The mark of a great band is not measured by the size of the crowd they draw at the height of their career, but by the size of the hole left in the music scene when they break up. When La Banda Skalavera called it quits around 2013, that hole was pretty damn big--and not just because their sprawling lineup (10 to 13 members, most of which made up their "wall of horns" brass section). As one of the pioneering Latin ska bands in Southern California, they proved that a kid from the barrio could skank to Jamaican riddims, headbang to heavy metal, get in the pit for a punk show, and still salsa his ass off. For 15 years, La Banda Skalavera was Latin ska at its biggest and boldest.
Fred Morledge La Banda Skalavera at Viva Ska Vegas in 2012
"I remember, at one point, we had, like, nine horns and percussion, keyboards, a 13-piece band," says lead singer/guitarist George "Yorgo" Mercado. "We tried to project as much energy as possible to keep the crowd listening and not get them bored. That's why we'd change it up from one song to the next; it keeps the crowd listening."