Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Upcoming NYC Ska Shows in October and November

In addition to The Toasters/Forthrights/Hey Stranger gig this Friday night at The Knitting Factory, you can catch Dub is a Weapon on Halloween at Zebulon, as well as these shows the first weekend of November...

And then, of course, there is Skanksgiving II (surely Moon sponsored a few of these back at The Wetlands in the 90s?) at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Sunday, November 15. The bill features The Toasters, Mustard Plug, The Pilfers, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Hub City Stompers, The Speakeasies, Avon Junkies, and Explosive Sheep. This is an all-ages show with doors opening at 2:30 pm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunday Papers, Part 2

The preview of The Toasters' 10/30 NYC gig at The Knitting Factory from the AV Club/New York City:
Though it goes through droughts of serious un-hipness, ska will never die: It’s just too fun and infectious to give up for good. (Plus, there are always fresh legions of impressionable high-school kids who don’t know how uncool this stuff is.) Hence the continuing success of The Toasters, one of the best ska acts to do right by the Jamaican style since the heady days of England’s Two-Tone scene. Staying true to the music’s all-inclusive spirit, the group plays the kind of ska that has been ripped into by countless punk acts over the years—but no amount of misrepresentation can mess up the infectious up-down skank that Toasters songs basically require.
Decent write-up--but some of the coolest people I've had the pleasure to know are into ska. Am I so out of it that the un-hip in my orbit just seem cool to me? Or is it that the alterna/indie-kids are just so damn snotty/greater than thou that they think their poop don't stank?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Duff Interview: Megg and Jay of Across the Aisle

According to us, "Across the Aisle crank out loads of hooky, tart, and rambunctious ska-punk-pop in the vein of such 90s acts as Dance Hall Crashers and Save Ferris, but with Mighty Mighty Bosstones Devil's Night Out-type muscle and bite" and are one of the really interesting players on the resurgent NYC ska scene. Currently, the band is in the midst of recording its second EP or first full-length--it all depends on how things work out--but Jay Pintar and Megg Howe were kind enough to take the time to reply to some questions from The Duff Guide to Ska...

Duff Guide to Ska: How is the recording of the new album going? Is the ATA sound changing dramatically from what was captured on The Mercy EP? Who is producing it and which studio are you using?

Jay Pintar (trumpet): Recording the new album has been a steady process. We've hit a few hangups...illness with the seasons changing, and it's always a challenge to coordinate six schedules. Still, what we have thus far is sounding really great, and we're crazy pumped for it.

The sound itself, I don't feel, has changed that much since we recorded Mercy. Some of the tunes we're recording we've been playing for a year or more, so they're pretty much second nature to us at this point. However, we've had Aaron, our new guitarist, since August, and it's been great to hear someone else's new take on material. He's definitely a rocker, he takes liberties that the others did not. He also built his own pedal board, so there are will be a lot more guitar effects on the new recording. Also, when we recorded Mercy in early '08, I was the only horn player at the time, so I recorded three-part horns. Jackie, our alto sax player, came along five months later. It's nice to be laying down tracks with her by my side.

This new recording, in light of these delightful economic times, will be self-produced and recorded in our drummer's home studio. JV [John Vergara], our drummer, has education and experience in audio engineering, and between the six of us, we acquired everything we need to rehearse and record without breaking the bank. We dig it.

Megg Howe (vocals): Recording is so much fun! I really enjoy the process, 'cause you can really appreciate everyone's "part" in each song. Sometimes you forget to really listen to what each instrument sounds like, so when it's stripped down by itself sometimes I say, "Oh, wow, yeah, that's what you're playing there?! It's so brilliant!" So we're all in this basement recording together, so it's funny when I start recording vocals and I take off my headphones--at least two members say they had no idea what I was saying before. It's important for everyone to really hear the lyrics--then they can put my understanding of the idea behind the song and they can feel it too.

DGTS: Will the album be self-released or have you been shopping it around to some labels?

JP: We'll definitely do some shopping. It really depends on whether we end up recording a full-length album or another EP.

MH: Yeah, hopefully it'll create a buzz and, you never know, it could be really beneficial to have some backing!

DGTS: How did the Checkerboard Kids show taping go? When will your episode be broadcast?

JP: The taping went really well! A couple of us were a little under the weather, but all things considered, it went really well. We also had a handful of fans and friends who made it out to the studio to support us! We really appreciated that.

Still no word on when it's going to air [update: it will be on 10/27/09 at midnight!], but there are a couple of video clips from it on YouTube. Here's one of the clips.

MH: Taping was a blast and Phil [Esquire] is adorable. But I was so, so sick, I was getting over a cold/sore throat and losing my voice earlier that week. So here and there you can hear my voice cracking, 'cause I was really pushing it. I was upset that I couldn't give it 100%.

DGTS: What does "Across the Aisle" refer to?

JP: Well, we really wanted "Color Me Badd" (that's with two Ds, now) but, it was already taken...

Seriously,'s a new take on the political expression. Ordinarily, it refers to the difference between Democrats and Republicans, in that they're so far removed from the other party's interests and ideals that they're almost literally "across the aisle" from one another...yadda yadda... We reinterpret it to mean, quite basically, diverse. When it comes to our backgrounds, ethnicites, orientations, genders, religions, and especially our musical interests and experiences, we're all over the map. So, although we're "across the aisle" from one another, we've come together to make our own music.

It's VERY important to note that when this description is spoken with inflection and told with the use of hand gestures, it doesn't come off the slightest bit pretentious. :-)

DGTS: And how/why did you decide on Kelly green for the band's look/image? (What's it all about?)

JP: I think it was back in summer '07. Megg, our then guitarist Joe, and I were all on the subway. The conversation pretty much broke down like this:

JAY: Megg, what color are your eyes?

MEGG: They're green.

JAY: Mine, too!

JOE: Woah, me too...

ALL Weird.

JAY: We need a band gimmick. Maybe we should all DRESS in green.

MEGG: I like KELLY green.

JAY: Me, too!

JOE: I'm WEARING kelly green!

JAY: Done.

I'm sure I paraphrased. Ultimately, it is, quite simply, a gimmick. Hopefully, we'll be remembered for our music, but if someone should say, "Oh yeah...aren't they that band with the green and stuff..." then we've done some good. And we started with the neckties just this year.

MH: Haha! Yeah, I forgot about that. Nice, Jay! That's totally 'howe' it went down! But seriously, everyone looks good in kelly green!

DGTS: I think I read that you and Megg both have backgrounds in the theater--how does this influence/affect your performing? Do you approach it from the perspective of playing out live or is it more about putting on a dramatic "show"?

JP: You read correctly, sir! Megg and I each have backgrounds in theatre. In fact, that's how we met. In spring of '06, we were in an original rock musical together. Long story short...the show was not the best, though we did get to revive it in concert form at CBGB's, shortly before it closed for good. Megg and I reconnected about a year later, and that's when the band really started to form. In terms of how it affects performing, I'd say we feed of one another's energy alot, and we're very comfortable onstage together. People often think we're a couple!

I don't think it's about putting on a "dramatic show" necessarily, at least not for me. Though it's an awful lot like being in a play, in that everyone has their role, you've rehearsed, and you try to find real moments. We've a few bits of choreography in several of the songs, and we do other other things like call and response and hand claps and whatnot, but they're mostly because we're a bit dorky and think it's fun, not because we want to be dramatic.

MH: Oh man, that musical was a nightmare, but a blessing because I met Jay. We stayed friends and eventually I convinced him to start ATA with me! I honestly can't imagine not having him as my side-kick on vocals, I truly don't feel like I'm the only lead vocalist. We're such a team, I always say we're a two person fronted band! We need him for sure--he's a better singer than me!

DGTS: Which are your favorite ska bands--and which ones have had the most influence on ATA?

JP: Favorites for four: The Specials, The Slackers, The Toasters, and Fishbone.

In terms of influence, I'm sure it's different for everyone in the band. I know Ashray, our bass player, is really into Rancid and Operation Ivy. For Jackie, it's Hall & Oates all the way (can you blame her?). For me, I listen for horn arrangements and vocal harmonies in any and all bands, not even necessarily of the ska variety. Oh, and I love Dance Hall fun.

MH: For me, since high school I got into No Doubt and just had to know who they all were influenced by and what they were listening to. I was so obsessed with their sound and this whole ska scene that I had never heard about. I found out they were friends with Fishbone. Oh, and I got into Spring Heeled Jack, so those three bands since 1995 have really meant a lot to me. I still listen to SHJ's Static World View! It's such a great album. Also it's come full circle, knowing that you worked at Moon Ska Records with them is so crazy to me, I'm just so honored that you're diggin ATA!! Without these three bands there probably wouldn't be an ATA!

DGTS: And who do you like playing with from the NYC ska scene? Is it my imagination, or are there starting to be a ton of ska bands around here again?

JP: NYC ska bands we've played with: The Bluebeats, Royal City Riot, Rudie Crew, Bigger Thomas, The Pilfers, The Toasters...

Yes! There are more popping up everyday. Some are not necessarily ska, but reggae and various sub-genres. Also, since we're not purely a ska band, the fact that we've punk and reggae elements opens us up to line-ups with other bands/artists outside the ska world, as well.

MH: We've also played with The Pilfers and New York Ska Jazz Ensemble. Although they're from Jersey, we've done a few shows with Hub City Stompers (and have upcoming shows with them).

DGTS: What are your thoughts on music file sharing?

JP: I'd be lying if I said I've never done it. In college, especially, everyone and their mother did it. Now that the shoe's on the other foot, I just will not do it. I don't condone it it any way. Bam.

MH: Yes, totally have done it, but I guess I'm on the fence. Now that I'm tryin' to make a living at it, of course I want to make some profit. But I also, at this point in the game, I just want more fans, ya know. I want to spread the ATA sound!! So, if kids hear ATA and want to share it with friends, I say the more the merrier. I want the world to have ATA!

DGTS: Any ATA plans for the coming months that you'd like to share with The Duff Guide to Ska readers?

JP: Two Brooklyn shows in November: Saturday, November 7th @ the new Knitting Factory and Saturday, November 28th @ Trash Bar. Keep checking our sites: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and for all things ATA!

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According to Phil Esquire, the ATA Checkerboard Kids episode will be airing on MNN Time Warner Cable Channel 34 in NYC at midnight on Tuesday, October 27th. This is viewable live around the world, streaming on

Thanks to Phil, here's an exclusive clip that won't appear on the episode:

And Phil really liked this one...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bluebeat Lounge RIP/New Chris Murray Release

Even though The Duff Guide to Ska is somewhat New York City-centric, we're really sad to see Chris Murray's Bluebeat Lounge coming to an end--after seven years!--with the closing of The Knitting Factory Hollywood. The final show line-up looks amazing and it's sure to be a bittersweet experience for all.

Chris has performed an incredible service for all of the bands that have graced that stage, as well as all of the fans who have enjoyed the shows. At this point, there is no word as to whether or not the all ages Bluebeat Lounge will relocate to another venue--but knowing Chris' determination and resourcefulness, I'm sure whatever comes next will be spectacular. So, we're hoisting a Pacifico in Chris Murray's and the Bluebeat Lounge's honor...

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Bands that are part of an underground music scene--such as ska--obviously need a musical home, so to speak, to find and cultivate their audiences; showcase new and burgeoning talent; hang out socializing, networking, and drinking; and generally keep the whole thing moving forward. While ska bands in NYC have been lucky enough to have a host of welcoming venues to play (Danceteria, Tramps, Peppermint Lounge, The Gas Station, The Ritz, and New Music Cafe to name just a few--all long shuttered), clubs like CBGBs (in the 80s), Wetlands (90s), and The Knitting Factory (2000s) were/are vital to the existence of the scene. And despite any shortcomings, these particular clubs--as well as the ones wherever you live that support ska--deserve mad props for letting the ska people in to do their thing on a regular basis.

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While we're on the subject of Chris Murray, we should note that he has a new album out called Yard Sale on his Unstrictly Roots label. Yard Sale sports 20 tracks recorded during the 15 years transplanted Canadian Chris Murray has called the City of Angels his home and features collaborations with such ska stars as Lloyd Knibb, Lloyd Brevett and Cedric Brooks of The Skatalites, Brian Dixon and Jeff Roffredo of The Aggrolites, and Vic Ruggiero and Jay Nugent of The Slackers.

They Wouldn't Print It If It Wasn't True (Sunday Papers)

I don't think the old maxim that "all press is good press" applies to a hatchet job like this. I mean, why bother writing anything at all if you're going to be this hostile and ignorant?

The show "preview" opens on this "high":
Columbus brought smallpox to the New World. Enola Gay brought the A-bomb to Hiroshima. And The Toasters brought third wave ska to the United States.
And things only deteriorate from there...
In one of the great musical disasters of the 20th century, ska put trombones into the hands of jilted punks world wide. After a thriving first life in Jamaica and England as a legitimate musical art form, ska turned lemon when it hit the domestic shores, and became a fashion statement that, at the least, swapped grimy leathers out for a vest and fedora.

And tonight, The Toasters are playing the Triple Rock. Which means that attendees will do well to stretch out their skanking muscles which likely haven't been used in over a decade.

Yes, the Toasters spawned domestic popularity for a genre that would go on to give us the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Animal Chin, Skankin' Pickle, and numerous other musical unforgivables.

Hey, let's give credit where credit is due--they haven't given up, even if their peers and former fan base have. They kept right on skanking when the ska bubble burst somewhere near the late 90s. Kept right on tootling on the trumpet and trombone, being the rudest of all rude boys.

Well, perseverance is a virtue of its own, we suppose.
Really, who needs the "music press" when a) they don't really know anything about the past and present of the music/band/scene that they are smearing; and b) seem to be advocating that an entire genre of music--and the musicians playing it--piss off and die?

This guy's editor should have pulled the plug on this piece of crap.

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In contrast, apart from this being a positive preview for The Toasters' gig in Milwaukee, it's obvious that this writer knows something about his subject.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Duff Review: Madness - Total Madness

Total Madness
Union Square Music Media

Sure, there have been a host of serviceable (Utter Madness) to great (Complete Madness) Madness compilations released over their 30 (!) year reign--so what makes Total Madness worth the blood, sweat, and tears of one's hard-fought earnings? For starters, Total Madness corrals all of the tracks that comprised their record-breaking run of twenty Top 20 singles, from 1979's "The Prince" to 1985's "Yesterday's Men," plus a few more key releases (though I would have swapped "NW5" for "Dust Devil" to represent The Liberty of Norton Folgate). It's almost unimaginable in this dark age of illegal music file sharing, but it serves as a testament to the band's great popularity: Madness sold a stunning 6 million singles in the 80s.

If you're a Nutty Boy newbie (or simply weren't paying enough attention back in the day) Total Madness is an extraordinary introduction to the band, capturing their early ska hits; their progression into Motown-music hall-Britpop territory; and eventual (though not permanent) shedding of their ska skin for pure pop perfection. For someone whose teen years coincided with the first half of the 80s, Madness' singles will always be linked to certain moments in time, but like all truly classic pop songs, they sound fresh and vital no matter what the context or when you hear them--they defy all transitory musical fads and escape being encased in the amber of memory and nostalgia.

Oddly enough, the tracks here are not presented in chronological order--the comp is bookended by two ska hits guaranteed to pack the dancefloor: "One Step Beyond" (1979) and "Night Boat to Cairo" (1980)--but what is most striking is how this manifests Madness' consistently strong songwriting and performances over the decades. If you didn't know anything about the band, you'd be hard-pressed to sort out which songs were recorded when (some of which, no doubt, is due to the aural sheen applied by their ace pop producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley). It's also worth noting the melancholy tone and emotional depth of many of their hits (see "My Girl," "The Sun and the Rain," "Cardiac Arrest," "Grey Day," "Michael Caine," etc.), something surely lacking from today's Billboard pop charts.

To appeal to the die-hard Madness fans and completists, Total Madness also sports a DVD of all of their wacky Monty Python/Benny Hill/Mr. Bean-ish music videos (one for every song on the accompanying CD except for "Madness," which was never released as a single), which beats the crap quality of YouTube or your disintegrating VHS tapes hands down. While this DVD will not play in North American DVD players, it is viewable on your computer (I had no problem opening it up on my Mac...).

Union Square Music (via their Salvo label) is also reissuing an expanded version of Madness' debut album, One Step Beyond (to be followed, one assumes, by the remainder of their catalogue from the first half of the 80s). So while the hit singles are collected here for your listening pleasure, there's loads more Madness brilliance to be mined and treasured on their albums proper.

The Duff Guide to Ska Total Madness Grade: A

Friday, October 16, 2009

Devil's Night Out

Hoi Polloi Skazine has just posted the ultimate Halloween ska playlist (200+ tracks!). If I ran a radio station, this is what I would use for programming on All Hallow's Eve. Go eyeball it and see if John missed anything (and let him know)!

Also, don't forget to check out HP Skazine's October Ska Almanac.

John, are you predicting a lot of snow this winter? (Oops, wrong kind of almanac...)

Oh, by the way, the illustration to the right shows the disembodied head that comes to haunt you if you don't mend your illegal music file sharing ways, kids... Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to the Antechamber of Ska: The Toasters Halloween Gig in NYC on 10/30

Tix are $12 in advance, $15 day of the show...

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Looks like Shay is ramping up the ska content at The Knitting Factory again (god bless him)--the November 7th Skasplash will feature Bigger Thomas headlining, supported by a reformed Beat Brigade (!), Brunt of It, Tip the Van, and Across the Aisle.

Also, from November on, every first Saturday of each month at The Knit will be devoted to ska...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Romantics-1, 2 Tone-Zilch

We need to briefly revisit the recent Spin article on 2 Tone one more time. That was a shockingly good piece of music journalism--particularly for a relatively mainstream American music mag (gonna have to check it out more often when I'm at the magazine racks at Barnes & Noble).

Here's the money quote (from the eminently quotable Dave Wakeling, natch):
"Well, we were all destroyed by the New Romantics. All of a sudden our utilitarian gear looked plain next to these dandies. People wanted music as escapism again. There was a point where you'd have Elvis Costello, The Jam, and the Beat on Top of the Pops saying, 'Here's a brand new song about unemployment.'"
Ouch. Makes me want to burn my Human League LPs.

Also, any article that starts with a nod to one of my favorite ska-referencing scenes in moviedom--the part where the black punk in Sid and Nancy's circle shows up resplendent in his new tonic suit and pork pie and declares "I don't wanna be a punk anymore. I want to be a rude boy, like me dad"--is alright with me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Duff Guide to Ska Interview: Bucket of The Toasters - Ska is Dead/Is Ska Dead?

Since The Toasters are soon heading Stateside for a string of dates (including a gig in NYC at the Knitting Factory on October 30) prior to co-headlining the Ska is Dead 4 Tour, we thought this might be a good time to catch up with Bucket, who just finished a tour of the UK...

The Duff Guide to Ska: How was the gig in Birmingham playing with Roddy Radiation and Neol Davies [Toasters' bassist Andy Pearson is friends with both]?

Bucket: Well, unfortunately Roddy had to bag because he had the flu, but playing with Neol was awesome! He jumped up in the encore to play Toasterized versions of "The Selecter" and "On My Radio." After the show, I asked him when the last time was that he played those tunes out live. 1994 was the answer--incredible! Great gig that night and maybe we will be able to feature Neol again on some gigs in 2010.

DGTS: The UK ska scene seems to be kickin’—with a lot of really politically active bands (Resolution 242, Dirty Revolution, etc.). Is this what you found on your recent UK tour?

Bucket: Well for sure there are a lot of bands and I'd include King Blues, Dub City Rockers, and the reformed King Prawn on that list. However, it appears to me that there isn't really the same kind of network that exists in the USA. There are some great spots to play and a lot of people into the music, both new fans and from the old school, but it appears to me that the scene could benefit if everybody pulled together in the same direction!

DGTS: Have you been able to/wanted to catch any of The Specials or Madness shows?

Bucket: No and yes. The Specials are making some waves and I hope that they can cross the Atlantic next year. I was surprised that there wasn't more buzz on the Madness record, but having it leaked to the P2P sites before the official release didn't help--there is so much goodwill out there for those two bands that I hope that it can lead to a general upsurge in the scene.

DGTS: What will The Toasters’ line-up be for the second half of the Ska is Dead Tour this fall?

Bucket: Myself; Andy Pearson (The Beat/Roddy Radiation) on bass; Jesse Hayes (Westbound Train/Void Union) on drums; Sander Loog (Rude Rich/Beatbusters) on sax; and Cooper Barton (newbie) on trombone. We have been working with Arjen, Remco and Dim from Rotterdam Ska Jazz in Europe.

DGTS: Why is there no NYC date on Ska is Dead 4? No room at the inn, so to speak?

Bucket: Apparently the date fell on the wrong weekend. Let's not forget that most of the decent clubs in NYC are now closed. So places like B.B. King's, Irving Plaza, etc. get to call the shots. It actually works out for me, as The Toasters get to play a smaller club night at the new Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, but SID got squeezed out.

DGTS: Is ska still dead in the US (to me it seems like it is doing pretty well as an underground scene—kind of like it was around ’92 or ’93)?

Bucket: Down, but not out. I'd say yours is a fairly accurate frame of reference, although I would certainly like to see more bands coming up through the ranks, as it were.

DGTS: Are there any plans to record a new Toasters album soon?

Bucket: Not soon. I am still of the mindset that resources are better spent developing the touring and that's why we are continuing to play all those places that other bands cannot reach! For example, the recording/pressing expenses for One More Bullet have still not been recouped. So that gives you an idea of how far the sales of recorded music have fallen. The piracy rate here in Spain, for example, is 97% and that gives you an idea of what we are up against. My view is that you have to allow individual releases as much breathing space as possible, and it's a mistake to crowd releases together. Bands that cannot get on the road are really looking down a dead end street these days. Having said that, we do have a couple new tunes that will be recorded soon as part of a vinyl project in the USA.

DGTS: The expanded/enhanced re-issues of The Toasters albums on Megalith continue…Hard Band for Dead is coming out as 2 Tone Army soon—are there unreleased tracks, remixes, etc. in The Toasters’ archives for New York Fever and Thrill Me Up?

Bucket: Yeah, that's already out in the UK. Jeremy [Patton] did a great job digging out the enhanced tracks and making new artwork. There are indeed unreleased tracks for New York Fever. As for Thrill Me Up, that had already been enhanced [and released on Moon in the 90s], so we will have to dig deeper into the archives for that release. We are putting those back catalogue, out-of-print, titles out at a rate of one or two per year, and eventually we will have everything repackaged at Megalith.

DGTS: The Toasters have been touring internationally since, what, 1989? Is there any place left on Earth that you haven’t played, but wanted to?

Bucket: Australia. We still need to find a bona fide promoter there.

DGTS: You were quoted recently as saying that you’d only stop touring if you didn’t find it “fun” anymore. What keeps you coming back for more? A general wanderlust? The emotional charge/reaction you get from playing before an audience? Free beer?

Bucket: Well, it's true to say that there aren't many jobs where you get paid to drink free beer. Fortunately, I have one of those! For me, ska music is always best sampled live. It's not possible to distill the essence of a live show into the studio, and that's why some of my favourite releases are live albums, despite the drop in sound quality. The audience is a huge, integral part of the music and so it's always a charge to go to somewhere exotic, like Colombia coming up, or Istanbul last year, and hear people tell me about how they have been waiting 20 years to see The Toasters. It's fans like that who keep this genre alive and so as long as they keep coming, then I'll keep playing. Besides, at this point, I am unemployable in any other sector and having a 9-5 would probably kill me...

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The Toasters' US Tour Dates Pre-Ska is Dead Tour

19th Norman, OK: The Deli
20th Tulsa, OK: The Marquee
21st Kansas City, MO: The Riot Room
22nd Minneapolis, MN: Triple Rock
23rd Milwaukee, WI: Miramar Theatre
24th Mt. Pleasant, MI: Rubbles
25th Morgantown, WV: 123 Pleasant St.
26th State College, PA: The Brewery
27th Wilkes-Barre, PA: Café Metropolis
28th New Haven, CT: Café Nine
29th Poughkeepsie, NY: The Loft at the Chance
30th Brooklyn, NY: The Knitting Factory
31st Syracuse, NY: Funk 'N Waffles

1st Lemoyne, PA: Championship Records
2nd Lousiville, KY: Skull Valley
3rd Springfield, IL: Black Sheep

For Ska is Dead 4 tour dates, click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ska Research Guide at Bowling Green State University

Duff Guide to Ska reader John Cook let us know about a ska research guide he created utilizing the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives (ML/SRA) at Bowling Green State University (this served as his graduate thesis project in library science at Kent State University). According to John, "its purpose is to provide a basic history of the genre and to act as a starting point for those researching ska using the library's collection." Check out his guide here--it provides a good introductory overview of the genre, highlights key bands, and offers a suggested discography for each era!

I did a little bit of searching in the ML/SRA and was impressed to find that its collection contains some fairly hard-to-find ska releases, such as the German/Pork Pie LP of The Toasters' "New York Fever" (with its dancing thermometer on the cover!), a CD of Prince Buster's "Prophet" (a great out-of-print collection on Lagoon Records in France--which was withdrawn due to a dispute over who had the authority to license the tracks to the label), and his "She Was a Rough Rider" LP on Skank Records (UK), which is probably worth about $150-$200!

Ska ZombieWatch 2: SID Australia!

The zombie ska plague spreads Down Under with the Ska Is Dead Australia Tour!

This spin-off of the US Ska Is Dead franchise will feature a more international line-up (unless you consider The Toasters to be a Spanish band, since Buck is now based in Valencia?) with The One Night Band from Montreal, Canada, playing their brand of reggae and rocksteady; folk skankster Dan Potthast (ex-lead singer for MU330) from Santa Cruz, USA; and psycho ska band The Resignators from Melbourne, Australia.

This tour also coincides with the two-day Ska Nation festival.

Ska Is Dead Australia

Oct. 21: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle *
Oct. 22: Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Oct. 23: Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle
Oct. 24: Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane
Oct. 25: Oxford Hotel, Wollongong
Oct. 29: National Hotel, Geelong
Oct. 30: Live @ Light Square, Adelaide
Nov. 1: Ska Nation @ Evelyn Hotel, Fitzroy w/Dan Potthast, High Tide, Addiction 64, Calico Jacks, The Reefs, Loonee Tunes
Nov. 2: Ska Nation @ Corner Hotel, Richmond w/Area 7, One Night Band, The Resignators, Dan Potthast, King Cannons, The Ska Vendors

Guest supports on all shows.

* One Night Band and The Resignators only

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ska ZombieWatch: SID 4.2

While Adam Coozer keeps a vigilant eye out for any general news concerning the rise of zombies, The Duff Guide to Ska is (obviously) interested in the ska angle of the undead--hence our coverage of the second leg of the 2009 Ska is Dead (SID) Tour, with headliners The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and Deal's Gone Bad.

Barring a sudden announcement by The Specials or Madness that they are hitting the States for some gigs, SID is shaping up to be the major ska tour this fall for parts of the Midwest and the entire East Coast. Sadly, it seems like NYC is getting the short end of this stick this time 'round--the closest SID comes to us is Sayreville, NJ. For the city that helped give birth to the US ska scene--where's the love, baby?

Also, I can't decide which band name is better: Dead Like Lincoln or Fatter Than Albert?

Ska is Dead 4 Tour (Part 2)

Wed | 11.4.09 | Grand Rapids, MI | Intersection
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Selectively Antisocial
all ages | bar w/id | 5:30pm doors | $10adv/$12dos
(Tickets also available at Vertigo, Shakedown Street, Purple East without surcharge)

Thur | 11.5.09 | Cleveland, OH | Peabody's
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Green Room Rockers
2nd stage: The Mulligans, Sellin You Short, Cypher, The Get-Ups
all ages | bar w/id | 6pm doors | $12adv/$14dos

Fri | 11.6.09 | Detroit, MI | Magic Stick
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Green Room Rockers, Matt Wixon
all ages | bar w/id | 6:30pm doors | $15

Sat | 11.7.09 | Chicago, IL | Metro
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Deal's Gone Bad, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Green Room Rockers
all ages | bar w/id | 5pm doors | $15

Sun | 11.8.09 | St. Louis, MO | Off Broadway
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, BAMF
all ages | bar w/id | 6pm doors | $15adv/$17dos (+$3 at door if under 21)

Mon | 11.9.09 | Covington, KY | Mad Hatter
with The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, The Pinstripes, Loudmouth
all ages | bar w/id | 7:30pm doors | $15

Tue | 11.10.09 | Pittsburgh, PA | Mr. Smalls
with The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, tba
all ages | bar w/id | 6pm doors | $12

Wed | 11.11.09 | Baltimore, MD | Ottobar
with The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad
all ages | bar w/id | 7pm doors | $13adv/$15dos

Thur | 11.12.09 | Buffalo, NY | Mohawk Place
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Do It With Malice
16+ | bar w/id | 6pm doors | $16adv/$18dos

Fri | 11.13.09 | Philadelphia, PA | The 941 Theater
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, tba
all ages | 7pm doors | $15adv/$17dos
TICKETS - info tba

Sat | 11.14.09 | Foxboro, MA | Showcase Live
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Pilfers, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Hub City Stompers, Brunt of It, Boston Jolly Pirates
all ages | bar w/id | 5pm doors | $15adv/$17dos

Sun | 11.15.09 | Sayreville, NJ | Starland Ballroom
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Pilfers, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Hub City Stompers, The Speakeasies, Avon Junkies, Explosive Sheep
all ages | bar w/id | 2:30pm doors | $18adv/$20dos

Mon | 11.16.09 | Norfolk, VA | The Norva
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Rude Zombie
all ages | bar w/id | 6pm doors | $15

Tue | 11.17.09 | Columbia, SC | New Brookland Tavern
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, Maladroit
all ages | bar w/id | 6:30pm doors | $12adv/$15dos

Wed | 11.18.09 | Orlando, FL | The Social
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, tba
all ages | bar w/id | 6:30pm doors | $15

Thur | 11.19.09 | Ft. Lauderdale, FL | Culture Room
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, tba
all ages | bar w/id | 7:30pm doors | $14.99adv/$15dos

Fri | 11.20.09 | Ybor City, FL | Crowbar
with Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad
all ages | bar w/id | 8pm doors | $15

Sat | 11.21.09 | Atlanta, GA | Masquerade
with The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Deal's Gone Bad, The Independents, Taj Motel Trio, Fatter Than Albert, Dead Like Lincoln, 50:50 Shot
all ages | bar w/id | 6:30pm doors | $15

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

PopMatters: The Ska Will Go On

Back in May, I was interviewed by Jennifer Davis (freelance journalist and singer for the Megalith Records act St. Petersburg Ska-Jazz Review), along with a bunch of other scenesters, for an article titled The Ska Will Go On that was recently published on the PopMatters website. As with any overview of ska history--particularly the era that I was involved with--one may find some things to quibble over (too much coverage here, not enough props there, something else completely omitted, etc.), but it's an interesting read, and The Duff Guide to Ska gets a mention!

And for the record, despite how I was quoted, I firmly believe that the vast majority of albums that Moon Records released were good to excellent...

+ + + +

For some more background on Moon Records--its rise and fall--as well as my attempt to launch and sustain a digital download ska/reggae label called 7 Wonders of the World Music back in 1999/2000, check out this lengthy interview I did with Adam Coozer for Read Magazine at the dawn of this decade.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Madness Rule UK Airwaves!

As part of Madness' ongoing 30th anniversary celebration, the band played a free show last Sunday (9/27) in conjunction with Absolute Radio (on the occasion of its very first birthday) on a stage set up on Regent Street in London--witness their entire amazing performance here.

Also, the Nutty Boys are taking over BBC 4 on Friday, October 3rd for an evening of Madness-related films and videos, including the British telly debut of the Julien Temple (Absolute Beginners) directed film The Liberty of Norton Folgate (which was filmed at Hackney’s Empire Theatre and combines live performances of the album tracks with a narrative thread with Carl and Suggs that unearths the tales of London town that inspired the album); live footage from their show at Glastonbury; Take It Or Leave It (which documents the bands origins and rise to fame); and Young Guns Go For It (which provides an overview of Madness' entire career). Here is the BBC 4 Madness schedule for the night:

9:00 pm - Madness at Glastonbury
10:00 pm - Young Guns Go For It
10:40 pm - The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
12:35 am - Take It Or Leave It

All the programmes will be repeated on BBC 4 on Sunday 4th October and those outside the UK can catch all of the aforementioned on the BBC iPlayer.

Below, please find the teaser for The Liberty of Norton Folgate film...