There was a band hailing from Santa Cruz with a huge cult following from the mid nineties to 2002. When this band played a packed Vets Hall for their farewell show, I was in attendance. The band is Slow Gherkin. Headed by front man James Rickman, the release of their first album Double Happiness brought about an awesome fusion of Traditional (1960s) and Third-Wave (1990s) Ska to the forefront of the popular Bay Area Ska movement of the late 90’s. Their second album Shed Some Skin was more Third-Wave and brought about some huge hits from S.G. such as their breakout song about insane partying and recklessness in Humboldt called “Trapped Like Rats in Myers Flat.” The third and final album, Run Screaming, is more a punk and rock ballad album about growing up and letting go of childhood. Even though the album contained very little Ska influence, it was still the same quality of S.G. I had grown to love.
I recently had the privilege of seeing Slow Gherkin after nine years at Thee Parkside in San Francisco. The reunion show coincided with one of the Asian Man Records 15th Anniversary shows, so it also featured three other amazing California Ska bands. Monkey from San Jose was the first on the bill, bringing their awesome Traditional Ska to the stage, I always love their sets. Unsteady was next, an incredibly great Ska/Reggae band, mixing in some Island and Jazz influences for flavor. Third was Buck-O-Nine, straight up ska-punk and one of the greatest. Recently joining Asian Man Records in 2007, Buck-O-Nine has been legendary in the California Ska-Punk scene since ‘96. Finally, Slow Gherkin entered the arena, huddling up for a cheer before going on stage, you could tell James was a tad bit nervous. He had nothing to fear, they tore down the roof of Thee Parkside with incredibly perfect renditions of fan favorites. From the old Ska fans (30-40) to the new (under 20), people were going insane for Slow Gherkin’s performance and rightly so. I felt 18 again and loved every minute of it.