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Inside Track

Happy Skalidays, '60s garage surf, El Presidente's return and more.



For some people attending this year's Happy Skalidays show, 10 years ago saw them on winter break from elementary school. A decade after the first Skalidays, it's become one of the biggest holiday benefits in Richmond. All proceeds go to a local charity, with this year's recipient being the James House, which provides intervention and prevention services for survivors of violence. The organizers will also collect canned food, winter coats and blankets for Food Not Bombs and the Central Virginia Food Bank. To give, music fans of all ages are invited to the 10th annual Happy Skalidays at Alley Katz on Dec. 19. You will receive a stocking full of reggae, ska, punk and folk from local bands Murphy's Kids, Swim Champ and the Animal Beat, as well as Long Island's the Fad and Philly's Among Criminals.

If you can name more than one local band that currently plays '60s-style garage-surf tunes, then you're probably familiar with Baby Help Me Forget. This new quintet is  comprised of members from the Milkstains and the Color Kittens, the other two bands that should be on that list.

As unrelenting as any Richmond punk band, Cloak/Dagger has packaged a big punch in the face on their latest record for Jade Tree, “Lost Art.” The gritty melodies are still intact, thrusting the band beyond the confines of hardcore and into the hearts of sweaty circle pitters everywhere. One song from the album, along with two unreleased tracks, can be found on a tour 7-inch from Adagio 830 Records. You'll likely find it for sale at an upcoming show at Gallery 5 on Dec. 19.

James Mason of the Mason Brothers report that the song “Round and Round” from their debut album “The Sun, the Moon, and the Sea” is featured on the television show “90210.” The biggest news, however, is probably the debt incurred building a new studio in his house. That's where the folk rockers finished tracking their follow-up full-length, due out by the new year. Drums and bass were recorded at the Northern Virginia studio of keyboardist Mike Reina, who's been playing in a band with Smashing Pumpkin's drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

What started as a birthday present has turned into Richmond's gain. After an extended absence, rock band El Presidente has returned to local stages. T-shirts and a new album are in the works from the trio, which separately plays bluegrass (Flesh Mountain Boys), country (Black Cash & the Bad Trips), and metal (Brown Sabbath) in their spare time.

If you're going to cut a rock 'n' roll record, what better place to do it than the birthplace of the genre? That explains why Hamburger James headed down to Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn., to work on a second album. Over five days, the band worked its mojo into 17 songs, covering rock, rockabilly, blues, Western swing, soul and country. Give it a month or two for editing, mixing, and mastering, and we'll have another gem recorded in the same studios as the Million Dollar Quartet did.

Inside Track is compiled by Mike Rutz of “Activate!” on WRIR 97.3 FM.

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