The Mad Maggies have another new video. This time it’s something blue for blues waves and the blue skies ahead. Let’s dance and celebrate a little.
Enjoy our live version of the ska classic “Blue Ska” on YouTube now.
“Blue Ska” was recorded by the Cavaliers most likely in the mid-60s. The 45s I’ve seen on YouTube list J. Willacey as the writer. I can’t find much about him except that he was trained in the Alpha Boys School, a catholic educational institution in Kingston which produced some of Jamaica’s finest musicians. Willacey recorded with Lester Sterling, the Jamaican saxophonist and trumpet player best known as one of the founding members of the Skatalites.
When I first heard the tune, I loved its simple but infectious hook and its irresistible dance beat. I arranged it for us making sure we were true to the original groove and giving plenty of room for the horns to strut their stuff.
Videographer Mira Stenger caught us live at Lagunitas Beer Sanctuary. The live show audio was impressively good. Add some B-roll from our Cotati Accordion Festival show (thanks to Jeff Stafford) and other bits and I was able to edit together an authentic taste of a Mad Ms performance.
We’ve also recorded “Blue Ska” at Wally Sound and will be releasing that studio version soon.
The work, composed by a trombonist named Scott Thomson, was realised by bagpipers, drummers and several musicians working multiple horns on large ships frozen at their docks and a train horn on a locomotive nearby.
The piece was around 15 minutes long. The pipers and drummers moved around adding spacial contrast. The horns were loud but pleasant.
I loved the concept, the sounds, the audience engagement, the use of public space for collective joy. I particularly liked a section with cascading drums rolls which began after a large deep ship horn blared. At that point the drummers were 50 plus feet apart. The rolls echoed off the stone buildings in waves.
I would love to compose for this. It is right up my alley.