Ska has come a long way since its origins in the Caribbean in the 50’s. The upbeat, syncopated style of music has caught on around the globe, adapting to the cultural nuances in places far and wide. It has spilled Upstate with Some Ska Band’s 9-track debut release, It’s Going Down, which shows off how adaptable ska music can be.
The opening track “Forty Thieves” was inspired by author and sax player, Charles Benoit, who spent time teaching in Kuwait and absorbing all the cultural influences of the city. The instrumental ditty pulls from classic literature for its title and snippets of Middle-Eastern-style riffs.
Everything I know about ska, I learned from Benoit, a ska-aficionado (or ska-ficionado, if you will). Benoit is one of eight members of the Rochester-based band. Mary-Jude Vacca and Shad Froman take on the vocals. Will Browar keeps the beat and hits things. On guitars are Joe Sims (bass), David Keller (lead), and Miles Pierce (rhythm). Joining Benoit in the brass section is Neil Pierce on trumpet. After years of playing originals (and some songs originally by other artists), the eight of them made their way into the studio to lay it down.
The title track “It’s Going Down” is another little gem, that demonstrates their musical prowess. The deep, heavy rhythm creates a perfect backdrop to showcase Vacca’s rich, sonous voice. The “Obligatory Drinking Song” is a sing-a-long fan favorite at live shows. The album wraps up with an instrumental version “American Skalines,” a song that usually includes a spoken-word script when played live.
Whether you’re a ska-ficionado or a newbie to the genre, you’ll get a kick out of It’s Going Down.
Key Tracks: Forty Thieves, End Of The World, It’s Going Down