Go Jimmy Go came together in 1996 when Hawaii’s interest in ska — a style of Afro-Caribbean music that predated reggae — was at an all-time high. Ska originated in Jamaica in the late-1950s. It evolved into what was called “2 Tone” in England in the late-1970s, and then cross-pollinated with punk to become internationally popular as “third wave ska” from the mid-1980s onward. “Sheriff Norm” Winter and Radio Free Hawaii helped bring the music into the local mainstream, and Hawaii audiences embraced ska hit-makers like Fishbone, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, the Dance Hall Crashers and Skankin’ Pickle.
Go Jimmy Go would become the biggest and longest-lasting Hawaii-born ska band, taking its music to mainland audiences as “the island sound known the world around.” The founding members made a commitment to doing original songs rather than remakes and to reviving the traditions of early Jamaican ska and rocksteady rather than following their peers in playing a strictly “third wave” repertoire. As years passed GJG also diversified, successfully adding elements of mid-1960s soul, reggae and hapa-haole music into their writing.
Two decades of Go Jimmy Go as a touring, performing and recording act came to an official end on Jan. 16, 2016, when the group presented the “Go Jimmy Go ‘A Hui Hou’ 20th Anniversary & Farewell Show” at The Republik. Go Jimmy Go played the music of all five GJG albums in chronological order and brought in as many “former Jimmies” as possible to sit in on the songs the they had played back in the day. This economically packaged two-disc album with its post-modern hapa haole artwork is a welcome record of that final GJG show — especially for the fans who were there to see it.
And there’s more:
The GJG documentary film “Go Jimmy Go “A Hui Hou”: 20 Years of an Island Sound Known the World Around,” directed by Cameron Wright, screens at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art. The evening starts with a pre-show opportunity to “hang out with the band” at 6:30 p.m. GJG members Eric White (saxophone), Cameron Wright (bass), Jason “Bison” Friedman (lead vocals), Shon Gregory (drums), Ian Ashley (guitar), and Fernando “The Love Machine” Pacheco (trombone) will be available for a Q&A afterward, followed by an after-party at Skull & Crown in Chinatown. Tickets are $12, available through honolulumuseum.org.