Mike Steady's ready to help pick up the ska music scene in a big way.
The owner of Go Steady Entertainment, who once put on shows for bands like Anti-Flag and the Varukers in the 1990s, will present the Big 8 Ska Bonanza festival on Nov. 11.
The all-day music event at The Packard in Long Beach, 205 East Anaheim Street, will feature performances from Southern California ska acts like OC Ska Kids, The CapSouls, Despicable Good Guys, Hooray for Our Side, the b Sharps, Unsteady, Monkey (from San Jose) and LA's Matamoska.
Between bands, there will also be DJ sets by Tommy Gunn and Nelson Rome of the Sunday Social; Christian Loppez of Roots Rocksteady Rebellion; Soulful Selector of Reg-A-Matic Sound System; and Lindsay Mendoza. Tazy Phyllipz of the radio show Ska Parade will emcee the event.
"I knew that I wanted the show to feature all SoCal ska bands," Steady said. "When I began making calls, there wasn't a single band that wasn't into the idea."
The show is taking place during Steady's 30th year of listening to ska music. Prior to that, in the 1980s, Steady hung out more with the punks and skinheads, who could often spread racist ideals.
Eventually, in 1987, he began listening to bands like the Specials and Madness, which promoted kindness to all people, regardless of the color of their skin.
Steady, who attended Bad Manners as his first ska show, said there is a certain friendliness at ska shows that he hopes to carry on at his festival.
"When I started going to ska shows, I started to see people I knew all the time," he recalled. "The music is pretty infectious. If you want to dance, you have to move when you hear ska. If you don't, there's something wrong with you. Ska is a social movement as well. I think [when I first got into ska] that was really the time that I started thinking about politics and, especially, racial politics. Being a skinhead and experiencing other skinheads that were racist really got me into politics for the first time of my life at 19 years old."
One of Steady's biggest goal for the show is to cultivate a ska music scene in Long Beach. Orange County and Los Angeles each have their own scenes, he said. However, possibly because of a lack of venues for bands to play, the same can't be said for the city he calls home.
He said he's glad to be able to provide a place in Long Beach for not only ska bands in general to play, but for younger groups that are limited in where they are allowed to perform.
Most shows, he said, are at bars where younger music fans can't get through the door and bands under 21 aren't allowed to play.
Lucas Jakobi, of OC Ska Kids, said his group, which is comprised of mainly people under 21, is grateful to be a part of Big 8 Ska Bonanza.
"All-ages shows are vital because if they did not exist, I would not nearly be as involved in this scene as I am now as a 20-year-old," he said.
Of course, the festival will also cater to those who are over 21. Ska Brewing will pour craft beer throughout the day. (Steady said it was a no-brainer to get the Colorado-based brewing company involved. He actually reached out to them before any bands.)
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SoCal Caribbean Halal Gourmet Food Truck will serve West Indian fusion tacos, quesadillas, burritos and curries. Vegan options will also be available.
Steady said he would ideally like to put more shows on in the future to help a growing ska scene in California.
"The ska scene has really been picking up here," he said. "There are a lot of bands, including young ones, that are sprouting up. Hopefully it goes somewhere."
Tickets for the festival are available at big8skabonanza.eventbrite.com for $16 pre-sale. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $20.