Thursday, April 19, 2018

Duff Interview: Tim Receveur, Organizer of the Supernova International Ska Festival (May 26-27, 2018)!

Derrick Morgan backed by Eastern Standard Time
Editor's note: Tim Receveur, along with his wife April, are the organizers of the Supernova International Ska Festival, which will be taking place on May 26-27 at the 1781 Brewing Company in Spotsylvania, VA (see the entire bill below). We very much appreciate him taking the time so close to the event to answer our questions about the festival. Please note that Duff Guide to Ska readers can save $10 on a weekend pass to Supernova with the promo code "Duff."

The Duff Guide to Ska: How did last year's festival turn out? What were some of your personal highlights?

Tim Receveur: "The 2017 Supernova festival accomplished most of the goals that my wife April and I set out to accomplish. We wanted to put ska back on a larger stage and hopefully inspire people to think about it's past and future in a brighter light. On one end, we honored the legendary Derrick Morgan by hosting his 60th anniversary performance with Eastern Standard Time (who absolutely gave a performance of a lifetime), while at the same time mixing the weekend with a ton of young, up-and-coming ska bands who were barely alive when ska was big in the '90s. I didn't see much of the festival to be honest, but I did see The Aggrolites and The Pietasters backing Greg Lee of Hepcat on Night 1 and The Skints and The Pietasters on Night 2, which were all highlights for me. Adam Flymo Birch, who played trumpet for The Specials and The Toasters, also showed up for the weekend not knowing what to expect and he ended up playing on everyone's sets."

DGTS: Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, how are you financing this? Did you break even or turn a profit last year? (Will this always be more a labor of love or would you like seeing it develop into a bigger business venture?)

Greg Lee of Hepcat backed by The Pietasters
TR: "This has always been a labor of love and no one in their right mind would spend this amount of time on a festival if they didn't have a deep affinity for the community and the bands. Last year, we financed the festival through ticket sales, a percentage of the beer money, and a GoFundMe campaign, but it lost money unfortunately. This year, we're trying to do a better job of keeping our costs down and hoping that last year's success will lead to more tickets sales in 2018 (2018supernova.eventbrite.com)."

DGTS: What about putting on the Virginia Ska Festival a few years ago made you want to make the jump to a larger and more ambitious international ska fest?

TR: "Supernova was actually the third try at a name after a stupidly named Brew Fest in 2014 and the Virginia Ska Festival in 2015. The first year was just one day and five bands including The Pietasters, Chris Murray, and The Snails (now The Dull Blue Lights) and we expanded it to two days with the Virginia Ska Fest. The first band we signed in 2017 was The Skints from the UK, so it felt like we needed to think a little bigger about the festival name. NOVA is just shorthand for Northern Virginia, so the name is bigger while recognizing our roots in Virginia."

DGTS: What is your criteria for selecting acts each year?

The Aggrolites
TR: "We have a few that we try to target and lock down early each year. For 2018, I wanted The Suicide Machines, MU330, Western Standard Time and Hepcat, and we were able to lock down three of the four. We couldn't land Hepcat in the end, but Greg Lee is coming in and singing a set with WST this year. For the other bands, it's been a family effort and my son Brody has helped pick the bands, especially the newer bands. For criteria, we spent all summer listening to the tracks that bands sent, we want to have a geographic mix of bands and have some variety to the ska. We've also been coordinating closely with Chuck Wren from Jump Up Records and Matt Flood from Asbestos Records, who have both helped getting the bands and the word out."

DGTS: What's it like juggling your considerable responsibilities at the PeaceTech Lab with organizing a major music festival?

TR: "It's been extremely tough over the last few months. My work for PeaceTech Lab has had me on the road in four continents since December and I recently spent the better part of early 2018 in Niger, mostly without internet, which makes it hard to get the word out for the festival. The upside is that I run into ska fans in unexpected corners of the world."

The Skints
DGTS: What do you think of the ska/punk/reggae "Back to the Beach" festival out in California (and why do think ska festivals out there attract big music industry promoters, while there's not much interest back East)?

TR: The Back to the Beach festival looks like a dream come true and most of my all-time favorite bands are there. When I first saw the bill, I definitely thought it was fake. California is definitely the epicenter of the bands and the promoters, so it makes sense that it would be bigger out there. For selfish reasons, I'm just glad this wasn't announced in New York or Florida or we would be sunk with it so close to Supernova. We obviously don't do ourselves any favors by hosting this in Virginia and we've had offers to move this to New York or Boston, so we'll see how this year goes and explore that in the future."

DGTS: It seems like most of the major scenes from across the US are represented by bands on this year's festival bill--but it's still challenging upping the quotient of international acts, right (what with travel expenses, visas, etc.)? Do you see including a higher number of international acts in the future?

TR: "The downside to international acts is exactly what you mentioned. You can find affordable flights, but the visa issue is the hardest thing for independent performers. We tried to bring in Rhoda Dakar this year unsuccessfully because the visa process is absolutely daunting and even with a lawyer it takes months. A British citizen can come to the U.S. with no problem, but if they want to sing and get paid they need an O visa which is the same thing that Bono and Sting need to tour. We do have international acts coming with Doreen Schaffer from The Skatalites coming in to sing with Western Standard Time, Roddy Radiation from The Specials will be there backed by The Scotch Bonnets from Baltimore, and Dr Ring Ding will be coming in from Germany."

DGTS: Is there anything about this year's festival that you want to pass along to The Duff Guide to Ska readers?

TR: "We will be reuniting The Stubborn All-Stars with an absolutely killer line-up for this year's fest with King Django, Vic Ruggiero, Eddie Ocampo, Agent Jay Nugent, Sheldon Gregg aka Bassista Giamaicano, David Hillyard, and Rich Graiko. This will also be the first time on the East Coast for both Western Standard Time and the Chris Murray Combo.

Help us keep ska alive by buying your tickets and coming down to the festival! It will be held at a beautiful brewery called the 1781 Brewing Company and you can see some photos here (http://april.smugmug.com/1781). Get your tickets at http://2018supernova.eventbrite.com/ and save $10 on a weekend pass with the promo code "Duff." Our website can be found at http://www.supernovaska.com. Thanks!"

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Duff Review: The Dirty Notion "How The Story Goes"

Abbey Productions
Six-track digital EP
2018

(Review by Steve Shafer)

This is the fantastic second EP from Detroit's The Dirty Notion (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of their debut, The Dirty EP), which finds the band continuing to profitably mine late '60s/early 70s skinhead reggae territory (check the phenomenal Glen Adams/Jackie Mittoo-ish "The Boilermaker"), while mixing in choice bits of their hometown's garage rock and soul. The EP roars to a start with a fierce declaration of independence in "Gone" ("Though harsh words/They fight so hard/But my skin is thicker/Than many teeth/So, your words don't mean a thing/A petty mind, it's petty crimes/It's no World War 3 now/I'm out of time/And I won't be turning back..."). "How the Story Goes" is world weary, but wise enough to know what makes the daily grind (more) tolerable (and has a boss rocksteady groove): "Life's stuck on repeat/Every day's the same routine/Something's got to give/Cause this ain't how I want to live/So, give me rhythm/I'll give you rhyme/Put the two together/Makes some days fine/And I know/How the story goes..." (It's another disaffected Gen X anthem, like their superb "Someday" from The Dirty EP.) The Dirty Notion give Aussie proto-punks Radio Birdman's classic "Murder City Nights" their trademark rocksteady treatment, with great results (this track is about being young and bored and "fighting up terminal Seventies stasis" in Detroit--similar in theme to The Selecter's "Out On the Streets" or The Clash's "London's Burning"--and written by RB's Deniz Tek who grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Radio Birdman was heavily influenced by two Detroit bands, The Stooges and MC5). The melodramatic ska track "Devils and Demons" is about being plagued by the manifestation of one's guilt, while the deadly cool and bad ass "Plan B" is a laid-back rocksteady ode to guilt-free (if not hangover free) pursuit of pleasure: "Woke up at 6 this morning/In the middle of the floor/I hear the rain is pouring/I got some sleep, but I want more...Dead men tell no secrets/I brought the Devil to her knees/I hear the preacher preaching/Two deaf ears, no one's listening/We danced the night away/My bones are aching/One, two, three shots, four!"

These are some great tunes from a tremendously good band. The Dirty Notion's How the Story Goes is highly recommended!

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Duff Review: Victor Rice "Smoke"!

Easy Star Records
Heavyweight vinyl LP/digital download
2017

(Review by Steve Shafer)

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Victor Rice was big on the NYC ska scene--playing bass with (and writing songs for) bands like The Scofflaws, Stubborn All-Stars, New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, The Toasters, Easy Star All-stars, King Django (and his own Victor Rice Octet and Strictly Vikkly); and engineering or producing records for The Scofflaws, The Pietasters, The Slackers, The Bluebeats, Skavoovie and The Epitones, Version City Rockers, Rocker-T, Mephiskapheles, The Adjusters, The Skoidats, and many others. In 2002, he moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he joined ska/reggae act Firebug, opened his own recording studio, and continued to engineer/produce albums for a variety of ska and non-ska acts in Brazil and around the world (The Moon Invaders, Chris Murray, Danny Rebel and the KGB, Caz Gardiner, Dr. Ring Ding, Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra, Babylove and Van Dangos, Vieja Skina, amongst many others).

Smoke is Rice's first album since 2003's terrific In America and--despite all of the intervening years and projects--largely picks up where that album left off. While Latin influences were already evident on In America, Smoke has more fully incorporated some of the music and rhythms of his adopted land to form what Rice calls samba-rocksteady (see the extensive and excellent liner notes on the back of the LP sleeve by ethnomusicologist Dr. Dan Neely of Skavoovie and The Epitones fame). But don't let the fusion of 1960s genres put you off in the least, as they work so well (perhaps best exemplified by the lovely "Fumaça"--Portuguese for smoke). The stellar instrumentals on Smoke are immediately recognizable as Victor Rice tunes (expertly played by an roster of ace, international musicians from acts like The Moon Invaders, Tommy Tornado, Mr. T Bone, and The Scofflaws) that would be welcome and not so out-of-place on records by the NY Ska Jazz Ensemble or Scofflaws, were he still active in those bands.

The album's groovy lead single "Lou" sounds like it could be the theme for a NYC-based TV police procedural from the late 60s/early 70s (when the city was still gritty and interesting and falling apart). Other key tracks include the tightly-wound "Turn," with its repeated toy piano keyboard and bass lines that build an almost palpable sense of tension and discomfort for the listener; as its title might suggest, "Bermuda Triangle" (composed by Nico Leonard, who also played drums and recorded the album at his Pum Pum Hotel studio in Belgium) conjures images of being lost/trapped on an unending sea, as one's vessel plows through wave after wave after wave; "Teme" (Portuguese for fears) is a majestic, Skatalites-like track that suggests the opposite emotion; while "The Dream" is an upbeat, jazzy tune that also manages to evoke the blissed-out feeling of experiencing fantastic, ethereal visions. I had first assumed that the magnificent vintage ska cut "Mr. Brooks" was a nod to Rice's former Scofflaws bandmate (Richard "Sammy" Brooks, who still keeps that band going!), but it's named after the late Jamaican saxophonist Cedric IM Brooks (of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Sound Dimension/Soul Vendors, and The Skatalites), whom Rice had collaborated with, and is a wonderful tribute at that.

Victor Rice's Smoke is an exceptional and lovingly-crafted album that will appeal to ska and reggae fans worldwide. (Hopefully, we won't have to wait this long for the next one!)

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(Revisão por Steve Shafer)

[Tradução do Google Translate.] Durante a década de 1990 e início de 2000, Victor Rice era grande na cena ska de Nova York - tocando baixo (e escrevendo músicas para) bandas como The Scofflaws, Stubborn All-Stars, Nova York Ska Jazz Ensemble, The Toasters, Easy Star All- estrelas, rei Django (e seu próprio Victor Rice Octet e Strictly Vikkly); e engenharia ou produção de discos para os Scofflaws, os Pietasters, os Slackers, os Bluebeats, os Skavoovie e os Epitones, os Rockers da Cidade da Versão, o Rocker-T, o Mephiskapheles, os Ajustadores, os Skoidats e muitos outros. Em 2002, mudou-se para São Paulo, onde se juntou ao ska/reggae, Firebug, abriu seu próprio estúdio de gravação e continuou a produzir/produzir álbuns para uma variedade de ska e non-ska no Brasil e no mundo ( Os Invasores da Lua, Chris Murray, Danny Rebel e o KGB, Caz Gardiner, o Dr. Ring Ding, a Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra, Babylove e Van Dangos, Vieja Skina, entre muitos outros).

Smoke é o primeiro álbum de Rice desde a fantástica In America de 2003 e, apesar de todos os anos e projetos que o cercam, em grande parte, retoma o trabalho daquele álbum. Enquanto influências latinas já eram evidentes na América, a Smoke incorporou mais completamente algumas das músicas e ritmos de sua terra adotiva para formar o que Rice chama de samba-rocksteady (veja as notas extensas e excelentes na parte de trás da capa de LP do etnomusicólogo). Dr. Dan Neely de Skavoovie e The Epitones fama). Mas não deixe que a fusão dos gêneros da década de 1960 o afaste, pois eles funcionam tão bem (talvez melhor exemplificado pela adorável "Fumaça"). Os instrumentais estelares em Smoke são imediatamente reconhecíveis como músicas de Victor Rice (habilmente tocadas por uma lista de ás, músicos internacionais de bandas como The Moon Invaders, Tommy Tornado, Mr. T Bone e The Scofflaws) que seriam bem-vindos e não tão fora -of-place em registros pelo NY Ska Jazz Ensemble ou Scofflaws, ele ainda estava ativo nessas bandas.

O primeiro single do álbum, "Lou", soa como se pudesse ser o tema de um processo policial de TV baseado em Nova York do final dos anos 60 e início dos anos 70 (quando a cidade ainda era sombria e interessante e desmoronava). Outras faixas-chave incluem o "Turn", com seu repetido teclado de piano de brinquedo e linhas de baixo que constroem uma sensação quase palpável de tensão e desconforto para o ouvinte; como o título sugere, "Bermuda Triangle" (composto por Nico Leonard, que também tocou bateria e gravou o álbum em seu estúdio Pum Pum Hotel na Bélgica) evoca imagens de estar perdido/preso em um mar interminável, como uma embarcação atravessa. onda após onda após onda; "Teme" é uma trilha majestosa, tipo Skatalites, que sugere a emoção oposta; enquanto "The Dream" é uma melodia animada e jazzística que também evoca a sensação de experimentar visões fantásticas e etéreas. Eu supus pela primeira vez que o magnífico corte de ska "Mr. Brooks" era uma homenagem ao ex-colega de banda de Scofflaws (Richard "Sammy" Brooks, que ainda mantém essa banda!), Mas foi batizado em homenagem ao falecido saxofonista jamaicano Cedric IM Brooks. (de The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Sound Dimension/Soul Vendors, e The Skatalites), com quem Rice colaborou, e é uma maravilhosa homenagem a isso.

Victor Rice's Smoke é um álbum excepcional e amoroso que irá agradar aos fãs de ska e reggae em todo o mundo. (Espero que não tenhamos que esperar tanto tempo pelo próximo!)

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Spring/Summer 2018 Ska Calendar #5

The Beat (Photo by Syd Shelton, Coventry 1981)
Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

45 Adapters 10th Anniversary Party w/Hub City Stompers, Duffy's Cut, Legion 76, Guns Don't Run, No Parole, Los Perros, Lvger

The Kingsland
269 Norman Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/16

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Saturday, April 14, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Pandemics, Abracadabra, Go Big, Raise the Kicks

El Cortez
17 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Annual 4:20 Reggae Fiesta on the River w/Dub is a Weapon, Crazy Baldhead Dub Apparatus, plus Specials Guests TBA

Rocks Off Concert Cruise - Aboard the Harbor Lights
Boards at 23rd Street and the FDR
Manhattan, NY
$29 in advance/$35 day of show
21+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Hempsteadys, Charlie Whites

Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10

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Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 2:30 pm (Note: Matinee show!)

Brooklyn Rising w/The Ladrones, Escarioka, Babe Patrol, Ensemble Cavalera

Brooklyn Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/All ages

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Friday, April 27, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

Dubistry

Silvana
300 West 116th Street
New York, NY

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Sunday, April 29, 2018 @ 1:00 pm (Note: Matinee show!)

Mephiskapheles, 45 Adapters, ACHE, Suburban Sensi

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$18 day of show
All ages

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Thursday, May 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

H.R. (of Bad Brains), Super Hi-Fi, Beat Brigade

Bowery Electric
327 Bowery
New York, NY
$12 in advance/$16 day of show
21+

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers (album release show), No Redeeming Social Value, Ladrones, NAA

El Cortez
17 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Buster Shuffle w/Mickey Rickshaw

Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Roddy Radiation and The Scotch Bonnets

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (corner of Atlantic)
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, June 1, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

The Slackers

White Eagle Hall
337 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ
$20-$25
18+

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Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

The Toasters, Beat Brigade, Joker's Republic

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$17 day of show
All ages

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Duff Interview: Heavyball!


[Editor's note: Thanks to the members of Heavyball for taking the time to answer our questions (and to their manager Ed for arranging everything)! If you haven't heard about their brilliant new album "When Can You Start?," read The Duff Guide to Ska review of it here!]

The Duff Guide to Ska: What inspired you to write "When Can You Start?" as a concept album about a week in the life of British workers? Were any of the songs based on some of your actual work experiences? (Do you all have day jobs?)

Iball: "All the band have jobs. I guess it's just part of the music scene now; having to do a day job when you have another passion. It ends up highlighting the both of them. It doesn't matter what I am doing at work, sometimes you can't help but think about the band and the music that you would rather be doing. In lots of ways it's good to have a job, as the characters you meet inform a lot of what we do and write about. The album is about the grind that so many people go through."

Bigface: "I think it would have been a difficult album to get right if we didn't have day jobs - at least it's authentic art! 'Retail is Detail' was inspired by eating a ropey pasty in my car, on a lunch break, in the carpark of an 'out of town shopping village.' Really fucking depressing."

Frosty: "We can only write about what we know and the day job is something we all have in common. It’s one of those difficult situations where we don’t want to sound like tortured artists because we are forced to work the 9-5 and our lives are terrible, but at the same time we want to talk about the monotony of the 9-5."

The Duff Guide to Ska: What were you listening to, watching, or reading when writing these songs? 

Iball: "I can't really think of anything in particular, but possibly the way I have been consuming things is different than it used to be and informed what I wanted to bring to the album. I know there is a tendency to assume times have changed and it's all about the immediate, but I love podcasts like 'Serial' and 'Shit Town.' They aren't quick. They take a story and investigate it over a number of weeks. We wanted to tell a story rather than a collection of 'singles.' The hope is that people will listen to it as an album."

Bigface: "A lot of the Beatles/WHO/Kinks, quite a bit of Two-Tone, and a dash of Country 'n' Western!"

Frosty: "We recorded the album over a long period of time and wrote it over an even longer period, so it changed a lot. No doubt I had a lot of The Clash and Jimi Hendrix for most of it. I was listening to a lot of The Smiths around the time we wrote and recorded 'After Dark,' which definitely influenced how the riff ended up sounding."

The Duff Guide to Ska: I think of "When Can You Start?" as kind of a mod-ska-Britpop opera (kind of like The Who's "Tommy" or "Quadrophenia"). Is that on the mark? Are you playing the album in its entirety live? Are their plans to make a long form video or do something else with this cycle of songs? 

Iball: "To be mentioned alongside those albums is as good as it gets! We all listen to The Who. It's great that they were ambitious with the music they did. Personally, some the of the slower songs on our album are the ones I like the best, but we get to play them the least. Our live set tends to be more high tempo and we bring a few slower ones in as we go. Maybe as the album gets out there and better known it might give us more licence to play 'Yesterday's Man' for example. I would love to play the album live in its entirety at some point! We work with the film director Sameer Patel and he has done a great job with our videos. I know if we had the time and budget he would love to pull the album together into one video/film."

Bigface: "I'd actually listened to a great deal of 'Tommy' on vinyl, and that kind of interconnected journey is what we were going for. Something good about the resurgence of vinyl in the digital age, which means you can go back to a collection of joined up songs, rather than random singles on your phone. Suppose it's easy to disappear up your own arse with a concept album, so glad you like it!"

Frosty: "We haven’t been able to play the whole set live so far, but we are looking into how we can start bringing parts of the slower songs in. It really feels like we have just started with this album and are still exploring the full possibilities and potential of what we can do with it, so I wouldn’t rule anything out yet. We tried songs like 'No More 9 to 5' live a few times, but the reception can be hit and miss. Now the album is out and people have had a chance to hear it then we might be able to start bringing it out again."

The Duff Guide to Ska: I love the track "After Dark" and how it describes how London "breathes" at the end of the workday--and suggests that there's another way to live and work. Overall, the album is critical of Western capitalism--what do you think is the better alternative to aspire to?

Iball: "'After Dark' has a different feel to the rest. I think it means different things to different members of the band. For me, I see a late night/early morning walk home at that cross over time where you pass people coming home on a night out and people heading to work. I imagine the lads will all have something else it means to them. They way we live and the system we are in is fucked. It functions, but only a few really get what they want out of it. I love London and love living here. However, it is a huge beast that sucks the money out of people and pushes people hard in the process."

Bigface: "We're not Communists or anything, but I suppose a lot of people feel trapped in the system. I suppose Capitalism is the worst system there is, apart from all the other ones we've tried!"

Habs: "There is something about the city being a living thing...maybe even a monster for some. There is a history of London by Peter Ackroyd called 'London the Biography,' which talks about the city as a living thing with each area having its own distinct personality. I think there is a sense of that in 'After Dark.'"

The Duff Guide to Ska: The album closer "No More 9 to 5" is both defiant and defeated--death is the only way out. Why did you chose to end the album in that fashion? 

Iball: "We originally recorded this track in Leeds and in a classic rock and roll story, that we can't go into, the whole session was lost. It was written and recorded just after the band lost someone close to us and there is no doubt that it made the song what it is. It is defiant and takes the end of the world head on. If the world was going to end tomorrow, you wouldn't be going to work. That shows you how important work really is."

Bigface: "It was inspired by the death of someone very close to the band, and it was a kind of black swan event that shows you how these unexpected, catastrophic moments can hit you out of the blue. Makes you realise how pointless working a shit job you hate, to pay off a shiny car you don't need is - in the grand scheme of things!"

The Duff Guide to Ska: What does the name Heavyball mean or refer to? 

Iball: "I am not answering this question! Ha!"

Bigface: "Ask Johnny."

Habs: "It was the name of a family dog Bigface and I had when we were young. Think it was a Bedlington terrier."

The Duff Guide to Ska: What's next for the band?

Iball: "We just want to get the album out there to as many people as possible. I can't tell you how proud I am to have been part of the process and to do it with my best mates makes me feel honored."

Bigface: "Keep playing, keep writing - have some fun. What more could you ask?!"

Frosty: "Hopefully, anything and everything. We are looking forward to a year of festivals, tours and anything else that comes with being in a rock band."

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Duff Review: Super Hi-Fi "I'm Only Sleeping" b/w "Hole In My Life"

Electric Cowbell Records
Vinyl single with picture sleeve
2018

(Review by Steve Shafer)

On this incredible single, Super Hi-Fi cover "I'm Only Sleeping," which, of course, is a John Lennon-penned tune from what is probably one of the greatest rock albums of all time--The Beatles' Revolver. In this version, dual trombones take on the vocal lines, often harmonizing--and this instrument is a perfect choice to express the lethargy (and rejection of the world outside) of Lennon's song. Super Hi-Fi's "I'm Only Sleeping" weaves back and forth from a 60s AM pop instrumental with the classic horn arrangements of that time (see The Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life"--an ode to pot, not a woman) to a stripped-down, dubby reggae skank with the t-bones floating drowsily on top. (The bits of backwards guitar in the middle of the track are a particularly sweet touch and tribute/link to the original.) The flip side is a wildly good free-form jazz/rock/reggae interpretation of The Police's "Hole In My Life" that appears on their Blue and White album (which we reviewed)--and has a Beatles connection tucked in there, too.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Duff Review: The Busters "Straight Ahead"!

Ska Revolution Records
CD (Available in the US through Jump Up Records.)
2017

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Germany's Busters (whom I once described as The Specials crossed with The Skatalites on speed) have been chugging along in various permutations since their fantastic debut album Ruder Than Rude way back in 1988 (when they were one of the leaders of the late '80s/early '90s Germany ska scene that included El Bosso und die Ping Pongs, No Sports, The Frits, Skaos, The Braces, The Butlers, Blechreiz, and more). In addition to a slew of live recordings over the years, Straight Ahead is their 15th studio album and features the great Dr. Ring Ding, AKA Richie Alexander, as a full member of the band (he was also in El Bosso und die Ping Pongs back in the day). This development is sort of a mixed blessing for the band--Dr. Ring Ding's songwriting and performing skills significantly enhance the quality of the album, but several of these tracks end up sounding less like Busters songs and more like unadulterated Dr. Ring Ding cuts ("Hunky Dory" in particular), which certainly isn't a bad thing (and in all fairness, some of his tunes are bona fide Busters songs, like "Straight Ahead"). Perhaps this album should have been conceived and presented as Dr. Ring Ding Meets The Busters?

Apart from the split-personality of this album, The Busters' Straight Ahead is another excellent release in a long string of them from this unstoppable band. Amongst these 17 tracks, there is a lot to like here. Some of the top tunes composed by Dr. Ring Ding include the nostalgia for the 2 Tone era in "The Best of Times" ("I was a three minute hero/On a night boat to Cairo/I went one step beyond/with Pauline and James Bond"); the fiercely anti-racist/pro-immigrant "Chase Them Away" ("Some people walk around the streets of Germany/Mess up everybody's mind with their imbecility/With nothing to to be proud of but their nationality/And denying needy folks help and hospitality"); the fantastically funky, trying to change my bad ways "Ain't Gonna Do It Again" ("Used to do my dance and fake romance/Ain't gonna do it again..."); and "The Devil Made Me Do It" (a blistering track condemning priests who molest underage boys--and the first time I've heard a reference to St. Pancras in a ska song!). Other terrific songs by other members of The Busters are the pro-science "Love and Prayer Mania" ("Worship is their cure to save the earth/I'd feel much safer with some good engineers/To turn down the heating right now, right here/And some psychiatrists to soothe everybody's nerves"); the encouraging, roll with the punches of life "Rope-a-Dope"; the Ayn Randian, dog-eat-dog lusting for the good life of "Famine or Feast"; the creepy stalker of a celebrity in "No. 1 Fan" ("When you act like you don't know me/I still know that we are homies"); and the absurdly hilarious Chuck Berry-ish "T.I.N.A. to Ska" ("Some choices are quite awful/The devil or the deep blue sea/But then again in a deli/You will pick quite happily/It's clear from here to Srinagar/There's no alternative to ska!").

If you don't already know The Busters or lost their thread over the years, Straight Ahead is a great (re)entry point--and up-to-date fans will, of course, need this record in their collection.

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[Ich spreche/schreibe kein Deutsch, also hoffe ich, dass Google Übersetzer gut funktioniert!]

Deutschlands Busters (die ich einmal als die Specials bezeichnet habe, die sich mit den Skatalites auf Speed ​​kreuzten) tuckern seit ihrem fantastischen Debütalbum Ruder Than Rude im Jahr 1988 in verschiedenen Permutationen mit (als sie eine der führenden Bands der späten 80er/Anfang der 90er Jahre Deutschland Ska-Szene, die El Bosso und sterben Ping Pongs, No Sports, Die Frits, Skaos, The Braces, The Butlers, Blechreiz, und mehr). Neben zahlreichen Live-Aufnahmen ist Straight Ahead im Laufe der Jahre ihr 15. Studioalbum mit dem großen Dr. Ring Ding, AKA Richie Alexander, als Vollmitglied der Band (er war auch in El Bosso und die Ping Pong Zurück in den Tag). Diese Entwicklung ist für die Band ein zweischneidiges Glück - Dr. Ring Ding's Songwriting und Performing Fähigkeiten verbessern die Qualität des Albums erheblich, aber einige dieser Tracks klingen weniger nach Busters Songs und eher nach unverfälschten Dr. Ring Ding Kürzungen ("Hunky Dory" im Besonderen), was sicherlich kein schlechte Sache (und in aller Fairness, einige seiner Songs sind echte Busters Songs, wie "Straight Ahead"). Vielleicht sollte dieses Album als Dr. Ring Ding Meets The Busters konzipiert und präsentiert worden sein?

Abgesehen von der Split-Persönlichkeit dieses Albums ist The Busters' Straight Ahead eine weitere exzellente Veröffentlichung in einer langen Reihe von ihnen aus dieser unaufhaltsamen Band. Unter diesen 17 Tracks gibt es hier viel zu sehen. Einige der Top-Tunes von Dr. Ring Ding enthalten die Nostalgie für die 2-Ton-Ära in "The Best of Times" ("Ich war ein Drei-Minuten-Held/Auf einem Nachtboot nach Kairo/Ich ging einen Schritt weiter/mit Pauline und James Bond"); der heftig anti-rassistische/pro-immigrant "Chase Them Away" ("Manche Menschen laufen durch die Straßen Deutschlands/Versammeln jeden mit seiner Schwachsinnigkeit/Mit nichts, worauf man stolz sein kann, aber ihre Nationalität/Und bedürftigen Menschen zu helfen und zu helfen Gastfreundschaft"); der fantastisch funky, versuchend, meine schlechten Weisen zu ändern "wird nicht es wieder tun" ("verwendete, um meinen Tanz zu tun und gefälschte Romanze/wird es nicht wieder tun..."); und "Der Teufel ließ mich es tun" (ein glühender Track, der Priester verurteilte, die minderjährige Jungs belästigten - und das erste Mal, dass ich in einem Ska-Lied einen Hinweis auf St. Pancras hörte!). Andere großartige Songs von anderen Mitgliedern von The Busters sind die pro-Wissenschaft "Love and Prayer Mania" ("Anbetung ist ihre Heilung, um die Erde zu retten/Ich würde mich mit einigen guten Ingenieuren viel sicherer fühlen/Um die Heizung jetzt abzulehnen, genau hier/Und einige Psychiater, die alle nerven sollen"); das Aufmuntern, Rollen mit den Schlägen des Lebens "Rope-a-Dope"; der Ayn Randian, Hund, der nach dem guten Leben von "Hungersnot oder Schmaus" lechzt; der gruselige Stalker einer Berühmtheit in "No. 1 Fan" ("Wenn du dich benimmst wie du, kennst du mich nicht/ich weiß immer noch, dass wir Homies sind"); und die absurd urkomische Chuck Berry-ish "T.I.N.A to Ska" ("Einige Entscheidungen sind ziemlich schrecklich/Der Teufel oder das tiefblaue Meer/Aber dann wieder in einem Deli/Sie werden ganz glücklich/Es ist klar von hier nach Srinagar /There's keine Alternative zu Ska!").

Wenn du The Busters noch nicht kennst oder im Laufe der Jahre den Faden verloren hast, ist Straight Ahead ein großartiger (Re-) Einstiegspunkt - und aktuelle Fans werden diese Platte natürlich in ihrer Sammlung brauchen.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rhoda Dakar Releases "A Change is Gonna Come (#Never Again)" in Support of the Parkland Student Activists and Gun Control!

Rhoda Dakar and her band have recorded a powerful version of Sam Cooke's 1964 track "A Change Is Gonna Come" (which became an anthem for the US Civil Rights movement) with new lyrics in support of the students who survived the Parkland school shooting and have banded together to lobby for sane gun control laws to be implemented in order to prevent future mass shootings at schools and elsewhere.

Here are Dakar's lyrics:

"I was born in a place where firearms were rife
and the right to those guns was worth more than my life
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will

I'm just a school student and I'm afraid to die
I demand politicians don't just walk on by
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will

So, I turn to the Congress
I say people, 'help me, please!'
But they wind up knocking me
Back down on my knees

I'm not safe at a movie, a nightclub, nor at school
These weapons they kill children, we must change the rules
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will"

The video lists the death tolls from mass shootings in the US from 1984 to the present day and Parkland.

Here is Dakar's statement about the video: "After the latest mass shooting in the US, the surviving schoolchildren have found their collective voices and are calling for gun control to finally be implemented. For the first time I can remember, their campaign has gained traction and the NRA is losing corporate support. More power to them, I say! Anyway, I wasn't able to follow George and Amal Clooney and donate half a million dollars, but we did record a song for them. Hope it helps! #NeverAgain"



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Update from Rhoda Dakar (3/15/18):

"We will donate some of the money (if we make any) to the March For Our Lives--London. We can't donate it all, as the publishers have to be paid, which is as it should be. For now, the track is available to download from my Music Glue site. It will, however, go up on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. Once again, not sure how long that will take, but iTunes will take longest. For now, you can get it from here: https://www.musicglue.com/rhoda-dakar/products/a-change-is-gonna-come-number-neveragain.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Record Store Day 2018: US and UK Ska and Reggae Releases!

As always, the UK Record Store Day ska and reggae offerings outshine their US counterparts (I'm looking at you, Madness, Jackie Mittoo, and Prince Fatty!). Good luck tracking these down if you're not in the UK--they're gonna be pricey (and then there's the shipping...).

I do want to highlight that Chuck Wren's Jump Up Records is participating in the US RSD and issuing The Skatalites' 1994 album Hi-Bop Ska for the first time on vinyl! This is a big deal! Congrats, Chuck! And the fantastic DC-area indie record shop Crooked Beat is releasing the second volume of Recutting the Crap (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of Recutting the Crap, Volume 1).

Record Store Day 2018 is taking place on Saturday, April 21, which gives you some time to stockpile some cash for when you hit the shops and (hopefully) buy some of these beauties.


Record Store Day 2018 UK

Bim Sherman: "Lightning and Thunder (Mungo's Hi Fi remix)" 10" (Scotch Bonnet Records)

Black Slate: "Peaceful Demonstration"/"Redemption Song"/"Should I Go or Should I Stay" 12" (Slate Records)

Bunny Striker Lee: Reggae Going International 1967-76 2xLP (Kingston Sounds)

Creation Rebel: Dub from Creation LP (On-U Sound)

DJ Spooky: Phantom Dancehall LP (VP Records)

Duke Reid All Stars/Roland Alphonso: "Judge Sympathy" b/w "Never To Be Mine" 7" single (Trojan)

Eek-A-Mouse: "Ganja Smuggling" b/w "Smuggling Version" 7" single (Greensleeves)

The Hempolics: "Riding for a Fall" b/w "Come As You Are" 12" (Shark Free Records)

Madness: I Do Like To Be B-side The A-side 12" heavyweight black vinyl (Universal) -- This is a compilation of their b sides, includes "Madness," "In The City," and "Mistakes."

The Maytones: Only Your Picture LP (Burning Sounds)

Jackie Mittoo: Showcase ("Disco Jack," "Earthquake,"Brain Mark," "Drum Song") 7" (VP/17 North Parade)

Prince Fatty: "Sunshine (featuring Omar and Fatlip)" 7" (Evergreen Recordings)

V/A: Rock Steady Box 7" box set (Trojan)

V/A: Soul Jazz Records Presents Studio One Dubplate Special 7" box set (Soul Jazz) -- This features eight singles featuring Alton Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Brentford Road All Stars, Jacob Miller, and more!


Record Store Day 2018 USA

Creation Rebel: Dub from Creation LP (On-U Sound)

DJ Spooky: Phantom Dancehall LP (VP Records)

Duke Reid All Stars/Roland Alphonso: "Judge Sympathy" b/w "Never To Be Mine" 7" single (Trojan)

Eek-A-Mouse: "Ganja Smuggling" b/w "Smuggling Version" 7" single (Greensleeves)

The Maytones: Only Your Picture LP (Burning Sounds)

The Skatalites: Hi-Bop Ska LP (Jump Up/Shanachie)

V/A: Natural High: The Bongo Man Collection 2xLP (Studio One)

V/A: Recutting the Crap, Volume 2 2xLP (Crooked Beat Records)

V/A: Soul Jazz Records Presents Studio One Dubplate Special 7" box set (Soul Jazz) -- This features eight singles featuring Alton Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Brentford Road All Stars, Jacob Miller, and more!

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Happy hunting!

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Duff Review: The Porkers "Make Hey" b/w "Emulsified"

Radley Records
Vinyl single with picture sleeve
2018

(Review by Steve Shafer)

After a bit of a hiatus, The Porkers are back on the beat with an excellent new single for the masses. "Make Hey" (a little bit of twist on the idiom) is a catchy, upbeat, mid-tempo ska track about owning up/making peace with your mistakes and, more importantly, moving on: "I'm gonna make hey/While the sun don't shine/Forget about my yesterday/And leave it all behind/I make hey/With just a little time/I paid you back my debt/So, let's drink a beer for the past." The Porkers shift gears on the b-side and let it rip on an early rock 'n' roll-styled cover of Rex Garvin and The Mighty Cravers' great 1961 rhythm and blues single "Emulsified" --which is about being all stirred up inside from being in love. (Specials fans know, of course, that Garvin also wrote "Sock It To 'Em J.B.," which they recorded for More Specials.) Both tracks are more than suitable for play on dive-bar jukeboxes and at boozy (finished) basement dance parties.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Duff Review: Super Hi-Fi "Blue and White"!

Very Special Recordings
CD/digital/Limited-edition LP with hand silk-screened cover
2018

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Blue and White is the terrifically inventive and adventurous second album from Brooklyn's Super Hi-Fi, who play a riotous but fascinating mix of ska, reggae, dub, post-punk/rock, and free-form jazz (think Skatalites, Specials, Lee Perry, Sun Ra), sometimes all within the confines of the same track (check out the amazing, epic musical odyssey of "Biking to Bushwick"). Die hard ska fans might want to focus on the more traditionally-minded songs, which make great use of the double t-bones in the band, as an entry point. Go to the brisk, trad ska instrumental "Gale Caution," the sweet and sad, '60s-styled vocal harmonies of the countrified "Fergie" ("Now this fighting seems unending/I don't recall why we're not two"), even the dread, almost militant "Dub to the Bone." But once you're in, head straight for the spectacular ska/rock/dub of "Space Needle" (mixed by Victor Rice), which begins as a wicked ska stomper (reminding me one of Bad Manners' late '80s instrumentals) before settling into a dubbed/chilled-out groove. Then move on to the alternately punky and ska "Keep It Dirty" (a tribute of sorts to the sadly discontinued Dirty Reggae Parties in Bushwick), the distorted, mega-bass driven and kind of menacing "Blue and White" ("We're going down, down, down, down underground/Come with me and you'll see how easy"), and the almost unbearable tension generated by being trapped in life you hate and becoming hateful yourself in "Little Black Book."

I'll cop to being a ridiculously huge fan of The Police back in my high school years in the '80s, so I'm thrilled by Super Hi-Fi's radical--in every sense of the word--version of "Hole In My Life" (off of The Police's debut 1978 album Outlandos d'Amour) that so aptly expresses the desperation and high drama of Sting's original--and make sure to listen to the how the trombones quote The Beatles' "Fixing a Hole" at the end! (On a related note, "Hole In My Life" is also available as a vinyl single, backed with a incredible cover of The Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping.") Super Hi-Fi's "Gone" also explores the similar feelings of being left behind, abandoned, and discarded when the relationship's over and you haven't moved on (the video even has a sly nod to another Police track with a tiny message pulled out of a bottle on a beach!).

This is a stellar album from a band you need to know (if you don't already!).

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Winter/Spring/Summer 2018 Ska Calendar #4

"2 Tone Fans Dance" by Janette Beckman
Saturday, March 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Super Hi-Fi ("Blue and White" record release!), Cameramen

Nublu 151
151 Avenue C
New York, NY

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Friday, March 9, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Coolie Ranx Birthday Bash with Pilfers, Full Watts Band, Reggay Lords, Love Always, Typhoid Rosie

Brooklyn Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20/All ages

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Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

Fidel Nadal (with The Heart Beaters), The Ladrones, The Applecores, Ensemble Calavera

Studio Square/Bulb Room
35-33 36th Street
Long Island City, NY
$30/21+

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Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Beat Brigade, The Ladrones, Super Hi-Fi, Joker's Republic, Thirteen Towers, The Screw-Ups, plus DJ Ryan Midnight!

RUBULAD
Bushwick, Brookyn
Get in touch with Dj Gorilla Presents through FB event page for address.
$10/All ages

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Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hollie Cook, The Far East

Elsewhere (Hall)
599 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20 in advance/$22 day of show/16+

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Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7 w/DJ 100Dbs

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (corner of Atlantic)
Brooklyn, NY

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Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

Lonely Atom Records presents Powdermaker, The Pandemics, Joker's Republic, plus DJ Ryan Midnight

Wayward Social
35 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$5/21+

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Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The Mighty Might Bosstones, Bigwig, Westbound Train

White Eagle Hall
337 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ
$27.50-$32.83
All ages

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Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling
City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Monday, March 26, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

45 Adapters 10th Anniversary Party w/Hub City Stompers, Duffy's Cut, Legion 76, Guns Don't Run, No Parole, Los Perros, Lvger

The Kingsland
269 Norman Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/16+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Annual 4:20 Reggae Fiesta on the River w/Dub is a Weapon, Crazy Baldhead Dub Apparatus, plus Specials Guests TBA

Rocks Off Concert Cruise - Aboard the Harbor Lights
Boards 23rd Street and the FDR
Manhattan, NY
$29 in advance/$35 day of show
21+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Hempsteadys, Charlie Whites

Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers (album release show), No Redeeming Social Value, Ladrones, NAA

El Cortez
17 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Buster Shuffle w/Mickey Rickshaw

Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Roddy Radiation and The Scotch Bonnets

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (corner of Atlantic)
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, June 1, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

The Slackers

White Eagle Hall
337 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ
$20-$25
18+

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Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

The Toasters, Beat Brigade, Joker's Republic
Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$17 day of show
All ages

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Live Video of Top Shotta Band featuring Screechy Dan and The Scofflaws!

Last Saturday night, I caught a fantastic show with Top Shotta Band featuring Screechy Dan and The Scofflaws at Diviera Drive in Brooklyn, NY.  Below are several videos that I shot of each band that you all might enjoy...

The Scofflaws' Richard Brooks had just gotten over the flu earlier in the week and was still recovering, but put on a great performance, nonetheless.

(On a related note, we'll have an interview up soon with Richard Brooks of The Scofflaws done by Ryan Miller.)









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Studio One Catalogue Available Digitally on Bandcamp

Bob Marley and The Wailers
This is pretty cool! A good portion of Studio One's catalogue is up on Bandcamp now (https://studioone.bandcamp.com/artists), plus there is a handy guide to many key Studio One releases for newbies by reggae author Lloyd Bradley...

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Pre-Order Hepcat's "Out of Nowhere" on Vinyl for First Time with Bonus LP of Victor Rice Dubs!

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of Hepcat's debut album Out Of Nowhere (which was originally issued on Moon Records), the band is making a limited-edition (1,000 copies), 180 gram vinyl version of the album available with a bonus LP of new Victor Rice dubs titled Dub Outta Nowhere. It should be noted that Out Of Nowhere has never been pressed on vinyl (when it came out in 1993, vinyl was out, though cassettes were hanging in there--CDs were the future).

You can pre-order the double LP now (and you'll be able to immediately download digital copies of Out Of Nowhere and Dub Outta Nowhere) and should expect delivery of the vinyl in May or June of this year.

Without a doubt, Out Of Nowhere was one of the first classic albums of the so-called American Third Wave of ska in the 1990s and deserves an honored spot in every ska fan's collection...

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Winter/Spring 2018 Ska Calendar #3

Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

NYC Ska Orchestra

Fat Cat Music
75 Christopher Street
New York, NY
$3.00 cover

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Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The Skatalites, The Alchemystics

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

The Scofflaws and Top Shotta Band featuring Screechy Dan

Diviera Drive
131 Berry Street
Brooklyn, NY
$12

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Saturday, March 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Super Hi-Fi ("Blue and White" record release!), Cameramen

Nublu 151
151 Avenue C
New York, NY

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Friday, March 9, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Coolie Ranx Birthday Bash with Pilfers, Full Watts Band, Reggay Lords, Love Always, Typhoid Rosie

Brooklyn Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20/All ages

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Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

Fidel Nadal (with The Heart Beaters), The Ladrones, The Applecores, Ensemble Calavera

Studio Square/Bulb Room
35-33 36th Street
Long Island City, NY
$30/21+

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Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Beat Brigade, The Ladrones, Super Hi-Fi, Joker's Republic, Thirteen Towers, The Screw-Ups, plus DJ Ryan Midnight!

RUBULAD
Bushwick, Brookyn
Get in touch with Dj Gorilla Presents through FB event page for address.
$10/All ages

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Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hollie Cook, The Far East

Elsewhere (Hall)
599 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20 in advance/$22 day of show/16+

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Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7 w/DJ 100Dbs

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (corner of Atlantic)
Brooklyn, NY

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Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Monday, March 26, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

45 Adapters 10th Anniversary Party w/Hub City Stompers, Duffy's Cut, Legion 76, Guns Don't Run, No Parole, Los Perros, Lvger

The Kingsland
269 Norman Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/16+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Annual 4:20 Reggae Fiesta on the River w/Dub is a Weapon, Crazy Baldhead Dub Apparatus, plus Specials Guests TBA

Rocks Off Concert Cruise - Aboard the Harbor Lights
Boards 23rd Street and the FDR
Manhattan, NY
$29 in advance/$35 day of show
21+

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Hempsteadys, Charlie Whites

Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Hub City Stompers (album release show), No Redeeming Social Value, Ladrones, NAA

El Cortez
17 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Roddy Radiation and The Scotch Bonnets

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (corner of Atlantic)
Brooklyn, NY

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pre-Order Phoenix City All-stars' "Clash Version Rockers"!

Knowing how so many readers of The Duff Guide to Ska are diehard Clash fans (myself included), we thought many of you would be interested in this upcoming release from the Phoenix City All-stars: Clash Version Rockers! Their previous releases were trad ska takes on 2 Tone, The Rolling Stones, and Dexy's Midnight Runners (links to reviews are at the bottom of this post).

Clash Version Rockers features covers of "White Riot," "London Calling," "Clash City Rockers," "This Is Radio Clash," "Bankroller," "Tommy Gun," "Career Opportunities," "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais," and "Guns of Brixton" done in a '70s rockers style!

Both CD and LPs can be preordered now (and will be mailed out around April 6, 2018): https://phoenixcityall-stars.bandcamp.com/album/clash-version-rockers. I placed my order for an LP earlier today.

If you're in/near London, tickets for the premiere of Clash Version Rockers live (30 Mar’18) with DJs Don Letts and Tessa (The Slits) are available now from www.buytickets.at/hotshotscorcher (this show is part of the 2018 London International Ska Festival).

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For more on the Phoenix City All-stars, check out The Duff Guide to Ska reviews of Searching for the Young Ska Rebels (Dexy's), Skatisfaction (Rolling Stones), and Two Tone Gone Ska.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Duff Review: Heavyball "When Can You Start?"

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Heavyball When Can You Start? (digital and gatefold LPMagnetic North Melodies, 2017): Their debut 2015 album Black Eye Diaries featured a super ska cover of Bronski Beat's mid-'80s synth-pop hit "Smalltown Boy" (about a gay teen's experience with homophobia, gay-bashing, and familial rejection), and an hilarious, self-aware/regretful, still-in-love with your ex/drunk bar fight song "Black Eye Friday" that manages to work in a bit of Toots and the Maytals' "54-46 (Was My Number)": "I hit him one time/He hit me three times/I was talking, when I should've been listening..." Heavyball's follow-up When Can You Start is an incredible concept album--a mod-ska-Britpop opera, if you will--about a week in the dispirited and demeaned lives of a variety of British workers that doubles as a sharp (and in many ways timeless) critique of our capitalist system if you're not amongst the Chosen Few at the top.

The album opens with "Top of Your Game," where the singer is past his career prime--it's far too late for a major course correction, but he's determined to forge ahead with what he's got ("You're not getting any younger/Feel like you're in the way/You're not getting any younger/Every dog will have its day/I like it, I wouldn't change it/I still sing my song/I love it, I wouldn't change it/The show still goes on"). And the scenarios depicted in the songs that follow become more grim. "Heist" compares people involved in investment banking/hedge funds to outright (and entitled!) thieves ("No, he doesn't have a shooter/And he doesn't wear a mask/He'll empty out your pockets/All you have to do is ask/It's nothing less than he deserves/He's worked very hard for this/It's just another day/In a bank-ster's paradise..."). "People Person" is about the opposite--the forced socializing with people you'd never know apart from work driving one mad ("Is there anything more boring/Than hearing about someone else's holiday?/You had this dream where you were drowning/I hope your dreams come true some day"). "Yesterday's Man" expresses dread at the implications in the rise of automation/AI at work: "You can call the union/You can write a protest song to sing/It wouldn't change a thing/'Cause you are yesterday's man/We'll set you free with redundancy/Oh yeah, you're yesterday's man/Your time's your own/Spend more time at home." You'll have plenty of leisure time, just no way to pay for it. Individuals not suited or qualified for office work are shunted off to the service industry ("Retail is Detail": "Someday...we won't be ordinary") and others are only useful as fodder for the war machine ("Year Out" with its dissonant Fishbone-y horns and spaghetti Western ska: "Welcome son/Yeah, it was a pity, was a job well done/We know you were only 21/and martyrs never die").

The cheeriest track on the album is the bouncy, carefree ska tune "The Perils of Midweek Drinking" ("Oh my God, that beer tastes good/I want another/I want another.../And it's so good/Until the following day/When you know you should have stayed in"), which helps make work more tolerable, yet all the more miserable to do hung over. And the shimmering "After Dark" conveys the relief and small freedom people feel at the end of the work day before they have to start it all over again in the AM (and questions this way of living): "This is for all the lovely people in London city tonight.../And some might say/There's another way/Listen to the sound of the city breathing/See the sights of the city alive." The final track is the lush, numb, and defiant "No More 9 to 5" (with a chorus that you can't help but sing along with) where the singer is perhaps permanently unemployable and preparing to opt out of the system forever: "Drinking in the evening sun/Sitting with a loaded gun/And like a .45/I'm by your side/Never know what life will bring/Or the song the fates will sing/But when the story ends/I'm by your side...No more 9 to 5 for us, baby/It's a holiday, till the day we die."

In sum, When Can You Start? is about wasted years, unfulfilled lives, dashed aspirations--all sacrificed, willingly or not, at Mammon's altar. There is great sadness, beauty, and empathy, as well as bits of joy and humor in Heavyball's songs, which also seem to capture the absurdity of our economic system and the collective experience of the 99% during our current revival of the Gilded Age. Listening to When Can You Start? inspired me to pull out another British album that perfectly reflected the tenor-of-its-time: Blur's Parklike. The comparison is apt--it's that good.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Desorden Publico "Bailando Sobre Las Ruinas"

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Desorden Publico Bailando Sobre Las Ruinas (pink, red, yellow, olive green, sea green vinyl LP with artwork by CHema Skandal, Jump Up Records, 2017): This limited-edition record (200 copies) was released in the USA to coincide with Desorden Publico's tour of the States last fall, though the album actually came out in Venezuela during the summer of 2016. While my high school Spanish is crude at best, the title of the album translates into English as Dancing on the Ruins--and many of the absolutely amazing songs on this album (a blend of 2 Tone ska, reggae, and various forms of Latin music) are joyous and full of life (in the face of ever-present mortality), but also display a keen awareness of the importance of speaking truth to power--see the title track: "Become the change you aspire/And I will see you dancing on the ruins"; the tightly-wound "Everything is Very Normal" ("Todo Esta Muy Normal"): "Walk to the corner, nothing happens here!/Check your pockets, you have plenty of money!/Go anywhere, everything works!"; or the longing for positive and profound change in "I'm Looking for Something in the Caribbean" ("Estoy Buscando Algo En El Caribe"): "I am not looking for similarities/Although I know we are all the same/What matters the political regime?/Democracy, dictatorship or socialism/We are still Latin American/Although they keep putting barriers/Because many things unite us/The crisis has no borders." Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra joins Desorden Publico on "Ska World Ska" ("Ska Mundo Ska") and Dr. Ring Ding toasts about the weather on "It is Cold in Berlin" ("Es Ist Kalt In Berlin"), and the band soars on tracks like the extraordinary "Cemetery of My Loves" ("Cementerio E Mis Amores"), sung from the point of view of a "Seventh Seal"-like figure of Death, and "Those Who Stay, Those Who Leave" ("Los Que Se Quedan, Los Que Se Van"), a mournful song about the exodus of Venezuelan youth from their troubled home country. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of the context and commentary on Bailando Sobre Las Ruinas, political and otherwise, but what's not in doubt is that this a tremendously good album.

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Desorden Publico Bailando Sobre Las Ruinas (vinilo LP verde mar, rojo, amarillo, verde oliva, verde mar con obras de CHema Skandal, Jump Up Records, 2017): Este álbum de edición limitada (200 copias) fue lanzado en los Estados Unidos para coincidir con Desorden Publico recorrió Estados Unidos el otoño pasado, aunque el álbum realmente salió en Venezuela durante el verano de 2016. Si bien el español de mi escuela secundaria es crudo en el mejor de los casos, el título del álbum se traduce al inglés como Dancing on the Ruins, y muchos de las canciones absolutamente increíbles en este álbum (una mezcla de 2 Tone ska, reggae y varias formas de música latina) son alegres y llenas de vida (frente a la mortalidad omnipresente), pero también muestran una aguda conciencia de la importancia de decir la verdad al poder: ver la canción que da título al álbum: "Conviértete en el cambio que deseas/Y te veré bailar sobre las ruinas"; el muy cerrado "Todo es muy normal": "¡Camina hacia la esquina, no pasa nada aquí!/¡Mira tus bolsillos, tienes mucho dinero!/¡Ve a cualquier parte, todo funciona!"; o el anhelo de un cambio positivo y profundo en "Estoy buscando algo en el Caribe": "No estoy buscando similitudes/Aunque sé que todos somos iguales/Lo que importa ¿el régimen político?/Democracia, dictadura o socialismo/Seguimos siendo latinoamericanos/Aunque siguen poniendo barreras/Porque muchas cosas nos unen/La crisis no tiene fronteras." La Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra se une a Desorden Publico en "Ska Mundo Ska" y el Dr. Ring Ding brinda por el clima en "Es frío en Berlín" ("Es Ist Kalt In Berlin"), y la banda se eleva en pistas como el extraordinario "Cementerio de mis amores," cantada desde el punto de vista de una figura de "Muerte" y "Aquellos que se quedan, los que se van," una triste canción sobre el éxodo de jóvenes venezolanos de su país de origen en problemas. Estoy seguro de que me falta mucho del contexto y los comentarios sobre Bailando Sobre Las Ruinas, políticos y de otro tipo, pero lo que no cabe duda es que este es un álbum tremendamente bueno.

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Friday, February 9, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: The Autocratics "The Autocratics," Soweto "Turn On the Music Again," Wild Man Riddim "Worldwide Frequency," and Doctor Bird Reissues!

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

The Autocratics The Autocratics (CD, Ska in the World Records, 2017): This powerhouse Japanese band is heavily influenced by 2 Tone--The Specials and Beat, in particular, and The Autocratics shamelessly nick bits of their songs here and there (listen to "Populace Intention," "Nothing Hopeless," "Too Much Too Old," and "The Selection"), but you won't care, since it's all done so well. This album's a blast from start to finish; they must be incredible to see live, too.

Soweto Turn On the Music Again (CD + LP, Liquidator Music, 2017): This album is full of excellent original cuts in a vintage '60s ska sound, with wonderful Skatalites-like instrumentals ("Don in the Arena" and "Last Duel in the OK Corral") and catchy early ska vocal cuts--think Maytals, Gaylads, Jackie Opel, etc. ("Smile," "Please Don't Go," "I Won't Come Back," "Fire in Meh Wire"--their own tune, not a Laurel Aitken cover). Ska traditionalists will love this band and release.

Wild Man Riddim Worldwide Frequency (digital album, Brixton Records, 2017): If fantastic ska-jazz instrumentals played by gifted musicians are your thing ( think NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, The Senior All Stars, The Brooklyn Attractors, etc.), then you'll really take a liking to Norway's Wild Man Riddim. Top tracks include, "The Purpose," "Laptop," "Little Sunflower," and "You Got the Horn"!

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Doctor Bird Reissues: I recently picked up several incredible Cherry Red reissues of late 1960s Doctor Bird rocksteady/early reggae albums from The Ethiopians (Reggae Power and Woman Capture Man), The Uniques (Absolutely...The Uniques), and Derrick Harriott and the Crystalites (Psychedelic Train). Each expanded CD contains loads of bonus tracks (all have about 25 songs--I need to take some time to really listen to them all) and extensive liner notes! Other releases in their series include Justin Hinds and the Dominoes (From Jamaica with Reggae), Marcia Griffiths (Naturally/Steppin'), The Kingstonians (Sufferer), and several compilations (Hot Shots of Reggae, Gay Feet, and Dancing Down Orange Street).

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