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[whitespace] Blow Your Cover

Ska bands just love to skank up the rhythm of those oldies

By David Espinoza

BROTHERS AND SISTERS, soon there will come a day when all the suburban bubble gum bands with a horn section will run out of songs to destroy by skanking up the rhythm. Until then, you're just going to have to learn to live with and love ska-dudes the Sneaky Creekans and Bay Area boys Solemite, who hit the Catalyst Thursday June 28. It's nothing personal, the Creekans bust a fine medley of '80s and '90s tunes consisting of the likes of G n' R's "Paradise City" and the Proclaimers' "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" (drummer/singer Nate Lieby could pass for one of the latter's band members). The thing is, if there's one genre that's guilty of consistently taking old songs and giving them a "pick-it-up, pick-it-up!" beat, it's ska--and it's getting more tiresome than two bros asking each other "Wazzup?"!! With exception to Operation Ivy's cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin'," the English Beat's take on Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown," and any '80s New Wave song that's been covered by Save Ferris (the original tunes never had any soul to begin with), any ska-punk band that skanks up someone else's music deserves to be pelted with checkered Vans and sent home. There, I've said my piece and counted to three.

Decked out in blue mechanic suits (or were they aviator suits?), the six-member Solemite took the crowd of mostly teens to ska-funk-punk-Disneyland and back. Lead vocalist Robert Daniel Dyce is quite the audience charmer, especially when he's bouncing around like a pogo stick and singing about karate. Besides the standard bass, guitar and drums setup, Solemite boasts A.J. Riot on trombone, Spencer Lee Parsons on keys and percussion and Gabe Baldwin on saxophone. One of the last tunes, "I Wanna Be in a Boy Band" (a light jab at mass-marketed dance pop acts like the Backstreet Boys and N' Sync), was extra hilarious given how much Solemite really does resemble its more successful counterparts--they just play ska.

Headliners and local yokels Sneaky Creekans succeeded in turning the Catalyst into a hurricane of sweat and hormones. Any band that wears orange penitentiary suits, boasts a giant homemade banner with Star Trek references, and two inept male dancers (a la the Mighty Mighty Bosstones) deserves full props for not taking itself too seriously. Lead singer Nate Lieby is kind enough to share his skateboarding woes with a loyal fan base--can't we all relate?

To Market, To Market

The Santa Cruz City Council may have put its tail between its legs and abandoned any hopes for a downtown plaza (the last vestiges of public space in America) but we'll always have the Farmers' Market. With that in mind, the Farmers' Market String Band's CD Fresh Picked at the Farmers' Market is testament to the beauty and talent of the Santa Cruz community. Released sometime this year, the 18-track album is a fitting response to the fogies who are bothered by a couple of hours of rhythmless conga drumming and think the Market should be moved elsewhere. Thank local musicians Darren Davison, John Hawes, Mike Jones, Billy Rudock, Karen Sanderson and Vicki Ward for whipping up an exhausting batch of old-fashioned organic bluegrass, Celtic and Cajun stylings played on fiddles, accordions, Dobros and guitars. The music is just as fresh as the produce at the Farmers' Market, and just as delicious.


Probably SF's best low-fi vintage rock & roll crew Deerhoof hit the 418 Project Thursday (July 5) along with Numbers (SF), and X27 (Atlanta). Olympia duo the Need play the Vets Hall Saturday, July 14.

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From the July 4-11, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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