Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Duff Gig Review: NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, The Bluebeats, Hey Stranger, Freddy Loco and the Gordo's Ska Band, and Silver Dollar

Being the old family man that I am, I only had a limited window in which to go out last Saturday night to the Version City party featuring NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, The Bluebeats, Hey Stranger, Freddy Loco and The Gordo's Ska Band, and Silver Dollar at The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn. My friend Joe and I arrived a bit late and missed Silver Dollar (I had family stuff just beforehand) and both of us had early Sunday morning things to do with our kids, so it couldn't be a late night (sadly, at our age, you just don't bounce back quickly from a late night of bending elbows and ears).

We did catch Freddy Loco and The Gordo's Ska Band's set, which was rich with mellow, vintage instrumental ska--punctuated by Freddy Loco's heavily-accented exclamations (the gist of it was that he was psyched to be playing in New York City and he wanted us to dance to the ska). Rocksteady Freddie Reiter of NYSJE sat in our their set, which was way too short--and not loud enough (note to sound person: turn it up for Freddie Loco next time!).

Hey Stranger delivered a great set of their tight, high-energy ska-punk-pop tunes. Clearly, they were having a blast on stage and so was the audience, which seemed to be heavily stacked in their favor. Trombonist Ginger Hale ("heartthrob" according to their MySpace page), the most uninhibited and irrepressible member of the band, may have had the most fun of all (and his performance was strangely riveting--notice how in the videos I shot that I usually placed him in the center of the frame...).

The Bluebeats had expanded their numbers since I saw them last in September--at the beginning of the set, Mike Drance announced that "the girls are back" (including Lizanne Lachat on vocals), which only enhanced the band's already incredible rocksteady-soul sound. During a quick dash to the head and the Kontrol Room for some more cervezas, I ran into Freddie Reiter and we talked about how things were going for NYSJE (pretty good--they had just toured Greece, playing a couple of gigs before several thousand fans, and had been to Japan on bills with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra). While it was really great to catch up with Freddie, I ended up missing a chunk of The Bluebeats' set (which I could see slipping away through the giant windows behind the bar), but what I did experience was nothing short of brilliant.

After The Bluebeats, we had to split, so I offer my apologies to NYSJE for missing their performance (and does anyone know how the Version City All Star Jam Tribute to Jackie Mittoo turned out?).

Boldface names that were in the crowd that night (it was like a freakin' Scofflaws reunion) included Buford O'Sullivan, who when not roaming the world as trombonist for the Easy Stars All Stars, is getting set to release a new vinyl and digital single on Megalith Records (he said that one of the songs is the "darkest" thing he's ever recorded) and might be getting his own band together for some gigs (hey, Jeremy or Django--put Buford on one of your next Knitting Factory showcases soon!). Victor Rice was in the house, but I never made it past the permanent mob around him, and, of course, King Django was selling Stubborn Records merch and occasionally toasting as the deejay spun some wax.

Much thanks and respect to Jake Stranger for getting Joe and myself into the show!

Enjoy the videos that I shot that night...


Kames Jelly said...

I only caught the last song of Silver Dollar's set but it was a really funky tune. I really hope Johnny B keeps writing songs like that one.

I agree with everything you said, except for that I wasn't feeling Hey Stranger.

NYSJE's set was great. They had Rick Faulkner back on trombone and they played all the tunes I wanted to hear.

Unfortunately, I couldnt stick around for the Mittoo jam either.

I had a blast at this show and I can't wait until Skinnerbox next month.

Steve from Moon said...

Thanks, KJ.

The Skinnerbox show looks great, too!