Musical inventors and pioneers The Skatalites crafted the original sound of ska music that would give birth to so many other styles and inspire so many musicians. This year marks their 50th anniversary! Still touring, there are just two original band members, Lester Sterling on alto saxophone and vocalist Doreen Shaffer. But this is no tribute act or spinoff! Only musicians of the highest of caliber become members of this institution. In the early 2000s, I had the pleasure of seeing The Skatalites at the Middle East Downstairs and I was grateful for the opportunity, never quite knowing when the band might throw in the towel. However, something tells me that so long as they’re in high demand, they’ll keep playing music for the people.
This Friday they perform at Manchester 65 in West Warwick Rhode Island. Supporting the bill are The Copacetics, Family, and Oshun Roots. We here at Boston Ska (dot) net are big fans of Rhode Island’s own traditional ska masters The Copacetics. Led by trombone player Matt Di Chiara, they’ve been supplying New England with the ska sounds for four years are the perfect fit for a Skatalites opener.