Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Profiles Of The Best 60s / Mod DJs in North America: Special Edition - East Coast Classic Rally

From June 3rd to the 5th, the East Coast Classic Scooter Rally will be held in Asbury Park, New Jersey. I was lucky enough to be asked to DJ the event and when I saw who I was sharing the decks with, that's when I started to really get excited. 

But that's not all! The bands are worth the trip all to themselves. 

So in the Parka Avenue tradition, I asked my estime fellow DJs to answer a few questions for posterity.

Your name / DJ

Sheila Burgel / Sheila B. (Cha Cha Charming, WFMU)


New York, NY

How would you describe your musical style? 

I’ve inadvertently created a lil’ niche for myself as a DJ, collector and champion of 60s girl-centric Pop, Soul, R&B, Freakbeat, Rock n’ Roll and Garage. So the majority of my collection consists of female-fronted 45s from 1960s Japan, France, England and the US. But I’ve got a whole lotta love for music from all decades, genres and locations. Some of my all-time favorite artists are the Ronettes, Megadeth, Alan Parsons Project, Blake Babies, Shangri Las and Saint Etienne. My musical style is pretty much all over the place.

What is your “go to” track? The one you will likely never get tired of spinning?

I’ve got a couple of signature 45s that never leave my DJ box: Jun Mayuzumi - Black Room, Barbara Lynn - I Don’t Want A Playboy,  Bonny St. Claire - I Surrender and my latest addition, Jasper Woods - Hully Gully Papa.

Regardless of price, name THE record that is missing from your collection.

My friend Jason Thornton in Boston hipped me to the mind-blowing Irma Routen - I Will Sacrifice on MGM. Please dear spirit above let me find that record PRONTO!

Where can we see you spin on a regular basis? Tell us about the night or an event you would like to promote. 

I host a sexy 60s Rock n’ Roll party called Sh-Boom at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn every third Friday of the month. We’ve got 60s erotic cult-film projections, New York’s sassiest go-go girl, Anna Copa Cabanna and local and international DJs spinning all-vinyl sets of 60s Japanese pop, French Yé-Yé, girl groups, Garage, British Freakbeat, Northern Soul, Glam, soundtracks, R&B and Exotica. And can I mention a few of the excellent Soul parties I’ve spun at over the years—Big Shake! in Helsinki, Finland, Soulelujah in Boston, and Save Your Soul in Baltimore? And I’m looking forward to spinning with Parka Pat at the East Coast Classic weekender on June 3rd-5th!

Is vinyl the only acceptable format for playing your style of music?

Tough question! There is a lot of work, money, time and research that I put into collecting original records, so it would bum me out to see a DJ playing the songs on their laptop that I spent years tracking down. Laptop DJing is a different animal. With all the tools available, I think anyone who knows how to use a computer can basically DJ with a laptop. But a lot more is required of a vinyl DJ and I like that not everyone can do it. I’ve used a laptop on a few occasions to play tracks that only exist as MP3s but I find it really boring to DJ from a computer. It doesn’t require the same kind of physicality and engagement, which is what I really love about playing vinyl. A record spinning on a turntable looks and sounds great and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. 

What is your favorite place to buy records?

The Allentown 45 & 78 Record Show in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Josey Records in Dallas, TX from my favorite dealers (like Barry Soltz) and from friends and fellow DJs from around the world. 


Make sure to check out Sheila's blog, Cha Cha Charming, about 60s girl-pop groups.

While reading the blog, tune in to Sophisticated Boom Boom, her successful radio show on WFMU.

Your name / DJ

Kurtis Powers


Brooklyn / NYC

How would you describe your musical style?

Quite broad and diverse. We do a BritPop / Mod /Indie night called Loaded, but I also do The Face Radio which is Soul, Funk, Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Crossover, etc. I believe I’m certainly a Modernist. Always looking for the new with the old. Always looking to expand those boundaries, if not for others, at least for myself. For my sins, I’ve been known to enjoy some early Disco, Soulful House and Boogie. I’ve always been a fan of Soul in all its forms. That’s not to say there isn’t more bad than good in some of those areas. I’ve tried to get a few of our own Soul / Mod nights in NYC that never really took off. People like Mikey Post and Phast Freddie do great nights here, and its a hard town to get things really happening, even when you have some of the best records like these guys. So for all its worth, I’d rather go enjoy theirs!

What is your “go to” track? The one you will likely never get tired of spinning?

Larry Williams & Johnny Watson - Too Late. Always love this tune. 2nd would be Dean Parrish - Skate. I always play this. Such a TUNE! Almost anything from Bobby Patterson…

 Regardless of price, name THE record that is missing from your collection.

Little Tommy - I’m Hurt / Baby Can’t You See on Sound of Soul from Richmond Virginia. I love that record. Though I’m not one of those people to buy a rare record for rare sake, unless it was silly not to. I’ve never been a fan of the competition / pissing contest of rare records. I love to get stuff and I likely buy records everyday of my life, but at the end of the day, someone having more money to spend on a record, doesn’t make them any cooler in my eyes. Also, I believe in playing what is great. I don’t necessarily want to play all the same tracks as everyone else, but a good song is a good song. I’m happy to play a song that gets everyone dancing even if it's common. Why roll your eyes at that. I like good music and as long as it's good, enjoy it!

Where can we see you spin on a regular basis? Tell us about the night or an event you would like to promote.

I do Loaded every first Thursday at The Vig Bar in Manhattan and The Face Radio weekly, on a number of stations. I do Northern Soul, Classic Soul, Funk, Jazz-Funk and more. You can find The Face Radio on Twitter here.

Is vinyl the only acceptable format for playing your style of music?

As I play a lot of different styles, I wouldn’t say that, though it is my preferred format. I have digital music at home. I’ve done a wedding or a party that required lots of different things and I’ve gone Serato. On my show, if I play new music of emerging artists, they’ll send me digital promos and I’ll play them on the show, as it's digital radio, it doesn’t matter either way.

That said, anything from Soul, Funk, Mod, 60s, even the BritPop night I do, is all exclusively vinyl. In person it sounds better. Even in non-scene nights, when you spin vinyl, people just become so mesmerized by it.

What is your favorite place to buy records?

My two favourite shops are both in Manchester England. Sadly Beatin’ Rhythm Records has shut. They used to have this amazing shop and then moved into a smaller shop. They’ve recently shut, which is sad, as you could find so much and they were also an education. They weren’t pretentious. You could tell them sounds or even tempos and styles you would be looking for. You could see their love for the music as they would just go through lists, asking if you’ve heard this or that. Was always a great experience.

My other favorite is in Chorlton, an area in Manchester and it's called King Bee. Great selection, very diverse. I like buying 60s, Mod, Funk, Soul, Crossover, Jazz-Funk and more. You can always walk away with a good handful of records.

Your name / DJ 

Ryan W. Thomas / Lord Thomas


Portsmouth, Virginia

How would you describe your musical style?

SOFTMOD with a downtown feel!

What is your “go to” track? The one you will likely never get tired of spinning?

Funky Virginia - Sir Guy - D.P.G. Records

Regardless of price, name THE record that is missing from your collection.

Sugar Pie De Santo - Go Go Power - Checker

Where can we see you spin on a regular basis? Tell us about the night or an event you would like to promote.

Once a month, HotButtered - Soul- Reggae - Boogaloo @ Toast in Norfolk Virginia.

PressureDrop - Big Boss Reggae @ Continental Divide in Richmond Virginia.

Is vinyl the only acceptable format for playing your style of music?

100% YES!!!!!!

What is your favorite place to buy records?

Steady Sounds in Richmond Virginia. Very well curated record store! Very fair prices!

What type of Scooter do you own?

A juiced up 1977 Vespa P200E

You want a little tease of the night to come mixed by yours truly? Something to put you in a party mood? Head over to the Parka Avenue Podcast here now!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Shoes Are Not Your Thing? Are Your Sure You're A Mod?

Shoes are such an integral and important part of the Mod wardrobe that some are known by the Mod band that wore them. Yes, I'm refering to you Jam shoes! I don't know of any other subculture that obsesses as much about their footwear. We can maybe make a case about how the Skinheads are particular about their Docs but having a wide array of taste is not what they're known for.

When it comes to Mods and their shoes, certain styles have been associated with them since the very start. The Chukka boot, in particular the desert boot, is a prime exemple. The very first Mod I ever came accross in high school wore a pair of suede crepe-soled Clarks. It had a lasting impression on me.

Clarks were not the only brand that had the Mod stamp of approval but Hush Puppies were also popular.

For those that are addicted to fashion
The Bass Weejuns, also known as the penny loafer, adopted by the American Ivy League students of the late 50s were soon embraced by the Mod contingent. They're the perfect type of footwear to dress up a casual outfit or to give a more relax look to a formal ensemble.

I remember back in the 80s, I had bought a pair of black Dr. Martens tassled loafers. Say what you will about some of the current fashion choices of the company but that pair lasted me a good 15 years. And they still looked good!

The Chelsea boot is a personal favotite of mine.

Loake Petworth Chelsea boots

60s vintage pair
Easy to put on, simple to maintain, versatile and above all very confortable, it's easy to understand why so many Mods stroll around in them.

A pair of hand stitched leather shoes for $14? Yes please!
Every Mod should aspire to owning a nice pair of brogues. Classic, timeless and elegant are all words that come to mind when images of brogues are evoked. Some good quality brogues can cost a pretty penny. But just like any other pair of shoes, you usually get what you pay for. A well maintained pair of well-made brogues can last you decades.

Loake brogue boots
Vintage pair of brogue slip-ons.
Let's not forget the winklepicker, the shoe worn by people that have toes shaped like a pointy triangle. A lot more confortable then they seem, they have graced many Modernist's closets. Some more extreme than others, they still look good.

Scan from 1968 Eaton's catalog
Salut Les Copains magazine - 1968

Most of you are not surprised or shocked by any of the choices presented up to this point. We covered the basics. This is when it starts getting exciting. From now on, feast you eyes on scans from 60s catalogs I've acumulated over the years.

This is when you start saying: "Oh! If only I could go back in time and buy every pair at those prices!" If that crosses your mind, welcome to the club. You're a true Mod.

Of course, some Mod favorites were left out but between you and me, when was the last time you wore a pair of bowling shoes?

Trainers were not mentioned in this post. That doesn't mean Mods don't wear them. Just don't expect to see me wearing them on the dance floor.

For all your Mod shoe needs, stroll over to my mate Andy's website at and tell him Parka Avenue sent you.