Do you Ska? Are you Rocksteady? Perhaps you’re more of a Two-Tone type? If none of these terms make sense to you, don’t worry. On this week’s World Music Show (3/10), I’ll be explaining them all.
But I can tell you the gist is that they all revolve around Ska music. In hour one of this week’s show, we’ll be exploring the world of Ska music--it’s beginnings to what Rocksteady, Two-Tone, and Third Wave are. But don’t worry, there isn’t a need for a pencil, since there won’t be any testing. But there may be some dancing--I know I’ll be groovin’ in the studio (since my Ska dancing is epic, at least in my mind).
Ska music came out of Jamaica back in the late 1950s. In fact it predates Reggae and Rocksteady. The style is is a mishmash of Caribbean mento, Calypso and even R & B. But the signature of this form of music is a walking bass line and the rhythms performed on the off beat parts of music. So, in that way, it sort of throws you a loop in terms of what your ear may be used to hearing.
Some of the pioneers of Ska and some of the musicians you’ll hear this week include Desmond Dekker, Toots & the Maytels (who’ll give us a few versions of the classic “Pressure Drop”), The Melodians, and Jimmy Cliff, who though a Reggae giant, also was part of RockSteady. Rocksteady was a mellow sort of groove with those Calypso beats and the like.
Then there’s Two-Tone, which started in the late 70s, when Punk Rock and Reggae were big on the radio dials in Great Britain. This style brought us bands such as The Untouchables, The Specials, Madness and even The English Beat (all of these we’ll be hearing from). Two-Tone or 2-Tone took some of the same styles of earlier Ska, but pumped up the beats with a whiff of Punk rawness and political angst.
A relative of Ska and these styles is Mento music. This format was also dance music, but think Big Hall dance music, usually performed by a few musicians who used the Marumba Box, which helped keep the beats. Mento musicians would play popular songs of the day. One of those bands that made a huge comeback from the original Mento era (late 50s) was The Jolly Boys. We’ll hear their cover of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”
As for the Third Wave of Ska, the bands that dominated this style of Ska are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and early No Doubt. I won’t be playing of this, but I will be playing something brand new! The Japan-based Ska band Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra are a big band who have embraced this Ska. We’ll hear from them as well as Brazilian Ska tune from Forro in the Dark.
Hour one is make you get up and groove. As for hour two? Well, you can skip it. No, I’m kidding. We’ll continue our homage to Paul Simon, who is retiring from touring and playing for the most part. And we’ll bounce around styles like we’re all Ska dancing by hearing some Alternative Latin music from Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas and La Vida Boheme. Plus, we’ll hear from Imelda May, Lila Downs, Ceu and Skye & Ross.
But wait! There’s more! However, you’ll have to tune in to find out what surprises I’ve got up my sleeve. The World Music Show airs Saturdays from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on the Community Idea Stations: 88.9FM, 93.1FM, and 107.3FM. Get live track listings via this website. Follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at the World Music Show on WCVE.