Did I mention bicyclemark’s birthday is in fact a 3-day festivus for the restofus? It is. Day two.. well.. let us call it “evening two” was inspired by Swedish fellow birthday gal. At her party of Friday I noticed she was playing the Selecter. I love the Selector, though not as much as I love the Specials and the Beat. Who the hell are these bizarro groups you’re wondering? They are relics long forgotten from the 70’s Two-tone second wave of ska which took place in the UK, primarily. A time period I only wish I could have experienced first hand; I would’ve had my pork-pie hat and my rude boy suit. Well, I sort of wear that now anyway… but that part comes later.
I immediately turned to Swedish birthday gal all excited and asked who the ska fan was? Like she had just set foot on the moon, she reported that it was her. We went on to listen as tunes like Too Much Pressure and Three Minute Hero. BAM – I was in a timewarp. Remembering my high school and college days where this shit was my lifeblood. And it didn’t stop there…
“Let me show you something” she said after a few drinks, already latched onto my arm dragging me apparently to her room. Many thoughts flashed through my head at one time… mostly… “Is this how Swedish Girls Work? They just drag you into their rooms when it suits them. -Exciting.” She pointed to the corner of her room where a tiny tshirt was plastered to the wall. It looked recently worn, and right in the middle, in illegible black marker was the name of the Selecter drummer, which looked vaguely familiar. As I inspected the evidence, she told me to brace myself for the next artifact, which was in fact, her two-tone inspired checkered thong. That’s what I call a rudegirl.
So naturally she invited me to join her and some friends to see none other than Dr. Ring Ding and the Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation at Melkweg last night. With all the ska names suddenly coming back to me, I instantly said yes. Dr. Ring Ding, who my buddy Styles and I used to listen to all the time in our college days… cruisin North Jersey with the top-down in freezing temperatures singing “pick-it-up pick-it-up rudeboy!” and so on. Turns out the good doctor is German, got a new band, and is making a comeback. He joins the Selecter, Special’s frontmen Neville Staple and Roddy Radiation, who are all staging comeback tours. Brain of J tells me lots of the east and west coast US ska artists are touring again as well. All this tells me the 4th wave of ska could be laying its foundation.
The show was fantastic. In my pseudo rude-boy suit I joined the packed crowd and did the drunken man skank that would make Prince Buster himself, the godfather of ska, proud. I learned that Germans and Swedes know their ska, and oddly enough – young Dutch fans mix ska with drugs. The whole time I kept thinking, could this be the next wave? Will it be based in northern Europe? Maybe the underlying theme would be an anti-war and tolerance message? And more than that, maybe I should come out of retirement and put together an international Amsterdam based Ska-jazz ensemble?! (how bout the name “The Dam Allstars”)
Today’s Sounds: Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation