Ska/Reggae Fest, with the Slackers

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Also with Middlefinger, the Failed Attempt, Shark Attack, Idiginis, Eleven Fingered Charlie, Subrosa Union, 7th Generation and the Big Takeover,12 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717 or www.meridianhouston.org.

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Given its members' myriad side projects, it's a wonder that we still get to see the Slackers proper live anymore, ever. It seems like each one has his own rocksteady, dub, jazz, punk rock, garage or soul iron in the fire so that when the Slackers finally do tour as a whole, it's rightfully an event of massive proportions. Since 1996's Better Late than Never, the NYC-based band has led the pack in giving the ska scene an injection of soul. As others fled for more commercial pastures, the Slackers' continuous rocksteady sound has never wavered. Their subsequent signing to Tim Armstrong's Hellcat Records in 1997 broke the band in exponential ways, exposing the core group of Rancid fans to things like Django Reinhardt-style guitars and dub sounds. Singer Vic Ruggiero has always channeled the best of the early ska vocalists — most prominently Prince Buster — and saxophonist Dave Hillyard is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to modern ska brass. The band headlines Meridian's Ska/Reggae Fest, featuring local Slackers acolytes Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans, the everlasting Suspects and Los Skarnales. Where the hell are my two-tone creepers and braces?

 
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