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The Donkey Show (band)

The Donkey Show was a ska band based in San Diego that played Caribbean-sounding Ska during the eighties. The band was formed in 1985. They introduced many people to ska music and were in the unique position of being one of the founding bands of the "California Ska Sound", a precursor to what some would call the third wave of ska.[1] At one point they even received radio play on major radio stations such as KROQ-FM.



The Donkey Show are well known for their male and female lead vocalists[2] and for their legendary song writing collaborations between lead vocalist Ray Campbell and rhythm section bassist/songwriter Thomas Zambrano (see discography Mr. Brown single and Bali Island EP). The group's horn section consisted of Bronco Farwell on Trombone and sax played by Dave Hillyard who also went on to play with many renowned groups like Hepcat, The Slackers and Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady Seven.[3]
The Donkey Show was responsible and will be remembered in part for bringing the 1960s Ska revival sound made popular over sea's by England's The Potato 5 to the shores of the US and influenced other bands such as The Toasters (Thrill me up), Let's Go Bowling (Rude 69) and Hepcat (then known as Sharpsville Step) to do the same. The Donkey Show appeared in a Ska Parade documentary video Members of The Donkey Show. This was part of a documentary series that focused on ska bands between 1988 and 1993. The documentary includes five-to-10 minute concert clips as well as Q & A sessions with the musicians.[4]
They performed concerts in various cities in California, and toured the US twice to sold-out crowds. They were the touring support for the Fishbone's 1989 Truth and Soul Tour. Some members of the band backed Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners on a California tour as Buster's All-Stars. The group's relationship with Boston-based Ska band Bim Skala Bim, along with Gerald Lokstadt of Spot Productions arranged for The Skatalites saxman, Jamaica's Chief musician Roland Alphonso to make his first solo trip to California in 1989 to record and perform with The Donkey Show. They played their last show at Berkeley International Ska Festival in 1990, in front of nearly 15,000 people in support of Dave Wakeling's group from Birmingham England, The English Beat.[5]
Many former members of the band have gone on to play for some of the most successful modern ska bands. One former member of The Donkey Show, Dave Hillyard, was also in the band Hepcat, and is now in The Slackers. Kent and Creedy went on to play in Unsteady, another California ska band of significance during the late'90s. Matt Parker played with The Adjusters, a political soul and ska band in Chicago and Thomas Zambrano has gone on to lead and successfully produce Los Angeles based Ska and Reggae Pop group Hoodlum Pharaohs (see NME)


In an interview from 2001[6] vocalist Kym Clift spoke of the breakup. "The band retired for many reasons; one being the fact that we were all branching out in different ways creatively as musicians. I know that sounds like such a stereotypical answer, but it's the truth. Oftentimes this leads to successful bands, you know, creating a unique sound from a variety of influences, but unfortunately for the Donkey Show, I feel it was partly responsible for the demise of the band. we were all pretty young, stubborn, and eager to explore new opportunities. Although I was very disappointed, I knew it was for the best. We quit while we were ahead and I would much rather do that then sell out, perform halfheartedly, or play sh*tty music."


Kym Clift: Vocals
Ray Campbell: Vocals
Dave Hillyard: Saxophone
Stanley "Bronco" Farwell: Trombone
Rob Dominguez: Percussion
Matt Parker: Farfisa organ
Kent Graves: Drums
Tom Zambrano: Bass
Chris "Creedy" Bates: Guitar [7]


1988 - Mr. Brown 7"
1989 Bali Island E.P.
1998 Just Can't Get Enough of...


  1. ^ Brown, Albino (October 1998). "The Donkey Show Rides Again". The Beat. 17 (2): 44–45.
  2. ^ "Marco On The Bass: Marco On The Bass Podcast Series: A Celebration of 80's American & Canadian Ska & Reggae". 2009-04-05. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  3. ^ "Epitaph Records: Dave Hillyard". Epitaph com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  4. ^ Keyo, Brian (1995). "The Documentary Series". The Beat. 14 (1): 62–63.
  5. ^ Brown, Albino (October 1998). "The Donkey Show Rides Again". The Beat. 17 (2): 44–45.
  6. ^ "Donkey Shines - An interview with Kym Clift of the Donkey Show!". Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  7. ^ "Unicorn Records:'s Tribute to The New Ska Classics". Retrieved 2013-03-25.