Local Wire

Mike Park

Past a certain point in their careers, musicians tend to get more serious, putting away childish obsessions with pop culture in favor of creating something of more importance (or self-importance), sometimes with mixed results. The career of Mike Park, former vocalist/saxophonist for the '90s third-wave ska supergroup Skankin' Pickle, certainly appeared to be following this path. Park, a Korean-American, used to pine "for a girl named Spike" (of Degrassi Junior High fame), but in more recent years has organized tours like Ska Against Racism and Plea for Peace Foundation, as well as running his "anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-prejudice" D.I.Y. label Asian Man Records. So you'd expect his latest solo acoustic gig to be filled with ponderous musings on bigotry and hate (which it is) and light on the adolescent-style angst (which it isn't). Muted vocals, sung in low-key fashion over gentle guitar hooks, bleed wistful and winsome sentiment about yearning for chicks and world peace. "I can't wait to grow old together/With every gray I'm more in love with you/Extend my hand and I hope you will too," Park intones in "On That Stage," crafting lightly bubblegum music that's sweet but not saccharine.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.