Newsflash: Gene Balks knowledge of vintage soul 45s is deep and vast.
Newsflash: Gene Balk's knowledge of vintage soul 45s is deep and vast. Mike Nipper

DJ GENE BALK (Emerald City Soul Club)

Current top 5 tracks:

Linda Lyndell, "What a Man" (Volt)
"The source of Salt-N-Pepa's big hit from the '90s ("Whatta Man"), this is such a great record, but it has a really sad back story. It's one of the first and only records cut by Linda Lyndell. After the track started getting airplay, she began receiving threats from racist groups like the KKK who didn't like a white woman singing black music. I guess she figured it wasn't worth it, and she moved back home to Florida and retired from performing."

Shirley Ellis, "Soul Time" (Columbia)
"I was really happy to come across this great dance record recently (it's eluded me for years). Shirley Ellis had some big hits ("The Name Game," "The Clapping Song"), but this wasn't one of them. Soul music collectors rediscovered it, though."

Contours, "Baby Hit and Run" (Tamla Motown)
"The Contours were the Motown group best known for their big hit 'Do You Love Me.' But this record never even had a US release, which is weird to me because it's so catchy and people love to dance to it. Fortunately, there was a UK release on 45."

The Ambers, "Potion of Love" (Smash)
"One of those rare and obscure soul records. I don't know anything about the group, but it's a really nice track."

Aretha Franklin, "Oh No Not My Baby" (Atlantic)
"This was only released on 45 in the UK. It's a beautiful cover of a classic song by the Queen of Soul. Like everybody, I've been playing a lot of Aretha lately."

Crew/label affiliation: "I'm one of the resident DJs with the Emerald City Soul Club."

Styles played: "Sixties and '70s soul, R&B, Motown, girl group, disco, and a genre of rare soul music that's called 'Northern Soul' in England."

DJing philosophy: "I think it's a privilege to be able to share the music I love with a roomful of people I don't know, and I'm grateful for it. So when I put a set together, I try my best to pick records that I think people will really enjoy—I'm not interested in showing off some super-rare record. My only goal is that folks who come out to our night have fun, dance, and feel happy."

Format: "Like all the DJs at Emerald City Soul Club, I play original 45s."

Worst request: "Sometimes people wind up at Soul Club—maybe they were just tagging along with friends—but it seems like they don't know why they're there or what it is that we do. So I've had some pretty funny requests... like when someone asked me to play Macklemore, but I explained to her that we play soul 45s and she was nice about it."

Upcoming events: "Currently I'm just doing the Emerald City Soul Club, which is the second Saturday of the month at the Lo-Fi."