In Defense of Ska book cover

Do you like ska?

More importantly, would you admit to liking ska?

Ska, a music with a delightfully checkered past, started Jamaica in the 1950s, moved across the pond to the UK for the 2-Tone revival, and then enjoyed some commercial success in the late 1980s and 1990s. Everyone I knew in the 90s owned a Clueless soundtrack purely for track 10: “Where’d You Go” by The Mighty Mighty BossToneS.

Though ska had a slow-burn rise to widespread popularity, its exit was quick…and brutal. In recent years, ska has been the butt of many jokes, and this brilliant art form hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves. Author Aaron Carnes is encouraging ska enthusiasts to skank their way out of the closet with his new book, In Defense of Ska.

The book provides a minute of ska history before launching into making the case for ska, largely centered around sound and craft the early-to-mid-’90s ska bands such as Skankin’ Pickle and Mustard Plug. Carnes is deeply personal in relating accounts of how ska not only had an impact on the world, but on how ska had an impact on him. It’s clear from his accounts of his own lived experiences — both as a musician and a fan — that the joy, the energy, and the camaraderie of the scene have made him unassailable to any snide remarks from those who don’t get it. In the long run, this book is about ska but it’s more than that. It’s about loving what brings you joy without reservation. That’s something everyone can appreciate, regardless of their musical leanings.

Personally, I would have loved it if Carnes’ book had delved more into the rich history of the genre. However, maybe that’s material for another book?

If you love ska, or if you want to find out what makes ska enthusiasts tick, you might want to pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.

In Defense of Ska is available for pre-order now.

You can meet Carnes at the following In Defense of Ska events:

Book Signing
Streetlight Records Santa Cruz
May 7, 2021, 7:30pm

Book Signing
Streetlight Records San Jose
May 8, 2021

Virtual “in conversation” with Steve Palopoli
Bookshop Santa Cruz
May 10, 2021

Ed. Note: Aaron is a Northern California music writer, and has published pieces with us in the past.