Mistress of the Mix: Tapes Y Tapas

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!


  1. Tango Flamenco - Armik
  2. Voltei Amor - Trio Mocoto
  3. En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor - Jake Shimabukuro
  4. Moliendo Cafe - Paco de Lucia
  5. Amor Gitano - Gypsy Kings
  6. La Lola - Cafe Quijano
  7. Heart Still Beating - Ottmar Liebert
  8. Besame Mucho - Paco de Lucia
  9. La Boda de Luis Alonso - Embrujo Flamenco
  10. Solo Con Verte - Chano Dominguez
  11. Ener Gipsy - Space Flamenco
  12. Barcelona Nights - Ottmar Liebert
  13. Mi Estrella Blanca - Fondo Flamenco
  14. Guitarra Espanola - Flamenco
  15. Sevillanas Billy - Martires del Compas
  16. Tierra de Toros - BMS
  17. Flamenco Flambe - Bruce BecVar
  18. La Taverna del Buddha - Cafe Quijano
  19. Yo Te Queria Maria - Diego Carrasco
  20. Flamenco - Los Brincos
  21. Sueno De Ibiza - Flamenco Chill
  22. Alhambra - Flamenco Chill
  23. Guitar Music - Cafe Del Mar
  24. Desafinado - Gil Costa
  25. Chill Out Brazil Brasilidade - Nana
  26. Agua de Beber - Tom Jobim
  27. Pais Tropical - Sergio Mendes
  28. So Danco Samba - Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
  29. Bohemian Rhapsody - Jake Shimabukuro
  30. Aguas de Marco - Trio Mocoto
  31. Boombox - Mosquitos
  32. Mas Que Nada - Brasil 66 & Sergio Mendez
  33. Sem Contencao - Bebel Gilberto
  34. Tudo Bem - Trio Mocoto
  35. 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.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 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 and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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9 Responses

  1. Matt Grigsby says:

    Another great piece and another great set list. I particularly like the second song, by Trio Mocato! Well done!

    • Valerie Ing says:

      Thanks, Trio Mocoto is one of my favorite bands! And later down the list is the Mosquitos, who played at Marketfest some years back…I’ve got a few pieces in here that aren’t legitimately Spanish (like Trio Mocoto). There’s a lot of Brazilian/Portuguese music in here as well, and a couple of pieces that don’t fit in with the theme at all, mainly because I originally made this specifically for Caroline. But it’s a really fun playlist!

  2. EasternCounty says:

    A couple of these don’t fit the Mexican/Spanish theme, but the rhythm is right.
    Mambo Italiano — Rosie Clooney
    Girl from Ipanema — Astrud Gilberto
    Tequila — Perez Prado
    Brazil — Johnny Mathis

  3. david kerr says:

    Listened to Ottmar Liebert on Spotify. When you find an artist or song you like, it gives you their most popular. Also look for similar.

  4. Sally says:

    Leave it to you Val to come up with an original and fun way to make a party! Yes, I am older than you and remember all those devices you mentioned. Interestingly, out of the 35 choices, counting both title and artist 10 of them include the word FLAMENCO! Hope your Princess friend is still having fun birthdays! I know you are!!

  5. SLOSteve says:

    Listen to “Linda Chaparrita” by La Differenzia. It will seriously get your feet tapping.
    Check it out.

  6. Barbara Stone says:

    What…no rodrigo y gabriela???

  7. AJacoby says:

    What, no Parez Prado or Xavier Cugat? Those were the Latin staples of my youth back when we chiseled our music on the stone walls of the caves. LOL!!

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