El Corazon Brings Out a Ska-Filled Night With The Toasters, Easy Big Fella, The Georgetown Orbits & The Skablins, By Holly Homan



It’s a Tuesday night and four great ska bands play to a sparse but energetic crowd at El Corazon.

The night was headlined by the legendary NYC band, The Toasters. I first saw The Toasters in 1996 at the Bumbershoot festival, but spent much of the time chasing my then six-year-old son around. I have seen them three times in the last decade and will see them again every time they come to Seattle.

Led by founding (and only original) member, Robert (Bucket) Hingley, they played many of their classics like Running Right Through the World, Two Tone Army, Pirate Radio, and Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down (which Bucket dedicated to most the politicians).

The sparsely attended show had those in attendance skanking in a circle pit throughout the entire show. It was just as entertaining watching them as it was the band.

The Toasters current lineup consists of, Thaddeus Merritt on bass, Logan LaBarbera, trombone; Neil (Lonestar) Johnson on sax, and guest drummer from Big D and the Kids Table Derek Davis who slammed away on his kit like a wild man.

When they got called back for an encore, the bass player came out to goad the audience into screaming, “Bull shit!” over and over again, to get the rest of the band to return to the stage. Bucket then came out and exclaimed, “You guys are speaking our language,” before lighting into Two Tone Army, with many in the audience accompanying him on the, hey heys.

The Toasters are always a treat.

Preceding the fabulous Toasters was our own home grown Easy Big Fella. I was looking forward to seeing them as much as I was The Toasters. I often joke that EBF is the band that has Elton John and Pete Townshend as members because the keyboard player Mike (Mikey Shasha) Birenbaum and guitar player, Rick Dybvad, are dead ringers.

It’s trumpet player Ric Pentilla, who’s the ultimate showman of this band. He totally hams it up. Hiding always behind dark glasses, he is anything but anonymous. When he’s not blowing his horn, he’s dancing about and making faces as if goading to the crowd to dance along with him. He quite nearly steals the show. Easy Big Fella are non stop fun and the playful antics among the band members is infectious. They never disappoint.

Preceding EBF was Seattle’s Georgetown Orbits. I have been a fan of GT Orbits for about two and a half years, but it’s been several months since I last saw them. Some surprise changes have occurred. Gone is their charismatic leader Darryl Grandison. Co-vocalist Bridgid Roney (eight months pregnant and looking lovely) has taken over on lead vocals. Gone also is trumpet player Dan Loren. GT Orbits are still a really good band and Bridgid is unbelievably charming. She has a great voice and I love seeing a ska band with a female lead (I can only think of Save Farris and Selecter as ska bands with female leads). But, I really missed Darryl’s showmanship. They’re just a very different band now. Still, I will see them again and again and I still recommend them. I just miss Darryl.

Opening the entire night, to my surprise, was The Skablins. Vocalist/front man, Gordy Whyte is the ultimate showman, but trombonist Daniel (Buster) Larsh rivals him to the point where it’s hard to focus on one for fear of missing something fun the other might do. Skablins are such a big band (I believe I counted nine members at this show), that half of them have to stand behind other members at the back of the stage. None of our club stages are big enough. This doesn’t stop Gordy or Buster from leaping and dancing about the stage. The highlight for me is always when they perform a very worthy rendition of the old Kinks’ song Come Dancing. The Skablins are one of the most fun bands in town and I was beyond elated to see them come on stage.

This was one fine night of some top rate ska bands.

Holly Homan

Photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

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