Last fall, a few mates of mine and I made this wonderful discovery. Through word of mouth, I learned that a local band called The Skatton Club was playing traditional ska in this small, cozy club on St-Laurent Street in Montreal.
Les Bobars is the perfect place for the die-hard ska fan to congregate every Monday night. It’s in an intimate setting and it’s dirt-cheap (Only 5$). The seven-piece ensemble put their own twist on the Jamaican classics. Most notable is the traditional guitar “skat” being played by a banjo and the bass violin filling the duties of the more common electric bass. It simply gives it a great vintage sound. Also worth mentioning is the talented horn section. My favorite part is when they each show off their skills during their respective solos.
Although I’m not there every Monday night, I usually look forward to the beginning of the week. Our small group of dedicated Skatton Club followers has been dubbed by Andre, the bandleader, as “The Skatton Family”. For us regulars, it’s a badge of honor. And let’s face it, we rule the place!
Well, I have to be honest. It’s not like a lonesome Mod and ten of his Skinhead friends lay down the law. We are far from Rude Boys of Kingston in the sixties. It’s more because there are usually only 30 patrons in the bar. Plus, we are an approachable bunch too!
But being part of the Skatton Family does have its privileges. For instance, we get to play our music between sets. Our friend Chai also gets to have Monkey Man dedicated to him at every show. I hope that’s a compliment…
So I thought that since I’m part of “The Familia”, I might tempt my chance and ask the band for a favor. I decided to send Andre Desilets, bandleader and tenor sax player, an email.
This is how it went.
We never had the chance to officially meet but I am part of the Skatton Family. I’m friends with Frank, Chai, Catherine and company. I’m the guy who arrives on the old Vespa.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate every Monday I get to see you on stage. What a great way to start the week! That being said, I have a special request. I love your version of Once Step Beyond and I was wondering if you would mind letting me do the spoken intro as heard in The Madness song. I noticed that don't have anybody doing it. You would make one of my dreams become reality.
Feel free to say no, I will still remain a loyal fan.
Kind regards and see you soon,
Here is Andre’s response.
Wow! I’m touched.
This is really cool Patrick.
No problem for the intro to Once Step Beyond. If you come tonight, we are doing the song in the second set. (You can also do the intro every time you come).
Thanks for your interest. We are trying to grow and we need people like you to feed us.
See you soon!
Have a nice day!
Dance & Dream
Very excited about the news, I immediately started practicing the intro, adding my own personal touch.
Hey you, don't watch that
This is the heavy heavy monster sound
The nuttiest sound around
So if you've come in off the street
And you're beginning to feel the heat
Well listen buster
You better start to move your feet
To the rockinest, rocksteady beat
Of The Skatton Club
One step beyond!
I picked out my best suit, ironed my button down shirt and shined my 10 hole Docs. I made sure that I had my camera with me to memorialize this momentous event. Suited and booted, I was ready to go.
I showed up and the usual gang greeted me. I announced to everyone that I had a surprise for them later in the evening. I handed my camera to J-F and asked him to take a picture of the surprise. “When will I know?” he asked. “Oh! You will know!” I responded.
Between the two sets, I passed Andre and he gave the thumbs up. He told me that he was going to call me up after the second song. So here it was, the moment of truth, my 30 seconds of fame…
As I get up on stage, I hear one of the band members say: “Well, well… He’s better dressed than all of us.” Facing the 30 spectators or so, I opened my mouth and as soon as the first word came out, the band started playing! Eh? What? This isn’t supposed to be happening! This part is supposed to be a cappella guys!
Doing my best not to look too confused, I tempted to go through the intro, trying to follow the beat. So there it is folks. That was my big break, my moment of glory. Andre even said that I did a great job and that I was welcomed to this anytime I wanted. The funny thing is, I really had a great time. And plus, what a great story to tell on my blog…
For an idea of how I thought it was going to go:
Madness - One Step Beyond