Concert Sutra Skank With The Toasters
by terri sapp
Photographs by Leah Yetter
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
I have heard about the Toasters quite a bit on my local favorite radio station here in Atlanta, 99X. One of the radio personalities, Fred Toucher, loves them so much that he has hired them to play his wedding! After hearing this authentic Ska band’s music on Toucher’s show, I knew I had to check them out. January 31, 2005, I got my chance at Smith’s Olde Bar here in Atlanta, Georgia. What a show!
The Toasters, true Ska pioneers, having been around since the eighties, are still going strong with the Ska beats and Bucket’s sweet vocals. The “SKA BRAWL” features the veteran Toasters Robert “Bucket” Hingley (vocals and guitar), Jack Ruby, Jr. (vocals), and Larry “Ace” Snell (drums), teamed up with Dan Jesselsohn (bass) and Jeff Richey (sax and some vocals) as well as the addition of cult trombonist (and some vocals) Chris Rhodes.
On January 31st, the Toasters played an early, all ages show, and another later “adult” show. They started out with “I Wasn’t Going To Call You Anyway.” I immediately fell in love with the saxophone and trombone. I AM an admitted SUCKER for HORNS! Jack Ruby, good with the onstage antics and well-placed “Yeah’s!,” gives good advice, “don’t mix up your urine sample with your bottle of water.” While Bucket keeps it real with the words of wisdom of the next song that shows that you don’t have to have a lot of money to be happy in life. “Sittin’ on Top of the World” spotlights the reggae bass and guitar, as well as the highly poignant lyrics you can expect to find in a Toasters’ song. The fun harmonies of Bucket and Ruby blend so well with the precise horn work and drumming. Man, “Baby face Ace” is a kickin’ drummer! Jeff and Chris blew me away with their horns all night, especially in “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” “You don’t need no money, don’t need no fast car, when you’re sittin on top of the world.”
“Shebeen” is a song about drinking. Reminiscent of a Ska version of “Low Rider” (mainly because of the heavy tease) meets Fishbone’s “Alcoholic.” Ruby’s vocals on this one are boisterous enough to support that this is a drinking song. Bucket’s vocals, however, are so smooth and sensuous that it is hard to believe he heads up a Ska band! His voice is so gorgeous. Classic! A less raspy Reverend Horton Heat quality vocal sound.
How appropriate that in Georgia they would play a song for the rednecks! “Sweet Home Town Jamaica” sports the reggaefied “Sweet Home Alabama” feel. Even though I have never been big on Skynyrd, the best part of this song to me was the crazy Ruby breakdown where everything sped up and the bunch went wild! These are the moments that keep me loving Ska music.
I have always maintained that Reggae is my favorite genre of music. With this in mind, everything about “East Side Beat” made me happy. At one point, they even threw in a little Big Band sound with the East Side beat. Jesselsohn worked hard on this one. “History Book” is another fun piece that features Bucket’s amazing voice, and how Ruby rounds him out perfectly with his hard-Ska.
The next song used to be Ruby’s song of protest, but after the election, he just said, “Fuck It.” However, he sends this one out to all the fucked up politicians that we all love to hate. Man! Chris and Jeff really tear this one up! These guys are the real deal when it comes to shakin asses. Jesselsohn even busts out a reggae style rap flow in the middle of this gem. Everyone had time to shine here on their different instruments. What fun to hear such talented musicians let loose!
“Talk Is Cheap” is one to live by in my opinion. You’ve got a great beat, and an even better message! We even got a new song this night probably called, “You’re Gonna Pay” dedicated to an asshole, booking agent from Germany named Ozzy Munich. From the sounds of it, they weren’t real happy with his services…
“Weekend in L.A.” is a song true to the style associated with Long Beach, Anaheim, and all those Ska guys and gals down there. I love the guitar in this song. Bucket amazes me with his ability to sing so well, and at the same time keep some of the most intricate guitar work going through the whole song! Obviously a PRO of the greatest magnitude!
“Modern World America” is another social commentary from the Toasters about how we watch too much t.v. and buy too much crap from the grocery store, etc. TOTALLY! All that wrapped up in a wonderfully fun package! The Toasters are one of the most talented Ska bands that I’ve ever seen live, and I’ve made it a goal to see as many as possible. On the streets, they might be called “tight” or “sick.” Either way, I love them, and on this night have become one of their newest, number one fans.
“Decision At Midnight” is a shout out to Atlanta, New York, or wherever it is that you come from. I hated to see them go, and so did everyone else that attended this exciting evening at Smith’s Olde Bar. I have to give it to them, Smith’s is becoming the place where all the great bands come to play.
The last song of the evening was quite the climax, and another with a positive message hidden in the Ska guitar beat, hard-hittin drums, Skankin, horns, and all the chaos on the stage. “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down” was sent out to the opening band, The Super Villains, particularly the saxophone player, Smally. Stay tuned next month for more on The Super Villains!
The encore that started with a song that one of the guys in the band called “I’m Gonna Rock Your Body (Til The Break Of Dawn)” was out of this nation, and went straight back to Jamaica. My favorite part of the whole evening, though, was the spank-fest at the end, because the guys from The Super Villains played along! During the course of the song, Ruby started pulling the audience on the stage. CRAZINESS!!! SKAOTIC!!!
For a glimpse of the fabulous Leah Yetter’s photo gallery from this Skarific evening with the Toasters, visit: http://www.concertsutra.com/toast13005/
Take a look at the Toasters’ website for updated tour information and more information at: http://www.toasters.org/. To purchase music, t-shirts, and any other Toasters gear, go to: http://megalithrecords.com/Shop2/. Most importantly, make a concerted effort to see the Toasters live, the way they were meant to be seen. The high energy and music is something to be shared by all.