Words and Photos by Greg Jacobs
My wife and I will text and email each other throughout the day. We rarely call each other as we’re both at work and busy … Tuesday (November 13) around noon my wife called me at work … She slyly said, “What are you doing tonight?” Knowing full well that we were both likely going straight home from our jobs, cooking dinner, watching Fraiser reruns on the dvr and going to sleep … A fairly routine weekday evening for us married folks. So, I replied, “I don’t know, what’s up?” She said, “Wanna go see The Selecter tonight at the House of Blues in Anaheim? I just won tickets from (the radio show) Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW.” My first thought was … When did my wife become one of those people who calls into radio shows to win tickets? But my reply was, “Sure. Sounds fun.”
I got home from work at 6:30 and we left for the House of Blues at 7:00.
As we entered the venue, we realized how early we were. DJ Rhoda Dakar, a Two-Tone legend, from bands like Special AKA and Bodysnatchers was spinning some great early ska and reggae as the venue began to fill (she also sang “Let’s Do Rocksteady with The Selecter later in the evening – pictured above).
By 9:00, the first band of the night came on; The Delirians … A 9-piece traditional ska/reggae band from East LA. They had a great, mellow vibe while still building the energy in the room. I definitely detected some influence from their hometown in their sound too, almost a slight mariachi tinge, that blended well with their dirty, traditional reggae. I have to say, even with 9 people on stage, I could not take my eyes off the percussionist. Holy sh*t he was amazing (you’ll have to trust me, as I didn’t get a good shot of him). Seamlessly switching from tambourine to bongos, cow bell to congas, chimes to jam blocks with so many pieces of equipment on his percussion table that I don’t have a clue what they’re called. Just trust me, he was rad as were The Delirians. They were a great opener for The Selecter.
I’m admit right now that I am not a huge ska fan. I love punk rock and have since high school, but Ska has been growing on me over the years as my wife and friends are introducing me to it, but I don’t listen to a lot of ska. I also don’t live under a rock, I’ve heard of the Selecter and I know they’ve been around since the late ‘70’s. I didn’t know that “Selecter” was British slang for DJ nor did I know that Pauline Black wasn’t the original singer, but that she was asked to join the band only a few months after their first single was released in 1979. The original singer was (and still is) Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson. Gaps and Pauline have a powerhouse, 6-piece band backing them up as they tore through The Selecter’s catalogue … My wife said she recognized 90% of the songs they played … I recognized 2 … “On My Radio” and “Too Much Pressure.” The Selecter have always had politically charged song lyrics, so it was not a shock to hear some politics disseminated from the stage with subjects ranging from the recent mass shootings to the President. But this was a small part of the show, inserted before some of the more political songs … I did not feel like I was being preached to, I felt like I was at a rockshow with a passionate singer … and I was.
We planned to leave early since it was a “school night,” but the band was so good we couldn’t tear ourselves away. And we’re lucky we stayed as we heard “Too Much Pressure” as an encore. I would have been bummed to miss that song.
Do yourself a favor; Listen to The Selecter and better yet, GO SEE THEM! They’re amazing!