets a bit tense to be looking for goodies in tandem, and anyway, it’s really a solo kind of activity. I will go to a store or fair with a friend who is also into collecting, but usually we then split up to dig separately. The fun thing is then sitting down for a minute after the mad rush, and checking out each other’s scores!! I like to trade too, and vinyl buddies are good for that. Plus I like listening sessions, and that’s usually with music collector pals as well. Yikes, I sound like my own worst nightmare (sigh).

Q: Tell me about the most unlikely place/occasion where/when you found records?

A: In an abandoned burned-out car in a junk yard. In an ancient Mayan temple. In the stomach of a shark I caught off the island of Trinidad. Buried in an Alaskan glacier! OK, only one of these scenarios actually happened, but hope springs eternal.

Q:Tell me about a closed down record store / flea market you will grieve all your life!

A: So many in NYC and London. Pyramid in Chelsea (NYC) was one. But they are vanishing all over! Even here in town, our very own Dynamite Records.

Q: Tell me a particularly sad record story!

A: Definitely getting a rare record sent to you and opening the package and finding the record shattered into many pieces. That happened with Noro Morales’Mambo USA10” on Tico, recently. Damn!

Q: Tell me about a record that’s too weird to believe, even for a die-hard record fiend?

A: Afrosound’sSugar Ice Tea. Any early Residents record. Stuff by the band Chrome. Teddy Fire.

Q: Tell me about a record that has healed heartbreaks! Name one that made them worse!

A: TheBela Lugosi’s Dead12” single by Bauhaus – it’s so dark and morose, it made my romantic woes seem petty by comparison at the time. By the same token, other depressing but beautiful English music by Nick Drake made my heart hurt even more so it was a mistake to put it on the decks when I was bummin’ over a relationship.

Q: How often do you have dreams/nightmares about records or digging? Could you tell a particularly funny/interesting/weird one?

A: I never dream about finding records, though I do dream about songs that don’t exist and hanging out with musicians I respect but probably would never meet in real life! Nightmares about spending too much money on music, to be sure. Ulcers!

I learned a lot from my father’s collection, about both art and music, and the presentation of popular culture through mass media. I think he knew that this would send me off on my way early on, so he consciously exposed me to this. He was kind and gracious enough to let me have his beloved 10” collection later when he had moved on to CDs. As a matter of fact, my dad was my first crate-digging buddy! We used to spend hours and hours looking through records in Providence, R.I. when I was in college. We’d come home, sit back, and enjoy our finds together. This particular Jazz At The Philharmonic is a wonderful example of the kind of paste-up graphic design that these artists could pull off with amazing creativity, on shoe-string budgets, long before the computer.

Painter, graphic artist, and sculptor Charlie Rosario is a hero of mine. He’s a pure artist, a total artiste, living by his obsession with being creative every day, even though he’s going blind, fighting for recognition, and taking care of his aging moms. This is an album he did for Tito Puente back in the 60s (the fun story of how he convinced Puente to use this for a cover is told in Wax Poetics magazine). Many musicians and collectors say it’s one of their favorites, often emulated but never duplicated (he did one for Larry Harlow on specukation, same as he did for Puente, that sadly never became a record cover, and was subsequently lost when Harlow moved from his 70s pad in the Village). In the background are some of Charlie’s Puerto Rican-themed paintings that I cherish. Que los dioses de los Taínos y los Africanos te bendiga, Charlie. Tu eres el espíritu de Borinquen bella.

Taj. This copy of Mo’ Roots is ringwear personified. You can tell how well-loved a record is because it bears all the marks of partying in it’s grooves and on it’s jacket, wear and tear from repeated listenings, showing like the stigmata on a saint’s body. Taj is a giant of a man from a city near here, Springfield, MA. Big influence on me as a kid, when he used to come by the farm and play all night, stoned to the tits on coke, conjuring up his ancestors with blues jams, scorching soul, jazzy Django noodling, slavery time ditties, and Caribbean shanties.

Q: Tell me about a record you still regret not picking up?

A: I have no regrets – if I didn’t pick it up, either it wasn’t meant for me, or I’ll find it again some time – or it will find me, if it is destined to. Someone else will be touched by it and that’s nice.

Q: Who is the weirdest character in the world of digging?

A: There was definitely this crazy, freaky older woman with long scraggly salt-and-pepper hair I met at Academy Records in Manhattan once – at first I listened to her because she showed me where the Latin records were; big mistake to look her in the eyes though, because after that, she went on and on about the merits of different pressings in the Columbia Records catalog, and where you could find the best deals uptown like the Salvation Army over on the West Side, and how when she was younger, she met all these SF hippie bands like Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother back in the day and how she was the ultimate groupie, whatever the Hell that meant, and they just didn’t appreciate her, and blah, blah, blah. When she started ranting about how Bob Dylan’s 60s records were channeling alien transmissions sent to disrupt the youth, and how she was actually in some of the cover designs for Joni Mitchell and the Dead, because she was best friends with them or did backing vocals, but then they “erased her” from them because they had a “falling out”, well then that’s when I just shut off and said like “OK, cool, I gotta go now, happy digging”…

Q: Who has the toughest record collection that you have ever seen?

A: Hard to say. For sheer numbers and obsession, in terms of lesser known people with HUGE collections, it’s a tossup between writer Byron Coley over by my neck of the woods, and in NYC, my boy DJ Craig Kallman (an Atlantic Records VP who is trying to seriously collect every single record in the universe). In terms of “depth”, at least in the field of Latin records, the collections I admire most are those of the producer and historian René López, historian/Tito Puente confidant Joe Conzo, Sr., archivist/historian Mr. Henry Medina out on the Island, plus actor Matt Dillon (a nice guy and very knowledgeable about Cuban music), and the stellar DJs Lubi and John Armstrong in the UK, DJ Duste in Europe, and in the USA, my man Nick Aguirre. For Cuban records, it’s gotta be Don Cristóbal Díaz Ayala (his insane collection’s now enshrined at Miami International University) – though Texas cowboy rumba man Ned Sublette and Dan Zachs of Canada are close runners up; for Chicano records, mos def has to be this dude Mr. Silva in Dallas (Ruben Molina in L.A. ain’t no slouch either). For Brazilian, well there’s Tropicalia In Furs impresario Joel dos Santos Oliveira (who helped me out for my exhibit), Greg who you already interviewed, and the scholars Chris Dunn, Morton Marks, and Charles A. Perrone. In terms of guys whose collections are really diverse and they know what todowith their records (selection or mixing), I guess it would be first off Will “Quantic” Holland and all the folks that contribute to my favorite labels like Soundway, Honest Jon’s, Strut, Vampisoul, Jazz Man, Soul Jazz, Stones Throw, Ubiquity, Now Again, Analog Africa, etc. Locally, DJ Andujar of Clandestino fame and Mike Pigott of Mass Tropicas have taught me a lot through their records, and in the Big Apple my man Joe Claussell never ceases to amaze (big up Juaquin!), plus editor/producer Knox Robinson, poet Fred “Deepstank” Schmalz, and The Pink Panther from Colombia, Mr. Jorge Igorri (and yo, wassup DJ Chino from Cali, Colombia as well!), … and of course DJ Andrew “Le Spam” Yeomanson in Miami, yo Spam, that shit you play is deeeep! The list of great collectors out there is endless, and I ain’t even getting into the hip-hop/funk turntablists like Rob Swift, Peanut Butter Wolf, Prince Paul, Shadow, Cut-Chemist and Z-Trip, never mind the legends like Flash and Bam…sorry to go all ranting on you here, but I get excited, and there’s just too many.

Q: In your most euphoric dreams, how do you imagine your perfect digger’s life? A life partner that cleans your shelves every week…continue…

A: Nah, just lots of money to buy all the records I need, and to pay an assistant to clean, file and catalog them, and a place to house them, with the best audio equipment to play it. Maybe an archive of sealed copies for future generations to research and enjoy. Oh, and time to listen to it all, and children who will preserve the legacy when I die, or even better, some institution of higher learning like a library, museum or university where the collection will be maintained and accessible to people for their education in perpetuity. What a fantasy!

Q: Any words from deep within?

A: share the wealth – pass along the good word, that music is the healer and vinyl is the medium. Support current artists that still have thecojonesto put out 7”, 10” and 12” plastic! Having records around is like possessing an art collection – enjoy it on your own level, but don’t forget to share it, don’t be greedy like a banker, just let the public enjoy it the way you do – so go out and play it at gigs, or do podcasts, trade and lend, pass around CD-R burns of the best stuff to the young.


We got to educate so we don’t stagnate.

Check out Bongohead’s blog:
and his book:

11 Responses

  1. hey, great blog you got here.
    i've been reading your blog lately cause im collecting records in vinyl lately.
    it's just my idea, why dont you also put the audiophile settings from people you interviewed.

  2. Anonymous

    I'm really digging your blog, I stumbled upon it and read it regularly now. Keep up the great work, it's inspiring.

  3. a.

    fantastic blog you got there. i came across it last year and have followed it since then. i am looking forward to a new entry/portrait of a collector and his/her treasures.

    greetings from frankfurt.

  4. Love this — not being a particular music head I love the photos and record covers. Pablo is quite a genius and I have been the lucky recipient of many a ‘mixed’ tape in the 25 years we have known eachother:)

  5. gary dominguez

    hey mr bongohead, congratulatinos, we have a huge salsa collectors fest in cali colombia, next december 2013(from 26 to 30th) 5 days, are interesting in visiting?

  6. Pingback : Carlos Vera | Dust & Grooves - Adventures in Record Collecting. A book about vinyl records collectors

  7. Pingback : Carlos Vera: Barcelona’s Boogaloo: Mixes and Mashups | Jessica Lipsky

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