Remember when mix tapes were actually tapes? Back in the day, like 30 years go, before the cd? Before iTunes and iPods and iPhones and iPads and iWhatever else? Those were the days.
I was a first year college student at the time. Still a Psych major at that point, but I was developing an interest in broadcasting, and had just started volunteering at the radio station that I still work at today.
I had a stereo my parents had given me a few years before that allowed me to record from the radio tuner, cassette tape or vinyl records (remember those?) onto another cassette, and I made mix tapes for all occasions. 4th of July party? Christmas party? Backyard kegger? I relished the opportunity to be in charge of the music. Three decades later, I’m still that gal.
At about this same time, I also came up with the kind of creative, innovative birthday present idea for my friends that only someone like me (a poor college student with access to an audio production studio) might think of.
When my friend Caroline (a fellow ‘Radio Head’ at JPR at the time) turned 19, I wrote a script tailored just for her. It was a fairytale called “Princess Carolina.” I spent hours scouring the shelves at the local Goodwill, accumulating items that went with the story, and finally went in to the production studio to record my script.
I wish I could remember the story. I wish I could remember what I’d put in the box to go with the story. I think there was a plastic tiara, a princess wand, and who knows what else. As my brain has filled with more information over the years, those details have sadly, slowly evaporated.
What I do remember is all of her friends gathering in her little apartment on Iowa Street one November evening. She sat in the middle of the floor, with the box in front of her. I plopped the cassette tape into her stereo, pushed play, and the story of Princess Carolina unfolded in her living room. It was a hit. All these decades later, that tape is long gone. Caroline can’t find it anywhere. But she and I still refer to each other as Princess Carolina and Princess Valeria.
In the next couple of years after that, I created a number of those specially tailored cassette tapes for friends. There was one for my friend Dawn (I wonder if she still has the ‘Les Nessman Press Kit’ I put together), one for Dan when he got married (an audio dance lesson ‘Lambada Your Way To Love’), and one for Rachel at her going away party full of lures, bobbers and other fishing related items for the instructional ‘How To Catch A Man’.
Back to my friend Caroline. She’s gone on to get her MBA, have two rambunctious kids and a day job as a corporate jet pilot flying bigwigs around the world. And somehow Princess Carolina has also found time to write a couple of really adorable children’s books. First there was ‘The Mommy Store,’ and on Christmas Eve her newest book ‘Sleepy Mommy‘ was released. It just arrived in the mail yesterday, and features a sweet story about a little girl who just won’t let her. mommy get a good night’s sleep. There are a lot of little things in the story that only someone who really knows my friend would catch, like the liberal wearing of tiaras by both sleepy mommy and precocious daughter throughout the book.
Six weeks ago, Caroline had another birthday. She invited me to her party, but I was unable to attend. I called her with my regrets, and asked what she was planning for her party, and what she wanted for her birthday. Her birthday party idea was so amazing that I think I’m stealing it somewhere down the road. She hired a chef to come to her home to teach a Spanish cooking class. Each couple would be in charge of creating their own tapas dish for the party under the watchful eye of the chef. Not only did she have a fun activity planned, there was no need to prepare any food ahead of time!
Caroline told me that the one thing missing from her party (besides the Ing clan), was music. She was especially bummed that I wasn’t attending, since she was counting on me to get the ambiance going with some flamenco, tango and bossa nova. If only, she said, the Mistress of the Mix could somehow provide the perfect playlist from afar for a Spanish themed birthday party, that would be the perfect birthday present.
Well, I aim to please! And I like to share. So invite over a few friends, get some tapas going, and crack open today’s Tapas Party Playlist to set the ambiance for una fiesta sobrosa! Just click on the box below, and get your Charo on!
- Tango Flamenco – Armik
- Voltei Amor – Trio Mocoto
- En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor – Jake Shimabukuro
- Moliendo Cafe – Paco de Lucia
- Amor Gitano – Gypsy Kings
- La Lola – Cafe Quijano
- Heart Still Beating – Ottmar Liebert
- Besame Mucho – Paco de Lucia
- La Boda de Luis Alonso – Embrujo Flamenco
- Solo Con Verte – Chano Dominguez
- Ener Gipsy – Space Flamenco
- Barcelona Nights – Ottmar Liebert
- Mi Estrella Blanca – Fondo Flamenco
- Guitarra Espanola – Flamenco
- Sevillanas Billy – Martires del Compas
- Tierra de Toros – BMS
- Flamenco Flambe – Bruce BecVar
- La Taverna del Buddha – Cafe Quijano
- Yo Te Queria Maria – Diego Carrasco
- Flamenco – Los Brincos
- Sueno De Ibiza – Flamenco Chill
- Alhambra – Flamenco Chill
- Guitar Music – Cafe Del Mar
- Desafinado – Gil Costa
- Chill Out Brazil Brasilidade – Nana
- Agua de Beber – Tom Jobim
- Pais Tropical – Sergio Mendes
- So Danco Samba – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Jake Shimabukuro
- Aguas de Marco – Trio Mocoto
- Boombox – Mosquitos
- Mas Que Nada – Brasil 66 & Sergio Mendez
- Sem Contencao – Bebel Gilberto
- Tudo Bem – Trio Mocoto
- Flamenco Diablo – Yngwe Malmsteem
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.