There is something in the air that can only be described as a holy anticipation. A pulse dominates the room yet a single note hasn’t been played. A natural sway of the audience already exists and we know why it’s there. Like troops in their barracks, we are focused and prepared. Some of us begin to hold a lover a bit closer; some of us raise our hands in surrender to the experience we are about to have. But all of us are ready.
In this dimly lit, hope filled musical melting pot; anxious souls wait for the bass and drums to physically guide our hips and waists. We eagerly anticipate melodies to sweep us off our feet and send us to a far away place, where the surroundings indeed are a bit strange. A place where one would find swamps lined with palm trees, NYC pizza being served with a side of gumbo. If you look to your left you’d see Hemingway, John Lennon and Curtis Mayfield playing dominoes. To your right you’d hear Lee Perry sharing stories with The Stones. The smell of Sensi and bodegas would fill the air as doo-wop rules the street corners of this new land; where the bayou seems to blend with alphabet city. To say, “The room was buzzing” would be a severe understatement.
That was the scene set in 2001 at Bills Bar on Boston’s famous Lansdowne St. The Slackers were just starting to tour the album Wasted Days and I had just walked off stage after singing some songs with one of my favorite songwriters Chris Murray; who at the time was on the bill as Venice Shoreline Chris. The vibe on stage was electric and the dance floor was most definitely its power source. But let me back track a bit before I continue this story.
Right around this time, I had started my band Westbound Train. One thing that I am grateful for about Westbound is that as we were getting off the ground, we were able to form some great friendships with different people through out the Ska and Reggae scene. We were fortunate enough to become friends with The Slackers and some really great people over at Hellcat Records. So when I received an advance copy of Wasted Days, I was more than thrilled. It was everything and more that I wanted from The Slackers. It was the album that would inspire me to believe that the world is much bigger than I thought it was; and I wanted to see every inch of it.
I was hooked from the second the album started with a voicemail message. It was eerie yet sincere. I loved the melancholy tone and was immediately intrigued by this woman and her grieved message. As soon as I began to ponder her sorrow, one of the most infectious bass lines was there to pick me right up. Till this day it is by far one of my favorite setups between artist and listener. There is such compelling story telling on this album. You can sense the motion of this record and it’s ability to transport you into the album yourself regardless of your circumstance or reality. Whenever I listen to this album from start to finish, The Slackers have me right where they want me – on a crazy journey along side of them; in conversation with their songs, their words, their rhythms – just like that night at Bills Bar.
The Slackers came on stage and after about a 3 hour set, I couldn’t believe the walls were still standing in that place. They flew through songs of the album flawlessly, never letting the beat drop; just like a DJ spinning records at a Jamaican yard party. That night I fell in love several times over; I danced; I laughed; I pondered the purpose of my life; Most importantly I promised myself that I would use music and the gifts given to me by the creator to see as much of this world as I could. That is what wasted days did and continues to do for me. Imagine what it could do for you?
Thank you to The Slackers for this gift of a record and never getting off the ride!