Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ranking Roger Of The Beat Answers Your Questions This Thursday April 4th!

Have you ever wanted to ask Ranking Roger of The Beat a question? Here are a few of my suggestions:  Did he really toast over a version of "Rock The Casbah" by The Clash?  Was he really in Big Audio Dynamite? What's its like to be in a band with his son? What's the story behind the song "Nancy Reagan" that he recorded with Blue Riddim Band? What was it like to be in that VH1 show Band's Reunited?  How about this doozy -- Is there a snowball's chance in hell that he and Dave Wakeling might ever play together on stage again? Whatever your question may be, now's your chance to ask it! 

Ranking Roger is hosting a Q&A session on The Beat's twitter page this Thursday April 4th from 8pm to 9 pm U.K. Time (which is 3 pm to 4 pm EST in the U.S.). The session will allow fans to ask Roger questions and to get an answer from him in real time. There will also be a competition/give away during the Q&A (during the last Q&A session a pair of tickets was given to a lucky fan).  If you are a fan of The Beat, General Public or 2-Tone music in general, this is a rare chance to connect with Roger.

Years ago, information about music and bands was filtered and shared one way -- via radio, MTV, magazines and fanzines to fans.  The only way you could hope to see your musical heroes was at a live show and personal interaction was limited to catching them outside the venue or after the show when they made their way to their tour bus.  One of the amazing things about the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media has been the way it has created two way, unfettered access between bands and fans to communicate and connect. 

I've had the good fortune to meet Ranking Roger a few times and he was always a gentleman, down-to-earth and approachable to everyone he met -- band members and fans alike.  The very first time I met Roger  was at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ.  I was there with future members of Bigger Thomas to see Roger's solo band in the summer of 1988 (read my feature on Roger's solo record Radical Departure).  As we walked around the club we spied Roger playing pin ball in the back bar.  We approached him to say hello and he spent time speaking with us.  We let him know we were starting a ska band and he was very encouraging. 

Flash forward a few years and we were lucky enough to open the first show that Special Beat played in New York in late 1990.  My band mate Roger Apollon and I were asked to be a part of a BBC TV show interview with Roger, Neville Staples, John Bradbury and Horace Panter about the growing popualrity of ska in the U.S.. Roger winked when he saw us and said he remembered us from City Gardens!

The last time I saw Roger was when we opened a show for Special Beat in 1991. My Bigger Thomas band mates and I were sitting in a dilapidated closet sized hole in the wall of a dressing room in Asbury Park, New Jersey when there was a knock at the door. We opened it and there was Ranking Roger! He came in to talk with us for a bit about his experiences touring the U.S. and wished us luck with our set.  It was a very classy move and made the show even more memorable for us.

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