Spring is a time where the temperatures in Phoenix would be summer time for the rest of the country. Growing up here I’ve become acclimated to it, making it just a great time to get outdoors. With it brings the celebrations and the prom seasons too. This Saturday night was a combination of both for me, with a Spring Fling and taking in another annual Ska Prom.
I made my way to the gorgeous Cave Creek for the first time for my friend’s, Jason, Spring Fling. This was my first time that far north on Scottsdale road, and happy I made the drive in daylight to see the area. This annual party was in a cowboy theme, and brought out some great musicians. The first was a solid set of musicians called Journey West. This trio of ladies sings more traditional cowboy and western songs with a great combined voice.
Up after them was a gentleman that goes by the name John La Porte. He has a great singing voice, reminds me of Johnny Cash. By his own words, he is a folk singer. The voice works perfectly for the genre. Tonight, however, he stepped out of folk and did some country tunes for the theme of the Spring Fling. All of it was done well.
Last up before having to dart are two dudes who have been making amazing bluegrass and folk tunes since I first saw them nearly five years ago, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold. They have since gone on to release their first album in the past couple months. This is one which I gave money on their Go Fund Me to because it gives them another avenue for more people to hear them. Every time I’ve seen them, they the two nicest guys and they make some of the best music in the valley. The night’s set was no different, bringing a fun energy to the Spring Fling up there. I am happy to be able to talk about them in here, and hope it only helps their audiences grow.
From here I headed back North, over to the Yucca Tap Room for the annual Ska Prom. I managed to still catch about fifteen minutes of the ska punk offering of the night in Jack the Cat. Thinking about it, they have quietly become one of the most wrote about bands on this site. With good reason, as the high energy lead singer, Nick, makes for one of the best showman in a band. I unfortunately missed him singing the entire first song in a luchador mask, as I discovered later. I still hope for the day I see them bring the horn section back, but until then, they are a blast to watch.
Following them is a band I have rarely seen, and that is The Effects. The four piece band makes for an amazing local Ska band with more of a 2 Tone sound. Lead vocals seem to alternative from song to song, which looked like Kirk, guitar, and Luke, keyboard, did most of them. Their bassist, Shadrach, does a bunch of skanking and moving on stage as he plays too. The night’s set included a cover of the Specials, and a song that seemed to be a mix of themes like Batman ’66. It was an impressive set, now I now I’m missing out whenever I don’t make it to their shows.
Then we have the guys from California, with better luck on this tour, the Steady 45s. By this point of the Ska Prom, the venue side of Yucca was filling up. Right off the bat, I want to say how amazing Joe’s voice is in this band. There is good reason why he was singing with Chris Murray later. The Steady 45s have more of a 2 Tone sound, which works perfectly for getting that crowd moving and couples dancing. This is the third time I have seen them, and every time they put on an amazing set of music.
I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen Matamoska, but their sets are exciting. Their sound sits more closely to the third wave ska, and with the high energy ska punk. This was the time of the night the circle occasionally was more of a mosh pit of bodies bouncing around. The brass section of the band joins the circle for the last song of the set too. If Matamoska is playing, you know they will bring the party. It’s always a pleasure watching and skanking to their sets.
This was the first time I was catching Chris Murray in general, as tonight he was on as the Chris Murray Combo. The Combo includes Joe and Fritz, from the Steady 45s. Chris Murray has a long ska history with the band King Apparatus back to the eighties and early nineties, plus has worked with many ska talents over the years. The combo brought the great voice from Chris Murray coupled with that amazing voice of Joe. Similar to the Steady 45s earlier, a slower, more 2 Tone sound here. We found couples dancing, including this one that had been on par all night with their moves. The great ska music just kept on rolling into the night.
With most of the crowd still hanging around, we had our great locals, Bowcat, finishing out the night. This included the now crowed Ska Prom King, Dane, on saxophone. At one point in the set, playing sax and dancing with his Ska Prom Queen, Aronda, in front of the stage for a great moment. A super cool touch was Marcia singing into the vintage microphone head for the set. At this point, I had found dancing partner for moves that I should know I can do, but don’t usually take advantage of. This night was a huge success, and a bunch of fun with a lot of good friends. Thank you to Tianna for putting it all together, and setting the bar a notch higher for next year’s Ska Prom.