Photo by Koichi Hanafusa
Introduced by Jason Mayall, the legend of LA ska scene held a big party after 17 years' absence for the 20th anniversary of Fuji Rock.
When I interviewed Jump With Joey members Willie McNeil and Joey Altruda a few months ago we talked a lot about the third-wave of ska that hit in the early 1990s and continued in various forms throughout the decade. For most people my age that resurgence is synonymous with ska-punk, but as we discussed in our interview, Jump With Joey were of an entirely different ilk to their punk brethren. Seeing them live reinforces this much more clearly. Joey Altruda comes on stage and asks the audience :”Are you ready to blast off?” and from then on we’re taken on a journey through ska that drips with lounge vibes, nods to older names, and is a slick as the pomade in a teddy boy’s quiff.
As the sun sets behind the Field of Heaven stage and bubbles waft across the audience, Jump With Joey entertain with a musical medley throwing you back to a time pre-dating ska, making it uniquely their own: A sound to be enjoyed with cocktails in slinky dresses, with a bit of two-step thrown in. Throughout there are references to the Bond theme-tune, Roland Alfonso and covers of Henry Mancini. When playing their originals, songs like “Jump With Joey” have a classic vocal cry that harkens back to swing with Big Band motifs from the wind section, while “El Diablo Ska” is full of Latin influences adding a little hot sauce to the dub beat.
Friday afternoon on a big stage like Field of Heaven feels a little impersonal; after all, this is a band that made its cult name in smaller club venues, but the show is hugely enjoyable, featuring plenty of inventiveness and musical humour and gives a good excuse to get up and boogie.
Check Jump With Joey out at Cafe de Paris this Sunday where the intimate setting is bound to bring an entirely different experience with it.