The Slackers, Green Room Rockers
The Slackers are 20 years old! Its hard to believe it but the scrappy little band from New York City has been spreading their gospel of "Jamaican Rock N Roll" for 20 years now. While they have been influenced, and even personally taught by Jamaican ska/reggae originators, like the Skatalites and the Upsetters (Original backing band for the Wailers), the band sees its music as an extension of the traditions of the United States. Basically, this band is equally appreciative of old blues, country, 60s soul, rock, and Rnb as it is of reggae, rocksteady, dub, and Ska. It is as if the Rolling Stones or the Yardbirds had grown up on Bob Marley as well as Muddy Waters.
To celebrate their 20th year in operation, the Slackers have put out Stashbox, a compilation of fan favorites from 1991 through to 2010.
Smashing the stereotypes of "ska" as happy,uptempo, and shallow music, the Slackers play with an aggressive edge and their songs veer in themes from the personal to the political. Back in 1996, the NY Times declared the Slackers to be part of "the sound of New York", a mantle they haven't given up since. Ten years later, Alternative Nation stated that their music is "protest music made for dim, sweaty basements, The Slackers would sound at home supporting Rancid as well as some grizzled New Orleans electric blues trio." The LA Weekly wrote about, "their unfettered energy, unerring skankability, and playful anger."
The Slackers can out jam any hippie band and outwrite most singer songwriters. From their 1996 release, Better Late Than Never through to 2010 with The Great Rocksteady Swindle, they have established themselves as America's premiere interpreters and innovators of Jamaican music and a pretty good rock band to boot.
The band basically divides its recorded output into 2 categories. First of are their "albums", which are as sax player, Dave Hillyard, says with just a hint of his typical sarcasm, "these are where we try to take over the universe." This steady stream includes Better Late Than Never (1996), Red Light (1997), The Question (1998), Wasted Days (2001), Close My Eyes (2003), Peculiar (2006), Self Medication (2008), and The Great Rocksteady Swindle (2010).
The Great Rocksteady Swindle is a songwriting tour de force with all band members contributing to its gutsy muscular sound. "Mr. Tragedy" references the Specials while "Boll Weevil" references Sam Sham & the Pharaohs. "Cheated" seethes with bitterness while "Thank You" offers the possibility of hope. As the band has matured you can't even tell anymore where the rock begins and the reggae ends, its become The Slackers. As Vic says, "we wanted to do a live album that feels real. You can hear the band punching its way through."
Not content with letting the record industry dictate their output schedule, the band has also put out numerous eclectic and whimsical albums following their different interests of the moment. Slackers & Friends (2002) saw the band performing with some of their idols like The Congos, the late Glen Adams of the Upsetters, Cornell Campbell, and Doreen Schaeffer. International War Criminal EP (2004) was a bitter broadside against the Bush Administration. Afternoon in Dub (2005) is pure reggae bliss. Boss Harmony Sessions (2007) was a collaboration with DJ Boss Harmony who arranged and refiltered tracks in unorthodox ways. Lost & Found (2009) is a compilation of forgotten tracks, alternate versions, and remakes from the bands recording vaults.
For their 20th anniversary, the band has put together a 'fan favorites' cd called Stashbox. This cd was curated by Ruggiero and features 20 songs that were taken from a poll that received just under 1,000 responses.
Rooted in reggae, raised on ska, and bursting at the seams with soul, Green Room Rockers are taking over the Midwest one club, backroom, and basement at a time. In the age of plastic and bling, this is some tuff concrete for your dancing feet, from the banks of the mighty Wabash in the Hoosier State. Drenched in blues and R&B, GRR takes the riddims of rocksteady, the anti-establishment attitude of punk and ska, adds a generous dose of soul for a high-powered, nightlong dance party.
More studio time is also in store for the band, which has two albums to their name: 2007's Hoosier Homegrown and 2010's eponymous Green Room Rockers on Oi! The Boat Records, which was co-produced by The Slackers' Dave Hillyard and features soul star JC Brooks of the Uptown Sound.
Sorry, you missed The Slackers at Shank Hall.
Demand that Shank Hall gets added to the next tour!Demand it!
Sorry, you missed The Slackers at Shank Hall.
Demand that Milwaukee gets added to the next tour!Demand it!
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