the london intl ska festival winter specials

We are delighted to announce The London Intl Ska Festival and Phoenix City Rec. Co will be promoting not one but two Winter shows here at Under The Bridge:

Saturday 19 November 2011
more info…

Friday 2 December 2011
plus very special guests & DJs tba
more info…

We thought we’d take the opportunity to offer our…

Bluffer’s Guide to Ska

So, the name?
Until the late 1950s Jamaica’s sound systems and bands largely played US r&b. Ska formed when producer-musicians such as Prince Buster and Duke Reid, and the jazz-schooled Skatalites flipped round the emphasis of the beat in r&b and added chopped horns and guitar to the offbeat, adding local Caribbean flavours too.

There are all numerous explanations for the origin of the name of the new music, from ska bassist Cluett Johnson’s catchphrase greeting ‘skavoovie’ to musos taking it from the distinctive chop sound of the instrumentation. Many argue that bandleader Byron Lee was the first to popularise the term, and a TV special introduced ska to the outside world.

Okay, that’s clear as mud. Next?
Next, this quirky sound from a small island became the new dance craze across the Caribbean and in Britain. Jamaican ex-pats set up in London and took the capital by storm. Mille Small had a massive ska hit in 1964, selling seven million copies of ‘My Boy Lollipop’. Other musicians such as the Skatalites’ Ernest Ranglin and Rico Rodriguez moved to Blighty to ride the ska wave.

The beautiful people went to sweaty clubs to listen to the music. You may even have seen this depicted in the 1989 film ‘Scandal’.

Ska was promoted by English labels such as Trojan, and earned a big following among soul boys and skinheads as cool, upbeat, underground music.

The simple joys of ska were woven into Britain’s music fabric forever.

So what happened to ska?
In 1967 The Skatalites had a UK hit with ‘Guns Of Navarone’ and ‘Train To Skaville’ was another biggie for The Ethiopians – though neither was strictly speaking ska.

Back in Jamaica people had wanted a slower beat, and the music morphed into the rolling rocksteady sound. Around 1969 it eased up even more to become reggae.

Still, Trojan’s ‘Tighten Up’ compilations helped keep the sound alive and a late-1970s ska revival underpinned the 2-Tone movement of Madness, The Specials, The Beat and other bands who became global acts.

But that was still all in the past…
Ha! That’s what you think. Ska has remained the ultimate good-time, underground music. It’s the blues to reggae’s soul, and has grown organically in the USA, Asia and Europe.

Look at California’s Sublime With Rome, who stormed Under The Bridge earlier this year, Brighton’s Hotknives who play bubbly, riffing ska, or The Sidewalk Doctors, who are as close to authentic 1967-69 rocksteady as is decent on a first date.

They all show that the music bloodstream worldwide still has ska as a low-lying virus.

You could say it remains as infectious as ever!
I won’t, thanks.

Please yourself.

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