Holy Moly

Perhaps this quiet, sweltering Saturday in Tel Aviv (when most shops close and public transportation shuts down) is a good time to lounge around my Jaffa Air B’n’B and do some reflecting n’ writing. I’m one week into this exhilarating, eye-opening 2-week stay in Israel (which began with my being detained at Ben Gurion airport immigration for more than five hours). Israel’s ancient, religious, spiritual, militaristic, open, extreme, dizzying n’ disorienting energy hits you hard and fast, and I feel like I’ve been on some sort of crazy high since the moment I arrived. The reaction to my visiting Israel has been unsurprisingly mixed—“Why are you visiting Israel if you’re not Jewish?” “Boycott Israel, free Palestine!” “It’s the most amazing place in the world!” “You won’t like it at all.” “You’re going to feel so at home given your Middle Eastern background.” I’m doing my best to tune out the noise and just see and feel it for myself. One thing that strikes me the most is the open-ness of the people. There’s no ice to break! No guards up! What I’ve seen so far in Israel is lots of … Read more

Sophisticated Boom Boom on WFMU

Remember in a recent post I mentioned being invited to audition for a spot on the radio? And how I was waiting to hear back? Well, I got the gig! HURRAY! I now have my very own weekly show on WFMU.org, called “Sophisticated Boom Boom with Sheila B.” (thanks for helping me find the perfect name, Marcos Prado!). It is an attempt to cover the vastness of the girl-pop spectrum with a lil’ bit of leg-room for the occasional man. Every Tuesday morning I rise at 4am and haul 3 hours worth of records to the WFMU Studios, where from 6am – 9am I play whatever my heart desires! Last week I played the Bermudas, Sharon Tandy, Shonen Knife, my recent Margie Mills discovery (“Goodbye Boys, Goodbye”), and two UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS records written by the late Eiichi Ohtaki in the ’80s—“Ame No Wednesday” and Yakushimaru Hiroko’s “Tantei Monogatari.”  I had never even considered the prospect of radio, which now seems most odd considering how friggin’ thrilling it is to play my records for the world and then to talk about how much and why I love them so. I’m still … Read more


We’ve got some WFMU DJ heavyweights at this month’s SH-BOOM! Host of WFMU Ichiban’s Crayons To Perfume and premier collector of Quebecoise girl-pop, Glynis Ward will by flying in from Atlanta with her box of girl groups, garage, and Karo 45s. If you’ve heard Todd-O-Phonic Todd‘s weekly WFMU show, you know to expect one helluva set of garage, soul, freakbeat, and rock n’ roll. I have a feeling this SH-BOOM is gonna be a good one! SH-BOOM with DJs Glynis Ward, Todd-O-Phonic Todd + Sheila B. Friday May 15th / 10pm / FREE! Baby’s All Right, 146 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Facebook Event Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/777029005708463/ xo-Sheila

Moon Boots LA Party
Moon Boots

After a blissful week of soaking in hot sulphur springs and digging deep at Esalen in Big Sur, the next chapter of my California adventure takes place in LA, where I’ll be joining forces with Sam Swig (http://tapes4ever.bigcartel.com/) and Victoria Rawlins (http://victoriarawlins.com/)—two of the West Coast’s most exquisite DJs—for MOON BOOTS our Record Store Day afterparty. Really it’s just an excuse to play records with my two vinyl-soulmates. But I extend the party invitation to you all! And hope you’ll join us and dance to our mix of what Victoria so beautifully calls “rare global grooves, cosmic disco dubs, psychedelic soul stompers and exotic bubblegum flavors on sweet sweet vinyl.” MOON BOOTS takes place Saturday April 18th in the basement lounge of Hotel Figueroa at 10pm! See you Saturday my LA friends! xo-Sheila

Crayons To Perfume: An Interview with Glynis Ward

Girl group enthusiast, record collector, writer, and DJ Glynis Ward has been championing her favorite ‘60s (and modern) garage, girl group, + psych records for years via various fanzines, books, events, and—most recently—Crayons To Perfume, a weekly internet radio show on WFMU Ichiban dedicated to ’50s + ’60s girl-pop. I had actually interviewed her for Cha Cha Charming back in 1998 (when Cha Cha was a print fanzine), but somehow I never got around to publishing it. I reconnected with Glynis recently and got the scoop on Crayons To Perfume, her favorite records to DJ, and the most prized 45 in her collection. Where do you think your love of the ’60s comes from? I grew up at the very tail end of the ’60s, so I was exposed to the fashion, and much of the music. When we visited Swingin’ London in 1968, my mom made the three of us matching mod plaid pant suits! Being Canadian, our radio had (and still has) a Canadian content requirement so I got to hear a lot of local ’60s garage bands on the radio too. If you look back at all the wonderful things you’ve … Read more

Sh-Boom with Sampsa Vilhunen!

Sampsa Vilhunen—Sh-Boom’s special guest DJ from Helsinki, Finland has touched down on US soil, and will be joining me at this Friday’s Sh-Boom at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sampsa + his DJ partner Vesa Yli-Pelnonen run a titty-shaking club night in Helsinki called Big Shake, where they spin R&B, doowop, surf, popcorn, mambo, rock n’ roll, Northern Soul + jump blues. They invited me over to DJ Big Shake in June 2011, and I remember thinking at the time that no other DJ gig will ever top this one. And I was right! It’s where I first heard Jo Ann Campbell’s “I Changed My Mind Jack” and so many new + exciting sounds spun by Sampsa + Vesa. The crowd was enormous and ultra-enthusiastic, and the club put my name up in lights! The post-Big Shake crowd spilling onto the streets in the bright 4am sunshine only added to the surreal thrill of it all. This is Sampsa’s first time to the states, so I’m super-psyched that he’ll be joining me at this month’s Sh-Boom! You can find all the event details here: http://www.facebook.com/events/352963811558179/ Sampsa + Vesa recently contributed a … Read more

Mama Spank Mix
© Joel Meyerowitz

Mama Spank is the result of some serious eBay action, digging time, and flipping over records that have been in my collection for ages. Case in point—Irma Thomas’ “Hittin’ On Nothing” (flip of “Ruler of My Heart”) and Dorothy Berry’s “Ain’t That Love” (I’d only ever played “You Better Watch Out”). Of course now I feel the urge to go through every single record to make sure I haven’t neglected more dazzling flips. I remember having this chat with fellow collectors Matt Weingarden and Rebecca Birmingham. They’d asked if I ever checked out the flip of Little Eva’s “The Locomotion.” Nope. They suggested I do, pronto. And so thanks to them I discovered what might be Little Eva’s coolest record—”He Is the Boy,” writtten by Big Dee Irwin and Gerry Goffin. “The Locomotion” may have been one of the first girl-pop 45s I ever purchased, and I never bothered to flip it over. Folks, let this be a stern warning! ; ) I DJ’d recently with Phast Phreddie (New York City’s bossest DJ!) and whilst tag-teaming we got chatting about sharing our favorite vinyl finds and the silliness of covering … Read more

Sukiyaki + Cocktail Mix

As New York prepared itself for the historic winter storm that never was, I drank cups of tea at the Crosby Street Hotel with a few folks from Sony Music Japan who were in town with a man named Rikimaru Nakamura. His father, Hachidai Nakamura was a hugely prolific and well-respected songwriter (and jazz pianist) who wrote Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 worldwide smash, “Sukiyaki” (originally titled “Ue Wo Muite Arukou”). To this day, “Sukiyaki” remains the only Japanese language song ever to top the Billboard charts. It has sold over 13 million copies. Rikimaru gave me a box-set of his father’s work called Hachidai Song Collection, released by EMI in 1999, which features cuts by some of my favorite girl-pop stars like Mieko Hirota, the Peanuts, and Sachiko Nishida. He explained that he’s currently working on a play about his father’s career and “Sukiyaki” and how it became to be such a legendary record. He said he had so many stories about that one song that it was difficult to know which ones to focus on for the play. Unfortunately my very poor Japanese (I dedicated my life to learning the … Read more


Friends + music lovers! After many months of wishin’ and hopin’ (and thankfully, very little hustling) I’ve been given my very own party at Baby’s All Right, a gorgeous, beautifully lit venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve christened the party, SH-BOOM and the first date is this Friday January 2nd. Joining me behind the booth will be Josh Styles—drummer of Daddy Long Legs, co-founder of NYC’s greatly missed ’60s party, Smashed! Blocked!, husband of English goddess Sophie Thunder, and man of exemplary taste in rock n’ roll, soul + garage. We’ll be spinning in the front room, whilst the Detroit Cobras and Jonathan Toubin entertain in the back. Party starts at 10pm and it’s FREE! You can expect Japanese pop, French Yé-Yé, American R&B, British freakbeat, soul, easy listening, popcorn, soundtracks, doo wop, and mooooooore. Here’s the Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/1551459071759016 I’m so excited…! xo-Sheila

Vinyl Mourning

Over lunch at a midtown diner, my friend Mick Patrick of Ace Records told me about a worrying discovery—the PVC (poly vinyl chloride) sleeves he used to protect his 45s had caused visible and audible damage to his vinyl. As I listened to the bad news, I pictured my own record collection, so much of it housed in the very same sleeves he was speaking of. The urge to dash home to check on my collection’s condition was delayed by a combination of denial (“Not my records!”) and disbelief. But memories of the conversation continued to irk me, and recently I decided to take the plunge and investigate. What I discovered was heart-breaking. As I pulled my 45s out of their PVC sleeves, I found the black vinyl surface sheen had turned a dull, matte dark brown, and worse, many looked like they had been splattered with an oily liquid that no amount of washing or cleaning could remove (see the Dana Gillespie 45 above). I spent day and night listening to the records, trying to hear if the visual decay had actually affected playback, but I just can’t tell. Sometimes I think I … Read more