SKA AGAINST RACISM
By: Alex Steininger
"Raise awareness about racism today." That is the major goal behind the Ska Against Racism tour. Conceived by Mike Park (Asian Man Records founder/former lead singer of Skankin' Pickle), the tour will consist of seven touring ska bands, a local opener at each tour stop, as well as a few organizations aimed at stopping hate in America.
"Why would somebody hate me because of the color of my skin? In 1991, four Nazis gathered to the front of the stage and Sigue-heiled. In 1993, a crowd member called me a 'slope.' In 1994, beer was thrown at me by racist skinheads. Does this make sense? How would you react to this kind of treatment? I choose to fight racism in the nonviolent manner. As the founder of the Ska Against Racism tour , I hope to bring awareness to the next level. Through education and discussion, we can fight racism. This tour is the perfect opportunity to get the word out and to really make a difference," explains Mike Park, on what he hopes to accomplish with the Ska Against Racism tour.
With the help of the Tahoe Agency president, Rick Bonde, the two of them are proud to see what their initial idea, thought up in the fall of 1997, has finally came to be. "It's great to see all of these bands getting involved in important issues of the time. Our society has worked hard to end the problem of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Hopefully with the support of the younger generation, we can kick racism off the planet," Bonde says, also commenting on what he hopes to accomplish with this tour.
And just who are the bands that are involved in the fight for a more peaceful, understanding society? Headlining this tour is none other than the ska-punk crazed guys known as Less Than Jake. "Media relays the fact that ska is wacky and fun, but it's original intent is to promote racial equality," explains LTJ's drummer, Vinnie. "That idea has been lost by mainstream media. This tour will give LTJ a chance to actually step up to the plate."
Also performing on this tour is the band that deserves most of the credit for starting the third-wave ska craze in the U.S., The Toasters. Not only did Rob Hingley form the Toasters and help to keep ska alive in America when they couldn't give CD's away, but he also had his own visions and started the US's first, ska-only label Moon Ska Records. Now a major factor in the ska scene today, Moon Ska provides some of the finest ska bands all around, and helps nourish the scene by giving bands a chance. "We've done over 2,500 shows in 15 years, within the framework of an industry that, to this day, consistently markets music based on racial parameters. It's been a firm political statement for us to stand on a stage in the strongholds of white supremacists representing different races united by our love for ska music," comments Hingley, on the Toasters stance against racism. "I have supported anti-racist groups for over twenty-five years now, organizing Rock Against Racism concerts as early as college in 1973. In addition, the band has also donated our services to support ARA, Artists for a Hate Free America, and Amnesty International."
Rounding off the bill, making the line-up as spectacular as it is, are the Blue Meanies and Mustard Plug (who will trade slots half-way through the tour. One band will cover the West Coast part of the tour, and the other will cover the East Coast), Five Iron Frenzy, MU330, Kemuri, and Mike "Bruce Lee" Park.
"We are very honored to join the Ska Against Racism tour as a Japanese ska/punk band. It is hard to realize racism in Japan since Japan is a homogeneous society, but racism still exists in this country. Racism against other Asian countries is very strong," states Fumio Ito, vocals for Kemuri, on how racism isn't just a problem in the U.S., but all over the world.
As you will notice, not only is Mike Park the promoter of the tour, but he will also be stepping out from behind the record label and performing live, for the first time in almost two years! Normally the front man for the B-Lee band (which features members of LTJ), but due to the fact LTJ is headlining the tour, the band will go under the moniker Mike "Bruce Lee" Park with a temporary line up.
But of course, the music isn't the only thing important about this tour. Several anti-racism organizations have been named in conjunction with the tour. Three Organizations in particular will participate on the tour to varying degrees, including Anti Racist Actions (ARA). The ARA have selected a representative to go on the tour in order to man an information booth, sell T-shirts, and to speak to the audience regarding ARA and other anti-racist organizations. Artists for a Hate Free America (AHFA) and the Museum of Tolerance will also be involved with the tour. These, and other organizations named by the bands will receive a portion of the proceeds at the end of the tour. Each band will choose the organization they'd like to benefit and will decide independently what portion of their tour earnings will be donated. Bands are also encouraged to step forth with the names of additional organizations (such as Not In Our Town, an organization that guards against Southern church burnings) throughout the tour.
With an important message, and an explosive line-up, this tour is sure to be one that will be remembered for a long time.
Below you will some dates, so you have no excuses on why you didn't pay the tour a visit when it came through your town (as if anyone would want to miss it anyhow.):
4/1 Palo Alto, CA: The Edge $15 5PM
4/2 Ventura, CA Ventura Theatre $15
4/3 Las Vegas, NV: Huntridge Theatre
4/4 Phoenix, AZ: Club Rio
4/5 Irvine, CA: Oak Canyon Ranch
4/7 Austin, TX: Voodoo Lounge $15 4:30
4/8 Dallas, TX: Dallas Music Complex
4/9 Houston, TX: Fitzgerald's
4/10 New Orleans, LA: Tipitina's Warehouse $15 4PM
4/11 Jacksonville, FL: Skateworld $15 5PM
4/12 St. Petersburg, FL: Janus Landing
4/13 Orlando, FL: The Club @ Firestone
4/14 Sunrise, FL: Sunrise Musical $15 4:30
4/15 Atlanta, GA: Masquerade
4/16 Winston-Salem, NC: Ziggy's
4/17 Norfolk, VA: The Boathouse $15 5PM
4/18 Harrisonburg, VA: Godwin Hall $8 5PM
4/19 Philadelphia, PA: The Trocadero
4/21 Washington, DC: 9:30 Club
4/23 NYC, NY: Roseland Ballroom
4/24 Worcester, MA: The Palladium
4/25 Hartford, CT: Webster Theater
4/26 Montclair, NJ: Montclair State 4PM
4/28 Pittsburgh, PA: Metropol $15
4/29 Cincinatti, OH: Bogart's
4/30 Roseville, MI: The Palladium
5/1 Chicago, IL: Riviera Theater $16 3:30PM
5/2 Milwaukee, WI: The Rave Ballroom $15 4PM
5/3 Ames, IA: Arboretum, Iowa State U. $15 1PM
5/5 St. Louis, MO: American Theatre $14.50 6PM
5/6 Kansas City, MO: The Beaumont $15 6PM
5/8 Denver, CO: Mammoth Event Center
5/9 Casper, WY: Casper Events Center