Blog

Keeping it real since 1975.

Dan Hess: Dear friend and an example of DIY Punk. 1976 - 2007

ast night, I was at the Pietasters show at the 9:30 club and I heard that my old friend, and sometime confidant, Dan Hess passed away from Hodgkin's Disease on May 14. One of the proprietors of Phantasmagoria and he suggested that I post my memories of Dan to DC Ska. It seems however, I feel like posting my memories and musings here and I'll let Michelle link to here. I'm still trying to put together specific incidents and photos (if I have any off hand), but at the very least, I can post my initial thoughts here for everyone to see.

For those of you who do not know him already, Dan was the Singer of the Skankersores, renamed the Ratchet Boys and later, the Ready Steady Go! I still have my copy of the original Ratchet Boys album where Dan is mooning the camera. In a strange way, that really says something about him. Not that he's rude or anything (but he really was rude, in the ska sense), but just his joyous, playful nature. He always had a smile on his face and could crack a joke with the best of them. Even when I was dark and brooding, he could always pull me out of that just long enough to feel apart of the crowd again. That is certainly a special gift for anyone to have.

Dan also became the main promoter of the DC ska scene. In the late 90's, when the genre was at it's peak, Dan started his own band and they quickly became the house band of Phantasmagoria. At every ska show for miles around, he would be there passing out fliers promoting the Rude in DC shows and ska in general. That is dedication my friends. Most people get burned out doing all of that work, but Dan did it with a smile. Best of all, he never took himself seriously. Unlike others in the DC indie scene (Discord anyone?) he always remembered that it was about having fun and a good time. That's what made his band so special. It was always fun, even when they played badly. The only other band that reminds me of that are the Spitfires United. Probably the best punk band in DC at the moment. And I'm not saying that because they're my friends or anything.

Peace be with you Dan. I hope it's fun up there. At least he can now play with Desmod Dekker, Tommy McCook, and Roland Alphonso at the great big ska show in the sky.