We were delighted to be the main band on the Saturday night of a weekend mini-festival at the Royal Oak pub in Hollywater, near Liphook in Hampshire.
We were sharing the stage with the General Wayne sound system who have impeccable taste, and selected some great tunes for before and after our set. And while bands can never tell what the audience get to hear, the onstage sound was spot on.
Our special guest was the mighty Joe Ospalla on drums.
We didn’t get a chance to take many photos, other than a few as we were setting up.
We have never played a Christmas Eve gig before, so we were delighted to be asked by Croydon’s Oval Tavern to play there this year as it is one of our favourite venues.
We decided it should be called Ska Humbug! and it gave us the chance to play a lot of cheesy Christmas covers.
Many old Christmas songs are basically jazz swing tunes, and they always work well as ska – so it was not hard to adapt Rockaing Around the Christmas Tree, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which we have done before) for our line up.
We have done Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody before, so we dusted that one down. And in what we thought was a stroke of great originality we adapted the Snowman song “Walking in the Air” as a reggae instrumental. However we soon found that we were by no means the first band to do this, but no matter it still went down well.
This was our second gig at the Oval tavern in Croydon – and it was as good as our first.
It’s hard to pin down why this is such a good venue, but it has a lot to do with good sound (thanks Gavin), what is clearly a great community pub and an enthusiastic crowd.
One family group, who all got up to dance, told us they had members in their 80s, 70s, 50s and 20s. That’s one of the great things about ska – it appeals across the generations.
We played two new songs. Our ska’ed up version of Mad World, which went down particularly well, we put in the first set.
And in the second set we played It Must be True Love, a Toots and the Maytals tune which is not that well known. We have been asked to play it at a wedding gig soon, and it’s a lovely song.
This is what we played:
Guns Of Navarone
Latin Goes Ska
Tide Is High
Mood For Love
My Baby Just Cares for Me
Alley Cat Ska
Mambo Number 5
Red Red Wine
One Step Beyond
It Must Be True Love
99 Red Balloons
Rudy A Message To You
My Boy Lollipop
Night Boat To Cairo
We don’t have any pictures or video of the band performing, but we took some pictures in the pub garden and at the sound check before we played, and there’s one of everyone in the band, inclduing special guest Jackie on tenor sax. If anyone did take any pix, please share them to our Facebook page.
Kicking things off for us will be The Skamonics, who won our ears over for the first time back before Christmas and now we’re hooked and can’t stop dancing, to their unique mix of authentic 60s ska, two-tone and bonkers covers – three horns, female vocals and a driving rhythm section.
We had a terrific gig at Croydon’s Oval tavern last night.
The pub was packed, and there were people dancing almost all the way through both our sets.
We took the opportunity to try out four new numbers:
My Baby just cares for me, which although a song from the 1930s will always be associated with Nina Simone. But while sme may not have been aware of it, it is very definitely a ska rhythm going on in her right hand.
London Calling – there’s lot of reggae and ska influences in the Clash, but perhaps not so much in the original of this. Now it is ska.
Hall of the Mountain King is from the Peer Gynt Suite by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. We thought turning this into a ska tune was wildly imaginative – and then we found that Madness had done a version.
Come Dancing is a great Ray Davies song that was a hit for the Kinks. We just like it a lot.
Each seemed to get a good reaction from the crowd, which is not always the case. Sometimes something can sound good at rehearsal and then be a bit of a flop.
This is what we played in our two sets. And we hope it won’t be too long before we get invited back.