The Self Made Men
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The Self Made Men

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"Show Review: The Slackers, The Impalers, Self-Made Men"

Last night was the culmination of the holiday weekend, and what a way to end the season - first the dramatic overtime victory for the San Diego Chargers over the Indianapolis Colts, and then a ska show at San Diego’s famous Casbah.

Opening the show were San Diego locals, Self-Made Men. The band features local ska fixture John Roy performing vocals and sax. The band plays a dynamic mix of traditional ska, reggae and calypso-influenced songs and flexes its musical chops across all styles. They definitely got the crowd’s attention, and I think that SMM will be building a strong core of supporters as they continue to gig and record.

Next up were San Francisco’s The Impalers, who showcased their brand of skinhead reggae, highlighted by the strong vocal performance by lead singer Cindy Chi. Fans of The Aggrolites and rocksteady/reggae will definitely want to check out this band. Judging by the packed dance floor during their set, The Impalers are well on their way to establishing themselves in the United States; having already toured Europe.

Finally, headliners and ska veterans The Slackers took the stage, and with the opening notes of their set, brought everyone in from the cold patio and back bar to pack the main room and dance floor. I’ve seen The Slackers several times before, but usually in an outdoor or festival-type setting. It was really nice to see them in the confines of a more intimate venue such as The Casbah, where they really took command of the room and put on a powerful performance. The energy level was high, the musical arrangements tight, and the crowd ate it up. All around the room people were dancing, swaying, and bobbing heads, all with smiles on faces. Whenever you have a strong lineup of bands like last night, you wonder if the headliner will be able to rise above the rest, and The Slackers certainly did that. Maybe it’s just experience, confidence, or longevity, but The Slackers showed why they have been main-stays of ska scene for so long and have maintained the status among top American ska bands throughout all the ups and downs of the ska music world for many years now, and hopefully, many years to come.


The Self Made Men EP - 2009



The Self Made Men are a conglomerate of working-class fans of working-class music. We came together to keep it alive and help it thrive for future generations. Front man John Roy is a 25 year veteran in the San Diego ska community, having played for many local and international bands including The English Beat, OMD, Colorblind, The Big Express, Buddy Blue, Spy Kids, Gangbusters, Unsteady, Windsor Hill Steppers, and the list goes on.
After touring and living on the road, John returned to his San Diego roots, engineering sound for local shows and festivals. The unfortunate death of friend and bassist David Fuentes sparked John and bassist Alex ‘Lex’ Wright to reignite their flame for ska music. Seeing the need to fill San Diego’s lack of rootsy, soulful ska, they set about to assemble a full-sized combo ala The Funk Brothers, The Stax (Booker T and The MGs) lineup and The Skatalites.
Lex moved back to his hometown of San Diego from Northern California in 2003, where he played sax for No Crime Zone and The Steady Ups. In 2005 he joined the local band Rice Rokit on bass for two years until he and John recruited Thom ‘Jett’ Brown (singer/songwriter/pub crawler/guitarist extraordinaire) of Unsteady to join them on six-string duties. They added the skills of trumpeter Chris Lafave who also plays with The Lifters and formerly played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings. Long time L.A. based reggae drummer Ryan ‘Mr. Ras’ Schmollinger who has drummed for L.A. based bands: The Maroons, The Soul Fools, The Effen Wineoz, Noise, Idren, and The Bashments added his beat on the skins; and local bassist/fisherman/gardener/political activist/jack of all trades ‘Jah’ Josh Kotner jumped over from his other band, The Optimators, to play organ and complete the rhythm section for The Self Made Men. The boys most recently picked up Mike ‘Prince Bobby’ McConnell from The Night Doctors, and trombone ringer/music instructor Brandon Jagow to share the big brass duties.
The Self Made Men have been very busy recording and playing live shows throughout Southern California. They have shared the stage with The Slackers, The Chris Murray Combo, See Spot, The Mad Caddies, and many others. More to come from the sandy seaside city where the sun shines for shady people.