Skanks For The Memories: A Look At The Arizona's Ska Scene Past and Present

Categories: Video
kongo shock.jpg
The members of bygone local ska band Kongo Shock.
The featured story in this week's music section detailed the growing success of local ska band 2 Tone Lizard Kings. While my piece mainly focused on 2TLK, the six-year-old ensemble is only one of seven different ska acts that are actively performing in Arizona (which, as I mentioned in my screed, equals - if not outright exceeds - the number of bands that were in existence during ska's big heyday of 1995 to 1998).

I'm not shy in admitting that the Lizard King's feature serves as a love letter of sorts to Arizona's ska scene and its history, as does this blog. As a compliment to the story, here some glimpses both audio and visual at some of the ska groups (both past and present) that have called Arizona home.


Kongo Shock
Years active: 1994-1998

This seven-member ska act has the distinction of being the first-ever ska band I ever saw perform live (more specifically opening for Skankin' Pickle along with Plinko in 1994). During their four years of existence, the band produced two albums (1995's Dick Triple Flip and 1997's Get on the Bus) and hosted a regular ska night at the old Boston's.

Dave's Big Deluxe
Years active: 1991-1999

Hailing from Tucson, this energetic sixsome rocked venues throughout Arizona and was described by a former New Times scribe as "the only known two-tone sextet ever to be named after a hamburger."

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-just a chick
-just a chick

ahhhh OUCH no love for the Poland Bros....though you DO have Sara McAllister and for that I'm happy and glad! thanks fo the support of Ska music- its soo much fun to listen to and dance to.- just a fan of dancing.


Love the guy who has to name drop the bands you didn't mention (there's one in every group)...Nice article Leatherman - well done.

Andy George
Andy George

Um, this missing pretty much every band in the 2000-2010 era. Bands like Troy's Bucket, The Wiggums, Dietrichs, Duplow, Mismatch, Workshirt Wonder, Haffo, list goes on....


Wow, what a great trip down memory lane. I had all but forgotten about DBD and Kongo Shock - some great shows that my fake ID got me into back in the day. Thanks!

Joe Distort
Joe Distort

the mid 90s ska scene in phoenix was fun as hell, and my first real exposure to a close knit music community when i was just a wee lil joe. Bostons was definitely the epicenter at first, when bands that later got relatively big (the REEL BIG FISH and SAVE FERRIS contingent) were playing every three months to crowds of 100-200 of us. the smaller independent stuff spread to the Tempe Bowl, then as it outgrew that everything moved to the main room at the Nile and sometimes the Electric Ballroom (now the New School for the Arts), the Jackson Hole (most recently the Brickhouse) and Gibsons (what is that now even? it was Have a Nice Day Cafe, but i havent been into Hayden Square in years)

Ive got too many stories to even get into here. Suffice to say, like most music scenes, as it got larger, the stuff that drew the early adapters-the small, intimate/packed shows, making new friends, taking over new venues who had no idea what was coming, $5 shows, LSD etc etc- got trampled on like so many porkpie hats lost in the pit. by the time the west coast-centric ska virus had truly spread, i think most of the people involved in the early parts were gone. I know all of our crew will always hold a spot in my heart.

and i will always hold a grudge against my mom for giving my some of her codiene to help with injuries from the previous nights show, causing me to sleep through the MU330/SLAPSTICK show at bostons!



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