Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Spring/Summer 2015 NYC Ska Calendar #9

Friday, June 19, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Reggay Lords, The Rudie Crew, The Far East

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$8 in advance, $10 day of show/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George, Pidgin Droppings

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center
4 Boland Drive
West Orange, NJ
Free!

+ + + +

Sunday, June 21, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Mephiskapheles (Record Release Show!), Voodoo Glow Skulls, Slow Children

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Friday, June 26, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

The Last Show at The Swamp w/The Reggay Lords, Top Shotta Band, The Ladrones, Skarroneros, plus Grace of Spades on the decks!

The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.com
Please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$12-$15 (partial donation to EastRev project)

+ + + +

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers, 45 Revolutions, 45 Adapters, Vinny Hooliganz

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Melbourne Ska Orchestra, The Pandemics

BB King Blues Club
237 West 42nd Street
Manhattan, NY
$15 in advance/$20 day of show
All ages

+ + + +

Thursday, July 9, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Brown Rice Family

DROM
85 Avenue A
Manhattan, NY

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetdogs, The Interrupters

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
Manhattan, NY$27.50/18+

+ + + +

Sunday, July 26, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

Swing-A-Ling Backyard BBQ w/The Frightnrs

Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street
Brooklyn, NY

+ + + +

Thursday, July 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Oreskaband

Gramercy Theater
127 East 23rd Street
Manhattan
$25
All ages

+ + + +

Saturday, August 1, 2015 @ 6:00 pm
The Slackers

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Nautical Empress
Board the boat at 299 South Street, Manhattan
$30/21+

+ + + +

Friday, August 21, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

The Expanders, Tribal Seeds, Arise Roots

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17-$20/21+

+ + + +

Sunday, September 20, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Fishbone and special guests TBA

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 24, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
Manhattan, NY
$35/18+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Halloween Party w/Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Spring/Summer 2015 NYC Ska Calendar #8

Friday, June 5, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Cumbia Reggae Party w/R-Tronika, The Far East, The Abruptors

The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.com
Please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$8-$12 donation

+ + + +

Saturday, June 6, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

Skarroneros, Joey Steel and the Attitude Adjusters, Soothsayer, Toys in Trouble

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$9/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 14, 2015 @ 4:00 pm

Last Shows at The Swamp w/Super Hi-Fi, Beat Brigade, Boomshot Riddim Collective, Rudie Crew, Outernational, Princelionsound, The Oneness, Subtropico Militia Heavy Sound

The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.com
Please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$15

+ + + +

Friday, June 19, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Reggay Lords

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

$8 in advance, $10 day of show/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George, Pidgin Droppings

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center
4 Boland Drive
West Orange, NJ

+ + + +

Sunday, June 21, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Mephiskapheles, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Slow Children

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Friday, June 26, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

The Last Show at The Swamp w/The Reggay Lords, Top Shotta Band, The Ladrones, Skarroneros, plus Grace of Spades on the decks!

The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.com
Please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$12-$15 (partial donation to EastRev project)

+ + + +

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers, 45 Revolutions, 45 Adapters, Vinny Hooliganz

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetdogs, The Interrupters

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
Manhattan, NY
$27.50/18+

+ + + +

Friday, August 21, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

The Expanders, Tribal Seeds, Arise Roots

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17-$20/21+

+ + + +

Sunday, September 20, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Fishbone and special guests TBA

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 24, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
Manhattan, NY
$35/18+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Halloween Party w/Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Frightnrs To Release Single on Daptone!

The Frightnrs, who play an amazing mix of rocksteady, reggae, and rub-a-dub and are one of my favorite bands on the NYC ska/reggae scene (they hail from Queens, like The Ramones!), are releasing a new single--a phenomenal cover of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" backed with a dub version by Victor "Ticklah" Axelrod--on Daptone Records on June 30, 2015. You can pre-order the single here (in addition to standard black vinyl, there's a limited edition of 100 copies on translucent orange wax for the collectors--I've ordered mine!).


For some background on The Frightnrs, check out The Duff Guide to Ska reviews of some of their previous releases: The Frightnrs six-track EP and the four-track 12/21/12 EP. Both are highly recommended.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shots in the Dark: Desmond Dekker "Black and Dekker"

Editor's note: Shots in the Dark spotlights ska releases that should have been massive hits on the scene but, due to bad timing, poor luck, or a fickle record-buying public, were lost in the fray. 

(By Steve Shafer)

The Release: Desmond Dekker's Black and Dekker (Stiff Records and Stiff America, 1980)

The Band: The UK-based Desmond Dekker was backed by an array of top musicians, including The Pioneers (which included Dekker's half brother, George Agard), Jackie Mitoo, The Rumour (who often backed pub rocker Graham Parker), The Equators, and The Akrylykz (featuring a certain Roland Gift on sax, who would later join Andy Cox and David Steele of The Beat to form Fine Young Cannibals).

The Sound: Black and Dekker contains many of Dekker's instantly recognizable rocksteady and skinhead reggae hits of the late 60s and early 70s (plus some really fine new tunes)--all dusted off, revved-up, and purposefully fashioned to appeal to the 2 Tone ska fans of 1980. 

The Album: As the first batch of 2 Tone singles commandeered the UK charts in 1979 (The Specials' "Gangsters" b/w The Selecter's "The Selecter" reached #6; Madness' "The Prince" b/w "Madness" topped out at #16; The Selecter's "On My Radio" b/w "Too Much Pressure" rose to #8; The Specials' "A Message to You, Rudy" b/w "Nite Klub" made it to #9; and The Beat's "Tears of a Clown" b/w "Ranking Full Stop" grabbed the #6 spot), other labels were left scrambling trying to figure out how to capitalize on the 2 Tone craze that had so swiftly captivated Britain's youth. Dave Robinson, the maverick head of gonzo indie Stiff Records--who had already signed Madness and was starting to reap the rewards of that hit single-generating act (which would help keep the label afloat for years to come), as well as the Birmingham-based Equators, who were playing 2 Tone-like ska before The Beat and The Specials (and ended up heavily influencing LA's The Untouchables--another Stiff signing a few years later--when The Equators performed in California in 1981)--wanted a bigger piece of the action and was willing to bet that Desmond Dekker's great popularity with the late 1960s/early 1970s mods, skins, and pop fans (in 1967, "007 (Shanty Town)" hit #14 on the UK charts; in 1969, "Israelites" hit #1 in the UK and #9 in the USA; in 1969, "It Mek" reached #7 in the UK; and his cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want" went to #2 in 1970, two years before The Harder They Come film soundtrack was released) could be fairly easily replicated in the 2 Tone-era. The climate was certainly right. 

(Robinson wasn't the only label head interested in promoting an authentic 1960s ska star during the 2 Tone years. Secret Affair's Ian Page signed Laurel "Godfather of Ska" Aitken, another artist very popular with late 1960s/early 1970s mods and skins, to his I-Spy label soon after Dekker went with Stiff; Aitken, backed by The Ruts, toured the UK and enjoyed his one 2 Tone-era hit, "Rudi Got Married"--#60 on the UK charts--in 1980.)

After all, the late 70s ska revival was steeped in overt references to 60s ska and skinhead reggae, even though 2 Tone was clearly an organic evolution of the genre's sound/attitude--a hybrid of the rebel music cousins of reggae and punk. The 60s references gave the late 70s' ska scene a foundation and context--acknowledging 2 Tone's roots and close connection to the Jamaican immigrant community in the UK, while tacitly--and later, explicitly--endorsing racial/cultural diversity and tolerance. The 2 Tone bands clearly revered the 60s ska originators (and Dekker was Jamaica's first international ska/early reggae star, well before Jimmy Cliff or Bob Marley) and had grown up hearing their songs (many of which had topped the UK charts) alongside the sons and daughters of Jamaican immigrants, and felt a deep connection to the artists (leading The Specials to collaborate with Rico Rodriguez, who had worked with The Skatalites, and The Beat to ask Saxa, who had played with Prince Buster, to join their band). 

In tribute to--and to honor the legacy of--their musical forefathers/mothers, The Specials, Selecter, Madness, The Beat, and The Bodysnatchers all performed and recorded ska and early reggae hits of yesteryear (the 60s JA ska musicians often covered contemporary pop songs themselves, sometimes renaming them in the process--see The Skatalites' "Independence Anniversary Ska" AKA The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" or Prince Buster's/Yusef Ali's "Uganda" AKA Don Drummond's "Green Island," etc.). One suspects that, at times, this compensated for a dearth of original material (indeed, that was one of the great criticisms of the late 70s ska revival), though the 2 Tone bands often redeemed themselves by repurposing the covers--imbuing them with new meaning for the present day and following the tradition of 60s ska of decrying social/political injustice. Lloyd Charmers' naughty "Birth Control" was transformed by The Specials into "Too Much Too Young," which disparaged teen motherhood and advocated the use of diaphragms and, one would assume, condoms; The Selecter borrowed The Pioneers' "Time Hard," renaming it as "Everyday" ("...thing are getting worse"), to comment on Thatcherite England; and Andy and Joey's "You're Wondering Now" in The Specials' hands became an ominous warning to the racists and National Front supporters lurking in Britain's shadows: "You're wondering how/You will pay/For the way you did behave..." 

Co-produced by Coxsone Dodd's cousin Syd Bucknor (who learned his trade at Studio 1), Black and Dekker starts out promisingly (and safe) enough with a brisk and jaunty--if, um, a little stiff--ska version of Dekker's "Israelites." Stiff also released this song as a single, paired with the phenomenal new track "Why Fight?," which marked the third time "Israelites" was issued as a single. In 1969, it hit #1 on the UK charts and was the first Jamaican reggae single to crack the Top Ten in America, and when it was re-released in 1975, made it back into the UK Top Ten. The 1980 ska version of "Israelites" failed to chart in the UK, though it made it to #15 in Belgium, according to Richard Balls' "Be Stiff: The Stiff Records Story" (what a punk rock name: Dick Balls!). Dekker's unmistakable and incredibly sweet falsetto is in terrific shape on the album and The Pioneers provide gorgeous and impeccable backing vocals and harmonies (as they do throughout). It also should be noted that The Pioneers were a favorite of The Specials, who covered "Long Shot Kick De Bucket"--The Pioneers' 1969 best-seller produced by Leslie Kong (who also was Dekker's sure-fire hit producer, until Kong's early death in 1971)--during their "Skinhead Symphony" on The Special AKA Live! EP, which was a #1 single in the UK in 1980.

"Israelites" is a potent sufferer's lament with an explicit reference to Rastafarianism (Rastas believe that they are one of the lost tribes of ancient Israel, something that I can't imagine most Americans in 1969 were aware of when they snatched up that single). Since the lyrics are often misheard, they're worth printing here:

"Get up in the morning, slaving for breads, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Poor me, Israelite

Wife an' ma kids, dem pack up and a-leave me
Darling, she said, I was yours to receive
Poor me, Israelite

Shirt dem a-tear up, trousers a go
I don't wan' to end up like Bonnie and Clyde
Poor me, Israelite

After a storm, there mus' be a calming
You catch me in ya palm, you sound ya alarm
Poor me, Israelite

I'm wandering I'm working hard, too
A poor, a poor, a poor
Me, Israelite
I look a-down on a-me, sir"

Of all the new tracks, "Why Fight?" (with Jackie Mittoo on piano!) is the obvious hit to this listener--and one has the feeling that Stiff knew this too, but hedged its bets by pushing "Israelites" as the first single from the album and appending "Why Fight?" to its b-side. For all of Stiff's eagerness to reach the 2 Tone fan base, they seem to have been completely oblivious to how "Why Fight's" message was very much in line with what The Specials, The Beat, The Selecter, et al were propagating--that the racial hatred, violence, and discriminatory political/social/economic policies directed at Britain's non-white population had to end--and had the track been given Stiff's promotional push, it would have been well-received by the late 70s ska fans, who appreciated the very relevant messages that often came with the music:

"People all over the world
Why fight?
When we should unite

Right from the start
We're part of creation
So, why can't we all
be one nation?

Why fight?
People all over the world
Why fight?
When we should unite
When we should unite...
we fight
People all over the world

It's a shame to know
That we are the most intelligent
of all animals
And it hurts so bad
to know that we are acting
like cannibals

This a world is a beautiful world
Nothing all wrong with it
But a man know a try
to change it and rearrange it

I know that we understand
how to make peace upon this land
And we can
Peace
And we can
Yes

Why fight?
People all over the world..."

After "Israelites" failed to chart and became the albatross around "Why Fight's" neck, Stiff chose the undeniably catchy and lighthearted "Please Don't Bend" (backed with the terrific new tune "Work Out") as the follow-up single (another in a string of Dekker's songs to admonish women for their dress or behavior): "Girl, the dress you are a wearing/Is a bit too short/Don't misunderstand me/I'm not an astronaut/Girl, whatever you do/I said, please don't bend/Girl, if you do/We're gonna see rear end!"

Stiff records had been producing promotional films for their bands years before the advent of MTV in 1981 (according to Ball's book, Robinson had always believed "pop music and short films as being complementary"). By the time Black and Dekker was released, Stiff had shot short films for The Damned's "New Rose," Ian Dury and the Blockheads' "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll," Lene Lovich's "Lucky Number," Madness' "One Step Beyond," and many others, in addition to live footage of the Stiff package tours. Instead of a funny or subversive take on the lyrics, the video for "Please Don't Bend" is dunderheadedly and embarrassingly sexist--full of leering men ogling a woman in a very short dress, with multiple shots of her derriere. The video makes it plain that Dekker doth protest too much: Please bend away, ladies!



Despite its theme of corporeal punishment (the singer begs his mother to intervene with his father, who has been beating him so severely that he's developed some sort of nervous hiccup), "Lickin' Stick" becomes an incredibly upbeat (and almost joyful) song in The Equators' hands--they help transform this track and "Hippo"--two of Dekker's skinhead reggae-era favorites--into modern, 2 Tone ska songs (and make one wonder why the powers that be just didn't have The Equators back Dekker for the whole album, instead of this rotating cast of dozens of musicians--though The Rumour do a very good job on "Problems" and "Rude Boy Train").

In fact, most of Dekker's reworked hits for the 2 Tone era on Black and Dekker--"It Mek," "Hippo," "007," "Problems," "Rude Boy Train," "Pickney Gal," and even his soulful cover of Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" (which was released as the third Stiff single, backed with "Pickney Gal")--sound good to pretty great. But from the consistent high quality of new material on the album ("Why Fight?," "Work Out," "Please Don't Bend," and the US-only "Juliet"), it's clearly evident that Dekker's songwriting was as strong as ever and makes one wish that there were additional new tunes (and fewer re-worked ones). And with the ready availability of the beloved original versions of Dekker's late 60s/early 70s hits (on Trojan compilations like 1978's Dekker's Sweet 16 Hits)--and their treasured place in the hearts of ska and reggae fans everywhere--it's questionable as to why they were re-recorded in the first place.

The Ugly Reality: It's a sticky proposition to tinker with one's own legacy. Dekker's late 60s/early 70s skinhead reggae hit singles were practically sacrosanct to legions of mods and skinheads--and still very well-known to many 2 Tone fans of all ages in the UK. By re-recording his hits, Dekker and Stiff risked alienating the very same crowd they intended to reach. Stiff and Dekker hoped that the perceived nostalgia/demand for 60s ska during 2 Tone would carry the day for Black and Dekker (instead of trusting Dekker's prodigious songwriting skills to produce new hits). But it was such a weird approach for such a renegade label--trying to have Dekker recapture past glories instead of creating new ones (which may have struck some as inauthentic and a calculated grab for cash).

It also suggests that Stiff and Dekker didn't really grasp why the old ska covers were being re-worked and incorporated into the 2 Tone bands' sets and recordings. It wasn't about nostalgia. The original ska and skinhead reggae songs were being appropriated in order to lend context and connection to what The Specials et al were doing with the ska genre in the late 70s/early 80s. The covers usually were supplementing/secondary to the incredible original material that the 2 Tone acts were creating and promoting. And, unlike Dekker, the 2 Tone artists' covers weren't retreads of their own material.

On balance, Black and Dekker remains a great album and it certainly deserved the love and attention of ska fans in 1980 (indeed, listening to it many decades later, much of it holds up quite well and makes one wonder why it wasn't a bigger success). According to the liner notes by John Reed for the 2013 Cherry Red/Pressure Drop reissue, sales of Black and Dekker were decent enough for Stiff to have reason to bankroll a second album (this time, of all new Dekker material), to be recorded at Island Records label head Chris Blackwell's studio in the Bahamas with Robert "Addicted to Love" Palmer producing (and Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare on rhythm section). Unfortunately, this pairing of producer and artist/genre was disastrous (according to Jo-Ann Greene's review in the All Music Guide, Dekker's material is great, but virtually every production choice Palmer made was flat-out wrong and killed the album in the studio) and, apart from a few so-so albums of reggae covers for Trojan in the 1990s (including one with several members of The Specials), Compass Point marked the ignoble end of Dekker's mostly stunning recording career.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Adventures in Record Collecting: The Beat's "Psychedelic Rockers"

(by Steve Shafer)

This post probably will be most appreciated by my fellow Generation Xers who remember what it was like to be a music fan/record collector in the dark, but fun, days before the rise of the machines--um, I mean--the internet. A time when information about a band or release was sometimes very hard to come by, particularly if you were interested in non-mainstream acts from the UK...

In the 1980s, in addition to releasing all sorts of remixes of songs (mostly on 12" records, which were all the rage), labels would sometimes issue different versions of an album or compilation on LP and cassette--and, later, CDs, once the players and discs became more affordable for guys like me in college with part-time jobs. This was done to entice the rabid fan to buy the same release in different formats, since you really might need those bonus/alternate tracks (a good example of this practice was the release of an essential 1986 Cure compilation, which on CD was titled Staring at the Sea and contained 17 cutswhile a 25-song, double-cassette version called Standing on a Beach contained a slew of UK-only b-sides not found on the CD!). But with the poor flow of music information, vagaries in record store stock, and general lack of funds, it was easy to be completely unaware of--or near impossible to obtain--rare, remixed, or live versions of tracks from your favorite bands.

I had discovered The (English) Beat in the very early 1980s on WLIR, just after the release of Wha'ppen and became a huge fan when I bought Special Beat Service (I heard about The Beat's show in NYC at Roseland in support of that album the day after it happened). In 1983, following the much lamented break-up of The Beat, I picked up the IRS version of What Is Beat?, which contained a fair amount of material never before released in the US. I figured that with this comp and their three phenomenal albums, I probably had just about everything (with the exception of live recordings and bootlegs) from the band worth owning.

Several years later in college, while hanging out with some friends in one of their rooms, someone put on the What Is Beat? cassette and I started hearing tracks I'd never heard before, like "Which Side of the Bed" and "Psychedelic Rockers"--which was a complete revelation (I played that song over and over on her boom box!). To this day, it remains one of my favorite Beat tracks. (Neither Sire nor I.R.S ever released the "Too Nice To Talk To" b/w "Psychedelic Rockers" single in the USA; in fact, I don't think any Beat singles other than "Twist and Crawl" b/w "Tears of a Clown" were released here until those that were spun off Special Beat Service, like "Save it for Later" and "I Confess.") I didn't have the chance to own "Psychedelic Rockers" until the release of the import-only B.P.M. ...Beats.Per.Minute in 1996, which I came across at the long-gone HMV that used to be on 86th Street and Lex in Manhattan. A few years ago, I had the good fortune to stumble across and buy a used copy of the 7" version of "Psychedelic Rockers" (someone had written "disco ska" on the generic paper sleeve) at a record stall in Chelsea. To my great delight, I found the 7" single cut to be much better to the "Dubweiser" mix on B.P.M.

When I was hosting the Electric Avenue ska nights at Characters in midtown Manhattan with my friend Marc Wasserman a few years back, I pretty much worked "Psychedelic Rockers" into the mix of wax spinning on my turntables at almost every one of our shows. No one ever complained...




Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Spring/Summer/Fall 2015 NYC Ska Calendar #7

Rude Boy George
Friday, May 15, 2015, from 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Jersey Shore Festival
The Aztec Pool
901 Boardwalk
Seaside Heights, NJ
Free!

+ + + +

Saturday, May 16, 2015, from 11:00 pm to 11:40 pm

Hub City Stompers

Jersey Shore Festival
EJ's Tavern
919 Boardwalk
Seaside Heights, NJ
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Beat Brigade, Dub Caps, Challenger, Ossie Delmore, Soldiers of Justice

The Delancey
168 Delancey
New York, NY

+ + + +

Saturday, May 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Jah Point and the Boomshot Collective, Too Nice, Hobo Chili, The Ladrones, The Damn Long Hairs

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Friday, May 29, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Dirty Reggae Party #29 w/Inspecter 7, The Frightnrs, Paisaneska, plus Crazy Baldhead Crew

@The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.comBrooklyn, NY
please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$10 donation

+ + + +

Saturday, May 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George

State Theatre of Boyertown
61 North Reading Avenue
Boyertown, PA

+ + + +

Friday, June 5, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Cumbia Reggae Party w/R-Tronika, The Far East, The Abruptors

@The Swamp
Johnson Avenue
Email us for specific address: revqc@eastrev.comBrooklyn, NY
please NO BYOB!
J/M to Lorimer or L to Montrose
$8-$12 donation

+ + + +

Saturday, June 6, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

Skarroneros, Joey Steel and the Attitude Adjusters, Soothsayer, Toys in Trouble

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$9/21+

+ + + +

Friday, June 19, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Reggay Lords

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$8 in advance, $10 day of show/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George, Pidgin Droppings

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center
4 Boland Drive
West Orange, NJ

+ + + +

Friday, June 26, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters

Rock's Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers, 45 Revolutions, 45 Adapters, Vinny Hooliganz

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetdogs, The Interrupters

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street,
Manhattan, NY
$27.50/18+

+ + + +

Friday, August 21, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

The Expanders, Tribal Seeds, Arise Roots

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17-$20/21+

+ + + +

Sunday, September 20, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Fishbone and special guests TBA

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 24, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street,
Manhattan, NY
$35/18+

+ + + +

Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Halloween Party w/Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Spring/Summer 2015 NYC Ska Calendar #6

Saturday, May 2, 2015 (3 sets starting at 7:00 pm)

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room
1141 Broadway
New York, NY
No cover!

+ + + +

Saturday, May 2, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone, Easy Star Allstars, The Skints

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$22/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

Dig Deeper Presents Derrick Morgan, Crazy Baldhead, DJ Scratch Famous (of Deadly Dragon Sound System), DJ Honky and Mr. Robinson

Littlefield
622 Degraw Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
$20 in advance/$25 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Skatalites

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

+ + + +

Friday, May 15, 2015, from 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Jersey Shore Festival
The Aztec Pool
901 Boardwalk
Seaside Heights, NJ
Free!

+ + + +

Saturday, May 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George

State Theatre of Boyertown
61 North Reading Avenue
Boyertown, PA

+ + + +

Saturday, June 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George, Pidgin Droppings

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center
4 Boland Drive
West Orange, NJ

+ + + +

Friday, June 26, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters

Rock's Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetdogs, The Interrupters

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street,
Manhattan, NY
$27.50/18+

+ + + +

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street,
Manhattan, NY
$35/18+

+ + + +


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Roddy Radiation, The Scotch Bonnets, and Rude Boy George at Fontana's in Manhattan on 4/25/15

(Words and video by Steve Shafer)

I arrived a bit later to this gig than had planned, so I was bummed to find that I had missed The Scotch Bonnets' opening set, as I'm a huge fan of their ska/rocksteady/soul sound. The Scotch Bonnets' two records--the Live Ya Life album and their Quest EP with HR of Bad Brains--are two of the best releases the American ska scene has produced in recent memory. However, I did catch them backing Roddy Radiation, as he played a batch of tracks he penned for The Specials ("Rat Race," "Concrete Jungle," "Hey Little Rich Girl"--dedicated to Amy Winehouse, who covered it--and "Bonediggin'" off Guilty 'til Proved Innocent, as well as Lynval Golding's "Do Nothing," which is one of my favorite Specials' songs, hands down) and some of his terrific skabilly cuts from 2011's Blues Attack, like "Another Rusty Nail" and "Judgment Day." Roddy was in fine form, playing his guitar with dramatic rockabilly flourishes (and introducing each song with a little story about it), while the excellent Scotch Bonnets kept everything firmly grounded in bubbling and propulsive, R and B-tinged ska. While the crowd wasn't as nearly large as it should have been for such a quality pairing (what's up with that, NYC ska massive?), Roddy and the Bonnets nonetheless put on damn fine and satisfying show, one worthy of a much larger audience. (Roddy Radiation and The Scotch Bonnets are currently on a tour of the US Midwest and South for the remainder of April and first half of May--watch the videos below for a preview and make sure to catch them if they come to your town!)





While I've had to significantly dial down my participation in Rude Boy George, due to family and work commitments, I'm still partially involved in the band (and even was asked to come on stage to sing during their version of "Kids in America"). So, while I can't really review their set here, I'll let these two videos convey how amazing they were last night and why they deserve your love.





+ + + +

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jerry Dammers in MOJO, Rhoda Dakar in Vive Le Rock!

Even though it's a fairly unremarkable magazine shop on Madison Avenue in one of Manhattan's wealthiest neighborhoods (I've seen Donald Fagan in there a few times), it carries two music magazines essential to any self-respecting Anglophile: MOJO and Vive Le Rock! (One of the guys behind the counter told me that some record executive who lives nearby asked them to carry these publications, along with NME, so they could keep up on the British music scene.) This month, each magazine is running a feature on a key 2 Tone-era musician: MOJO has a terrific interview with Jerry Dammers (on the occasion of The Specials, More Specials, and In the Studio being reissued in deluxe CD packages), while Vive Le Rock! catches up with Rhoda Dakar (who recently performed at the 2015 London International Ska Festival and released the stellar Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers album--read The Duff Guide to Ska review of it here).

Here are some great excerpts from each piece:

Rhoda Dakar (reminiscing with Andy Peart about The Bodysnatchers' seaside tour with The Specials in the summer of 1980): "What was brilliant about that tour was that the Go-Gos were on it as well. So, for the first and only time in my experience, there were as many women as men on a tour. That was brilliant because it really changed the dynamics of everything. I remember there was a drinking contest, girls against boys. We put up our champion and they put up theirs and we won (laughs). It was really comfortable and we weren't marginalized. It was a crazy tour. All these old seaside venues where people fell through stages which were collapsing and there were times when you could see the sea through the floor."

Jerry Dammers (responding to the comment from Lois Wilson, "You once said your aim with The Specials was nothing short of revolution."): "I spent my time growing up in Coventry in the '60s and '70s seeing the working-class youth bashing each other up, whether it was bashing immigrants or bashing each other at football. It was only a minority, of course, but it did seem like most districts in Coventry had some sort of gang, and some of the pubs were notorious for people glassing each other. The media was winding this up all over the country, so some kids thought that was what they were supposed to do. Meanwhile, the establishment that was actually keeping them down just carried on getting richer like they always had. The hippies wanted to form a better "alternative" society, but that just alienated some people. I wanted to change all of society from within, which was a much harder and more risky thing to try and do. The amazing thing is that it worked at all, even to the small extent that some people say it did. I often meet people who tell me that if it wasn't for The Specials they would have been racists or whatever, and that they turned to more socialist ideas because of The Specials."

Jerry Dammers (responding to the question, "What initially sent you down the left-wards path politically?"): "Well, hopefully that was some sort of intelligence or common sense. The general idea that children are still starving, or dying of preventable diseases, or getting blown to pieces, is not a good thing. Even if there was such a thing as "trickle down" from capitalism, which there never has been, and never will be, what an absolutely horrible idea, that some people are only worthy of what might happen to "trickle down" from the rich."


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Record Store Day 2015 Ska Round-Up

Legions of (mostly) older music fans will be lining-up outside of your local mom and pop record shop this Saturday morning (April 18, 2015) to partake in the twice-yearly celebration of indie record stores and vinyl known throughout the USA, UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Mexico, Italy, and Spain as Record Store Day.

While I may grouse a bit about the pricey-ness of these limited-edition RSD releases (and how the UK RSD releases are consistently better than those available in the USA), each year you can find me in a record store or two (or three) on this day, hoping to pick up a few of that year's crop (usually new wave or post-punk related releases) that caught my attention.

So, while I'm more likely to be able to find some of the non-ska releases on my list this year (I'd like the Johnny Marr, Kate Pierson, and Buzzcocks singles; The Pop Group EP, and Replacements 10"), I'm sharing this recap of the some of the ska RSD releases that I'd be lucky to get my mitts on (and you would be, too):

1) For their first-ever Record Store Day release, Soul Jazz Records is issuing the Down Beat Special Studio One five x 7" box set, featuring the following killer singles (this is a UK-only release, limited to 500 copies--though, I suspect import copies will be available in the USA for a pretty penny):
  • Willie Williams "Armagideon Time" b/w Marcia Griffiths "Feel Like Jumping"
  • The Skatalites "Addis Ababa" b/w The Eternals "Queen of the Minstrels"
  • Dawn Penn "No No No" b/w Dub Specialist "Hooligan (Dub)"
  • The Mad Lads "Ten to One" b/w Jackie Mittoo "Totally Together"
  • Michigan and Smiley "Nice Up the Dance" b/w "The Wailers "Simmer Down"

2) Demon Music Group is issuing The Beat's The 7" Singles Collection. This box set contains thirteen Beat vinyl 45s, from their 2 Tone debut, "Tears of a Clown," to their last Special Beat Service single, "Ackee 1-2-3"--and everything in between: "Mirror In The Bathroom," "Hands Off... She’s Mine," "Best Friend," "Too Nice To Talk To," "Doors of Your Heart," "All Out To Get You," "Hit It," "Save It For Later," "Jeanette," "I Confess," and "Can’t Get To Losing You." A 16-page booklet is included, presumably about the band and each single. Only 1,000 copies of this set are being pressed and it's a UK-only release.


3) Salvo is issuing Madness"Lovestruck" (from 1999's Wonderful) b/w"Le Grand Pantalon" (a fantastic, reflective version of "Baggy Trousers" that was used in a 2011 Kronenbourg 1664 beer ad and was included on the 2013 A Guided Tour of Madness box set). Neither track has been available on vinyl before. Only 1,000 copies of this single will be for sale in the UK.


4) Trojan Records will be releasing a 60s ska/reggae compilation with cuts from Desmond Dekker and The Aces, The Upsetters, and the like. Titled Rude Boy Rumble, this 12-track LP will feature cuts chosen by Tom "Papa" Ray AKA The Soul Selector (also the owner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, MO). This release will be available in the USA.


Happy record hunting this Saturday!