Hub City Stompers return with their “Haters Dozen” LP on the Austin indie Altercation Records, the home to the Asbury Park acts Lost in Society and The Obvious. A slew of Stompers dates will follow.
You realize three things immediately while listening to Hub City Stompers’ latest LP, “Haters Dozen”: they’re having so much fun, they seem almost as entertained as they are entertaining; alongside the fun, they make serious statements about racism and hate, and their chops are deeper than ska-punk, delving into jazz and rhythm & blues. The appropriately entitled 13-track debut for Austin-based Altercation Records kicks off with an introduction by skinhead reggae legend Roy Ellis (Simaryp) on “Hub City Stomp,” the Stompers’ autobiographical ode to the city from which they spawned.
My favorite tracks include “Distance Water,” a jazzy, surf-tinged, dub-inflected tune written by Stompers trombonist James Kelly that became a tribute to the late Rudie Crew/Bigger Thomas vocalist-toaster Roy Radics upon his death in 2016. Initially, an instrumental, Radics dropped some lyrics over the track before he died. When the band went to record the tune, they enlisted by Coolie Ranx of The Pilfers for an additional chat, which concerns a long-standing fight against racism, hate and white power. Ranx also shares vocals with P-Dub of Predator Dub Assassins and formerly Inspecter 7, the group from which Hub City Stompers evolved.
Racism also is addressed in closing anthem “Night of the Living,” which, like the rest of the album, was co-written (or written) by front man Travis Nelson, who’s been fighting hate since his days as interracial skinhead within the City Gardens hardcore scene of the 1980s and ’90s. Yet, while the title “Haters Dozen” is a reference to racism, it’s also inspired by the feeling that band are “the black sheep” of the Jersey ska scene, Nelson said, as well as some of the hating the Stompers do in response.
Hub City Stompers also shine at their most humorous. “Philly, What the Fuck?” is a priceless poke that hysterically blames an “extra chromosome” for the City of Brotherly Love’s funny accent, which is declared a mystery since Philly is close to Trenton, where members of the band were raised and near where several live. “Mr. McFeeley” is a clever look at a wimpy guy who’s probably too PC for his own good, as well as everyone else’s. And then there’s “Bring Back the Dorks,” which opens to the tune of Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” in a tongue-in-cheek nod to checkered-and-plaid ska dorks. The tune eventually de-evolves into a primal growl after also having some fun with rock-steady hipsters.
“Dorks” is one of several great backing vocal turns by saxophonist Jenny Whiskey. Whiskey also sings lead on two excellent tracks. “What’s She Got?”examines jealousy toward an ex’s new girlfriend: “I saw you with that bitch. I’m in a rage. Dim-ass wits, big-ass tits, half your age. “Hard Place to Be,” a breakup song about a scenester couple whose disparate levels of maturity lead to their parting, also sports a great verse: “No reason to achieve and not to self-destroy/No need to be a man and not remain a boy/You’re free to treat your life like a toy while crying, ‘Oi, oi, oi.’”
What’s most impressive about “Haters Dozen” are the chops of Hub City Stompers, especially Whiskey, one of the best rock saxophonists in New Jersey because of the amount of jazz sensibility she brings to her work. “Father’s Day,” a tale of a May-December romance, is a great example of a jazzy track. It also boasts a strong lyric from Nelson: “Don’t call me daddy because I ain’t your papa. If I were your papa, this would not be proper. OK, I know you’re too young to know about the Big Bopper. Oh, I like to have it my way, just like the Whopper.” In between each line delivered by a guest vocal from frequent HCS producer-label head King Django, Whiskey coos doubled vocals, singing “Don’t call me daddy.” The blend of their voices with jazzy horns also by Kelly is stunning.
“Weeks Worth of Wednesdays” is another jazzy turn that in addition to Whiskey’s sax features fantastic solos from Kelly and organist Greg “Pukey B” Behan. On top of all that, it’s a really fun track with a strong pop sensibility.
On April 13, don’t miss the long-awaited return of Hub City Stompers to the Court Tavern, which is even more triumphant for the enduring and evolving venue than the band. Sharing the bill of bassist Reggae Bob’s Birthday Bash will be veteran Jersey ska act Bigger Thomas, one of Nelson’s biggest influences, who also will celebrate their 30th anniversary that night. Rounding out the stacked lineup will be the Hub City hardcore of Dusters and Bridgewater hardcore of Damage Done, featuring Brian Franklin, brother of the late Jersey hardcore legend Dave Franklin of Vision, as well as members of Hub City Stompers side project Steel Toe Solution. The evening also will include the reggae stylings of Steady Sound System, a DJ offshoot of Hub City Stompers that features former drummer Nuno Rodrigues as the main selector.
Hub City Stompers then will celebrate the release of “Haters Dozen” with a listening party on April 20 at Randy Now’s Mancave in Bordentown. On April 22, the punk-ska greats will participate in the Mosh for Paws Punk Rock Flea Market a Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck. They’ll round out the month at the ska-oriented This Is Croydon Fest at Neshaminy Creek Brewing with The Pietasters, King Django, Spring Heeled Jack and more. Other upcoming dates include May 12, El Cortez, Brooklyn, with No Redeeming Social Value, Ladrones, NAA; Supernova International Ska Festival, May 26 and 27, 1781 Brewing Co., Spotsylvania, Pa., with The Pietasters, The Suicide Machines, The Stubborn All-Stars, Spring Heeled Jack, The Scotch Bonnets, and Rude Boy George, a ska tribute to the ’80s featuring members of Bigger Thomas; June 23, Mohawk Place, Buffalo, N.Y., with The Abruptors, and July 14, Asbury Park Brewery, with The Cryptkeeper Five, Molly Rhythm, Experiment 34 and Chalk & the Beige Americans. Dubbed “Trenton Makes Takover,” that show is part of the Makin Waves Summer Concert Series at AP Brewery.
Also, Hub City Stompers once again will headline Hub City Sounds: ROCK New Brunswick. On Sept. 8 in Boyd Park, the fifth annual festival dedicated to the New Brunswick music scene also will feature Doc Hopper, Pleased Youth, Sharief Hobley, Danielle Illario, Silent Knight, Nalani & Sarina, Experiment 34, Professor Caveman, SusBus, Hong Kong Graffiti and circus acts.
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers To Return To Lizzie Rose Music Room (TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Tommy Castro & the Painkillers return to the Lizzie Rose Music Room on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30pm. Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Tickets are $38.00 Advance and $45.00 day of show.Experience Hendrix at NJPAC on March 29th (NEWARK, NJ) -- Celebrate the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix as Experience Hendrix comes to Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Centeron Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm. This critically acclaimed multi-artist tribute to Hendrix features performances by Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick and special guest Taj Mahal. World Famous Bachata Artists To Take The Stage for Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 At Prudential Center on Saturday, March 16 (NEWARK, NJ) -- Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 at Prudential Center will bring together the world’s best Bachata artists including, Frank Reyes “The Prince of Bachata”, Hector Acosta “El Torito”, Zacarias Ferreira, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez "El Cacique”. Uforia Bachata Fest 2019, presented by Zamora Live, Euforia Radio (Univision) and Corona Extra, will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 8:00pm. The contagious Caribbean rhythm known as "Bachata" will have its gala night, marking the first time in history these world-renowned artists will perform on the same stage. Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra To Perform at Princeton University January 27 (PRINCETON, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) continues its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra on Sunday, January 27 at 4:00pm at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University located at 68 Nassau Street in Princeton. Youth Symphony will open the concert with Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major followed by Youth Orchestra performing Dvořák Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88. Rickie Lee Jones To Perform At Grunin Center (TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Two-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1978 and has made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on more than 15 critically acclaimed albums. She brings her show “An Intimate Evening with Rickie Lee Jones” to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm.
The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band."He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!Mike Davis and The New Wonders Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie.
He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own.
Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
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