Superwolf and Memphis Black gives thanks for their old 45s.

Soul Varmints 

Superwolf and Memphis Black gives thanks for their old 45s.

DJs Superwolf and Memphis Black, who spin rare funk and soul 45s at low-key, hole-in-the-wall hangouts in the most urban parts of the city, sometimes refer to themselves as "soul varmints." The name makes sense: Rather than seeking out the well-known tracks that help DJs prepare for predictable requests, Superwolf and Memphis Black are vinyl scavengers, rummaging through records at garage sales and flea markets in hopes of stumbling upon something great. Which they frequently do.

"These are all 45s by groups that never had a hit," says James Trotter, who goes by Superwolf when he's standing behind turntables. Since nobody's heard of most of the groups, he has to spin the records to determine what's good, which makes for a process of constant discovery.

"I'm always adding to my collection," he says. "I never play the same thing twice, unless one of the regulars wants me to play something they heard at one of our other shows. Sometimes they come up to us like, 'What's the one song that goes da da da...?' Which is great. It's really funny." The unique situation forces fans who fall in love with certain songs to sing them back to the DJs if they ever hope to hear them again or even find out what they're called.

Larry Groce, who books the shows at Mike's Tavern (where the duo plays on Thanksgiving), enjoys what is becoming a regular event. When Memphis Black and Superwolf play at his Rockhurst-neighborhood bar, he sees "more smoking, more drinking and a lot more hip people," he says with a chuckle.

Posters for the gigs command everyone to "COME DANCE." And the people who come out to hear Superwolf and Memphis Black dance like they mean it. Couples dance closely, hips swing from side to side, feet scuff up the floor.

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