Friday, September 28, 2012

UB40 Recording An Album Of Country Songs?!

While it may be an open secret among hard core UB40 fans, I just recently learned that the band is putting the finishing touches on a new album of country meets reggae music -- including covers of several country music classics and some country originals. Imagine that! You certainly have to give the band credit for trying something new and unusual.

Saxophonist Brian Travers confirmed the news in an interview this past spring, but the band has not been in a rush to get the record out, missing several reported release dates timed for this past summer. According to Travers:
“I’m not supposed to tell anyone, but we’re doing a country album. We’ve done some serious old classics and I’ve written seven songs on the album. It’s reggae and country music, which probably sounds very criminal, but it’s absolutely beautiful. We’ve got a guy called Melvin Duffy playing lap steel guitar on it, he’s a fucking genius and the nicest guy in the world."
But before you think Travers and his band mates have gone crazy, its important to note the strong link between reggae and country music. Believe it or not, but Jamaicans love country music.  In fact, according to a must read NPR story about the Jamaican love affair with country music, the 1961 country hit by Claude Gray, "I'll Just Have Another Cup of Coffee," became Bob Marley's second single. Further, Jamaican independence was timed to the popularity of cinemas screening Westerns across the island nation.
"Westerns and country tunes also appealed to Jamaica's love of the outlaw — the so-called "badman" figure famously played by Jimmy Cliff in the 1973 film The Harder They Come. Years later, dancehall deejays Josey Wales and Clint Eastwood took their names from a western and its star. Spaghetti westerns like A Fistful of Dollars are beloved in the over-the-top dancehall scene."
So now that the country/reggae link has been established, how did UB40 come up with this concept? According to Travers:
“About fifteen years ago, we were with Robert Palmer, getting drunk, having a laugh”, says Brian, who used to share manager David Harper with Palmer before he died.
“He was playing a Randy Travis album, and this song called On The Other Hand came on. We thought fucking hell, great song! So we went in the studio and recorded it with Palmer singing and us playing. But then [Palmer] died nine years ago, and we’d never done anything with the song.
“We got it out recently, and there’s this lovely country tune played by us, and it’s kind of a nod to him really. We thought, we’re gonna release this, we loved him a great deal, let’s finish this off, let’s do it and put something with it.”
As far as the new record goes, according to Travers it will feature UB40 versions of country classics as well as some real live country songs: 
“I wrote seven country tunes in different time signatures, then we wrote them back to fours, into reggae. Some of them are going to stay as country tunes I think. I’m finding it. We’re still trying to grow, that’s what we’re always trying to do.”
An intrepid UB40 fan has posted a video on YouTube of snippets of a radio interview Travers conducted where he previewed a few of the tracks including Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" and "On The Other Hand".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Revisiting Ranking Roger's 1988 Solo Record "Radical Departure"

I think it is fair to say that Ranking Roger's solo record "Radical Departure" was his attempt to be a full out pop star.  And to be honest, his record had some of the ingredients that were necessary in the 1980's for an artist to have a pop hit.  Was it radio friendly? Check.  Did it have a catchy MTV video?  Yup! It even debuted on 120 Minutes!  Did it have a marketable singer?  Indeed!  Did he have any hits with previous band?  You bet! Add Roger's winning personality, good looks and smooth vocals and you would asume that he should have had a hit on his hands right? Nope. And its a shame.

Though not a real "Radical Departure" from his previous work,  Roger did create his own unique sound, even if it has a bit of the kitchen sink approach to it -- a little pop, some ska, reggae and punk.  What comes to mind listening to it again after all this time is how much it has in common with the first Big Audio Dynamite record -- its funky, urban, cross-cultural, socially aware, political -- just check out my favorites "Mono Gone To Stereo" and "Time To Mek A Dime" and "One Minute Closer" for proof of the B.A.D. link.  Lyrical themes included the tragedy of heroin addiction, the desperation of poverty and the breakdown of community.  They were grim topics set to upbeat music -- something that had worked for The Beat and General Public.

After the second General Public album "Hand To Mouth" failed to meet record company expectations, both Roger and Dave Wakeling dissolved their musical partnership in 1987.  Wakeling recorded and released his solo record "No Warning" (read the story about that record here) and Roger decided to do the same.  He'd been learning his way around keyboards, bass and drums, had bought a computer to sample the sounds, and set up a home recording studio. Roger played most of the parts on "Radical Departure," bringing in Bobby Bird to play guitar and using a few other notable musicians including Saxa and Micky Billingham. Then he assembled a group -- featuring Bird, ex-Specials/General Public bassist Horace Panter and drummer Fuzz Townshend -- and hit the road. He also had a little help from Wakeling too -- both "In Love With You" (which garnered a good deal of airplay on WLIR here in New York) and the most well known song from the collection "So Excited" have the guitarist's melodic and vocal handiwork all over them and could have been lost tracks from the first General Public album. They should have been radio hits too.

Roger provided his perspective on the break-up with Wakeling and his decision to release a solo record during an interview with the Boston Globe during the summer of 1988:
"Well, I was working at home one day," he says on the phone from his London home, "making the General Public album, or what I thought I could contribute toward it, and Dave Wakeling rang me up and said, 'I don't want to do it anymore. I want to make records, but I don't want to tour. I want to stay at home, spend more time with my family.' That was it. I knew it was time to move."
Roger has no real animosity about it. "Two bulls can't reign in one pen," he reasons. "The only reason we drifted apart was because the conscious decisions were made more by him than me. I noticed on the first album I wrote 60 percent of the music; on the second I wrote something like 20 percent of the music. I kind of felt like I was being shoved away. In reality, I would have carried it on if he would have carried it on. We got ourselves in debt and I was willing to work to get us out of debt -- we'd both been so dedicated. But I'm a lot happier now. It's a big weight off my head."

Wakeling shared his take on the split with Roger and how he ended up with a song writing credit on the album's first single "So Excited."
"He'd (Roger) end up giving me demos with all the vocals done, and backing vocals, and percussion, and he'd say, "Have a listen and tell me what you could do with this." So I'd have a listen and tell him what I thought we could do. And he'd say, "Oh, no. Well, I like that bit." I think this is your chorus here and this is your catchiest bit, and you should stick... "No, I like it the way it is." So he'd give me some new demos and say the same: "Have a listen, tell me what you think you could do."  
And eventually I said, "Well I know what I can do." And he's like, "What?" And I'm like, "Well, I can bloody well listen to them, give you them back and tell you they're great, 'cause you don't want me to do nothing anyway." But I said, "Why don't you give me a go with an instrumental?" And there was one tune. I said, "Give me that instrumental, just let me have a go with that, see if I can come up with something, and then you add around it," which is how we'd written "Never You Done That." And so he gave me the instrumental and I wrote "So Excited", and it was about condoms. (Singing) "You got me so excited, you got me, I'm going to wrap it up and give it all to you, Ha-ah!" 
It was meant to become humorous and light and stuff. And then he sort of ran off with the song, and I think he thought it was really good anyway… and so he ran off with it for his solo record, and poetic justice, the record company picked it as the single. Ha ha! So his record's called "Radical Departure" and the first he had to do is sing a set of my lyrics just the same as he always had done."

Roger took his band and record on the road emabrking on a coast-to-coast U.S. tour during the summer of 1988 (read a review from the Los Angeles Times of his very first show in Los Angeles). I saw this tour when it came to City Gardens in Trenton, NJ and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Roger's solo record and his band.  In fact, it was a chance meeting that Bigger Thomas singer Roger Apollon and I had with Steve Meicke (our original sax player) at the show that took our band (then known as Panic!) from the planning stages to reality. Even better, Roger and I had a chance to meet and speak with Ranking Roger. He was playing pinball in the back bar of the club and we said hello and started speaking. We told him we had started our own ska band and he was very supportive. A few years later when we toured with Special Beat he remembered us and said we had come a long way! So had he.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Untouchables To Perform At Whisky A Go Go In LA On 9/29!

Attention ska fans in Los Angeles!  The Untouchables are performing at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on the Hollywood Strip in Los Angeles this Saturday 9/29! 

The Whisky was a focus of the emerging New Wave, ska, punk rock, and heavy metal movements in the late 1970s, and frequently presented local Los Angeles ska and mod acts like The Untouchables as well as The Specials and The Selecter during their first U.S. tours. The club also famously played host to early performances by the Ramones, The Dictators, The Misfits, Blondie, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, XTC, The Police, and The Jam.

The Untouchables exploded out of the O.N. Klub in Los Angeles in 1981 and soon provided the soundtrack for the ska/mod revival that spread like wild fire across Southern California in the late 70's and early 80's. The band quickly outgrew the small confines of local clubs as word of their live show grew and they sold out several self-released 7" singles. The band also made memorable movie cameos in 'Repo Man' and 'Party Animal'.

The success of The Untouchables and their giant step from local Los Angeles ska/mod heroes to a major label deal with Stiff Records in the U.K. is a classic story about how old fashioned DIY marketing, self-promotion and good luck used to work in the music business (now all you need is a YouTube video!).

Check out the current version of the band with original vocalist Jerry Miller preforming "Free Yourself" and "Wild Child" in Los Angeles earlier this summer.

If you live in or near Los Angeles and want to see some American ska history, get yourself to Whisky A Go Go on the Hollywood Strip! If you can't make this show, the band is also performing a Skalloween show on October 26th at The Vault in Temecula, CA with Voodoo Glow Skulls!

The Untouchables
Saturday 9/29
The Whisky A Go Go
On the Hollywood Strip
8901 Sunset Blvd
W. Hollywood CA 90069
(310) 652-4202

The Untouchables & Voo Doo Glow Skulls
Friday 10/26
The Vault
41607 Enterprise Circle North
Temecula, California 92590
(951) 296-9993

Preview New Madness Album 'Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da'

The new Madness album 'Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da' is now available for pre-order through iTunes in the U.K. and Amazon in the U.K.  The album will be officially released on October 28, 2012.   For those among you who can't wait to hear the new songs, the band has also just released a full album preview:

The track list:

1. My Girl 2
2. Never Knew Your Name
3. La Luna
4. How Can I Tell You
5. Kitchen Floor
6. Misery
7. Leon
8. Circus Freaks
9. So Alive
10. Small World
11. Death of A Rude Boy
12. Powder Blue (Bonus Track)
13. Black and Blue (Bonus Track)
14. My Girl 2 (Bonus Track)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rare Live Audio Of The Clash with Ranking Roger From 1981

In September 1981, the Clash played a legendary seven-night residency at the Theatre Mogador in Paris (read an amazing article from The Guardian about this series of shows and the influence they had on a whole generation of young French musicians). This was the post-Sandinista!, pre-Combat Rock, version of the band – the one that was obsessed with dub reggae, funk, hip-hop and Latin America. Joining them on the bill was The Beat! Talk about an amazing show!

As one of the few Black punks in Birmingham in the 1970's, Ranking Roger took the unlikely journey of playing the drums for punk band The Dum Dum Boys and toasting with an early incarnation of UB40 (he was offered a chance to join the band) to touring the lengths of the U.K. as a singer with The Beat to suddenly being on stage with the band he admired the most -- The Clash.

Ranking Roger always understood the connection between punk and reggae and he quickly saw that the members of The Clash and Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols did too. He discussed this during an interview in 2008:
“When I was 15, I became a punk rocker.  And whilst there was an element of racism in punk, this wasn’t what punk stood for. I remember Johnny Rotten going on the radio and telling punks to listen to reggae music because it had the same message as punk: a totally different music but completely the same message.”

“From then, punks started listening to more reggae and bands like the Clash began doing covers of reggae classics such as ‘Police & Thieves’.  Despite being four white blokes, they had grown up in multicultural areas and you’d be surprised how many black artists they were involved with – it was phenomenal.”

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of The Clash admired Ranking Roger so much that they invited him to sit in with them each night of the tour to toast along to their take on Junior Murvin's "Police & Thieves" and Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time".  The audio from those performances has been widely bootlegged, but now you can hear Ranking Roger's contribution to musical history.  The sound is electric and you can hear the chemistry between The Clash and Ranking Roger as it unfolds in real time.

The friendships forged during these shows extended long after the tour ended. The Clash invited Ranking Roger to toast on a version of "Rock The Casbah" that was never released. Jones later joined an early version of General Public and Ranking Roger returned the favor by joining a later version of Big Audio Dynamite.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Is "Two Tone Gone Ska" by Phoenix City All-Stars The Ska Album Of 2012!?

I think I may have heard the best ska album of the year. Yes, The Phoenix City All-Stars take on 2-Tone classics "Two Tone Gone Ska" now out on Phoenix City/Cherry Red Records in the UK may have already earned the top prize for the best ska releases in 2012 in my book!

This inspired and unbeatable collection of mostly instrumental versions of classic 2 Tone tracks that you know and love so well have been taken back to the future from whence they came -- namely 1960's Jamaica. Each song sounds like it was recorded in a small, 4-track circa 60's Kingston studio. The inclusion of legendary guest vocalists Dave Barker (the voice of Dave & Ansell Collins) on Elvis Costello's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" and AJ Franklin (The Federals and The Chosen Few) on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles/The Beat's "Tears Of A Clown" lend further credibility to the mix. The delicious irony of this musical sleight of hand is that the reinterpretations sound so authentic you would think they were the originals themselves! While UB40 have been down this road before (their "Father's Of Reggae" album is quite good), this may be better.

Side one includes "One Step Beyond", "Stereotype", "Tears of a Clown" and "The Prince" while side two features "The Selecter", "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down", "Ghost Town" and "Too Much Too Young dub".

Check out "The Prince" and "Stereotype" below:

Only 250 numbered LP's are being issued and they are only available only from the London International Ska Festival web site. A digital version of the album is available on iTunes, Amazon in the U.S. and many other retailers.

Those of you living in the U.K. will have a chance to see the band live this fall when they play support for Fishbone on November 4 at the 02 Academy in London.

The English Beat & The Paul Collins Beat To Tour Together in October

The English Beat and The Paul Collins Beat will play a series of shows together this fall. The shows will mark the first time that the two bands with the same name will share the stage.

The back story about the bands with the same name coming together is fascinating. The English Beat were the first to establish themselves as The Beat in the UK and Europe in the late 1970's, prompting a voluntary decision by the U.S. power pop version of the group that included Paul Collins and Peter Case (the future front man of The Plimsouls) to be billed as Paul Collins' Beat in the UK and Europe. Check out The Beat on American Bandstand from 1980:

In the U.S., Collins' version of the band was first to release an album in turn forcing the British group to use the name The English Beat in the U.S., only after the British group was threatened with a lawsuit by Collins' label Columbia Records. So what brought the former legal adversaries together after all this time? In a 2010 interview Collins joked about confusion on a date in Pittsburgh when the two Beats performed at venues practically across the street from each other.

Now, in a move that makes perfect sense, the two bands will, after 30 years, finally team up to play in major cities in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S -- both Wakeling (ska) and Collins (power pop) are virtually synonymous with their selected genres of music. They have each recorded major hits and have influenced musicians of their respective styles for many decades. Further, both are road warriors, continuing to tour nearly year round.

Check out the tour schedule below to see if the bands will be playing near you.

Oct 11 – The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
Oct 12 – State Theatre, Falls Church, VA
Oct 13 – The Center for Arts, Natick, MA
Oct 14 – World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 16 – B.B Kings, New York, NY
Oct 18 – Rapids Theatre, Niagara Falls, NY
Oct 19 – The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, Canada
Oct 20 – Hard Rock Café, Detroit Detroit, MI
Oct 23 – Space, Evanston, IL
Oct 24 – Hard Rock Café, Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 26 – Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI
Oct 27 – Mill City Nights, Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Madness Album "Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da' Out In October

It's official... “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da” the 10th Madness Studio album will be released on October 29, 2012!

The album artwork has been designed by British artist Sir Peter Blake, who designed The Beatles' iconic 1967 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' sleeve.  The cover art features titles reportedly rejected for the album, which include Doolally, Circus Freaks, The Rake's Progress and Dial M For Madness.  Blake has also designed covers for Paul Weller and Oasis.

The first single from the album will be 'My Girl 2', which will be released on October 22nd. This follows the album track 'Death Of A Rude Boy', which was released as a free download in August.

Have a look and listen to the band performing a live version of "My Girl 2" from their 2010 tour below. I dig the 60's pop organ!

Check out a very cool remix of the first single "Death Of A Rude Boy" which was released for free earlier this summer.

So what do you think of the art work designed by Peter Blake? Its growing on me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Long Out-Of-Print Book Detailing The Origins Of The Beat Now Online

Long before the advent of the Internet and social media, obsessive music fans had to rely on their wits and determination to find out about the bands and music they loved.  If you lived in the U.S. during the heyday of 2-Tone, then you were at serious disadvantage.  Thirty years ago, unless you lived near a large city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, or had a new wave radio station you could dial in, chances were you would have make due with listening to records and holding your breath that you would hear that The Specials, The Selecter or The Beat were embarking on U.S. tours. Even then, you had to hope you could get tickets and somehow get to and from the show on a school night. It seems pretty quaint and old fashioned now.

Count me as one of those obsessives.  As a teen, I haunted record stores across New Jersey and New York City in search of anything that would satisfy my never ending hunger for ska, reggae and new wave records, buttons, magazines and later bootleg vinyl of live shows.  One Saturday in the early 80's while scouring the racks and aisles of Tower Records in New York City, I came across the mother lode of all treasures.  There, sitting quite non-chalantly on a rack with other imported rock books was a colorful copy of "The Beat: Twist & Crawl" -- I stood as if in a trance. By this time I was hooked on 2-Tone and The Beat in particular.  I had studied the band's albums and cassette tapes for clues and insight.  Listened to their songs and dissected their lyrics. But here before me was the definitive bible -- the Dead Sea Scrolls -- of everything I wanted and needed to know about the band.  Though it cost me a king's ransom in the exchange rate between pounds to dollars at the time, I happily paid.

I must have read the book from cover to cover many times in the days and years that followed.  It became a valued friend (in the way that inanimate objects have a way of finding a special place in your heart). The book meant so much to me, and influenced me as a musician and writer, that I still have the original copy I purchased nearly 30 years ago.  Though the pages are loose and the binding is shot, it still recounts the Cinderella tale of the unlikely group of Midlanders who cooked up a irresistible mix of bubblegum pop, jaunty ska and dark dub.  I lugged it along with me when my band toured with The Special Beat years later.  I pulled it out to show Ranking Roger in a dingy dressing room when he came to chat with us.  He looked through it before signing it for me (see above), chuckling and remarking at the many pictures in the book that he hadn't seen in years. And that is saying something.  Though likely rushed to market in 1981 to capitalize on the band's then fleeting popularity in the U.K., it was put together with care.

Despite my biased affection for the book, it remains one of the best of its kind.  It is an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at The Beat from their roots through to the recording of their second album "Whappen" and everything else that happened in between -- their early days, first shows, recording and first tour of the U.S. Written by Malu Halasa (who later became the wife of guitarist Andy Cox) with an insiders eye, it features rare photos and even rarer illustrations by artist Hunt Emerson (the designer of the famous 'Beat-Girl' logo).

Amazingly, for those of you that cannot get hold of the long out-of-print tome, or don't want to pay one hundred dollars or more for the originals that periodically pop up on eBay or Amazon, the full text of the book including pictures and illustrations is available to read online at the excellent Beat UK website. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Tribulations - 80's Reggae Band From Ithaca, NY Sow The Seeds Of John Brown's Body

As part of my ongoing quest to document the origins of the American ska and reggae scene of the mid- and late 1980's, I am profiling key musicians and bands who played an important part in giving birth to a uniquely American ska and reggae sound. One of those bands was The Tribulations who hailed from upstate New York and would serve as the roots for the very popular American reggae band John Brown's Body.

I remember The Tribulations with a mix of awe and envy. My band Bigger Thomas played a show with them at the legendary Wetlands in the early 1990's.  During the sound check, I remember thinking that the band had great energy, a great look and a seriously focused determination to make reggae music on their own terms.  They played a unique version of reggae (along the lines of my band's sound with ska, that mixed in their various influences and made it their own.)  It also helped that they had two charismatic front men -- Kevin Kinsella and Elliot Martin -- and a killer horn section.

Ithaca, New York gave birth to The Tribulations in the late 80’s when Kinsella and his best friend and band bassist Josh Neuman founded the band as teens. Kinsella recalled hearing reggae for the first time while in Ireland in the late 80's as he related in an interview:
I was 15 years old. I got my musical calling from when I was living in Ireland. That is when I got the word that I was going to play music. Not that I knew at the time, but that is definitely where I got the calling. I was living over in Ireland for some time because my father is from there. (Bob Marley’s) Legend had been released and I heard that song "One Love (People Get Ready)" and really just moved me so deep. It stayed with me. I came back to America and bought his records. I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought it was Christian funk music. I put the record down and I thought it sounded like a Christian Rick James. I kept coming back to it though. In my hometown of Ithaca, New York, where I was born and grown, there was a great reggae show every Thursday. There was a club owner in town who actively brought in the legends of reggae music. I used to go down when I was 15 or 14 years old and see groups like the Meditations and Gladiators, The Itals, Culture. That fostered such a deep reverence of love for reggae music and the message of righteousness. I saw these people as prophets.
The Tribulations cut their chops as a young band playing gigs around Ithaca, and eventually were given the opportunity to open up for the legendary group, Toots and the Maytals which gave the band the break it needed.  When Neuman graduated from high school and went off to college in Boston, The Tribulations pledged to stay together and a few of them relocated with him. While in Boston, the core of the band recruited new members. Many of the new members were brand new to reggae music.  According to Kinsella, "The majority didn’t know anything about reggae, so we literally taught them the ABC’s. Of course, it was reggae through our eyes, and seeing that we weren’t Jamaican, I think it lent a unique flavor to our music." 

As the band played more shows, Neuman decided to quit school and The Tribulations went on tour full time. Kinsella explained, "We wanted to play South by Southwest in 1991, so we set up a tour on the way down, and another on the way up-after that, we just kept going."  In 1992, the Tribulations entered the Yamaha Soundcheck Competition along with  4,000 other bands from around the world making it to the finals which garnered the band massive international publicity.  The competition also gave them the opportunity to record "The Gate" which was the first of two albums the band would record and release.

Following the success of the Yamaha Soundcheck Competition, Kinsella decided to quit the band. "I was young and felt we should have been further along. I thought we deserved more, I guess, and figured it would be better to go out gracefully. I didn’t want to become a ‘bar star,’ so I just decided I was stepping out."

After leaving the Tribulations, Kinsella began to seek the more spiritual side of roots reggae, and along with other members of The Tribulations founded John Brown’s Body"We got recentered spiritually and musically and knew what we wanted. We just thought it would be better to come with a new name and come fresh." said Kinsella. John Brown's Body is now considered one of the premiere American reggae band's and Kinsella, who left the band to pursue a solo career remains a formidable reggae talent as well.

Below is rare video footage of the band performing a show in Ithaca, NY in 1988:

Finally, a very special treat!  I discovered a free, downloadable track from the long out-of-print "The Gate" cassette only release.  Enjoy!

The Tribulations - The Gate

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Electric Avenue Show w/Beat Brigade, Bigger Thomas, and Doomsday!

Now that everyone's back from their summer vacation/mindset and we once again have your attention, I wanted to remind you about a great Electric Avenue show here in New York City on Saturday Sepetmber 15th that will feature some old school 80's and early 90's New York Ska bands including -- The Beat Brigade, Bigger Thomas and a very special reunion of members of Mephiskapheles who are going by the name Doomsday.

Electric Avenue is a partnership between myself and my fellow New York City-based ska blogger Steve Shafer (AKA Duff Guide To Ska). We have teamed up to present monthly ska and reggae shows at Characters NYC, a midtown Manhattan Irish pub with a big back room ideally suited for live music.

We are calling ourselevs Electric Avenue after the powerful Eddy Grant song that name checks the main street that runs through the Brixton section of London (it was the first street in London to be wired with electric lights). Ostensibly about the Brixton Riots of 1981, Electric Avenue is also where Caribbean and European cultures come together on market day. It was this idea of the mixing of cultures that inspired us to try the same thing with the many different ska, reggae and rock steady bands playing music across the Northeastern U.S.

To get you in the mood, here are a few videos of each band:

In addition to a great night of live ska music, DJ Duff will be spinning the best in ska, reggae and rocksteady all night. Hope to see you there!