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|Origin||Brooklyn, New York City, New York|
|Genres||Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady, dub, dancehall, rhythm & blues, soul, Klezmer|
|Musician, Songwriter, Producer|
The King Django Band
King Django (born Jeffrey Baker) is a highly influential American bandleader, singer, songwriter, arranger, engineer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, especially in the genres of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall, rhythm & blues and soul. Other influences in his music have included traditional jazz, swing, klezmer, hardcore/punk rock, hip-hop and electronica.
Django has toured many times throughout the US, Europe, Canada, and Japan as the leader of Stubborn All-Stars, Skinnerbox, and the King Django Band and as a sideman with such renowned acts as Rancid, Murphy's Law, The Slackers, and The Toasters. He is also widely known and respected as an influential mentor to younger musicians, sharing and spreading his deep knowledge of and love for Jamaican and American music. Django currently performs regularly leading the King Django Band and Bad Luck Dice and as a sideman with Predator Dub Assassins.
King Django was born at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in the east Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie. His interest in music was sparked while attending Hunter College High School in uptown Manhattan, NY. At age 15 he became a professional computer programmer in NYC. Since taking up the trombone at age 19, the self-taught musician has been steadily playing, touring, and recording with a series of bands. From 1986 to 1988, he played trombone, wrote, composed, sang and co-lead the seminal NYC Rocksteady band The Boilers. In late 1988 Django formed Skinnerbox, melding ska, reggae, dancehall, funk, punk, jump blues, soul and psychedelia.
In 1992 he formed the Stubborn Records label to release Skinnerbox's debut full-length CD "Tales of the Red." The Stubborn Records label went on to define the 1990s New York Traditional Ska sound and continues releasing new material to this day.
In 1994 he assembled a group of musicians under the name Stubborn All-Stars for a recording session which yielded the 4-song vinyl EP "Old's Cool" released on the Stubborn Records. Within two weeks of the release of this record, he was summoned to the offices of Profile Records in NYC to sign a recording contract. In 1995 and 1996 Stubborn All-Stars had a degree of commercial success with the singles "Tin Spam" and "Pick Yourself Up," which saw rotation on MTV.
In 1997 Django assembled the Version City recording studio which rapidly became the hub of the NYC ska and reggae scene. The popular Version City Party was started that same year at Coney Island High on St. Mark's Place in Manhattan's East Village. In 2000 the studio was moved to New Brunswick, NJ where Django continues his engineering and production work for a wide roster of international clients. In August 2006 after several years of floating to different venues, most notably SEHO in the Lower East Side, the Version City Party was resurrected as a monthly at the Knitting Factory in New York City, on the first Saturday of every month.
In late 2011, Django was a headlining performer on the month-long "Echo Mix" tour along with Konrad Kuechenmeister (Berlin, Germany) and Brian Hill of Regatta 69. In June of the same year, Django set out alone for Florida, performing a string of shows with several different backing bands. In 2012 Django celebrated the 20th anniversary of his independent label Stubborn Records, as well as the 5th anniversary of his Version City label based in Kingston, Jamaica.
In late 2012/early 2013, Django took his popular, long-standing NYC Rocksteady and Ska "Version City" Party (active since 1997, most notably at prestigious NYC venue The Knitting Factory) on the road, leading the first Version City Tour through 30 dates in 10 states. Playing piano and trombone, supported by young PA band The Snails, Django performed a wide selection of his own material as well as a number of classic reggae and ska tunes.
In February 2013, Django was invited to perform in Kingston, Jamaica, at the Institute of Jamaica's Jamaica Music Museum, accompanying such musical dignitaries as Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Ras Michael, Nambo Robinson, Big Youth, Junior Reid, and Bongo Herman.
In late May/early June 2013, Django led the second outing of his Version City Tour through 27 east coast shows in 25 days. Version City Tour #2 featured a compact and versatile quartet with Django being joined by Brian Hill of NC's Regatta 69 on bass and vocals as well as guitarist/vocalist John DeCarlo of hard-touring Boston ska group Westbound Train. Depending o the venue the show ranged from 45 minutes to three hours, showcasing the songs of these three veteran performers, along with drummer Anthony Vito Fraccalvieri of Long Island bands Broadcaster and Royal City Riot (who had just come off a six-week US tour with The Toasters).