Stubborn Is Just Right- not luddite

Posted on July 9th, 2010 by JJ Loy

I’ve got ’nuff respect for any body out there trying to make a living while running a Ska/Reggae record label.  Read: With all due respect…  But in this day and age, form is dictating success.  What I mean to say is that today’s music consumer demands music in the format that they prefer and are not likely to make a purchase if the medium is not right for them.

I’m still lamenting the passing of A1 Records, which was a donation-based digital distribution method for Gregory Kraj’s massive musical catalog.  All digital and no prices found Kraj closing shop.

Of course, I’ve been championing all year for being such an amazing digital distributor in the Ska/Reggae world, so I won’t keep blowing smoke.  They are all digital, but unlike A1, Whatevski requires payment for each album you desire.  Plus, they’ve won my heart by finally releasing Da Whole Thing’s Tooth.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the legendary Jump Up! from a man like Chuck Wren.  I think that Jump Up is still the best place to buy Ska and Reggae because of their selection, but I recently caught their mission statement which gave me pause:

We strive to keep an art form alive, let the others try to cash in on digital – the “easy” and soul less “format” of music. Not us!

Needless to say, I hope that this backwards facing policy doesn’t bite Jump Up in the butt, I’d hate to lose them.  I just can’t agree with the sentiment that limiting availability will help anyone in the long run- not the label, not the bands and certainly not the customers.  I’m glad that there are still selectors that stockpile vinyl (and even CD’s); but vinyl need not die just because the world has moved on.

This is why Stubborn Records, the label and distro side of King Django’s Version City, has found itself the perfect balance.  Django works hard to keep the vinyl coming- making trips to Jamaica to press 45′s in that old JA way.  But now Stubborn is offering several ways to acquire most of their best offerings, often in a digi-fashion.  And I don’t think the vinyl and CDs will suffer for it.  Django says:

…most in-print Stubborn Records releases are now available at Amoeba Records, Hollywood (CDs and vinyl) and JoJoSouth Records, Baltimore, MD (vinyl only).

Most titles are also now available in physical and digital formats at Interpunk, Amazon and CD Baby.

That’s right- you can pick your own poison!  So out of encouragement for this forward-thinking, anti-luddite behavior, I’m going to show off a few of the great records you can buy from Stubborn in a digi-format.

Roots, Branch and Stem: Living Tradition in Ska – This was my first introduction to Stubborn and Version City way back when, and I still pull tracks from it on the reg.

King Django Quintet – Brooklyn Hangover – Tons of King Dj’s top hits, performed live in ’07 and released earlier this year.

Da Whole Thing – at Version City – Sure, Tooth is their best record, but everything this NY super group recorded was genius.  If you want to be a DWT completest, this is a must!

Comments (0) Jul 09 2010

King Django on CKUT

Posted on September 19th, 2008 by JJ Loy

I didn’t get the chance to promote the episode of Roots Rock Rebels that featured Gabe Pressure, Bobby Babylon and myself, but I was very happy with Aaron’s troicket of podcaster interviews.  Right on the heels of his media spectacular comes another interview- this time with King Django!

Django and his Version City and Stubborn Records institutions have fallen on some hard times and several tragedies have plagued Mr. Baker, this summer.  But on the bright side of things, it sounds like some really killer records are on their way out.  Look forward to new Sic and Mad as well as a new Victor Rice Dub record.

While your at it, go ahead and listen to the show:  Listen to Roots Rock Rebels interview with King Django

And if your still in an interview listening mood, surf over to Pressure Drop and check out Gabe’s new chat with Horrace Painter from the Specials.

Comments (0) Sep 19 2008

Combination13 makes Ska look good.

Posted on November 12th, 2007 by JJ Loy

So by now, you’ve probably noticed that Ska Blah Blah is sporting a new logo. Pretty nice, eh? It’s the work of Steve at Combination13, who designs album covers and promotional designs that often fit a very ska aesthetic.



Steve is the designer-in-residence at UK’s Do the Dog Records and is responsible for their main logo and all promotional material. The bands signed to Do the Dog also get the benefit of Steve’s artistic touch- he’s designed album covers for such bands as Too Many Crooks, Squid 58 and 3 min Warning.



You can see a variety of this work at Combination13′s Gallery. Surf shops, skate companies, and independent clothing lines have all employed Steve’s talents, as well as your pals The Slackers and King Django.



Like a digitized tattoo, his work feels vintage in approach but modern in it’s execution. Classic icons as wide ranging as Betty Page and Sailor Jerry as well as Walt Jabsco and Spy vs Spy, influence his clean vectored lines. Despite his polished graphics, many of Steve’s projects have a used- almost tarnished veneer that keeps the look from getting too slick. This salty-sweet combination epitomizes DIY, with a professional touch.


He’s a fan of the show, and kindly offered to work on my new flyers and logo. All he’s asked for in return is a graciously placed link on my site. Now that fits my budget. The flyer below is a preview for the new episode, which should hit the net tonight.



Comments (1) Nov 12 2007

Field Trip – Ska Weekend ’07 – Special Episode

Posted on September 19th, 2007 by JJ Loy

I drove from St. Louis to Knoxville, TN to attend the big Ska Weekend, in the hopes of snagging a few interviews and catching a bunch of live sets from today’s top Ska artists. And wouldn’t you know it? I did just that.

While this piece tracks my day, the people I talked to and the music I was most interested in, it is by no means a report on the event as a whole. You’ll hear live songs by Deals Gone Bad, Westbound Train, Dr. Ring Ding feat. The Drastics and The Slackers. Plus, interviews with King Django, Anthony from the Drastics, Dr. Ring Ding and Agent Jay Neugent.

Links of Interest:

Ska Weekend Website
Musical Occupation’s coverage of the event

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Comments (1) Sep 19 2007