After seeing regional ska band Skankin’ Pickle at Loudon Nelson Community Center, Slow Gherkin front man James Rickman says the idea to start a ska group was born. “We were so blown away by that band and their energy, and how people went crazy. It was so positive and such a good time, we knew we wanted to do that.” Slow Gherkin marinated in the summer of 1993—Zack “ZK” Kent and Phil Boutelle had just graduated from Santa Cruz High School with friends Rickman and AJ Marquez graduating two years later—and their live shows were the stuff of legends. Selling out the old Palookaville on the weekend, the band would return to school Monday surrounded by fans. Then, the members of Slow Gherkin lived every teenager’s fantasy—getting signed to a label. Asian Man Records owner Mike Park remembers, “Slow Gherkin was a pretty amazing band. The first time I saw them, they looked like they were still in junior high, but as I’m told now they were all in high school. But damn—a band that good playing ska as 13-16-year-old kids was pretty impressive.” Blossoming into a nine-piece band, they went on the road with ska originators the Toasters and the Skatalites, but more often, they found themselves touring with bro-bands, like the Gadgets, The Plus Ones, and Edna’s Goldfish. Eventually, the weight of so many band members became financially unstable and in 2002, Slow Gherkin disbanded and let the brine flow back into the community. Collectively known as “Join, or Die,” the original members continue to contribute to the local music scene, via The Cold Cuts; Longboard Porter and the Supers; The Huxtables; and Dan P and the Bricks. High school reunions are rarely enjoyable, but this one-night-only Slow Gherkin resurrection is the exception to the rule.
INFO: 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 423-8209.