Ska band promises a brassy show at Kirkwood
March 11, 2009
Skiers and snowboarders know Kirkwood requires some brass, so the ska band Warsaw is bringing extra.
“If you’ve never seen Warsaw before, this show is going to blow your mind, and if you have seen Warsaw in the past 10 years, this team and this show are going to blow your mind,” said the band’s drummer, who goes by the name Vladimir Poland.
“It’s going to be a party. It’s going to be wild.”
His stage name, and the name of the band, is the result of what happens when two brothers with a particular last name start a band. Aaron and Crix Poland formed the group about a decade ago in Tucson, Ariz. (Because Warsaw was the original name of the band that became Joy Division, the ska band also goes by Warsaw Poland Brothers.) Along with Vladimir and guitarist Aaron “Double A” Poland, the current lineup features the return of Warsaw’s legendary dual trombone section, Drago and Monkeybone, to go with Dallas Clay Huber on bass.
“On top of that, now that we have the old horn section, the sound that made Warsaw kind of what it was … we can do all kinds of classic stuff that the audience hasn’t heard in that form for eight, nine, 10 years,” Vladimir Poland said.
“That’s right,” Drago chimed in from the background.
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Warsaw’s Kirkwood debut, a free show at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the Tower Bar, will feature yet another trombone: Greg Hashmi of the Whiskey Avengers, who played on Rosemary Clooney’s final album, will provide bonus brass.
Warsaw established itself on the crest of the so-called “third wave” of ska. While the band also became a favorite in the mountains ” not only in resort towns like Breckenridge, Crested Butte and the localities around Lake Tahoe, but such far-flung places as Leadville and Silverton, Colo. ” Wednesday marks Warsaw’s first time at Kirkwood.
“Always: I love it because those are the gigs … that there’s kind of like an added gravity to the show when you’re playing a new place like that, and that’s cool,” Vladimir Poland said. “Everybody in this band is just nasty, and when you turn up the heat, everybody just cooks harder. Everybody just flows better.”
The old flow opens up Warsaw’s nine-album catalog for the newest members, Huber, who has a Latin-jazz background, and Vladimir Poland.
“All the ‘Battle Ska Galactica’ (1997) stuff is popping back out because we’ve got the two horn players on that album back onstage with us,” he said. “Some of it has gotten fleshed out and formed and polished and is pretty much the way you’ll hear it on the recording but new to anybody who hasn’t heard us in the last six months or so.”
Some old favorites have emerged as popular requests, such as “Midnight Cold Cut” and “Smoke Marijuana” as well as “Nobody’s Home” and “Love is Stronger than Pride,” which highlight the dueling trombones.
“Anytime you’ve got horns involved, as an arranger, as a writer, you’re so freed up melodically,” Vladimir Poland said.
“It took Dallas and I a minute to catch on all the cool stuff that Monkeybone and Drago and Double A had been doing back in ’99,” he said. “Just as a section, they’re like some Siamese twins connected at the trombone with some Vulcan mind-meld s–t going on. Our horn section is going to blow your mind.”
Yet the band insists on twisting even its old favorites: Poland urged newbies not to be surprised if they hear influences from Jimmy Cliff to a ska arrangement of a Kraftwerk song or something that sounds like “Bad Religion with Chicago’s horn section.”
“We definitely like to keep it interesting,” he said. “We’ve gotta play 200-250 shows a year, so if we were to just play ska music in the style of the Skatalites or something like that, it’d get old in the first three to four months, so I think it’s as much as the musicians as it is for the audience that we try to mix it up, too, and I think we try to surprise ourselves, too.”
For Warsaw’s opener Wednesday, Recyclebilly Productions, Shakewad Productions and Shondra McGrath from the Tower Bar are bringing in rock-reggae band Truckee Tribe from the North Shore. After dub reggae fan Stan Charles graduated from Long Beach State, he moved to Truckee, started a band and asked his sister, Jenni, to back up the band on percussion, fiddle and vocals. The band added a couple of members and built a loyal fan base along the North Shore, then started to spread their reggae around Tahoe.