Monday, December 7, 2009
Concert review: The Skatalites at the Boiler Room in Denton (December 3)
I felt like I was transported to a small venue in Jamaica, the music was so raw and authentically reggae.
The Skatalites / Fatty Lumpkin / The Hickory Street Hellraisers at the Boiler Room -- December 3
As I descended the steps into the Boiler Room, I couldn't believe how many people were already there at 10:15 p.m. Curious as to how many people were there for the headliners, I peeked over the bouncer's shoulder to confirm that the majority of the audience had listed The Skatalites as the band they were there to see.
The opening band was the Hickory Street Hellraisers, a local ska band strongly influenced by Sublime and Less Than Jake. Think upbeat tempos, frenzied rock drumming, and a killer chick trombonist. Fatty Lumpkin, another local funk/jam band, did a great job warming up the crowd up with a mix of some of their fan favorites and some brand new songs. The crowd on the dance floor crept closer to the stage as Fatty hit their stride with a new tune featuring lead guitarist Kelyn Crapp on vocals.
By the time The Skatalites began, it was nearly impossible to get near the stage. The crowd had finally pushed its way to the very front, and after their share of $3 double wells, everyone was ready to dance. I felt like I was transported to a small venue in Jamaica, the music was so raw and authentically reggae. The band consisted of a drummer, guitar player, bassist, two saxophones, a trumpet player, and a trombonist. Two of their songs were instantly recognizable, even though I had never heard of the band before that night. The songs were "Occupation" and "Guns of Navarone," available on their MySpace. The Skatalites sounded like a well-oiled machine: Everyone played with a smile on their face and made their incredibly tight performance look so easy. Most of the band members were in their 50s and up, but they connected to the much younger audience with ease. Reggae and ska music are all about sending out the love, and by the end of the show the audience had received the message. Everyone was dancing, laughing, and singing along as if they had been fans for years.
The Skatalites first formed in the late 1950's, playing local venues in their hometown of Kingston, Jamaica. They released their first album Ska Authentic in 1964, but by the summer of 1965 the Skatalites had already split into two bands: Rolando Alphonso and the Soul Vendors, and Tommy Cook and the Supersonics. The Skatalites reformed in 1983 and began playing shows in the U.S. In 1996 and 1997, they were nominated for Grammys in the category Best Reggae Album. They didn't win until they were nominated again in 2004 for their album True Love, which featured legends such as Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton. The Skatalites have since toured the U.S., South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. For more information on The Skatalites and their current tour dates, go to www.skatalitesmusic.com.
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