Ska, a music genre that has often been generalized as ‘punk rock with a horns section,’ is currently one of New England’s most prominent scenes, with the most outstanding band being Boston’s, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Although the Bosstones are now defunct, Boston is rapidly producing new ska bands and reviving a scene that has long since been labeled ‘dead.’ Neil Strauss said of ska in the New York Times, “ska is an odd looking word: short punchy, almost funny. So is the music at times, a light, bouncy, horn infused grandfather of reggae.”

The first-wave of ska, more closely resembling reggae, began in Jamaica in the early 1960’s, where its name came from the Jamaican greeting skavoovie. The music quickly moved into Britain and was met with much popularity. The positive and fun music produced infamous bands like Desmond Dekker and the Skatalites, ska’s most long-lasting band. According the band, which has been recording music for over forty years, “it all began with the Skatalites; Jamaica’s greatest band.”

The first-wave had lasted a mere generation before the second-wave arose. The style and sound of the first-wave remained prevalent, but the music became faster, more rambunctious and used more horns. The second-wave produced the distinct, two-tone style in the UK, which was introduced to the states by 1980. Bands like the Specials, Madness, and the (English) Beat became the most famous from the scene.

With the introduction of the punk rock scene, the third-wave of ska developed its very broad, eclectic sound. The more popular ska bands of today like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, and Operation Ivy blended the smooth styles of reggae with the raw style of punk rock, inevitably shaping the third-wave ska music of today. Bands like Repeat and Boston’s the Allstonians emerged during the third-wave, but played music from the first and second-waves.

Through the waves, ska has gradually become less of a genre and more of a culture. The music was created by the working class citizen and dealt with positive subjects. The terms rudeboy or rudy became the label for the sharp dressed fans of ska in Jamaica. Skanking, once known as the Ska, became the conventional dance done at a ska concert, combining leg and arm swinging in a far more positive manner than “moshing.” The two-tone look of pork pie hats, creepers, dark suits, and narrow ties became the fashion of the rudeboy. The black and white clothing represented unity, the core focus of the music. The rudeboy’s chic style was revived during second-wave ska and is still the stereotypical style of any ska fan.

My favorite ska band, one of Boston’s most promising. Big D and the Kid’s Table fit the stereotype of a third-wave ska band perfectly, melding positive lyrics, loud horns, danceable songs, and a bucket load of energy. The winner of 1998’s best ska band award, Big D and the Kids Tablets currently celebrating the 2004 release of their third album, How It Goes. Remaining loyal to their New England fans. the seven-piece ska band is once again returning to Maine. Because the show is for all ages, everyone is permitted to attend the positive, energetic, dynamic performance. So please, support your local ska band.

The show was held on Sunday, January, 23 at The Station in Portland. The bands participating were: The Guts, Hi Fivin’ White Guys, The Company Anthem, The Leftovers (CD Release), Big D and the Kids Table.


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