Hanging With Jess The Ska Kid

Jess The Ska Kid

This is a situation that is going to happen in the life of every artist. When you are on your way “up” you will meet random people. However you treat them at that point is going to have an impact on you years later. A long time ago I used to play with a group known as The Drastics. They toured the United States and Canada, building up a significant following. Their musical repertoire ranged from Ska to Jazz, but was centered on Dub.


Shouts to Fada Dougou for inviting me to play with them.

During one of our shows (at a college in Wisconsin) I remember a bright-eyed kid asking a lot of questions about our varying lineup, the meaning of the songs, the twist we were putting on traditional ska, etc. She was really interested in the music (which is rare in the midwest), so Fada and I stayed behind to answer everything. That same young lady would go on to brand herself as “Jess The Ska Kid”.

Fast forward some years later. I put off touring to raise kids and the scene changed. Although I have been places and done great things, the music industry has essentially collapsed. Let’s face it. Putting aside the expected reduction in my own popularity, I am returning to a barren wasteland as far as opportunities are concerned. My new strategy is to go around “the Industry”, directly at fans no matter where they may be.

Re-enter Jess The Ska Kid with an invitation to appear on her daring, Wayne’s World-styled home show. She explains that after helping build the radio station at that same Wisconsin school there was a new management coup. Instead of begging and holding on she struck out on her own. She didn’t know what to expect but handles issues (like Facebook LIVE copyright muting) in stride. The show is now booked a full year in advance, with even internationally touring bands adding her as a stop.

All things mimic the cycle of life and death. The music industry is no different. It was always a predatory and destructive element however, so I do not mourn its destruction. The ones who rise through its rebirth will be in a unique position to create life-worthy opportunities. I am putting my money on people like Jess The Ska Kid.