In the early 2000s, I was a student at UConn in Storrs, CT. I had been spoiled by the ska and punk scene in the New Haven area where I’d grown up. Thankfully, there was CT Ska Productions putting together hall shows and the occasional ska show at the Webster in Hartford to keep me entertained. But, I soon discovered that Boston was less than an hour and a half away. Touring acts sometimes came through New Haven or Hartford, but they definitely stopped in Boston. Suddenly, I had new options for shows.
I was also in the habit of arriving as early as I could for shows to catch the openers. The internet was still in its youth, so you had to rely on opening acts and compilations for the discovery of new acts. The only challenge was finding out what shows were happening. I didn’t exactly have access to the newspapers and other publications with venue listings. I was reliant on word of mouth, message boards, and the website Bostonska.com. It did a great job of listing active bands, upcoming gigs, and venues likely to host a ska show. I was hooked. But this was before social media and rss feeds. I had to check all of these websites regularly and religiously to stay on top of upcoming shows. We’ve yet to meet, but thank you, Grant, for doing what you did. Boston became somewhat of a ska Mecca for me as a college student. The shows were always high energy and well attended–at least that’s how choose romanticize it now.
Fast forward to the summer of 2012 when I was moving to Boston from Brooklyn. Outside of the Bosstones’ Hometown Throwdown, I hadn’t been to a Boston ska show in years. What was going on with the scene? What shows were coming up? Who were the active bands? I have to admit, Google was not so helpful. I eventually stumbled upon the Boston Ska Facebook group which pointed me in the right direction. But, there still was no consolidated place to me to find out what was new, or what the next show was.
The last thing I wanted to be was the new guy who rolls into town and starts telling people what’s what. I got the sense though that no one would object to a new blog or a show calendar so I went ahead and started to pull together this website in my free time. I modeled primarily off of sites like MNSka.com and Bostonpunk.org, the first having a great blog and the second being a very functional calendar. First and foremost, I wanted this site to be useful. And I think it has been.
Since launching in 2012, this site has had 10,000 unique view and in 2013 averaged 40 pageviews per day. It’s nothing earth-shattering but it’s something. (Check out this flashy 2013 Year in Review graphic that wordpress generated.) It tells me that there are folks out there that are using this site. Thanks to Google Analytics, I knew that the vast majority of referral traffic was coming from Facebook. The website had the support of the Boston Ska Facebook Group, but it had no page of it’s own, so I created a Facebook page. To be clear, This page is not meant to be a replacement for the group, but an attempt to reach more people, given the way Facebook functions. Lo and behold, people are, in fact, finding their way back to the Facebook group from this website. I also know that “message boards,” however defined, have always been an important online aspect of any community and I think the Facebook Group serves that purpose (The Bosstones’ Message Board and MN Ska Message Boards have gone through similar migrations).
So why not house everything on Facebook? One of my first objectives was to answer the Google search for “boston ska.” Therein lies the strength of a blog-powered website. Additionally, we’ve all seen the mass migrations of various folks from different social media platforms to others. Frankly, there’s just some permanence to a website. Which leads me to my 2014 goals…
I can’t do this alone. I never intended to do it alone. I’ve had great help from Kevin D and I’m excited that Alex C from The New Limits has begun contributing. Chances are your favorite blog has a whole team of people making it happen. Bostonska.net should be no different.
This is your news about your scene. My hope is that this site long outlives my own ability to keep it up to date and outlives the social network du jour. There are any number of ways to contribute including, but not limited to:
- Updating the concert calendar
- Show previews and reviews
- Record reviews
- News, both about the Boston ska scene and for the Boston ska scene. We don’t live in a bubble!
- Short reads, long reads, everything in between
- Commentary and opinions
- Anything else you think we should be blogging about
- Graphic design (if it wasn’t too obvious, we could use a hand with this)
- Web development
If there’s something you’d like to see on this site, I want to hear about it. You can email me at jake (at) bostonska (dot) net or bounce your ideas off me on Twitter. I’m afraid we can’t offer much at this stage. It’s not impossible to consider one day hosting ads and paying our writers, but I think that’s quite a ways off and honestly just not one of my goals. My undying thanks and a round of drinks are definitely in the cards.
Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit this website, read a review, checked out a show, or shared a link on their Facebook wall (or timeline, whatever we’re calling them these days). At the end of the day, this is about community. (Cumbaya warning) The ska community has always been a home for me and I hope we can make it home for so many more people, be they new fans, or fans coming back from a break.