Ska lovers rejoice… again! The Skacademy Awards are back for their second year of celebrating all things checkered, up-stroked, and horn themed behind the Orange Curtain - and now (one step) beyond!
Skacademy Awards cofounders Cameron Hallenbeck and Whitney Dunkle caused quite a stir in the ska world in 2016 when they turned a ska pun from inside joke to an actual event centered on celebrating the wild and weird Orange County ska scene. Pulled together in just under three weeks and complete with skalebrity guests like Tazy Phyllypz, awards ranging from ‘Most Upstrokes’ to ‘Best Skanker,’ and live performances, the ceremony took over Out of the Park Pizza in Anaheim, reinvigorating OC ska’s sense of community and inspiring the pizza place to continue hosting ska shows.
The response to last years event was incredible, Hallenbeck even had people asking about plans for 2017’s event before there was any official talk of picking it up where they left off. Since last year, He and Dunkle have kept busy booking shows and events through their own production company called Pocket Entertainment, including Skamic-Con, a ska-themed comic book event. This weekend, they will continue their newly instituted tradition, assembling little golden rude boys and rolling out the red carpet once again, now inviting bands and fans from Los Angeles and around the world to be part of the fun too. Bands from places like Massachusetts, Georgia, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Kansas, Florida, Washington D.C., Oklahoma, and Texas are up for awards, nominated by their regional fan bases, and that’s less than half of the regions outside of California set to be represented at the Awards this weekend.
This year the live performance lineup includes 13 bands featuring Gogo13, Monkey, Karate In The Garage, and the OC Ska Kids performing over two days at the Skacademy Awards, and 27 Awards given out honoring the musicians and fans locally and nationally. The People’s Choice Awards are especially close to Dunkle’s heart since it gives fans a chance to be recognized for their constant support. "It's amazing to see their faces light up and see how excited they get because while all the bands are incredible," Dunkle says. "It is a team effort between the fans and the bands to keep the genre alive.” Fans will finally be recognized in areas such as “Best Drinker,” “Most Sarchastic,” and “Best Hair (beards ok).” Some new awards for this year include an entire section of Los Angeles Area awards, the all region “Spirit Of 97' Award” honoring a band that most embodies 1997, and the 2017 Best Album open to all bands internationally.
Ska Brewing is the official sponsor, helping out by providing banners, new trophies, pint glasses, and tons of prizes for attendees and winners, but most importantly: selling ska beer on tap! Attendees can purchase raffle tickets to win prize packs donated by people from Big D and the Kids Table to Ska Brewing, with all proceeds going to the Orange County chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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Dunkle and Hallenbeck did not anticipate the impact the Skacademy Awards would have on the local ska community, but are glad that it helped people get excited about something that means a lot to them. For Dunkle, “It is the people that really make Ska important.” Hallenbeck loves ska, not just for its aesthetic value and OC connections, but for its anti-racist political history, an important message to remember in Anaheim this week in the shadow of the police brutality incident that transpired Tuesday. “Ska was a form of rebellion but also unity,” he says, “people need a place to go and forget about their problems for a night and also stand in solidarity as a group that appreciates and looks out for each other.”
The event is free, all ages, and sure to please all current or former rudies, hooligans, third wavers, moon stompers, or even just casual fans of two-toned puns and pizza.
When asked about the potential for a “Best Ska Pun” award, Hallenbeck had to set one thing straight. “I think that may be the most requested award yet, and to be clear there's no such thing as a good ska pun, they're all terrible.”
GOGO13, MONKEY, Hooray for Our Side, Half Past Two, Stupid Flanders, Karate in the Garage, Rundown Kreeps, The b Sharps, Unicorn Injection, Noise Complaint, Failed To Victory, Comrade Cat, OC Ska Kids will perform at Out Of The Park Pizza Anaheim February 24th and 25th 7PM, free, all ages.
5638 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA, 92807.