Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SKa is out of ICU- The tale of the Skanking Fool

Back in the mid 90's there was a hint of ska music. Since then, the genre has been on a steady rise in popularity. There are more people today who can name a few ska bands without having to think real hard, or too long about it. I always tell folks, who are curious,  to read the Bob Marley story for an introduction to ska. Because just about everybody knows who he is. It's a good starting point. All the artists in Jamaica who were playing music at the beginning of his career were the originators of the ska music. Ya see, rather than try and name them all, I would just say start researching it when you have the time. And you will eventually come up with the songs and the artists who were the "first wave" of ska. About the  late 50's through the late 60's. Right after Jamaica gained independence from the UK.
 The 'second wave" of ska happened in the UK during the 70's and early 80's. Where the ska music began to slowly unwind the tension between it's people. You figure, it worked in Jamaica, why not try it in the UK? Groups like the Specials, The English Beat, The Selecter. They started the two-tone movement. An artistic response to the segregation problems in the London region. A checker board theme was created to be the emblem of racial unity in society. A remedy for, not only, racial tension, but class as well. In the 80's this music was slowly being recognized by Americans. And for a brief time, two-tone ska music was gaining popularity in the states. My band the Uptones were actually one of the first American ska bands to tour the west coast. Inspired directly by the Specials and The English Beat. And by this time, Bob Marley had taken Reggae, the slowed down version of 1st wave ska, around the world.
 To many ska fans, the two tone style crashed and burned itself out by the late 80's. Electronic music began to rise out of disco...and ska had taken a quick drop in popularity. The phrase, " Ska is DEAD..." became a popular anti-motto, instead and drummers began turning in their sticks for midi computer programs and drum loops(Don't try and say that you didn't, either). 
 The 90's was pretty dormant for ska music. No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sublime, Rancid, The Dance Hall Crashers and Fishbone were about the only brave souls left playing the ska. And electronic music began to dominate earth. Drummers were now Dj's( and maybe still are)
 Bush took office in 2000 and that was the last straw. For everyone, really. But more directly related to this blog; it was time for ska to rise like the mighty phoenix again! So when I joined the Uptones in 2005, I figured there was some explaining to do. That phrase, " Ska is dead, " kept ringing through my head. I thought, now what do most people do when they think something  or somebody is gonna die? Call an ambulance!! Get it to the hospital and see if we can save it! Don't just stand around saying it's dead. How do you dance to that?! 
 And now ska is out of ICU and coming to a theater near you. Ska wants you to dance. That's it's message to me. And there aint but one rule to ska dancing: do not stand still...

your friendly cyberhood
Uncle Samurai

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rip it up