If you count its earlier incarnation as State of Emergency, this local ska outfit has been around for at least a decade, minding its own business even as ska became a youth cult in the midwest and a commercial powerhouse on modern rock radio. Younger fans who cut their teeth on the hypercharged "ska-core" of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less Than Jake never seem sure what to make of this gang of suburban oddballs on the wrong side of 30. They're usually tagged as traditionalists, tending the flame lit in Jamaica in the 60s and fanned by English 2-Tone in the late 70s. But their new album, Bold New Flavor (Jump Up!), is an irreverent mix of ska, R & B, punk, rap, and the kitchen sink. "So Bad" begins with a count-off clipped from the Beatles' "Taxman," followed by a delirious rap from bassist John Mark Calahan, syncopated guitar from Link Seabrooks, and horn-section quotes from Rhapsody in Blue. While Calahan frets over the spread of guns, crime, and nuclear capability, Seabrooks injects some good-humored soul, singing the praises of bacon and eggs on "Breakfast" and bickering with the title character of his swinging "Samantha Clench--Private Eye." The horn section swaggers out on trumpeter Mitch Goldman's "Armed & Dangerous" (a revision of the Specials hit "Ghost Town"); unlike the high school marching band sidemen of many ska-core acts, Goldman, brother Al on trombone, and Jason Duerr on baritone sax are fully integrated into the band. Like its gangland namesake, Skapone can't seem to get arrested in this town, but if Geraldo Rivera were to crack open its vaults, he'd find them packed with gold. This is a record release party; Greenhouse and Deals Gone Bad open. Sunday, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. J.R. JONES
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Kirsten Surton.