It was the late 90’s. Groups like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, and No Doubt ruled the airwaves. That is, unless you were a God-fearing Christian, and then you listened to The O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and if you went in for them, the Insyderz.
I was sold out for ska.
This may have been due to my background interest in jazz, big band, and swing music. It may have been because this was the popular music when I was at my most impressionable age. Or it may have been because I saw the possibility of people simultaneously playing trombone AND being cool.
I was band geek in high school. King of the band geeks, actually. Voted “Most Musical” in my senior yearbook (along with “Class Kiss Up”, but we don’t need to talk about that now), recipient of the John Phillips Sousa Award, and member of the Jazz Band on Bass Trombone, the Symphonic Band on Baritone, and the Freshmen Band (as a senior, mind you) on Tenor Sax. Also, I sang in the Honors Choir. So, my senior year was dominated by music classes.
And as if I didn’t get enough music during the day, I was also in the school musicals.
But I digress. All of those accomplishments happened in my senior year of high school. It was while I was a sophomore that I was in the ska band.
Our band’s name was the Kung Foo Chickens and a Guy Named Fred. We didn’t really have a guy named Fred, and I would have been surprised if anyone in the band knew any form of martial arts. Mainly, we just thought it was a cool name for a ska band. Also, we liked the idea of our band logo including a Karate Kid version of Colonel Sanders (Kung Foo Chickens = KFC) in what would surely have been blatant copy-write infringement.
The Kung Foo Chickens had very few original songs. We were mostly a cover/praise band. We did a few songs by the Supertones, a few by Five Iron Frenzy, and a few ska-versions of praise songs. Mostly, we had a good time.
But those good times were short-lived.
After our first official gig at church all-nighter, our band disbanded. Or rather, they morphed into a rock band, leaving the horn section that defines the ska band behind.
Was I hurt? I don’t remember. Probably. But it wouldn’t have been because I was convinced that our band could have made it in the arena of ska. It would have been because I hate rejection, and the fact I chose the wrong instrument to play seems an arbitrary reason to be ousted from a group. Anyway, I’m mostly over it now.
Also, ska is coming back. I heard the other day that No Doubt is getting back together. And Five Iron Frenzy recently broke all kinds of records on Kickstarter for having the fastest and most funded money drive ever.
Perhaps it isn’t too late for a resurrection of Kung Foo Chickens. Or maybe some better-named ska band.
Anyone in need of a rusty trombone player?