The Hard Times are happy to have been out there when rocksteady, reggae, and dirty reggae really got happening in Brooklyn and contributing what we could to all the gigs, Dirty Reggae Parties, underground / overground. Director Sam Gursky has now released the long-awaited Brooklyn Rocksteady doc, covering not only the latest greatest from NYC reggae and ska, but also doing a fine job of covering the history of traditional ska and reggae music in New York. Most of your favorite names from Moon, Stubborn and Version City make an appearance here, all leading up to the sweet spot of the newest stuff coming out in 2009 and thereafter.
Hard Times are well-represented here, with our home-grown tune, Chandelier, not only on the soundtrack but also providing a good bit of the background for the preview clip and the film. Bob Timm and Jacob Wake-Up pop up in the doc a few times to add their perspectives on the scene, and then there’s a good segment on the Hard Times in the final section on today’s bands.
The Hard Times are proud to welcome Grammy-award winning British ska/reggae musician King Hammond (aka Nick Welsh) to town for two rare New York City gigs–backed by The Hard Times– next Thursday,December 1, 2011 at The Shrine in Harlem and Saturday, December 3, 2011 at The Lake in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
First up, we’ll stomping up to The Shrine, Harlem’s hotspot for reggae and world music. This show is free, and if you haven’t checked out The Shrine yet, this is a perfect combination. Then, it is down to Brooklyn for Dirty Reggae Party IV, also featuring The Reggay Lords, Brooklyn Rocksteadys royal family. DIrty Reggae Party continues to rock Brooklyn as the #1 reggae event for NY’s diehard Brooklyn Rocksteady faithful.
In the 80s UK Two Tone days, Nick Welsh was the bassist and songwriter for Bad Manners (“Skaville UK,” “This is Ska,” “Return of the Ugly”). After his first single “King Hammond Shuffle” appeared on several international compilations, King Hammond released two albums, “Revolution ?70” (Bluebeat, 1989) and “Blow Your Mind” (Receiver/Trojan, 1992). During the 1990s, Welsh joined Pauline Black’s Selecter as bassist and songwriter (plus he produced their four studio albums); was a member of 3 Men & Black, with members of The Specials and The English Beat. Then, in the mid-2000s, Welsh fronted his own ska band, Skaville UK, which released three albums. Welsh revived King Hammond in 2010 and since that time has released three albums (“The King and I,” “Jacuzzi,” and “Showbiz”) and a slew of vinyl EPs on his own N.1 Records imprint. In June 2011, King Hammond was a featured performer at the Ink-n-Iron Festival in Long Beach, CA (and played several gigs in Mexico afterwards), and is currently touring throughout the UK and Europe with this seven-piece band The Rude Boy Mafia.
During his four decades in ska and reggae, Welsh has played with and produced such legendary artists as Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, Dave Barker, Rico Rodriguez, Judge Dread, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Notably, Welsh worked with Perry as the musical director on the Grammy-Award winning album “Jamaican E.T.” (Sanctuary/Trojan, 2002)—winner of Best Reggae Album in 2003–and its follow-up, “Alien Starman” (Secret Records, 2004).
Welsh also has written music for television (“The Osbournes,” “Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” and “LA Ink”), films (“Domino,” “The Magic Roundabout”), and videogames (“WWE Smackdown versus RAW,” “Day of Reckoning”).
The Hard Times are back in action with a number of November and December shows in NYC. Plus, we are psyched to welcome Poison Sumac to the Hard Times crew as our new keys mad man. He’s itchin’ to infect, so bring your lotion and feel the Sumac commotion.
AND, at the December shows, we’ll be doing a full Hard Times set as well as backing the one and only UK skinhead reggae sensation King Hammond in his NYC debut! Watch this space for more details on those shows. But check the Duff Guide to Ska Hammond article.
Just a quick mention that we’re almost done tracking another round of tunes. We did a few tunes worth of drum and bass before the year was out. In almost 2 afternoons, we took care of keys and guitars. This round has a few tunes we’ve been playing for a while and have been anxious to record as well as a couple fresh tunes. We tracked all the keys and guitars with Crazy Baldhead who mixed the first EP. We’re real stoked about how these tunes are coming out. It’s definitely been a more relaxed recording than the first EP.
Here are a few snapshots from today’s lead guitar tracking.
We here at Hard Times Reggae Headquarters are still sorting through all the reverberations, feedback and followup from one of our more intense shows yet, playing on Night 2 of the Punky Reggae Fest in Brooklyn this past weekend. Check out the Duff Guide to Ska’s review of our set, along with some choice selections from our set, as well as The Bluebeats.
As an instrumental dirty/skinhead reggae outfit, they are amongst the very best (check out their “Ricochet Rocket” video below or the incredible, crescendoing tension in “Samba Snake” before it shifts to a major key)–but they take it to a whole new level when they include guest vocalists: Elizabeth Goffe sang a crazy good version of the Lee “Scratch” Perry/Max Romeo classic “I Chase the Devil” and the aforementioned Coolie Ranx put his excellent imprint on The Hard Times’ instrumental “Two Bucks for Bob” (the videos I took are below). The only odd note was the slam dancing that broke out toward the end of the set and threatened to overwhelm everything.
You can find all the viddy’s there or on YouTube, but the clip of Colossus Reggae gives you a nice view into the vibe for the night, and the punky reggae people in the audience.
Roots Rock Rebel has been broadcasting from CKUT for 5 years now. That’s no joke. The best part is playlists and recordings of the show can be found at Musical Occupation. Gotta love the podcasting era, but it’s so nice to know that it’s attached to a real person in a real radio station. Aaron, your faithful DJ spins a nice mix of reggae, ska, soul, punk and politics.
We get spins on November 17 and November 24. The Hard Times follow Crazy Baldhead on both episodes; not a bad place to be!
We couldn’t be more flattered by the most recent review of our “Two Bucks For Bob” EP from the Duff Guide To Ska. Duff has been blogging about ska since there was blogging to be done, and was also an integral part of Moon ska. In short, as they say on their home page, “The Duff Guide to Ska–we really care about ska music, man.” Duff is an authority on this stuff, they know what they’re talking about.
The three stellar instrumental cuts you’ll find on the digital-only Two Bucks for Bob EP are on par with those from other early reggae heavyweights on the scene like The Caroloregians, King Hammond, and The Bullets. Truly, this is some sweet stuff.
They also take the time really break down each track, which is somewhat of a lost review art. Read the full review at Duff Guide To Ska. There’s also a wealth of reviews, news, video clips, and more, so spend some time getting to know the guide if you haven’t already.
Duff gave us an A, better than any grade I ever got in school. How do you grade the EP? Buy it from Whatevski.
Big ups to Marc Wasserman of Marco On the Bass for the new review of our EP and the reggae scene in NYC. Marc has been blogging the scene since the early days of blogging so for sure give him a read. He takes the time to set the scene, explain the sound, shares some vids, and takes the time to profile us and The Forthrights.
These are interesting times to be a fan of American ska music. During the late nineties and early 2000’s, the more traditional sounds of ska, reggae, rocksteady and 2-Tone were overwhelmed by a surfeit of generic ska-punk bands who took the ‘skank’ rhythm and horn melodies of the genre while seemingly ignoring its essence and soul …. In contrast, there has been a growing movement of bands that are eschewing the sounds of ska-punk, instead combining 60’s soul, ska and rocksteady into what can loosely be called ‘dirty reggae’. In New York where I live, two bands —The Hard Times and The Forthrights — have emerged and are making waves by performing their own soulful and danceable versions of dirty reggae.
We’re psyched to finally start making some of our tunes available to the reggae-loving public. Whatevski Records has just released our first digital EP: Two Bucks for Bob, as part of their new channel, Whatevski R&D. Like all bands, we spend a lot of time thinking about best ways to describe our sound, but we love the way they summed it up:
“Think Upsetters if they were from 2010 with Agent Jay from The Slackers behind the board.”
Please go check it out, and we thank you in advance for your support in spreading the word:
Last night’s show at Porkey’s was rewarding in many ways. One, I think the emotions were high and we played probably one of our best, 100% solid sets ever, in our last show with Juan. Two, and this added to One of course, Porkey’s crowd rocks! It’s always rewarding to get out of the “inside” scene once in a while in Brooklyn, and bring the music to where people hang regularly. And The Frighteners have tapped quite the surprising little reggae-loving hot spot out in Floral Park. It’s right on the Queens / Nassau border, very convenient to get to. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see this place drawing in crowds from elsewhere soon. The Hard Times hope to help feed that scene, and just get back there soon for another strong night.