The first time I saw Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, I got bruises on my armpits. This is a story about how that happened.
Before I was 21 years old.
I closed my eyes and took in one last deep breath. My lips outlined the words “this is fucking ridiculous” as I exhaled. One second later I ran full speed towards the end of a wooden dock. It was a cold dark October night; the water was dirty and shone no reflection of the parking lot lights. For a moment I wondered if James Bond could make this jump- if he had to, like if Money Penny was dying or something, would James find the strength to jump this far?
And then I did it. I leapt over beer cans, twigs, and duck feathers all floating in the Cayuga inlet. With arms outstretched I reached for the boat. Held up by my now bruised armpits, I climbed onto the ferry, tumbled over the side, and lay on my back. Yes, 007 could definitely make that jump, casually on his way back from getting milk. It still hurt, the boat was steel, and I was a freshman.
A few minutes later a band named Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad started playing on the boats “starboard” side stage.
I grew up and moved to Virginia; the band grew up and became Rochester NY’s music heroes. With accolades including “Wegmans sells our albums at the check out line” (for real) and “we threw a free concert in Rochester and 6,000 people showed up- the city wont lets us do it again because they said too many people were smoking weed” (also for real). When asked what their music sounds like, I say “If reggae music had been invented in the US during the 1960’s, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad would have been the band making it.” Local synonyms include “They are as country as a Lynchburg farmers market and as rootsy as main street Davis, WV.”
If you are like me and feel good when NPR tells you something that you already believe, check this: All Things Considered featured a story about Rochester-based business Kodak declaring bankruptcy, with quotes like “Have we missed the train- is there a way to revive manufacturing in America?”
The program ended with Guy Raz saying “we should point out that in a lot of ways Rochester is doing great, despite Kodak’s bankruptcy. The University of Rochester is now the largest employer in town… and the city includes talented bands, like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad” (for real).