Bim Skala Who? Exactly. Bim Skala Bim is a Boston band from the 90s who specialized in the ska sounds from bands like the English Beat that came before. Bands in Boston have been working with that sound for a long time. Mighty Mighty Bosstones or the Dropkick Murphy’s have had some varied success taking that sound to the masses, but for every breakout single there are countess other albums and bands from Boston that toil away on that sound in obscurity. Bim Skala Bim was one of those.
It’s clearly a labor of love, and it’s a sound that Boston has an ownership stake in. A great mix of the cities Irish roots, ska, punk. In the mid 90s when I was bouncing around Beantown was right about the time that the Bosstones were making it big around their hit “The Impression That I Get”. Bim Skala Bim was a much more stripped down and clean version of the sound, with the basic requirements – pep, horns, a singer with a raspy voice. For this show, they played at the badly named and Steven Tyler owned “Mama Kin”. Very Boston.
While still a great show, the more memorable shows at the time were the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (MMB) shows. They were the first band I knew of who had a designated dancer in the band. Maybe he played a tambourine from time to time, but for the most part, he just danced. Not that it was needed to get the crowd behind the show, you can’t go to an MMB show and not want to move your feet. Maybe you’ll need to in order to bounce off the person next to you. Very few people can (or want to) stand still at a MMB show.
The Bim Skala Bim show would have featured more dancing and quiet appreciation. MMB shows were BIG NIGHTS OUT. After a while, MMB would put together 4 – 5 night stays at a club in Cambridge called the Middle East. Still one of the best rock clubs I’ve ever known. In the summer they’d have sweaty sessions and in the winter the December Hometown Throwdown would be the best way to regroup with old friends. It’s a winter tradition they’ve continued for years.
Back then MMB used to dress up all in plaid and their big band of 8 – 10 guys would be just as crammed onto the stage as we were into the sold out club. Lead singer Dicky Barrett screaming into the mike, the rock portion of the band going crazy, the dapper dancer floating over it all, it made for a rawkus good time.
For this ticket stub, they played at the historic Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, right in my hometown backyard. It was on a much bigger stage and a much bigger crowd that I was used to. Given that it was in my old stomping grounds, it had it’s own homecoming feeling to it for me. I preferred to see them in those little clubs and would gladly go see them again for that raw, fun feeling. It was a great mix of dancy ska and unforgiving punk. Listening to that to me now is a great homecoming of sorts.