The Duff Guide To Ska: The Hard Times To Play Benefit for Haitian Orphanages

Courtesy of The Duff Guide To Ska

NYC ska/reggae outfit The Hard Times is performing at the Kids 4 Kids/Artists 4 Haiti charity event organized to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake, which is taking place at the Bowery Poetry Club this Sunday, January 31st, from 1:00-6:00 pm.

For the Artists 4 Haiti portion of this event, The Hard Times will play their own short set of ska and reggae rhythms, accompanied by some of NYC’s most prominent world music percussionists. Following that, the band will serve as the house band for the rest of the event, backing notable New York poets and spoken word artists. (more…)

Show Review in New York Waste – Fall 2009

Karol Khaos reviewed our 8/29/09 show at Fontana’s for the fall 2009 issue of the old school punk zine New York Waste.

Hey Stranger @ Fontana’s July 29, 2009

The night before my birthday I headed to Chinatown to see one of NYC’s premiere ska bands; Hey Stranger. I caught them at Trash Bar a month prior but was really looking forward to seeing them again sober. My friend Ayin and I drove down to Fontana’s and were impressed by the beauty of the place. The upstairs portion is huge with full bar, lounge and interesting photography and paintings prominently displayed. We sat below a huge black and white portrait of legendary Joe Strummer. Taking it all in, we ventured downstairs to the main stage area and was greeting warmly by Jacob Wake-Up! from Hey Stranger. We were introduced to a few other members of the band after saddling up to the bar for a couple of brews. Hey Stranger finally hit the stage and we were blown away by how many musicians there were! Ska bands always have a huge horn section. hey Stranger play a very hi-energy set with catchy upbeat tunes with an old-school flare. I was mesmerized by the horn section and wish I was a better dancer because it really got me going. Great vibe and and awesome crowd by Hey Stranger fans. They are definitely building a huge following around the NYC area. Please keep a lookout for these talented musicians. They give their music away for free so stop and be sure to check

I have to work on getting a scan of this as there’s no online version.

Good Press and Bad Pictures; Thanks Jersey!

I kid, I kid. Many thanks to Phil and the good people at the Jersey Beat for reviewing The Hard Times show at Asbury Lanes (VERY cool venue, check these pictures). I just sort of wish they’d left out the picture at the end of the article…

Full Article Here – Take The Ska Heads Bowling:

So, the next band, The Hard Times, is up. Again, a young band, early twenties, and I’m hearin’ an instrumental, dub reggae cover of a 70’s One Hit Wonder Bill Wither’s “Use Me Up!” Dang, where they came up with that one I don’t know, but a young band grooving on a cool funk pop number like that, is a beautiful thing! Most of The Hard Times’ set was instro originals and covers, but during one of the originals the lead singer started talking about having car troubles on the way to the show. It was an old-school ska type of toasting that was cool and infectious! “Sunday Morning” was a ska song that was bubbling over with hot swing overtones.

I have to chuckle at the “young band, early twenties” bit. I’m the youngest in the band, and certainly can’t be considered early twenties.

Hey Stranger on D Throg’s Ska Review

Read about Hey Stranger and other great ska bands at D Throg’s Ska Review!

Link –

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hey Stranger Demo & Videos

I wanted to post some videos and a download link for a relatively new ska band Hey Stranger who plays shows in the greater NY / NJ area. They recently posted a 3-song demo that’s available for download at the following link through their Twitter site.

The demo they uploaded is catchy and kind of reminds me of the New York Citizens with a bit more of a pop punk influence and a Mustard Plug type feel with the horns. They sound distinctly 3rd wave with a heavy dose of pop hooks and sing along choruses. The best thing about the band is that you can tell they are having fun and it comes across in the music.

“Waited Out The Day” is probably the catchiest song on the demo. It’s more of a pop punk song than a ska song with more punk type guitar, but with the horns you’d expect from a ska song. “Pillow Talk” is also a good pop song if not a bit calloused and jaded with a more funky bass line. “Disaster” is more angry and maybe my favorite from the demo.

Check out a series of videos below. First, “Waited Out The Day”.

Second, “Disaster”.

Last, a cover of Natalie Imburglia’s “Torn”.

On another note October turned out to be a banner month for the blog! 8 total posts with 2 show reviews, an interview with an up and coming big time band in the Pinstripes, and some band profiles!

Deadly Dragon Sounds Reviews The Hard Times

Deadly Dragon Sounds had very nice things to say about The Hard Times. Yes, that’s me in the first pic, and yes that’s Roy Radics of Rudie Crew in the second pic and the video. The audience FREAKED when he joined us on stage for a few bars.

Next up was the band HARD TIMES.

These guys were NUTS!!! The band is totally instrumental and, at least to my untrained ears, sounded like a combination of Ska / surf guitar / early reggae with some fuzztone garage stuff mixed in!!! I don’t know what really to call it and since I don’t know the language of how to describe musicians and musicianship, let’s just say, it was super fun music played with a ton of energy and great vibe. At a certain point our man ROY RADICS of the RUDIE CREW jumped onto the stage with HARDTIMES and let loose a display of his DJ talents…flipping it inna UK / fast chat style that had me bawling for forwards!!!!


[The third picture is actually a video. Visit the original post for a video link. It’s worth it.]

Hey Stranger on Checkered Socks

The ska blog Checkered Socks recently posted about Hey Stranger. The original post can be found here:

Hey Stranger!

Hey Stranger is a relatively new band from New York City filled with a bunch of guys who are doing what they love. I’ve known about the band for a little while now but haven’t heard much from them yet because they only have a few songs recorded currently. While only a few songs are currently recorded they do have a full set they perform at shows several times a month.

While they were strangers to each other when they met they were not strangers to playing good music. Several of the band members were part of other bands previously but eventually had to seek out other music opportunities and managed to connect with each other via Craigslist. Each of them had a love of ska mixed in with other forms of music which helps add to this bands variety.

I’ve only heard a few of their songs but they really have a great sound to them. Probably my favorite song I’ve heard by them is “Disaster” which ties in some great upbeats, a smooth walking bassline, and solid horn line with some some occassional pop punk sounds.

Currently, they are still in the need of one more member, a guitarist/backing vocalist. Each of these guys have jobs and school they are balancing along with the band and they are looking for somebody who can keep up with them musically. If you feel you might be a good fit (and are in the NYC area), let them know and maybe you could be in a ska band too! More information.

While you’re thinking about it check them out online:


I Heard They Suck Live

Wednesday evening was my second gig as guitarist for Across The Aisle. It was a benefit for Just Food, and had a somewhat all over the place line up. The kind folks over at Lucid Culture had these kinds words about our set.

Female-fronted ska rockers Across the Aisle were next, blending ska with a brassy, chipper, cheery, occasionally sarcastic pop feel – imagine No Doubt without the weight of the corporation beating down on them, and with a horn section so tight you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between the sax and the trumpet. Everything they did was infectious: the sly Born Dirty, their signature song Across the Aisle which they began at hardcore speed, the impossibly catchy Out of Sight, Out of Mind, the sexy urban tale 59th and Lexington, a straight-up reggae number and the sardonic Everybody Lies: “Don’t be fooled by assholes,” Megg their frontwoman grinned. Thy Burden were a hard act to follow, but the party didn’t let up til Across the Aisle left the stage. All they need is some college radio exposure and this band will be huge.

Much appreciated. I thought the rest of their review was a little harsh on the band that played prior to us, as they weren’t really intended to play that night anyways, and truth be told, they were catchy as hell.

Catch us again Sunday night at Club Europa opening for Pilfers (reunion!), Bomb The Music Industry!, and Sonic Boom Six.