Ask FMF

Diggin-In-The-Dirt

Have some vinyl record questions and don’t know who to ask? Want to know what the best headphones or needles are? Need to be schooled on record culture? Don’t know what the word Hip Hop means? Can’t find any information on this weird record by some obscure band The Honeydrippers? Think the Big Beat 45 is worth $350? Flea Market Funk has assembled an All Star cast of DJs, producers, record diggers and artists to help answer those burning questions you may have been afraid to ask. Every week, someone from the panel will answer a question sent in from a reader. We’d like to be able to keep entertaining as well as informative, so feel free to ask us what ever you’d like. We will be diggin’ in the dirt (as well as the crates) to answer what you throw at us.

“How should I adjust my price expectations when shopping for vinyl in Europe? In the US, I tend to have no problem finding jazz, funk, and soul LPs for less than $10 each, but that seems to be the starting price for just about anything I’ve come across in Spain, Holland, England, and Germany. I’m digging and listening purely for my own enjoyment, so I tend to go for the cheaper stuff unless I find a convenient reissue or an obvious keeper.

I’ll have an opportunity later this year to revisit London and Barcelona, and I’m looking for advice on how to dig effectively in those cities, or in Europe in general.” -FS, Portland, OR

This week’s question is fielded by the guy who started it all, a huge influence on me starting Flea Market Funk, and a good friend of mine, Mr. Larry Grogan of Funky 16 Corners. Larry started the webzine way before the internet was a chock full of sites to choose from that highlight Funk and Soul. He was talking about 45s on the regular before it became hip, and has an extensive knowledge of not just Funk and Soul, but music in general. His also cool Iron Leg blog features some cool records as well. Here are some words of wisdom from Larry.

“Well…the first thing I’d do is check exchange rates to see how the USD is holding up against Euro currencies. If the dollar is bad shape, you might want to hold off for a while.

On the other hand, if that checks out, keep an eye out not only for UK/Euro funk and soul (there’s plenty of it) but also foreign pressing of US stuff as well. There are a number of surprising European editions of US funk and soul, including some things you might consider obscurities, that were pressed in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany (many with cool picture sleeves). You may also have some luck tracking down UK/Euro library titles, soundtracks etc.
Either way, do some research before you go, dig with an open mind (always the best) and ask around when you get there.”

Thanks for contributing Larry, and we hope this answers your question FS!

Keep Diggin’!

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Larry Grogan mans the long running Funky16Corners.com website and continues to preserve the myriad of Funk, Soul, R & B, and anything else that has a good beat on a daily basis. He also DJs and curates the Funky 16 Corners radio show.

Hey man, have you tried the wood glue method of cleaning records?-BH Dublin, Ireland

I have tried many cleaning methods. An old record store owner used to clean his stock with a mixture of Windex and water (more water than Windex). He would then use a soft toothbrush and deep clean the grooves of the record on a spinning turntable platter (spun by hand). After he did that would take a soft cloth and dry the record off while it was spinning (still by hand). I used this method for a long time. I’m not saying it’s the best method, or even the right method. It was taught to me and worked for me. My records didn’t get ruined and I was happy. However, as of late I use the Spin Clean record machine and it works really great. I’d definitely recommend it to someone that is on a budget and wants to still be able to buy records to clean.

Now for your original question. I have not tried the wood glue method. There is a lot of chatter on the web about this method. I have to honest, I’m not brave enough nor do I have the patience to do this method. There are a few records I could think of that I’d want to do it to (My Oneness of JuJu record, but not in a million years), but I’d rather just save up for a VPI machine and do everything in that. From the videos and photos I have seen, it looks like the method does a bang up job of getting stuff out of it. However, I don’t have the room to try this. I’d love to see it in action one day. Maybe I’m just a bit cautious, but I think I can wait to get the VPI. For those of you not aware of this method, here’s a few link to show you what we are talking about:

Photos from Audiokarma

Here is a Wood Cleaning video.

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DJ Prestige runs the site Flea Market Funk, digs for records, chases his kids around, and preserves the music and artists of Funk, Soul, Jazz, Reggae and Hip Hop one record at a time.

What is with the Star Wars obsession with every DJ? It seems like most of the DJs have some sort of Star Wars fetish with the records, figures, images, etc. Can you give us your opinion on that?- RJ from Chicago, IL

That question has definitely come up more than once in conversation RJ. My guess is that most of the DJS that are into Star Wars grew up in that period. Star Wars was the first over the top budgeted and marketed space movie with a huge amount of characters (and merchandise to go with it) that kids could grab on to. Some of these kids grew up to be DJs. We are all collectors in one way or another, and it extends further than records for some people. Speaking from personal experience, I have bought every single Star Wars record that I came across in the field. From a dialogue picture disc of the movie to the 45 of the Imperial March to The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Jedi records and more, I scoop them up. They’re good to have for production and live shows as well. The series itself struck a chord with me as a child that I have always carried with me. I’m pretty sure my parents took me to see it at a Drive In theater, so it holds a special place for me. I have original Star Wars material that I made curtains out of in my studio. When I toured I used to drape my DJ rig with Empire Strikes Back sheets. I still have a lot of love for the original trilogy and everything that goes with it. I’m not the only one. I recently saw an interview with Egon from Now Again and he had a Boba Fett helmet on a shelf with his records. ITalk about next level. I think that DJs (and producers) have a lot of respect for the work that George Lucas left us with Star Wars as a brand and while they were young were playing with Millenium Falcons, Land Speeders and C3P0 figures. It’s a culture thing. Neil Young even had his stage hands dressed as Jawas moving equipment around in the Live Rust movie. The Star Wars movie itself was that powerful and left an impression on a lot of people. I just want to know where you can get one of those 3D chess sets that Chewbacca was playing with in Episode IV, that’s all I ever wanted as a kid.

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DJ Prestige runs the site Flea Market Funk, digs for records, chases his kids around, and preserves the music and artists of Funk, Soul, Jazz, Reggae and Hip Hop one record at a time. He has been known to like Star Wars as well.

I can’t seem to find the right needles to scratch 45’s with, I’m wondering what needles you’d recommend? Help!!- F.N., Long Island, NY

That is a question that I’ve gotten more than once, so today I asked one of the best traveling DJs out there today, Skeme Richards from Hot Peas & Butta to field this one. Here’s what he had to say:

“Excited to be apart of Flea Market Funk’s new Q&A segment and equally excited to begin answering some of the questions new and old DJ’s alike might have. Let me start by saying that not everything works for everyone and that some people have become comfortable in their methods in which they can’t break. The first question, what are the best needles for scratching 45’s.

Answer: For me personally I prefer to use Ortofon DJ S needles when scratching because of it’s weight which makes it so that I bounce around or fly off especially on off centered pressings. Some DJ’s attach them to regular Technics headshells but I prefer the direct Ortofon connection combined with very little weight applied to the tonearm. About 5 years back I learned Shure White Labels worked perfect for playing and scratching and also cause less cue burn on those precious and rare 7″ (which you shouldn’t be scratching on anyway). The White Labels are heavier than the 447’s but lighter than the Ortofon’s. So I guess in the longrun it’s trial and error on what might work for you but for me it would be the DJ S or White Labels.”

So there you have it. From a guy that not only knows records and DJing, but has been down with the 45s since day 1, before it got trendy.

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Skeme Richards aka “The Nostaligia King” is a DJ, vinyl record collector, Hip Hop historian and member of the World Famous Rock Steady Crew. Representing Philadelphia, you won’t find a realer dude in the DJ game. For more information about him check out his often imitated but never duplicated Hot Peas & Butta site.

Keep Diggin’!

“I am heading over to Japan for a family holiday and have limited time to have a dig. So would like to know if you can advise a few essential stores to check out?”- Matt

Konnichiwa! Funny you ask Matt, I was just researching that for a colleague last month. Although I haven’t been digging in Japan before, I have been asked that question a bunch of times and here’s what I’ve come up with for you. Remember, I’m not an expert on Japan, but here are a few nuggets passed along to Flea Market Funk.

The great blog Soul Safari did a series last year about digging in Japan, which I highly recommend you checking out. It goes into great detail about the shops, where they are, and what kinds of records they carry. Part One deals with Tokyo. Part 2 deals with Osaka, so if you’re anywhere near there, this will be of some help.

You could also check out this record shopping in Japan from Twee.net which is quite informative.

Also, Jazz record cafes are very popular in Japan, and Tokyo Jazz Site run by James Catchpol, a Brooklyn, NY ex-pat is one of the most thorough sites out there to direct you to these kinds of places.

I hope this was a good start and that your digging trip in Japan is fruitful. Keep Diggin’!

“What’s your basic ‘gig bag’ consist of? Your records, needles (what type?), slipmats etc.? Are you the ‘sound man’ or do you have to work with someone else at the controls. I’m basically only a full scale Mobile-DJ with amps and speakers and turntables etc, but would love to do a club and be able to walk in and out with just a bag of my goods!” Thanks! N from California

Depending on the gig, the contents of my bag change. First of all you need a good bag. I’ve had every DJ bag out there: Technics, Caffeine, Gravis, Odyssey, and more. There was always the same conclusion: They stink. Eventually, they all broke, ripped, or hurt your shoulder because of no padding on the shoulder strap, abrasive material, etc. My last bag I was introduced to and use quite a bit is the Tucker & Bloom North to South Messenger Bag. This is the best DJ bag I have ever owned. Made by DJs for DJs (and also quite versatile, this bag is a workhorse), it’s a great bag to start with. For certain gigs, depending on the club, I just bring my laptop and my Serato box if the club doesn’t have it. Most places do, but if they don’t the box and control vinyl (2 sets) and RCA/ USB cables, and DC plug, fit nicely. I also pack my headphones (Nixon Master Blaster Version 2), my needles (Technics head shells with Shure M44 7 Turntablist Record Needles and Shure N44 7 Styli) in a Shure airtight case (holds 4), a set of Cali-Tex slipmats, a small mag light, business cards, pen, and probably some FMF stickers. I usually bring a box of 45s (50 or so) as well depending on the gig. I don’t shun technology, but I do like to spin 45s, so for gigs that are 45 specific, it’s usually a double Odyssey flight case or two vintage 45 cases I’ve had for years. The Case & Bloom bag will hold an ample amount of 12″s or Lps as well, so if I fill one with vinyl I have a Soul Jazz flight bag that will hold headphones, needles, etc.

As far as the sound man question, if I’m bringing my coffin (Marathon battle style with wheels) and my Technics 1200 turntables with a Rane TTM 56 mixer) to a gig (quite honestly I don’t like to have to bring my equipment much anymore, 20 years of carrying crates of records and equipment does a number on your back), I am my own sound guy. Gigs vary having a sound guy or not. Most of the time though if there isn’t, I’m on my own to set up, etc. If there is one, that’s great, you just plug in, sound check and go. Usually these guys just set up and then you see them at the end of the gig, but if it’s high profile you will have a guy at the controls throughout your whole set. I definitely appreciate the sound guy, but am prepared if there isn’t. Sometimes you know more than them as far as setting up the turntables, Serato, etc. You should definitely know your equipment and be prepared either way. Remember, technology fails sometimes, and records may skip, but if you’re prepared at the gig, you’ll be able to get through any challenges. Great question, thank you for asking. Keep Diggin’!

“How much vinyl do you own? You sound like you dig a whole lot!”-Y.T. from the UK

Great question Y.T. My philosophy is quality over quantity. I have between 3500 and 4000 Lp’s and 12″s, and maybe around 1000 45s. This is a small collection compared to others, but because my space is limited here in NYC, for now it’s only in one dedicated room/studio. Over the years I’ve trimmed the fat from my collection though. I use every single record I have, whether for review, for dedicated mixes, or for playing out. It’s a lot easier to find stuff in your shelves if you don’t have a bunch of crap to weed through. I was never the guy who had to have every record made. I basically enjoy a variety of music, but when I started collecting and DJing, I went for the foundations of Hip Hop: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Reggae and built from there. Eventually you discover new music (every day) and you need to get that. I’ve tried to grab everything from Brazilian to Psych to funky Rock, soundtracks and more. I’m fortunate to have a good group of people in the vinyl community to share record knowledge with who turn me on to great music all the time and a wife who enjoys music and records just as much as I do. If my space and funds were unlimited, I’d have a whole house full of vinyl (one day!). That’s not the case currently. I have definitely been able to get a lot of great vinyl over the years. I don’t claim to have the best or largest record collection, I have what I have and enjoy it every day. You should do that with your collection as well. Records are meant to be played, not stored on a shelf for show.

As far as the digging goes, I don’t dig as much as I used to. This is simply because I have two children to take care of, and that takes priority over digging. However, I still manage to dig in my neighborhood about 4 or 5 times a week as well as the rest of the city. Priorities might change, but I will never stop digging. My wife wants to know where I’ll go when the the records fill up my work space. There are creative ways to keep records, so at this point when they hit the ceiling (which they do in some places), I will start building shelves under desks, etc. to keep all the vinyl together. Like I said, my collection small by digging standards, but it’s meaty. I don’t just own records just to say I have them. I want to play, preserve, and spread this music wherever I can.

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DJ Prestige runs the site Flea Market Funk, digs for records, chases his kids around, and preserves the music and artists of Funk, Soul, Jazz, Reggae and Hip Hop one record at a time.

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