For the past decade Marcos Prado has been at the center of The Smoke, one of the longest-running DJ residencies in Dallas. The Smoke is the only DJ weekly in the area (possibly the state) that focuses exclusively on northern soul, a particular brand of soul music popularized in northern England in the late '60s and still popular overseas. It's a genre mostly made up of regional R&B artists that only found regional success in America and the blue eyed soul they inspired.
The Smoke has moved around to a lot of venues over the years, but always manages to find a dancehall to play its deep cuts, most of which are first-print 45s. This Saturday, October 4 The Smoke will be celebrating its 11th anniversary at Crown & Harp. As a result, this week we had Prado provide a customized mix of deep northern soul cuts for the DC9 at Night Mixtape, and also answer a few questions about what fuels his passion for this particular niche of British mod culture.
DC9 at Night: How long have you been cratedigging?
Prado: I'd say I started seriously looking for records around 1998. Before that, sure, I had a few Kenny Loggins and Banana Splits records from the '80s, but those hardly counted.
How did you get into northern soul?
I saw the term northern soul in many of the zines I used to subscribe to during my ska/mod years. At the time I didn't really know what it meant; I just figured it was part of that scene somehow. It wasn't till the late '90s that I happened to meet Jason Meyer one day up at UNT. He had been in the mod/northern soul scene in California back in the '80s and still had some of his old gear. His wife at the time wanted him to get rid of some things around the house, so I ended up buying all of his records, most of which were northern 45s. There's still a couple of those in my play box to this day.
Are there other types of music that you also enjoy?
Sure. My heart is in soul and R&B music, but good music is good music. Funk, crossover, power pop, bossa nova, older country, Latin soul and garage are just a some of the genres that I like. But the list continues to grow. Heck, I still find myself listening to Rush and Marty Robbins like I did in high school. I just don't dance to them as much.
Do you have a 45 that never leaves your crate when DJing?
There are a few that I always try to play out regularly. The Majestics' "I Love Her So Much (It Hurts Me)" on Linda, the Constellations' "I Don't Know About You" on Gemini Star and Fred Hughes' "Baby Boy" on Brunswick.
Are you into any of the modern soul revival bands?
Yeah, there's definitely some great soul revival groups out there. The Soul Investigators out of Finland have been doing some great stuff with Jo Stance, Myron and E, and Nicole Willis. Kings Go Forth also did some incredible tunes before they broke up.
Do you have a favorite record store, local or elsewhere, that you can reveal?
That's a tricky one. Can't let all your secrets out of the bag. Of course we've all had luck at Half Price from time to time, but my thing is to talk people up who are also digging there. You never know who's gonna be selling the stuff you're into. One time at Half Price, I met a couple who used to own a record shop back in the '50s. They were very nice and invited me over to see what they had left over. Now, if I could just remember their names.....
How did The Smoke get started?
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Originally, The Smoke started at what was the Cavern on Greenville. It consisted of Jason Harris, Jason Meyer, Ryan Sumner, Steve Nutt and myself. Harris, Meyer and myself were going to be the regular DJs but they decided to only play CDs which left me, the only vinyl guy, out. It wouldn't be till I took over the night in 2005 that we started to focus more on vinyl.
1. Las Mosquitas - Tembleque 2. The four tops - 7 rooms of gloom 3. The Exits - Under the street lamp 4. The jellybeans - I'm hip to you 5. The Roe-o-tations - Special category 6. Cookin on three burners - This Girl 7. I Satellite - Babababa-Ba)With a girl like you) 8. Nappy Brown - Coal Miner 9. The Constellations - I think I love You 10. The other Brothers - I'm gonna find love 11. Dolly Parton - Control Yourself 12. Bobby Darin - Long Line Rider 13. TSU Toranadoes - Please Heart Don't break 14. The Isley Brothers - Behind the Painted Smile
THE SMOKE 11TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY takes place this Friday, October 4 at Crown & Harp, 1914 Greenville Ave.