There is the hospitality, and there is the Muslim hospitality: and then there is the hospitality of the people from Solo.
Few months ago, when I was still planning the Asian Busking Tour, I noticed that my facebook page gained 2 new fans from Indonesia. As the day of my departure was getting closer and I wrote about a possible itinerary including Thailand and Indonesia, as they’re both places where I have a discreet FB following and they seemed to have a lively reggae and ska scene.
Once in KL, I received the invitation to go to play in Surakarta, Central Java, or, as they call it, Solo, and Indonesian city that does’nt receive half the attention of the nearby Jogjakarta, but that still attracts some tourists who want to visit the Kraton, the Sultan’s palace.
Sometimes though, not to be listed in the Lonely Planet can be a great thing…
I did’nt know what to expect from my new friends in Solo, apart from what I’ve seen in some of their facebook profiles; a passionated bunch of very young folks, with a deep love for Ska, old Italian Vespas and vintage clothes…well, sometimes you can’t get it all online, you need to see it for yourself.
Bagas picked me up at a big hotel in front of the train station, and put me on his bike straight away. Together with 2 friends (Robot and Dhimas), we went to get some street food, a local delicacy whose name now I don’t recall. We had our soup sitting crossed legs on a carpet right on the sidewalk, in front of a building with a big sign on it.
After few minutes many other friends showed up; some in an old Vespa Primavera, some in a car, some bringing a guitar along. When we started jamming together I realized how much talent and love for music these guys had. Despite the fact that a lot of them just speak a very basic English, they knew pretty much all the lyrics from the most famous Jamaican classics and they could sing those tunes perfectly, with the right feel and great harmonies. I was amazed to see, how these young lads, from 18 to 25 years old, could have more style and knowledge that most of the “Rudies” back in England, who think that ska is all about “Monkey Man” and “One Step Beyond”.
“I’m in the mood for love”, “Girl I’ve got a date”, “Rudies All Around”, this is the ska that the People of Solo like to listen to and sing along…! The real deal, old school Jamaican Ska, no jokes !!!
That night we all got back to Rio’s house, one of the lucky guys to have a flat on his own, and we spent the night drinking Ciu (a local liquor), smocking heavy local cigarettes (them) and sweating, while the hot tropical night was laying down its black curtain on that very busy first day.
During the 3 days I’ve spent with these guys, I’ve been offered the most interesting street food and local drinks, been pampered like a little baby, carefully taken care of, and they even got me a gig in a small café.
The day before the gig we have been jamming and rehearsing in a little but very well equipped studio, and after each musician took his place to an instrument, more people joined in, a trombone, a saxophone, and these guys are so talented that at times the drummer would have a go on the guitar, or the trombone player would get a the bass for few songs, and we kept jamming like this for the whole night.
No one of these guys make any money from music, yet they all work or study, and self produce and distribute their material, through a solid underground scene all across Indonesia, but especially well connecting bands from Java.
It’s very hard for them to get paid gigs, but as this music attracts a lot of people, bar owners provide the venue and stage and at the end of the show, the musicians involved collect offers from the audience (a put some of their own money too) to pay the guys who rent the PA system.
A very good old school system indeed.
After a couple of local bands, I’ve played a solo set, and after some surprising request for original MM tunes, bassist and drummer joined me and we played nearly an hour gig, while the happy people of Solo were skanking and enjoying singing along.
I had such a great time with these lads that on the first night out I came up with a new song called “People Of Solo”, that of course they learnt straight away, provoding great backing vocals on the chorus and making me feel so good when we played that song live, cause the audience could feel that the song was about them. Hopefully I will be able to include that track on my forthcoming debut album coming out this late summer.
If you want to listen to some of these local ska bands, here’s a list provided by my good friend Bagas, with the name of each band and contact details to get some downloads and more informations.
People of Solo, ska rocksteady reggae from the soul !!!
1. The Mobster
The Mobster founded in 2003, some of their members are the Ska scene pioneers of Surakarta whose active since the late of 90s.
2. The Suspender
The Suspender founded in the beginning of 2007 since high school days, as a revivalist and made a regeneration of the Ska scene in Solo.
Their first name was Stabillo. Ex-pop band that founded since the late of 2006 by a group of schoolmates, they changed their vision to plays ska with pop and lil bit swing touch from the late of 2007.
Founded since the late of 2007, the name is combinated from Ska + Saturnus (Saturn Planet in Indonesian Language).
6. The Billy Sentris
Founded in the mid 2008 by a group of a highschoolmates from SMAN 2 Mendungan (a high scool that located near CS Coffeeshop)
7. Baling-Baling Bambo
Started as a three boys who played punkrock/ska in the mid of 2009, then they turned into a full swingy/bluesy ska band. (Riswan AKA Mr. Black is an ex-member of this band)
8. The Glow
Founded in the late of 2010, Rio runs this band along with his bassist (Mula Aditya Permana) and take their band members randomly from Surakarta Allstars.
9. Lady Scooter Ska
The name looks so cute, but actually consist of boys. One of Surakarta’s ska band, founded since in the mid of 2011.
10. Survive On Satnight AKA SOS
The regeneration still remains. Founded in the late of 2011, SOS became the most recently founded ska band from Solo. They have a great musicality and passion to plays ska.
11. Rat Ska City
The one and only ska punk band in Solo. Founded since 2008.