with The Loins, Steady Earnest, Bim Skala Bim at The Glenifit at The Phoenix Landing
by Skankin’ Dave
photo by George Trickel
It’s a rare occasion that you meet a person and know immediately that they possess a totally unique charisma and personality. Maybe once or twice in your life you run across someone who would literally give you the shirt of their back, or drive four hours to pick you up when your car breaks down, and then they greet you with a smile that genuinely says “Thanks for asking me to come get you” or “Thanks for wearing my shirt.” Unfortunately, the world has lost one of these amazing, caring, fun- loving individuals. Glen Sherriff was a real one of a kind… someone so cool, his friends created a Glen sticker several years ago to share Glen with those who had yet to meet him. You may have seen one on a toll booth, bathroom stall, night club, street sign, or even on a dead pigeon (but that’s another story). Glen was a close friend to many in the ska community, as well as a friend to innumerable people in the Boston entertainment scene. Glen’s favorite bands turned out to celebrate his life with his family and friends while raising money for a scholarship fund in his name. A special night for a special life… that brings us to the Glenefit:
The Loins (formerly The Tenderloins) started the evening out with their self-described “psychotic salsa” style lounge music. The only non-ska band on this special occasion, they mixed up some cocktail tunes w/ a psychedelic guitar groove, poured velvety vocals over upright bass, added a dash of David Byrne experimentation and served it up in a martini glass with a twist of Iggy Pop showmanship. Cool band, made a lot of new fans that night. They play a free show every Wednesday at the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge.
Steady Earnest, Glen’s all time favorite band, had not played live in over ten months but were eager to play for their “number one fan.” Steady’s set was big on ska/rock-steady songs culled from their two CDs (the second of which, Take It!, was re-issued in October, and dedicated to Glen) along with one new song. By the 3rd song, “Wear You to the Ball,” the crowd was fully skanking and loving the return of this six-piece (one guitarist shy of their previous incarnation). Covers of The Heptones’ “Party Time,” Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady,” and Peter Tosh’s “Well Runs Dry” were sprinkled between Steady originals. Two stand out songs: “Scrumpy” (never released) details the fallout of a long-term love breakup with captivating horns that kept this song in my head for days. Dan (lead singer, also of Bim Skala Bim) then intro’d “Skin It Up” with a heartfelt “this is the song that makes me miss Glen the most.” Augmented with horn players from The Allstonians, Bim Skala Bim, and Beat Soup, the band roared through a powerful tribute.
The Allstonians, hot out of the studio from recording their second album, Allston Beat (Moon), opened with their new title track. Their old skool style of Jamaican ska included the killer instrumentals “Can’t Say” and “Dr. Che” which enjoyed the deep horns of sax, trumpet and trombone. Other new material: “Answering Machine” – a reggae flavored cut with vocals by bass player Jonathan Noel, “Brighton Memories” – a youthful recollection of growing up in Brighton, “Don’t Go Yet” – a plea for people to stay “because the party has just begun and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the fun.”
Their set concluded with a tribute song to one their close friends, “Spike,” who passed away in 1994. Yet there was no sadness. Happiness prevailed because we know Glen was getting St. Pete skanking at the Pearly gates.
Now what’s all this about a Secret Special Guest??? Bim Skala Bim could not be announced but definitely came to pay their respects. Bim’s set included many of the classic ska anthems that made them arguably Boston’s premiere ska band. Glen’s father, noticeably moved by his son’s friends’ support, introduced Bim as they launched into “Jah Laundromat” from their 1986 debut. Other regulars in their set, “Diggin’ A Hole,” “Run Joe,” and “Wise Up,” were mixed with four songs from their latest album, Eyes & Ears: “Simple Song,” “Set Me Up,” “Pretty Flowers,” and “Train Song.” Bim also played a new song, “Red Eyes,” about a mass alien sighting/abduction in Australia years ago. This show marked a changing point for Bim. It was their last show with percussionist Rick Barry (after 11 years) and one of the final shows with flamboyant trombonist Vinny Nobile (8+ years). We’ll miss you guys!
The night was magical. The karma was incredible. The show sold out and a lot of money was raised for the scholarship fund. I’m sure some of the people who came didn’t know Glen before that Sunday evening, but I know they took a little bit of Glen home… along with a couple of stickers.