Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jerry Dammers In The Studio!

Well, not THAT In the Studio. Trojan Records reports that Jerry Dammers is working in the studio with the Trojan Sound System--we assume that he is producing some tracks.

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In related Trojan news, the label is preparing a Millie Small retrospective of her recordings for Island and Fontana Records:
Work on the eagerly anticipated ‘Best of Millie’ is nearing completion, with leading designer Tony Lyons putting the finishing touches to the CD artwork.

As previous announced, the collection is due out in mid-January and will feature 20 of the singer’s most sought after tracks from her 5 year spell with Island and Fontana Records in the mid-sixties.

The majority of the work featured appears on CD for the first time and is available on any format for thirty years or more. Highlights include her UK chart hits, ‘My Boy Lollipop’, ‘Sweet William’ and ‘Bloodshot Eyes’, while also of note are a wonderful version of ‘Hey Boy – Hey Girl’ featuring Jimmy Cliff, some sublime recordings arranged by Jamaican Jazz legend, Ernest Ranglin, and the previously unissued original backing track to the singer’s signature tune, replete with the original harmonica break, performed by British R&B hero, Jimmy Powell.

1. My Boy Lollipop
2. Tom Hark
3. Sweet William
4. Chilly Kisses
5. Ooh Ooh (aka Ooo-Ooo) – Jackie & Millie
6. Wings Of A Dove
7. Killer Joe
8. Be My Guest
9. Since I Met You Baby – Jackie & Millie
10. Don‘t You Know
11. My Street
12. You Better Forget
13. Pledging My Love – Jackie & Millie
14. Bloodshot Eyes
15. Sugar Dandy
16. What Am I Living For
17. Hey Boy, Hey Girl – Millie & Jimmy Cliff
18. I’m Blue – Spencer Davis Group, featuring Millie
19. Oh Henry
20. My Boy Lollipop (instrumental) – Ernest Ranglin & the Five Dimensions
Trojan is seeking hi-res scans of the 7" and LP paper labels and sleeves of these releases, plus any other Millie Small-related memorabilia from this period. Contact the label at if you have something relevant in your collection.

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Perhaps inspired by the 2 Tone label site article "Under the Covers" highlighting all of the 60s-era ska and rocksteady songs that the 2 Tone bands covered, Trojan is also releasing Ska Madness:
To mark the 30th anniversary of the birth of 2 Tone, Trojan, in association with Spectrum, are releasing a collection of records that inspired the bands that led the Ska Revival.

Due out in November and entitled Ska Madness, the CD has been compiled and annotated by honorary Special and former Bodysnatcher Rhoda ‘The Boiler’ Dakar and is to feature 22 original cuts of songs later revived by the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Beat, the Bodysnatchers and Bad Manners – making it by far the most authoritative collection of its kind.

The track-listing is as follows…

1. Rudy, A Message To You – Dandy Livingstone – The Specials covered this and took it into UK Top 10 in 1979.

2. Long Shot Kick De Bucket – The Pioneers – Regularly performed live the Specials featured this on their UK Number 1 ‘Too Much Too Young’ EP.

3. (People Get Ready) Let’s Do Rocksteady – Dandy – The Bodysnatchers broke into the UK Top 30 with a cover of this in 1980.

4. Jackpot – The Pioneers – A staple of the Beat’s live shows, a cover was included on their debut LP ‘I Just Can’t Stop It’.

5. Carry Go Bring Come – Justin Hinds & the Dominoes – The Selecter covered this for the flip of their excellent ‘Missing Words’ single.

6. Skinhead Moonstomp – Symarip – Another Specials cover from the ‘Too Much Too Young’ EP.

7. My Boy Lollipop (rhythm for My Collie) – Millie – A UK Top 10 hit for Bad Manners as ‘My Girl Lollipop’ UK.

8. Rough Rider – Lloydie & the Lowbites – Another live staple for the Beat and again featured on their debut LP.

9. Monkey Man – The Maytals – An early live favourite for the Specials, a version featured on their debut long play.

10. Liquidator – The Harry J. All Stars – Again the Specials included a live rendition of this on their 1980 ‘Too Much Too Young’ EP.

11. Too Experienced – Jackie Edwards – The Bodysnatchers covered this for their second 2 Tone single.

12. Enjoy Yourself – Guy Lombardo – The Specials featured a version of this on their second album ‘More Specials’.

13. 007 – Desmond Dekker & The Aces – A live version by the Bodysnatchers featured in the film 2 Tone movie ‘Dance Craze’.

14. Sea Cruise – Jackie Edwards – Reggae legend and honoury Special Rico covered this for his debut 2 Tone single. Never previously issued on CD!

15. Time Hard (aka Every Day) – The Pioneers – The Selecter’s debut album featured a version of this entitled ‘Everyday’.

16. Train To Skaville – The Ethiopians – The Selecter featured this on the flip of their UK top 40 single ‘The Whisper’.

17. Fattie Fattie – Clancy Eccles – Bad Manners featured a version of this on their ‘Ska ‘n’ B’ album.

18. Can’t Get Used To Losing You – Danny Ray – The Beat scored a UK Top 5 hit with this in 1983.

19. Elizabethan Reggae – Boris Gardiner – This featured on the ‘Party Party’ soundtrack and on Bad Manners’ ‘Rare & Fatty’ album.

20. That Man Is Forward (The Joker) – Duke Reid’s Group – Title track from Rico’s 2 Tone album.

21. Monkey Spanner – Dave & Ansel Collins – A live favourite of the Bodysnatchers.

22. Starvation – The Pioneers – A version of this became 2 Tone/reggae artists’ answer to the Band Aid charity single.
Interesting for what is left Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, Skatalites, or Toots. Licensing issues or prohibitively high fees, perhaps?

Also, the Bad Manners Rare and Fatty album referenced above was released on Moon Ska as sort of a follow-up to their amazing Heavy Petting--a record that would have been a smash had Buster ever made it over to tour (we tried...I was on the phone a lot with his manager...he was supposed to headline the 2nd New England Ska Festival in 1998 and then tour about the States, but he pulled out in the 11th hour for health reasons?).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

File Under: Everybody Goes Through a Ska Phase? Plus The Times Predicts the Imminent Rise of the Fourth Wave!

From a November 6th, 2009 New York Times interview ("Stirring Ska, Rock, R&B and Hip-Hop Into a Freak-Folk Stew") with major label "freak folker" darling Devendra Banhart by Jon Caramanica:
Q. Were you into skate videos at all back then [growing up in California in the 90s]?

A. Of course. That’s how I got into music. [The skateboarder] Steve Olson from [the company] Foundation had a David Bowie song from “Hunky Dory,” “Quicksand,” and in a Chocolate [Skateboards] video there was a Desmond Dekker song, “007 (Shantytown).” That started me on this whole rude-boy thing. I wore suits and just listened to Blue Beat, ska, mento, calypso, reggae. At 15 I discovered girls and ’90s ska. Reel Big Fish and masturbation. That’s the truth.

Q. We’re maybe a year or two away from a ska revival.

A. The fourth ska revival. I feel it coming for sure. The last song on our record is a ska song. Even my clothes. People might say it’s gay Orville Redenbacher, but no — ska revival.
That's your money quote right there, kids: Even my clothes. People might say it’s gay Orville Redenbacher, but no — ska revival.

Hell, even though The Times isn't known for monitoring the pulse of pop sub-cultures, they did get it right last time in '95--why not now?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough Dirty Reggae

I forgot to mention that last weekend I saw a couple of copies of The Drastics' MJ a Rocker "bootleg" LP at Rock and Soul--an old skool shop near Madison Square Garden/Penn Station with electronics in the front and LPs, 12" singles, and DJ equipment in the back (they even have a couple of turntables set up so you can listen to the vinyl--loudly!). Rock and Soul mostly carries hip-hop, but there are some reggae and new wave (!) albums and singles to be found there. Having said that, this was one of the last places I expected to come across this LP.

MJ a Rocker was proudly displayed on the shelf with a slew of Michael Jackson vinyl...

New 33 1/3: One Step Beyond

My friend John at HP Skazine tipped me off that the 33 1/3 book series (published by Continuum Books), which features authors writing about specific rock and alternative albums, has recently released a volume on the recording of Madness' One Step Beyond by Terry Edwards, a musician and frequent Madness collaborator who was there 30 years ago...

While I'm waiting for my copy to arrive via Amazon, here's a review of the book that can be found at Popmatters.

I'll also be posting a short review of the expanded re-issue of One Step Beyond in the near future.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Extensive Interviews with The Specials on MOJO Website

The MOJO Magazine website has posted extensive interviews done by Danny Eccleston with each of The Specials (except Jerry Dammers). Read them here.

According to the interview with Sir Horace Gentleman, prospects for a U.S. tour and new material aren't that promising:
So after Christmas, are there any plans?
The plan is to leave England alone next year, unless something wonderful comes up. And I think there are loads of festivals in Europe. We could just work weekends. There was talk about going to America. Though our first attempt wasn't particularly successful - and the work the "Number 2s" did over there devalued our stock. But there's loads of places we could go. I understand South America is a burgeoning market. We spent the latter part of July in Australia and did three cities. It's amazing the amount of people who used to live in Coventry who now live in Australia, and they all came to the show. So I suppose we could go back there and play a few more cities.

Can you envisage any recording?
No, not at present. It's not a thing we've talked about. Give the people what they want, and people want to hear A Message to You, Rudy, Too Much Too Young and Rat Race.
Money quote #1:
Are you fed up of talking about him [Jerry Dammers]?
Terry Hall
: I understand why people ask about Jerry. I'm fascinated by Jerry and why he's not doing it, and I'm in the group! I can't get my head round it at all.
Money quote #2:
Lynval Golding: Jerry Dammers is an inspiration. He taught me to be strong and to never give in. Because Jerry never gives in. And that's why we had to do this without him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reggae Party Tonight in Alphabet City

Reggae Party at Otto's!
(538 East 14th Street, between Avenues A & B, NYC)
Thursday, November 12, 2009, 9:00 pm, 21+
DJ in the front, bands in the back, dancing all over.
No Cover!

The Line-up:
9:00 pm - Justin Rothberg Trio (guitarist for King Django, Equilibrians, and many others)
10:00 pm - The Hard Times
11:00 pm - The Equilibrians (Jah Point and his all star band)

Move Your Mule (ska/reggae party) after!

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Can't make it? On Saturday (11/14/09), head to Bushwick Music Studio (L train to Montrose, 55 Waterbury Street, Brooklyn) for Ryan Scroggins and the Trenchtown Texans, The Forthrights, The Hard Times, Vic Ruggiero, and The Above. Show starts at 8:00 pm; $8 gets you in the door; it's all ages; and PBR is a cheap $2.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Duff Gig Review: Across the Aisle, Tip the Van, Brunt of It, Beat Brigade, Bigger Thomas (11/7/09)

A decent-sized crowd converged on The Knitting Factory (Crookland) for the first of many Ska Splash Saturdays to come, which will be taking place the first Saturday of each month, from November onward.

This particular evening, New York's own Across the Aisle was first at bat and delivered a terrific set of their super-charged ska/pop-punk. ATA's songwriting is powerful and catchy (the past few mornings, I've woken up with one of their songs playing on a loop in my head); their performances were really tight (the interplay between lead vocalist Megg Howe and trumpeter/singer Jay Pintar was particularly good--and their relatively new guitarist Aaron Trigg gives them some extra crunch and bite when they rock out); and the band looked like they were having a blast on-stage. What's not to like? Their set included "Put Up Your Dukes," "Roots," "Better Off" (which I wished I had videotaped, as it's one of my favorite songs), "Total Stranger" (I should have taped this one, too, since it was stunning), "Everybody Lies," "Born Dirty," "Beer Song," and "Walk of Shame" (I shot video clips of the last two songs, which are posted below). The only downer was that they hit the stage early in the night and the room wasn't as full as it at should have been for a band this good. (The next time you can catch ATA in NYC is during Thanksgiving weekend--Saturday, November 28 at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg with Jersey's Hub City Stompers.)

Across the Aisle also has a brand new EP out (sort of a preview of their forthcoming debut album) recorded and produced by their drummer, Jonathan Vergara, titled "Change Nothing!" (to be reviewed soon by The Duff Guide to Ska). They were selling copies of the EP at their merch table, along with--and this is a nice touch--Kelly green ties complete with ATA badges in the center of each of them.

Even though they're from just one state over, I'm ashamed to admit that I was completely unfamiliar with Connecticut's Tip the Van (they've been around since 2002) and was both surprised/psyched to find that they are another female-fronted ska act (vocalists Nicole and Simone Olivia, and trombonist/keyboardist Stephanie Allen). Tip the Van pump out a mighty wall of ska-rock (though the video below is more on the ska side of things) that lives somewhere between Dance Hall Crashers and a band like Reel Big Fish (check out their latest EP, Passion, Love, and Pride on iTunes). Whether one prefers more post-2 Tone or vintage ska to the punk or rock spectrum of ska hypenates, there is no question that Tip the Van puts on a helluva good show.

Brunt of It cranked out punishing hardcore-ska turned up to 11 (thanks, Jay, for the extra set of earplugs!) with Glenn Beck look-alike singer Boofish riding atop the tsunami of noise. If you like hardcore, you'll dig this act. Apparently, Brunt of It spawned out of the ruins of Hoodlum Empire, which was a great, snotty Oakland, CA-based ska band in the 90s (I still have their 1994 CD, Looooking Goood!, which could be described as Fishbone's debut EP crossed with the white-boy rap/punk of the Beastie Boys' Cooky Puss or Licensed to Ill with songs worth tracking down like "Buried in Debt," "Charlie and Me," and "Drunk at Work").

I'm really embarrassed to admit that I missed (!?!) Beat Brigade's set, as I was in The Kontrol Room talking with King Django about the current, utterly crappy state of the indie/underground/ska music industry and what any possible way out to better days might be (neither of us had any great epiphanies--more on this in an upcoming post). And apologies to Bigger Thomas--we had to leave before they played. It was getting late, my friend and I had downed many cervezas, and we both had kids to deal with in the AM...

Earlier in the night, Knitting Factory VP Shay Vishawadia told me that he intends to arrange for several ska/reggae DJs to be on hand at each of the Ska Splash nights to spin some vinyl and help make them more of a regular event for the ska/rocksteady/reggae faithful to come to and hang out (as well as enjoy/check out all of the great ska bands that are currently on the scene...). Here's to hoping that Ska Splash develops into an even bigger ska happening each month--the bands and this club need and deserve your support!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

French MIS Madness 30th Anniversary Tribute CD Available Through Madshop!

The terrific 30 Years of Madness tribute album put together by the French MIS and released on Big 8 Records is now available through the official Madness website. While you are at the Madshop, you can also pick up the deluxe re-issue of One Step Beyond, the new Total Madness greatest hits comp, and the stunningly brilliant The Liberty of Norton Folgate.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More Specials in December MOJO Magazine

The December 2009 issue of MOJO Magazine (UK) has a fascinating article on the break-up of The Specials (when Fun Boy 3 split off in the 80s--check out the awesome photo of Terry, Lynval, and Neville in the NYC subway to the right); Terry Hall's terrible bouts of depression; and the drama surrounding the 30th anniversary reunion (Jerry doesn't come off to well in this recounting of it).

Make sure to pick up a copy of MOJO on a regular basis, as its probably one of the best music magazines left in the business.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Complete Control

Here are two kind of ska-related items from the All Music Guide News Roundup blog (via Rolling Stone):
The surviving members of Sublime — Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh — have been ordered by a California court to stop using the band’s name. Wilson and Gaugh recently performed at the SmokeOut Festival with 21 year-old Rome Ramirez, who replaced the departed frontman Brad Nowell. According to festival footage, the group sounded a lot like Sublime. According to the judge’s ruling, however, Sublime ended with Nowell’s death 13 years ago.
In other legal news, No Doubt is suing Activision, maker of the popular videogame Band Hero. The reason? Gamers can use No Doubt’s avatars at any point during gameplay, regardless of the music being replicated onscreen. In a lawsuit filed today against Activision, No Doubt argues that such a breach of contract turns the band into “a virtual karaoke circus act.”
A few Duff Guide to Ska observations:

Everyone knows that Brad overdosed and is dead, so no one is going to be somehow tricked into thinking that they are buying a ticket to see the original and complete Sublime. If his band mates want to revive the name and music, his estate should loosen up and permit use of the Sublime name--but still earn a cut from all of the gigs, merchandise, etc. that is generated by the continuing Sublime members (and donate the proceeds to drug rehab groups, if they want some good to come out of this). Essentially, give the people what they want: nostalgia (it sells well).

In No Doubt's case--and I'm assuming that they are making a substantial amount of money by lending their avatars to Activision's game--the band covers other people's material (Talk Talk's "It's My Life," for example), so what is the big deal if their avatars do it? (Isn't this just kind of "extending the brand" with gamers and even kind of fun/humorous to have "Gwen Stefani" "sing" a Metallica or Bon Jovi track?) Yes, Activision absolutely should have been completely upfront about how they were going to use the band's images--common sense would dictate this--and No Doubt should be upset about that, but maybe they should have tried to just re-negotiate the deal (i.e.: demand even more money), but not make a huge, public stink about it that makes them appear to be a bit like spoiled rock stars (and I'm categorially not stating that they are...)? Fans love it when stars don't take themselves too seriously.

Money sure does ruin everything, don't it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Duff Review: Various Artists - 30 Years of Madness

Various Artists
30 Years of Madness: A 30th Anniversary Madness Tribute
Big 8 Records

Conceived by Jerome Lanvin of Big 8 Records and executed by Jean-Pierre Boutellier and his fellow Madness fans in the French MIS (Madness Information Service) as a means to honor the Nutty Boys three decades after the release of their first single in 1979 ("The Prince" b/w "Madness," of course), 30 Years of Madness: A 30th Anniversary Madness Tribute is a terrific celebration of this ska/pop phenomenon. As with any tribute or cover album, the challenge is for the bands to negotiate the right balance between staying true to a song's essence (and not violating the listener's overall familiarity and affection for it), while bringing something new, worthwhile, and compelling to their interpretation. Overall, the majority of the 23 bands on 30 Years of Madness have been able to achieve this--the quality control is fairly high--giving Madness fans a lot to like here.

Even though the quotient of ska dropped significantly with each subsequent album after Madness' superb debut--and most of their hits were out-and-out pop songs--it is gratifying to discover how many of the acts on 30 Years of Madness have reverse-engineered the pop hits into ska tunes (see Gordon's "Michael Caine" or Desorden Publico's "It Must Be Love" among others). In doing so, it's like they've reclaimed Madness for the ska scene--which seems appropriate, since the ska faithful never deserted the band.

From this album, it's also clear that, despite Madness' determined Anglo-centrism (which never played well in the US, with the great exception, of course, of "Our House"), the group's influence extended far beyond the British Empire: on this comp, acts from non-English speaking world (Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, and the Czech Republic) vastly outnumber the few from the UK, US, and New Zealand (some of this may be due to the fact that the French MIS put this together; there are a ton of French acts represented; and a French label released it--and you know what? Vive le France, baby!).

Standout tracks on 30 Years of Madness include Steff Tej & Ejectes' "The Prince"; Inspector's rambunctious ska take on "Our House"; Indeed's gorgeously fragile "The Sun and the Rain," with its sweet female vocals; Desorden Publico's incredible Latin-goes-ska take on "It Must Be Love," turning a rather syrupy love song into a sexy romp; Statuto's Italian version of "Johnny the Horse"; Freddy Loco featuring Rocksteady Freddie from NY Ska Jazz Ensemble on a swinging vintage ska version of "The Return of The Los Palmas 7"; Gordon's urgently pleading "Michael Caine"; Cherry Boop & The Sound Makers' "Cardiac Arrest," whose female singer's seemingly helium-fueled voice is almost ethereal; and the simply awesome Lower East Side of Manhattan klezmer ska of "Nakht Shifi Ken Kayro," sung in Yiddish by King Django, but instantly recognizable as "Night Boat to Cairo."

There are a few covers that don't work as well as some of the aforementioned cuts, but when we are dealing with a catalogue as cherished as Madness', maybe it's just too hard to be objective when the originals are close to perfection and the versions seem just a bit off the mark (to me, you may love them--we're in very subjective territory here). And then there are some tracks that I wish had been covered here, like "Land of Hope and Glory" or "House of Fun" or "Driving in My Car." Yet these are mere quibbles with a tribute album that deserves a prominent place in the Madness-related canon.

Perhaps the critical comment that should carry the most weight regarding 30 Years of Madness is that, according to JP, Madness have heard this compilation and love it! Chris Foreman, Madness' guitarist, has told the French MIS that, "The tribute album is overall quite brilliant and very touching to me."

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A+ (for effort)/B+ (the results)

(30 Years of Madness is available through Amazon France, but should be for sale through Stubborn Records and the offical Madness website soon.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Duff Gig Review: The Toasters, The Forthrights, Hey Stranger, and The Stress (10/30 at The Knitting Factory)

Despite my grousing about having to travel to Brooklyn to see this bill at the new Knitting Factory (I'm a spoiled Manhattanite), I found it, in all honesty, to be an easy trip: L train to the first stop in Brooklyn--Bedford Avenue--and then a two-minute walk to the club. The excellent new space is split between a large bar with plenty of booths and huge tilted windows that look out directly onto the dancefloor and stage (it resembles an oversized control booth in a recording studio--the bar is actually called The Kontrol Room--and when I ran into KF Vice Prez of East Coast Productions Shay Vishawadia, who was both The Skatalites' and Laurel Aitken's manager in a former life, he told me that the venue is purposefully set up in this manner, as The Knitting Factory operates several associated labels and they plan to offer the club as a place to cut albums) and a medium-sized performance space (through a good deal smaller than the first floor room of their old Manhattan joint). Also, the beer was reasonably priced for a club, which is always a welcome turn of events.

Just outside the club, a chalkboard sandwich sign listed the line-up for the night and times the bands were scheduled to play--and it was a nice surprise to find that The Stress had been added to the bill at the last minute, since I've been wanting to see them since I ran across their MySpace page a few weeks ago. (You can download their Muk! Muk! EP for free from Witty Banter Records--I tried to buy a hard copy of the EP, but the band forgot to bring them down from Rhode Island--d'oh!--so they gave me a free badge for my effort.) The Stress' sound is a cross between the soulful rocksteady stylings of The Bluebeats and the melodic, if quirky, ska of Easy Big Fella (both bands feature their keyboardist also as their singer). Wish I had videotaped a song or two of theirs to post here, like "What Cheer" or the tune that mentioned dropping bombs (any help here, Stress fans?) that's not on the EP. It was still pretty early when they hit the stage and since the room hadn't filled up yet, I felt a little self-conscious whipping out the time I won't be so bashful. The superb Toasters/Void Union drummer Jesse Hayes played with the band, giving the rhythm section an extra shot of power and precision. Great songwriting and spot-on performances here--making The Stress a band to make sure to keep on your radar.

Hey Stranger, decked out in pirate gear, rocked out with their ska-pop-punk sound (think 1996 or '97, if you lived through it) and threw plastic gold coins into the audience now and then (hopefully missing the fan in the full-body penguin costume, who danced the entire night and probably lost 10 lbs sweating in that suit). I was a bit disappointed that no one in the band made themselves up like Johnny Depp in the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick with all of those extra painted-on eyes...

This was the first time I've seen The Forthrights, who performed a great set of rocksteady tracks (see their video at the bottom of this post). At the show, I picked up a copy of their debut vinyl single (pressed in Jamaica, natch) on Stubborn Records (preview the cuts on their MySpace page) and their sound is very much what you would expect to be associated with Django's label. Very good stuff.

I caught about 35 minutes of The Toasters' set, but had to leave a bit early, as the MTA was doing track work on the L line after midnight (which would've made traveling back to Manhattan a nightmare). As always, The Toasters delivered the goods--top notch performances from an extraordinary catalogue of songs (I shot video clips of four songs from this set--"Shocker," "I'm Running Right Through the World," "Pirate Radio," and "Sitting on Top of the World"--which are posted below). Since the lot of the constantly touring musician is a rough one, the Toasters core of Buck, Jesse Hayes, and Andy Pearson (on bass) is usually augmented by a rotating crew of sidemen (the time out, the horn section was comprised of Sander Loog from Mr. Review and formerly of The Beatbusters on sax, and Cooper Barton on trombone), which ends up giving the band a bit of a different feel each time you see them. The Toasters' ex-keyboardist Dave Barry also joined the band (though Buck told me earlier in the night that he was only sitting in for this gig, not the rest of their tour or the Ska is Dead IV extravaganza--which is a shame, as the keys are such an integral part of their sound, and Dave is so damn good). The Toasters are going to be all over the East Coast, South, and Southwest this November, so make sure to catch them!

None of my usual ska gig mates were in town/able to come out and play, so it was extra nice to run into some familiar faces in the crowd (in addition to Buck and Shay), including Coolie Ranx, singer Megg Howe of Across the Aisle, and Nicole Lapusan (AKA punk rock singer/guitarist Miss Pie, who also used to be a big ska promoter and DJ on the "Ska's the Limit" radio show on KDHX in St. Louis back in the mid-90s and would play the hell out of all the Moon promos I sent her). All in all a really good night for ska music and people at The Knitting Factory Brooklyn...