Fans of punk rock worldwide have something to be thankful for this holiday weekend. The long awaited reissuing of the original, ground-breaking SKAFISH debut album finally happens Friday. The album is being made available on digital and CD formats, with plans for a possible vinyl LP version next year.
To celebrate the Nov. 29 release, Skafish will be in-studio at 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio for a special two-hour "Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges" program from 1-3 p.m. to discuss the reissuing of the album, during which many newly tweaked tracks on the disc will be played on radio for the first time. "We'll be filming the Lakeshore interview as well, since this interview will be the official release event," said Jim Skafish, adding that he will be making 'a special announcement during the radio appearance.
The original 1979 pressing of the "Skafish" album on I.R.S. Records has been a sought after collectible for many years by fans of the early punk/new wave scene. " Over the years, I was always being asked about the album and now it's finally available again. There has been a real buzz about this reissuing from fans," said Skafish, leader, writer and namesake of what many consider Chicago's first true punk band. His still fervent global fan base helped finance the remastering costs for the project through a "Kick Starter" campaign.
The Skafish album and the artist were instantly controversial, because mainstream America was not ready for the artist's stark and androgynous image nor his rebellious songs addressing bullying, hatred, bigotry, religion and the alienation of family. "We were always controversial and I knew the record would shake things up, but I didn't realize American radio would flat out refuse to play the album, solely based on the cover," reflected Skafish, a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute and lifelong resident of East Chicago.
Skafish went from America to the world market when they signed to I.R.S., the record label owned and managed by Ian Copeland and Miles Copeland, brothers of rock drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police.
"We'd been causing quite a stir since our early Chicago debut in February of 1976," recalled Skafish. "We were receiving a great deal of press, even though I never granted any interviews back then. I don't know exactly when I came on the radar of I.R.S. Records, but shortly after Ian Copeland came to my concert at Hurrah in New York City in December 1978, his brother Miles contacted my management, which lead to the record deal in 1979. We were the first American act and the second act worldwide to be signed to the label. The Police were the first."
Unlike anything on the music scene at the time, Skafish broke barriers down by adding fuel to the fires of outrageousness first set by artists like Iggy Pop, David Bowie and the New York Dolls. England had The Sex Pistols, New York had The Ramones and Chicago had Skafish, a classically-trained Region musician with an arsenal of scathing songs performed in sundresses, a nun's habit and other outlandish stage wear.
"I'll be talking a lot about those early days during Friday's radio interview," said Skafish. "It was a really crazy time and we were there in the thick of it all."
Skafish has long been laboring on the remastering process, along with fine-tuning the CD packaging. "Reissuing was a very complex process," he said. "Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler has mastered records for artists such as Madonna, Nine Inch Nails and Ramsey Lewis. He and I worked on this daily for 9 months straight. I lived with this record around the clock, listening to it while doing my daily weight training, driving the car and whenever I could. We worked from a copy of the Studio 2 master track. We paid attention to every detail, no extra compression was added, the guitars sound more powerful, the sound is clearer and the overall presence of the record is far stronger."
Getting to that point was a long process in itself according to Skafish. "Before any of this could start, I first had to terminate the rights of the record company to get the album back. The rights then became mine in May of 2015, some 35 years after the original release of the album, and now 40 years later, here we are."
• Those looking for someplace to go other than the couch after one's Thanksgiving meal, may want to consider dancing off the calories at Beer Geeks (3030 45th St.) in Highland, where Kenny Kinsey & Funk Mojo Daddy will be busting out R&B, rock and blues tunes for a little holiday partying, starting at 8 p.m. More: 219-513-9795 or beergeekspub.com.
• Chad Clifford -- front man and guitarist of The Crawpuppies -- steps out to strum and sing solo on Saturday from 7-10:30 p.m. at Gelsosomo's Pizza (11319 Broadway) in Crown Point. Be sure to ask Chad to slip in some of his rock solid original tunes and prepare to be impressed. More: 219- 662-2828 or gelscrownpoint.com.
• LeAnn Stutler hosts her second all ages CD release party in as many weeks, this Friday from 7-10 p.m. at Bridges Scoreboard (121 N. Griffith Blvd.) in Griffith. More: 219- 924-2206, facebook.com/LeAnnStutler97 or bridgesscoreboard.com.
• The Newports will bring NWI-style of rock and soul to Three Oaks, Michigan on Saturday with a return date to The Acorn Theater (107 Generations Dr.), with an opening set by guitarist Keith Scott. General admission seating: $20. acornlive.org.
• Getting into the spirit of the season is the point of the "Heavy Holiday Celebration" at Mark O's Bar & Grill (435 Ridge Road.) in Munster on Saturday when the R&B/Motown and Latin sounds of the 10-piece ensemble, HEAVY, perform from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. More: 219- 836-2056.
• Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 W. U.S. 20) in Porter welcomes the funky rock-blues sound of Kenny Kinsey & Mojo Daddy on Friday at 8 p.m., followed on Saturday by the Latin-Dance ensemble, Together at 9 p.m. More: leroyshotstuff.com or 219-926-6211.
• Justin King of Open Your Eyes and Sticky Scissors fame, will guest co-host the monthly "Acoustic Open Mic" this Sunday from 4-6 p.m. at The Record Bin (218 Main St.) in Hobart. Joining King in co-hosting will be singer/songwriter Brittney Garrett. All ages are welcome to perform and attend the free event, that includes complimentary light refreshments. More: 219- 945-9511 or facebook.com/LiveAtTheRecordBin.
• Music fans can wrap up "Small Business Saturday" by shakin' off dem 'ol winter blues at Hobart Art Theatre (230 Main St.) in Hobart, with a budget friendly "Tribute to Muddy Waters" performance by the late great Chicago blues icon's youngest son, Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield & The Mannish Boyz. Also on the bill are Generation Gap featuring Nic Byrd and noted Region slide guitarist, Jack Whittle. Showtime: 6 p.m. General Admission Tickets: $15 advance/$20 at door. More: facebook.com/HobartArtTheatre or facebook.com/RegionalSpecialEventsShows.
• Tickets go on sale tonight for a late-breaking, just added double-bill concert at The Hobart Art Theatre (230 Main St.) in Hobart. On Dec. 13, two top regional bands, The UnStoppables and Nomad Planets will team up to showcase their musical wares. The two bands are both comprised of veteran area music-makers making each a virtual NWI super-group of sorts. Info/tickets: facebook.com/HobartArtTheatre.
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