The Ivy Room in Albany, with its roadhouse looks and rootsy live-music bookings, would seem to be the last place to find one of the East Bay's quirkiest DJ nights -- but Soundboutique fits the unpretentious saloon (858 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-524-9220) like a pair of treasured old platform wedgies. True to its origins at KALX-FM, the popular free Thursday-night all-vinyl spin-o-rama thrives on unpredictability.
"Our night's philosophy is fun," sniffs DJ Sean Sullivan, recovering from the flu. "It comes from variety. Club owners usually want you to have some sort of agenda, to help find an audience. That's not what happened with Soundboutique. We're constantly changing our definition of dance music. One night you might hear some really obscure funk, then we might play the Undertones or Iggy Pop. And we attract a very diverse crowd. There's something good about all this happening at the Ivy Room. It feels good."
Chimes in DJ Jacob Tillman, who has been at the turntables with Sullivan since Soundboutique started in December 2000: "We play everything from '60s soul to contemporary. We don't play a lot of electronica; mostly '80s stuff. I like funky soul, '60s and early '70s, Rare Grooves. We're good at finding rare soul: Marlena Shaw, ESG, Baby Huey. Or we might spin Elvis Costello."
Soundboutique's popularity has already spun off two more local DJ nights, including one -- Deep Disc on Wednesdays -- at the same venue ("That makes it easy," says Tillman. "It's all set up from the night before"). Deep Disc has a different feel. "When Soundboutique took off," observes Sullivan, "we tried electronica, but since there was so much electronica around already, we started doing rap, soul, Indian bhangra, and cumbia." Sullivan and DJ Kitty English also do Good Times at Radio (435 13th St., Oakland, 510-451-2889) on Tuesdays -- a m?lange of bubblegum, AM classics, hair rock, psychedelia, and glam rock. So pick your style and boogie-oogie-oogie. Says the Soundboutique e-mail: "Our job is to keep you safe from bunkness and keep you up on some good shss..."
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