Ska has been around for half a century. Upon entering its third incarnation since the humble, Jamaican-inspired R&B days of originators Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker, the ska template had morphed into a fusion of off-beats and pop-inspired punk made popular in the 90′s by the likes of The Aquabats, The Toasters and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The third-wave of the genre’s resurgence was particularly prolific in Southern California, which birthed most of the revival’s popular acts.
By the end of the decade, however, the curtain closed on the third act–so, ska bands either dropped the bobbing horns in favor of a more conventional rock sound, or they were relegated to the undesirable rank of novelty acts. But not for long. A group of Inland Empire musicians are making ska relevant (yet) again, not by biting on past styles or throwing food at fans and wearing goofy costumes, but by infusing the traditional ska rhythms with new sounds and new beats. The unique IE ska sound infuses elements of hardcore with various Latin sounds, such as Latin jazz and Cumbia.
"The first band to do it in Fontana was Cerebro Negro," says Chancalso 78 guitarist and show promoter Juan Covarrubias. "They were the only ska band in the area and they influenced a lot of bands that wanted to come out," he said.
Cerebro Negro started playing shows in the area five years ago and seemingly inspired an entire musical movement in the otherwise humdrum Fontana area. Their influence gave rise to a bunch of bands in the area like Eskarabajo, Doña Canchis and Covarrubias’ own band. Because of the framework Cerebro Negro set up, the local scene is gaining momentum and bringing a lot of people back to ska music, Covarrubias said. A few clicks on MySpace pages reveals that these bands play a lot of shows, from Los Angeles to Riverside and all stops in between.
"The way we do it in the Inland Empire is by doing it differently than OC or LA," Covarrubias says. "We’re taking it in a different direction. All these bands have a unique style. We don’t want anything to do with old styles or other styles. We appreciate them, but we want to establish our own sound."
Second verse/same as the first–but not the fourth.
Chenca Berrinches, 8 Kalacas, Chanclaso 78, Eskarabajo, Doña Canchis, FRLN and DJ [Delete] at Jorg’s Coffee, 8580 Sierra Ave, Fontana. 7:30 p.m. $7.