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So, when English ska legends Bad Manners hit the town tonight, it's bound to be a skanking-dance-all marathon of fun. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Babylon in the Tower District.
Locals King Sugar open the show. In anticipation, singer Lou Standifer talks ska's past, present and future.
Give us the low down on the show?
This music is infectious. It gets under your skin and makes you want to move. Bad Manners are legends. This is the first date of their 30-year-anniversary tour. With Monkey and King Sugar on board, people can expect a phenomenal show and a great time. Monkey is definitely an experience if you've never seen them. They just returned from a European tour and have the well-deserved reputation of being one of the hardest working bands on the scene right now. Be ready to dance. This will be a show to remember.
Fresno seems to be ska town. What's that about?
Well, we definitely have some things to be proud of. Bands like Let's Go Bowling and Los Hooligans are legends on the scene, worldwide. LGB really set the pace for bands to follow back in the day. Checkmate, Chico and The Hornets … there were quite a few. Now there's a handful of bands … King Sugar, Hobo Erotic, The Jokes all doing their own thing. There's some great reggae bands in town as well, like The Green Machine and The Notones. There's a lot of people putting on shows. Everyone sounds a little different, which makes going to see them really cool. You can catch a show almost every weekend.
I remember those huge ska-tastrophy shows they used to have at Hoover High in the 1990s that brought in some awesome bands. But in the past year we've seen some really big-name ska bands come through town. Scene wise, how have things changed?
We have had some great shows in the last year. Seriously, it's been a really long time since this much great ska has rolled through Fresno in such a short time — The Skatalites, The English Beat, The Specials, Chris Murray, The Aggrolites, Monkey and Bad Manners, just to name some of them. There's been a ton of shows.
The scene has always been on and off, sort of rolling with the tide over the years. There were times, like you mentioned, that it was really hot. I was fortunate enough to catch a lot of it back in the '80s and early '90s. It's different now, but in a good way. I think there's a resurgence happening that I haven't seen in a really long time. We're seeing quite a few big names now. It's really exciting.
And there were some great-ass ska shows here back in the day. Best ska show you've seen in Fresno?
That's a really hard question to answer. I'm old. I've seen a lot of shows over the years. Any LGB show was always memorable, and quite a few bands came through town. But I guess I'd have to go with The Untouchables back in 1984 at Fresno State. Though they were a bit more mod than anything else, they put on one hell of a show!
How did you get into ska?
I was in sixth grade. My best friend growing up was a year older than I was, so he hit junior high and met some kids that were into it. He brought a tape home in 1982 that was just marked "English Stuff." It had a lot of two-tone bands on it like The Specials, The Selector, The English Beat, Madness, Bad Manners, etc. I was hooked. We started listening to KFSR every day after school and hanging out at the station on the weekends whenever the DJs would tolerate stupid little kids in the studio. Good times!
All this leads up to the question, is ska dead?
It's definitely seeing a comeback. There's some amazing bands out there. You can't kill anything this good.