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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