Under a cloudless sky as the day faded into evening and brilliant stars began to fill the sky, the funk-filled strains of The Temptations “Ball of Confusion” wafted over a landscape that had seen three days of positive vibes from the thousands attending the inaugural festival.

A sharply-dressed group in white jackets and black pants jogged onto the stage as the penultimate band in the three-day Camp Punk In Drublic festival, with lead vocalist Dicky Barrett stating, “Hello Ohio! We are the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.”

Ed. – Read our one-on-one interview with Dicky Barrett HERE

Their music has carried a positive message throughout the long history of the band, and their evening set on the final night was fraught with giddy anticipation. Without mincing words, they didn’t disappoint.

Launching into the uptempo The Old School Off The Bright, they set the tone for the evening as Barrett’s gravelly voice belted out “Bring in the skins with the pins and the patches on their flights…”

Barrett, Burton, Rhodes, Silva and Gittleman getting in the groove…

The horn section of Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton (tenor sax), Leon Silva (sax) and Chris Rhodes (trombone) were tight and upbeat as the band segued into The Rascal King from arguably the album that gained the band widespread national attention. The pure ska tones washing over the throng had everyone wildly dancing around with smiles visible every which way you turned.

The midtempo groove of The Wailers ska classic Simmer Down gave the crowd a chance to catch their collective breath, at least momentarily. The sweet sounds of the saxophone emanating from the PA system added just the right touch.

Next up, the upbeat tempo of Wonderful Day for the Race (from their new album “While We’re At It” – released June 15, 2018) continued the positive message that is a hallmark of the Bosstones. Barrett has a knack for making you think about what he’s singing, and how to apply that to your daily life. John Goetchius’ coaxed a wonderful old-time organ sound from his keyboards, adding excellent depth to the number.

What a wonderful day for the race,
Everywhere it’s taking place,
I swear you’ll hear one wasn’t run,
But I’m talking ’bout the human one…

The upbeat rhythm of Graffiti Worth Reading assaulted our aural cavities next, with the crowd bopping to the tempo and screaming the chorus along with Barrett. The showed that they have an innate chemistry honed through years of playing together.

Ben “Bosstone” Carr doing what he does best…

The horn section got Someday I Suppose from their 1993 album “Don’t Know How To Party” off and running, with Joe Gittleman securely in the pocket with a funky groove coming from his bass. Ben “Bosstone” Carr sauntered across the stage with flair, with Barrett putting forth some dance moves of his own.

They slowed the tempo just a bit for a simmering version of Everybody’s Better. The back-and-forth vocal work from Barrett and Rhodes was simply amazing, with the crowd loving the give-and-take between the two.

Ratchetting up the tempo once again, they launched into You Left Right? Barrett’s vocals were particularly good on this number, showing that he can still belt out the songs with a vengeance.

The band were tight as they played Let’s Face It, with the song’s message not lost on the assembled masses. Gittleman had the funky groove dancing from his fingers on the bass, a smile on his face.

Let’s try to erase it, it’s time that we face it,
Let’s face it, the time is upon us…

The smoking groove of He’s Back was next, the horns sounding deliciously dangerous at the beginning. They transitioned from this directly into an upbeat version of Bad News and Bad Breaks. The horn section was front-and-center, with Barrett dancing his way across the stage as Gittleman played a funk-filled bass solo.

Turning up the heat, the fast-paced beginning of Hell of a Hat spewed forth from the stage, before slowing into a swanky, funk-infused groove. Lawrence Katz’ solo had his axe figuratively smoking.

Barrett feeling the power…

Barrett announced to the crowd that the next song was about “…family, friendship and loyalty…” as the band got the midtempo groove working just fine for Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker. At times, the pace seemed to increase as they played the song a bit faster than the version from 2007’s “Medium Rare.”

They segued right into the upbeat They Will Need Music, much to the delight of the crowd. Barrett’s vocal work was just as forceful and poignant as it was twenty-five years ago. He still has “it.”

The band introductions were made next, as Barrett worked his way through each member around the stage. The opening notes of The Impression That I Get elicited a loud cheer from the crowd, as everyone began dancing in earnest. The chorus of voices singing along with the band showed a unity that was a thread running through the entire weekend. At the end, Barrett gave a heartfelt “Thank you, Ohio!” before the band left the stage.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are still a relevant force to be reckoned with, musically speaking, as much as they were when this writer first saw them twenty-six years ago in a club in Massachusetts.

This band should be one that is on your bucket list, because you will not be disappointed, guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face and positive vibes flowing through your body.

Credit all images: Chad Kessler/MIMC

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Setlist

  1. The Old School Off the Bright
  2. The Rascal King
  3. Simmer Down (The Wailers cover)
  4. Wonderful Day for the Race*
  5. Graffiti Worth Reading
  6. Someday I Suppose
  7. Everybody’s Better
  8. You Left Right?
  9. Let’s Face It
  10. He’s Back
  11. Bad News and Bad Breaks
  12. Hell of a Hat
  13. Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker
  14. They Will Need Music
  15. The Impression That I Get

* denotes new song from “While We’re At It” released June 15, 2018

Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Wonderful Day for the Race