Saturday, March 31, 2012

New 2012 London International Ska Fest Singles from Neol Davies, The Dualers, and the Phoenix City All-Stars w/Dave Barker!

To help celebrate/promote the 2012 London International Ska Festival, the organizers are releasing two exclusive 7" vinyl singles--one with Neol Davies and The Dualers, and the other from the Phoenix City All-Stars featuring Dave Barker. Both singles can be pre-ordered now from the London International Ska Festival website and they will be available for sale at the festival itself. (Digital versions of all four tracks will be available from Phoenix City/Cherry Red Records on May 7, 2012.)

Here's the skinny on these two singles:

Neol Davies "Dolla Fe Dolla" b/w The Dualers "Nothing Takes the Place of You"

One of 2 Tone Records greatest musicians, songwriters and founder of The Selecter, Neol Davies returns with a superb new single "Dolla Fe Dolla" exclusively for the 2012 London International Ska Festival. The man who wrote "Three Minute Hero," "Missing Words," "Celebrate The Bullet," "On My Radio" and the track that started it all, the flipside to The Specials' "Gangsters," "The Selecter," plays Day 4 of the 2012 LISF (6 May - O2 Academy Islington) along with Fishbone, The Skints, Don Letts and many more. Side B features one of the UK's most loved ska acts The Dualers and is taken from their upcoming Prince Buster Shakedown album (Phoenix City/Cherry Red Records), a tribute to the undisputed King of Ska. The Dualers headline Day 3 of the festival at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 5 May, along with Ska Cubano, Freddie Notes (Jamaica reggae pioneer famed for his Montego Bay smash hit), Buster Shuffle and more.

Phoenix City All-Stars ft. Dave Barker "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" b/w Phoenix City All-Stars "The Selecter"

The Phoenix City All-Stars are the brainchild of Pama Intl's Sean Flowerdew. They will be backing Dandy Livingstone on his world exclusive comeback show at Day 2 of the 2012 LISF (4 May at O2 Academy Islington), as well as Rico Rodriguez and the voice of Dave & Ansell Collins, Mr. Dave Barker. Drawing inspiration from Studio One and The Skatalites, the Phoenix City All-Stars entered the studio to record this exclusive blazin' ska version of Carol King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," featuring reggae legend Dave Barker on vocals, especially for the Ska Fest. They have also recorded their debut album (out this summer), 2 Tone Gone Ska (Phoenix City/Cherry Red Records), an unbeatable and unique repatriation of 2 Tones greatest hits to "the Sounds of Young Jamica" and will be appearing at select shows across the summer (Vintage Festival, One Love Festival, Notting Hill Carnival, Isle of Wight Scooter Rally & Ronny Scotts).

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Friday, March 30, 2012

NYC Winter/Spring 2012 Ska Calendar Update #18

Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 8:00 - 9:00 pm (early show!)

The Hard Times

The Shrine
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (between 133-134th Streets)
New York, NY


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Saturday, March 31, 2012 (late show - 1 :00 am!)

Across the Aisle
(2-hour set!)

The Bitter End
147 Bleecker Street
New York, NY

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012, from 7:00-9:00 pm

DOOMSDAY! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute (consisting of former member of Mephiskapheles)!

The Underground Lounge
955 West End Avenue
New York, NY


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Thursday, April 26, 2012 (2 sets: 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm)

NY Ska Jazz Ensemble

Club NuBlu
62 Avenue C
New York, NY


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Saturday, May 12, 2012, starting at 7:00 pm

Version City Party presents "Stubborn Records 20th Anniversary Party" with Skinnerbox, Hub City Stompers, Rocker T (with The Snails), The Radiation Kings, King Django Septet, The Rudie Crew, The Reggae Lords, The Heavy Beat

The Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Doors at 7pm
Live Music all night long, beginning promptly at 7:30
$15/advance or $17/day of show

$15 advance tickets available here.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Aggrolites w/Old Man Markley, Brothers of Brazil

Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard The Jewel
Boards: 7:00 pm/Departs: 8:00pm
East 23rd Street & FDR Drive
New York, NY

Advance: $25/Day of Show: $30

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Skatalites

Boards: 7:00 pm/Departs: 8:00pm
East 23rd Street & FDR Drive
New York, NY

Advance: $25/Day of Show: $30

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 London International Ska Festival!

Following on the heels of the wildly successful 2011 London International Ska Festival, Sean Flowerdew is presenting the 2012 London International Ska Festival this May 3 through 6 at the O2 Academy Islington, O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, and the Islington Metalworks.

This year's line-up of 1960s Jamaican legends, 2 Tone heroes, 3rd wave stars, and recent killer acts is nothing less than extraordinary: Dandy Livingstone, The Pioneers featuring George Dekker and Jackie Robinson, Dave Barker, Rico Rodriguez, Dawn Penn, The Dualers (UK), Neol Davies aka The Selecter, Ska Cubano (UK), Fishbone (USA), Hotknives (UK), Laurel Aitken’s Original Pressure Tenants (UK), Phoenix City All-Stars (UK), Chris Murray (Canada), The Moon Invaders (Belgium), Los Granadians (Spain), Buster Shuffle (UK), The Skints (UK), Rebelation (UK), Capone & The Bullets (Scotland), The Kinky Coo Coo’s (Spain), and The Delegators (UK).

DJs slated to appear include Jerry Dammers (The Specials), Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite), Gaz Mayall (The Trojans), Andy Smith, Gladdy Wax, Tighten Up Crew, Count Skylarkin, Steve Rice (Downbeat Melody), Tim Wells (Zoot!), Dreadzone Soundsystem, Mark Barrett (Pressure Drop), Amma, Dave Walker (Thursday Night Fish Fry), and 3DJ (Funkdub).

Click on the image at right to find out which bands/DJs are playing where and when; tickets may be purchased here.

For all of the latest news on the festival, make sure to like their Facebook page.

If London is anywhere near you, make sure to be a part of this incredibly unique and mind-blowing ska experience! And if you have the extra scratch and time to fly in from points much further afield, what are you waiting for--book your flight!

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Breaking news from the festival concerns the two limited edition 7" vinyl singles being released in conjunction with this year's LISF. They are four fantastic new cuts by classic and contemporary artists, including a superb new track from one of 2 Tone's greatest musicians and songwriters--the man who wrote "On My Radio," "Missing Words," "3 Minute Hero," "Celebrate The Bullet" and more--Mr. Neol Davies. More details to come soon!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Hollie Cook/Prince Fatty Single (Plus New LPs in the Pipeline)!

Without fail, on the (sadly) somewhat rare occasions when I'm lucky enough to spin some wax at ska shows between sets, whenever I play a Hollie Cook track, at least half a dozen people approach me at the decks or afterwards to ask the name of the artist (and I'm more than happy to oblige--I was one of those kids growing up listening to the radio that always paid attention when the DJ listed the names of the songs/artists he or she had just played, because I had to know which records to track down!).

At the Bigger Thomas show at Cin-M-Art in Tribeca earlier this month, it was the haunting "Sugar Water (Look at My Face)--which you can listen to below--that was converting new HC fans in droves. (Read The Duff Guide to Ska's review of Hollie Cook's stunningly good debut album, which features "Sugar Water," here.)

Now we have word from the Hollie Cook and Prince Fatty camps that a stellar new single is forthcoming (which you can pre-order, as I already have): "As the Beat Goes On" b/w "As the Beat Goes On (Dub)." This 7" vinyl single features Prince Fatty's and Hollie Cook's cover and dub versions of The Whispers' 1979 funk/R&B hit (not to be confused with Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On")--and is taken from the forthcoming Hollie Cook In Dub and Prince Fatty Drunken Master albums on Mr Bongo.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Record Store Day 2012 Does Ska and Reggay!

If you don't already know, Record Store Day (Saturday, April 21, 2012) is basically a way to celebrate and support the remaining bricks-and-mortar independent record stores that have managed to survive, even thrive, in the digital file-sharing/pirating age. So, in order to help draw record freaks to the shops, a host of labels press and release 100s of exclusive RSD vinyl singles and LPs that are only available for sale in these indie stores.

Typically, the a good number of the artists that are featured are from the classic rock and new wave eras (to appeal to Baby Boomers and Generation X, the last two demographic groups that grew up buying their music in physical formats from stores)--this year's US releases include reissues, remixes, rare tracks, or new material from David Bowie, The Clash, The Cult, Devo, Iggy Pop/The Stooges, PIL, Joey Ramone, Lou Reed, Luna, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Social Distortion, T-Rex, Paul Weller, and the "Pretty in Pink" and "Breakfast Club" soundtracks (plus there are loads of releases from current indie rock groups for those just coming around to the joys and pleasure of listening to and collecting vinyl...).

US-based reggae fans should know about two US RSD releases:

Lee "Scratch" Perry
Blackboard Jungle Dub (Limited Edition Box 10" Box)
Format: 10" LP
Label: Get On Down
Format: 3 x 10" vinyl box
Lee Perry's Blackboard Jungle Dub issued for the first time ever in a 10" vinyl pressing. The triple vinyl is in red, green and gold, housed in a full color box hinged box secured with a magnetic clasp. Also included is a 30" x 30" poster of the cover art.

Peter Tosh
Legalize It: Echodelic Remixes Picture Disc
Format: LP
Label: Delicious Vinyl
Format: 12" Picture Disc
Four all new “echodelic” remixes of the Tosh classic, fully licensed and endorsed by the estate of Peter Tosh, are presented here on a deluxe full color picture disc.

In addition to the Perry and Tosh releases listed above, ska and reggae fans in the UK should try to track down the following on RSD:

Keith Hudson
Bloody Eyes EP
12" packaged in the super rare original Greensleeves house bags
QTY: 300
Label: Greensleeves

The Beat
Release: “Mirror In The Bathroom,” “Too Nice To Talk To”
Format: 7-inch single picture sleeve, colored vinyl
Quantity: 750
Label: Edsel Records

The Specials
Release: The Specials Live
Format: 7-inch single
Quantity: 1,000
Label: EMI

To see all planned releases for both the US and UK versions of Record Store Day, check out the lists at Slicing Up Eyeballs. (Of course, the UK RSD has a much cooler and diverse selection of releases...)

King Hammond "Dancing in the Garden of Evil" Preview, Plus New Sammy Buzz!

While I anxiously await for my pre-ordered copy of the new King Hammond album, Dancing in the Garden of Evil, to find its way into my mailbox (how excellently old school it is to anticipate the arrival of recorded music on a tangible format delivered via the Royal Mail/US Postal Service!), I thought this might be an opportune time to run the album preview video (which samples all of the tunes on the CD):

In addition, here's the video from one of my favorite cuts from the album:

And, lastly, here is the new King Hammond-produced track--which utilizes Prince Buster's "Rough Rider" riddim--from King Hammond collaborator Sammy Buzz (who will see a release on KH's N.1. Records later this year):

(As always, all of King Hammond's videos are courtesy of the great Paul Willo!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Esco Chris "Reggae Imposter" EP

If you are the type that digs all things early/skinhead reggae (a la Upsetters", Harry J Allstars, Lloyd Charmers, King Hammond, The Hard Times, or The Soulsteppers), then you absolutely should give a listen to--if not buy for a mere $5--the new digital EP Reggae Imposter from Esco Chris.

While Chris is the keyboardist for the Chico, CA ska/reggae group Boss 501, according to Jason Lawless, he is also known to regularly record (on a four-track like another Chris we know) and release EPs of his own tracks.

Many of these organ-dominated cuts are quite excellent, particularly the creepy, spaghetti-Western-ish "Reggae at Midnight," the Luna Park amusement ride of "Sling Shot," and the mysterious and duplicitous "The Imposter."

This is good stuff--very much recommended--and I look forward to more of it whenever Esco Chris lays it down!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Big Ska Gamble 7" Record Club Kickstarter Project

If you follow this blog with some frequency, you know that I'm a big proponent of the Kickstarter model as a way forward for many non-mainstream bands who want to be in a position to be able to produce--and actually be paid for--recorded music housed in a physical format in this dark age of worldwide file-sharing/pirating of digital music. And it's a fantastic way for fans to directly support the bands they love and be able to acquire music that is highly-collectible, as these projects are typically limited-edition pressings of vinyl or CDs. Several highly-successful ska-related Kickstarter projects that I've had the pleasure of being involved with include those for Moondust Records/Reggae 69 Club; The Sentiments; and most recently, The Shifters.

The latest ska Kickstarter project I'm backing is The Big Ska Gamble: a Seven-Inch Vinyl Record Subscription Club, which was put together by Brian J. Polk of the "23min of Ska" podcast (many of these bands have appeared on his show), and features a mix of traditional ska/rocksteady, reggae, and ska-punk acts from across the USA.

While you can learn all the details of this project on The Big Ska Gamble Kickstarter page, it essentially boils down to this: for a $36 pledge (if the project is fully funded), the subscription club will send you two 7" records starting this July from the following acts:

The Action League - ska/punk from San Luis Obispo, CA
Do It With Malice - ska/metal/hardcore punk from Buffalo, NY
The Georgetown Orbits - ska, reggae and dub from Seattle, WA
Lockstep - reggae punk from Indianapolis, IN
The Shifters - rocksteady from Washington D.C.
Stop the Presses - ska/surf/punk from Miami, FL

The project will only be funded if at least $5,000 is pledged by Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 2:59AM EDT.

I was compelled to make my pledge because of my fan-boy devotion to The Shifters (though I'm definitely eager to discover what some of these other bands come up with), but it seems like with all of the various permutations of ska represented in this project that there is definitely something for every ska fan to love here...

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Echoes of Kingston Tour Featuring The Legendary Skatalites!

In celebration of their 48th anniversary (as well as the 50th anniversary of Jamaican Independence!), The Skatalites are embarking on The Echoes of Kingston Tour of the Southwest, West Coast, and Western Canada this April. In addition, the band, led by Lester Sterling, is planning a new release later this year, All Roads--and will be selling a new 7" single featuring two songs off the album exclusively on this tour. (Following their US dates, The Skatalites will storm the UK in May--check out the dates here).

The Echoes of Kingston Tour launches on Friday, March 30th in Houston, TX and heads north to New Mexico and Colorado, then on to Arizona, Mexico, California, Washington and Canada--and back again to finish at the Viva Ska Vegas blowout in Las Vegas.

Along the way, The Skatalites will play with some of the best young bands the US has to offer, including Keysor Soze, Los Skarnales, The Sentiments, The Georgetown Orbits, and more. Joining the band on most of the AZ-CA dates will be Los Angeles' leading proponents of ska and reggae, The Delirians. The band has been forging a sound rooted in the past, yet distinctly their own--and they've backed and performed with Jamaican legends such as Derrick Morgan, The Melodians, Derrick Harriot, Stranger Cole and more.

The tour will also include support on certain dates from some true legends, such as one of the original Studio One songstresses Norma Fraser, and son of hitmaker Toots Hibbert, Junior Toots.

The Echoes of Kingston Tour is also supporting the Alpha Boys School Project--and will be accepting donations of used instruments along the tour route, which will be cleaned, repaired and delivered to this legendary school in Jamaica that had such an extraordinary impact on many of Jamaica's finest and most celebrated musicians (including, of course, many members of the original Skatalites). Find out much more about the project--and the types of instruments the school needs--here.


Fri 3/30 Houston, TX: Mango's Cafe Montrose
Sat 3/31 Austin, TX: Flamingo Theater
Mon 4/2 Santa Fe, NM: Sol at Santa Fe Brewery
Tue 4/3 Colorado Springs, CO: Black Sheep
Wed 4/4 Fort Collins, CO: Aggie Theater
Thu 4/5 Denver, CO: Cervantes
Fri 4/6 Durango, CO: Abbey Theater
Sat 4/7 Phoenix, AZ: Compound Grill
Tue 4/10 Yuma, AZ: Strummer's Village Tavern
Thu 4/11 San Diego, CA: World Beat Cultural Center
Wed 4/12 Ensenada, Mexico
Fri 4/13 Los Angeles, CA: Los Globos
Sat 4/14 Santa Cruz, CA: Moe’s Alley
Sun 4/15 Sparks, NV: The Alley
Mon 4/16 Santa Rosa, CA: Last Day Saloon
Tue 4/17 Arcata, CA: Humbrews
Wed 4/18 Portland, OR: Goodfoot Lounge
Thu 4/19 Vancouver, BC CANADA: The Venue
Fri 4/20 Victoria, BC CANADA: Club 9ONE9
Sat 4/21 Cumberland, BC CANADA: Waverly Pub
Mon 4/23 Bellingham, WA: Wild Buffalo
Tue 4/24 Seattle, WA: Nectar Lounge
Wed 4/25 Eugene, OR: WOW Hall
Thu 4/26 Sacramento, CA: Harlow’s
Fri 4/27 Oakland, CA: The Uptown
Sat 4/28 Las Vegas, NV: Viva Ska Festival

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Duff Review: Prince Perry "Love at the End of the Century"

Zebra Libre Records

(Reviewed by Steve Shafer)

Recently, I mail-ordered Prince Perry's Love at the End of the Century on a whim, since I had only become vaguely aware of the band while I was doing research for an interview I did with Valerie Desnoyers and Lorraine Muller regarding the 2011 Montreal Ska Festival. When I noticed that the band covered The Police's "Walking on the Moon" (a song from my teen years that still holds particular significance, as I can vividly remember listening to the track over and over on my Walkman as I walked home late at night from parties and dates where inevitably I had failed to express my true feelings of love and lust), it stirred all sorts of new wave-era and lost youth nostalgia, so I figured I'd give Prince Perry a shot.

While Prince Perry's skittish, wound-up ska revamp of "Walking on the Moon" (which jettisons the original's giddy, starry-eyed goofiness--"I hope my legs don't break/walking on the moon...") is a great introduction to the band's amalgamation of skinhead reggae, 2 Tone ska, and modern rock, their brilliantly catchy and strikingly original tracks are a true revelation here. Perry Gladstone's and Mitch "King Kong" Girio's (ex-King Apparatus!) wonderful non-standard-issue ska songs are mostly concerned with attempts to make a love connection (emotional and otherwise), but they process life through an off-kilter filter with sharp, funny, and engaging results. Don't expect the typical yarns of love, lust, and loss about the boy/girl next door or man/woman in the next cubicle--but you will find a lot of unvarnished honesty and emotional depth that resonates.

The opening shot from the album, "Whatever You Can Get Away With," posits that since we're living in a vast, chaotic/amoral universe, our actions have little impact, meaning, or consequence ("Will the world keep turning/if we stay home that day?"). But even though we're insignificant on a cosmic scale (and no higher being may be judging us), we certainly have the great capacity to screw up our own lives and others' in small and devastating ways that we know are wrong ("Will my lips turn blue/when I go astray/Can I still come home/Will it be okay?").

One might assume that the title track, "Love at the End of the Century," is about romance being thwarted by end-of-millenium dread, but it's actually a jittery track about a much older man ("My mom's old man") with a still very active libido looking for sexual release any way he can: "A shave and a haircut for fifty cents/A can of tuna lasts all weekend/Pinching a penny 'till it bleeds/but a little action costs three fifties." Despite the the song's lyrical randiness, the loneliness (and guilt) of outliving your peers and the desperate, primal need to connect with other human beings before your own mortality overtakes you is achingly palpable (like I said, you won't find your stereotypical ska song fare here).

"Spinning Girl"--shades of Rumpelstiltskin!--has the singer enchanted by a Brothers Grimm fairy tale-type woman whose story is brought to life within the rotating grooves of an LP ("Songs about her fill the air/The rhythms softly soothe my ear/The deer come running from afar/and nest themselves among her arms/Spinning girl, oh let me see/the mirror here won't talk to me/Spinning girl, you came along/and now I know how much I long, I long"). Who hasn't fallen in love at some point with that mysteriously encoded vinyl, tape, or digital voice emanating from your speakers? (During my teen years, I'll cop to falling hard for Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Kate Pierson, Annabella Lwin, Patty Donahue, Terri Nunn, and Dale Bozzio...)

Despite all their efforts, the woman in "You Won't Say It" and our protagonist just can't seem to find the ability to communicate on the same wavelength: "I'm singing out of tune/and you say I've got the words all wrong/But I'm so in love with you/And you say it's all the same old song/Well, how can I tell the truth, if you won't say it?" Every time I hear it, I can't help but sing along with this cut's gorgeously catchy chorus-- plus "You Won't Say It" has one of the best, most evocative lyrics on the album: "I kiss your face/and you roll away/and howl at the moon." (His affectionate kiss turns her into a monstrous beast?!)

"Bee on the Bus" is a small moment (melo)drama as the singer checks out a "beauty" who boards the bus he's on and she ends up sitting on--and being stung by--a bee; she blurts out in the chorus (to the shock of the other passengers): "a bee bit my ass on the bus!" Both parties are aware that their relationship has almost run it's course in "Say You Won't," but the singer can't bear the pain of the split yet and begs for whatever scraps of dying tenderness he can get ("I can't take the sorrow/maybe next week/Well, things will be better/and I'll send you on your way/but please don't leave me today"). "Until It Don't Happen" is about mistaken and shifting perceptions of one's own identity and abilities. "Wire" is a Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello non-ska new wave/power-pop romp about burning bridges--literally cutting off all means of communication.

The final cut, "On it Goes," brings down the curtain on all the small vignettes depicted in all the preceding tracks, but acknowledges that the emotional turmoil, self-absorption, greed, and petty crap of stumbling through our messy lives is never-ending ("And all the time/we beg and whine/for all that things that seem to us to be sublime/And all the time/we seek to find/another way for people to believe we're divine"). But Prince Perry isn't bitter about it all--he's kind of resigned to the fact that it's just the way things are and will always be as long as there are people on the planet (the chorus may remind one of Billy Pilgrim's "So it goes" refrain from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five").

Prince Perry's Love at the End of the Century is one of those albums that you'll find semi-permanently lodged in whatever device you use to listen to music--as well as your head. It's simply stellar--and one of the best and most unique ska records I've had the pleasure of randomly picking up in a long, long time.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Duff Interview with Brendog Tween on the Upcoming "DOOMSDAY! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute!" Show

Editor's Note: A few days ago, when Brendog Tween, the original guitarist for Mephiskapheles, announced on his Facebook page that members of the band were playing an "unplugged" show at The Underground Lounge (West 107th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan) on April 10th from 7:00-9:00 pm, we definitely needed more details. So we asked Brendog if he'd consent to a short interview to fill in the blanks and he was gracious enough to do so. (For more background on the band, check out this terrific interview Brendog did with Marco on the Bass.)

The Duff Guide to Ska: So, what stars aligned (or satanic rituals had to be performed) for this Mephiskapheles show to come about? Why reunite at this particular moment in time?

Brendog Tween: Let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR that this is NOT, NOT, NOT a Mephiskapheles gig or reunion. If it were, it'd be two days at at Irving Plaza and there'd be 30 other bands and merch tables and so on. What is happening here is organic music-making with a bunch of old comrades, where we use the most basic tools to rock the fucking house.

Why now? Why not?

All this nonsense started like this:

Jerica Rosenblum and I (and our significant others and kids) had dinner last Saturday night. Afterwards we picked up some beer and proceeded to drink it in my kitchen. We then proceeded to pull out instruments and play tunes. We started with the old ska stuff - "One Love," "Rivers of Babylon," "Sweet & Dandy," etc., then started playing Meph songs. She's such an epically skilled keyboard player who has played many times with Meph since the early days (she was playing horn lines while holding up the backbeat), so it really just sounded phenomenal and the people we were hanging out with were awestruck. (On a side-note, that's one of the things I always really appreciated about Meph tunes - we could play them totally bare bones and they sounded good.)

I said to Jerica, "ya know, we should do this in a club some time" and she said, "I'd love to." The next day, after thinking about it, I posted a comment on Facebook that said as much, and tagged several former members. Alexander McCabe was the first to reply saying he'd like to play the old stuff again. Mikal was second. Greg Robinson was next. I called Osho and emailed Andre, Bitz and Brian. I told Jerica that Brian obviously had dibs if he could get to New York for it, and she said, "of course." Bitz can't do it, so I called Big Dan Jesselsohn - who toured with us a couple times - and he said he'd love to do the gig.

So, at this point I have to assume Brian can't do it, and Bitz declined - but everybody else has said OK.

Mind you, they haven't all been in the same room together yet, so we could end up a couple people short, as someone might say something to someone that makes them pack their shit up and go home. That's why it's important (in my mind) to not call it a reunion (it wouldn't really be a proper one anyway without Brian and Bitz, much as I love Jerica and Dan). And McCabe said it best: we miss playing the old tunes. And our friends miss hearing them.

DGTS: When you promote the show as “unplugged,” what exactly does that entail?

BT: Sort of like the MTV Nirvana "Unplugged" thing. All acoustic instruments (through a PA, though), so if the power goes out the show can go on. And no drum kit, Mikal will be playing a cajon.

DGTS: Can you give us a preview of some of the set list for the night?

BT: We will only be doing Mephiskapheles covers!

DGTS: Have you been surprised by the fan response to the announcement of the show?

BT: Hah, yeah. The response was great - I'm really curious to see if anybody comes. The venue can squeeze in 200 people if it has to, but I'm not so egotistical to think they'll have to.

DGTS: Is this show a one-off, or if things go well, do you think this might lead to a few (or many!) full-on gigs?

BT: Heh, I originally wanted to call it "Armilus." He's the pre-Christ, Jewish anti-messiah described as short, bald, maimed and half deaf. I found that somehow fitting...then Robinson proffered "DOOMSDAY! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute!" and that made me laugh, so I figured I'd go with it.

So is it a one-off? Absolutely not.

I'm going to arrange unplugged gigs once in a while. They'll involve former members of Meph, we'll play Meph tunes and have a good time. If one of the players isn't happy with it, where it's going, the vision and so on, he is welcome to stay home or do his own "DOOMSDAY! A Tribute To Mephiskapheles!" kind of thing. It's not a democracy, it's a jam. Show up or don't - everybody is welcome, nobody will be missed.

DGTS: Anything else you'd like to add?

BT: I have no earthly idea how this is going to go, but I'd say get there early if you want to get in. You'll either be lonely or lucky. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Members of Mephiskapheles Reunite for Free Unplugged Show!

Ska fans who want to re-live (or discover anew) the many glories of one of NYC's most celebrated (and Satanic) ska bands, Mephiskapheles, should make their way to The Underground Lounge (West 107th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan) on April 10th from 7:00-9:00 pm.

This free show will feature former members of Meph performing (for the first time in over a decade) "Doomsday! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Unplugged Tribute."

Many more details to come...

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In case you forgot...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Little Roy Hits SXSW Festival!

For all the hubbub about the big names (Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Fiona Apple, Jack White, 50 Cent, The Shins, Santigold, etc.) playing the SXSW Festival this year, it's incredibly cool to see that an old school reggae artist like Little Roy is playing there on Friday, March 16 on an all-British reggae bill (click on the image to enlarge).

No doubt, Little Roy will be performing many cuts off his recent and brilliant Battle for Seattle album (which is all-Nirvana covers done in a roots reggay style--sounds weird on paper, but it works amazingly well!). Read The Duff Guide to Ska rave about the record here.

So, if you're already planning to be at SXSW this year--or live anywhere near Austin--make it down to this showcase at all costs!

And definitely catch Santigold, while yer at it!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Free Downloadable Track from Razika (Norwegian Ska)

Norwegian female ska-pop act Razika has created some buzz on the indie rock scene (they've been reviewed by Pitchfork!)--so much so that you can get a free download of their "Nytt Pa Nytt" ("New On New") cut (off their debut album Program 91) via WNYC's Soundcheck show. (Note the "Al Capone"/"Gangsters"/Roddy Radiation nod at the top of the song...)

Razika is playing tonight at Glasslands Gallery, 289 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, on a decidedly non-ska bill.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eric "Monty" Morris a No Show in Brooklyn

As anyone who had tickets knows, the Eric "Monty" Morris show scheduled for last night at The Bell House in Brooklyn was cancelled.

According to updates posted on the FB pages of both the promoter (Dig Deeper) and the backing band (Crazy Baldhead), Morris contacted the promoters just before he was supposed to board his flight to NYC and (it is alleged he) refused to get on the plane unless he was paid more than the amount already agreed upon for his performance.

Needless to say, many ska fans in the NYC area were eagerly anticipating Morris' show, particularly after the triumphant success of the Stranger Cole and Patsy show last October (read The Duff Guide to Ska review and watch the videos I shot here).

But it looks like instead being celebrated for his many musical accomplishments, Morris opted to snub his fans and tarnish his legacy in a last minute mad grab for cash. What should and would have been his victory lap, leaves nothing but disappointment in its wake.

Friday, March 9, 2012

NYC Winter 2012 Ska Calendar Update #17

Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Dig Deeper Presents Eric "Monty" Morris with Crazy Baldhead

The Bell House
149 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Tix: $15 in advance/$20 day of the show

+ + + +

Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

Hub City Stompers, The Beatdown, Royal City Riot, The Pandemics, Plus DJ Hahn Solo!

The Shop Brooklyn
290 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

$7 cover

+ + + +

Friday, March 23, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

The Rudie Crew, The Snails, Gameday Regulars, King Sickabilly and his Full Moon Boys, Screamin' Rebel Angels

The Trash Bar
256 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

$12 cover
+ + + +

Additional gigs will be posted when we find out about them. Send info to!

+ + + +

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Philly's Snails Release Short Film: "Live from The East Room"

I feel like a total dolt for not having Philly's killer ska-soul-rocksteady outfit The Snails fully on my radar much, much sooner. Late last summer, they recorded and released their fantastic debut album, From Kingston to Memphis, which is available as a digital download--and you can preview the tracks here, too (and I need to review it!).

This new short film directed and edited by Daniel Kontz, "Live from The East Room," captures The Snails performing three tracks ("Young at Heart," "Preserve the Roots" and "Move On") from their album live for the cameras. And if this doesn't seal the deal and sell some albums, I don't know what will.

The Snails will be playing NYC toward the end of this month--make sure to check them out at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn on March 23, 2012 with The Rudie Crew.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elvis Costello and The Roots Mash Up Harry J and The Boss

Hat tip to Mike D! for alerting me to this insanely good cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" using the Harry J's AllStar's "Liquidator" rhythm by Elvis Costello and The Roots.

Any day that you can catch a top skinhead reggae riddim on national TV in the USA (!) is a good day indeed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New King Hammond Track: "Chutzpah"

Here is the latest music video--"Chutzpah"--from King Hammond, previewing his new album Dancing in the Garden of Evil (out on N.1. Records on March 20, 2010).

If you live in some god-forsaken place where Yiddish isn't part of the vernacular, chutzpah means "supreme self-confidence" (according to Merriam-Webster).

So, it's another autobiographical track from KH! (Insert sound of drum sting here: ba-dum ching!)

But also a wickedly good song...