On the short-lived but fruitful 1982 TV show Police Squad
(which spawned three movies and countless replicants), the character of Johnny was an informant to whom not only cops went for information but also surgeons, priests, and, weirdly, Dick Clark. Dick pays Johnny and asks: "What's ska?" Johnny clues him about its similarity to reggae, "but it's too exotic" for mass popularity in America, he claims. Johnny was only half-right -- true ska was popular briefly in post-punk Britain, having limited impact in America. Yet in more metropolitan settings -- say, New Jersey -- it had a lasting impact on restless youth. Seven-piece Streetlight Manifesto
emerged from the remnants of two Joisey ska bands from the late '90s. While remaining true to its roots, the band incorporates punk, polka, swing, and Balkan folk. With its distinctive use of horns and percussion and singer Tomas Kalnoky's passionate, clever lyrics, the Manifesto has earned fervent devotion in both U.S. and European rock undergrounds. Major labels? Humbug.
Streetlight Manifesto plays with the cool, dub-y Bedouin Soundclash at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, October 2, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Call 561-832-9999.