The London International Ska Festival returns to the capital this Easter (17-20 April) with 50 acts from around the world upbeating their way around various London venues.
Originally launched in 1988, the festival showcases acts who live and breathe the history of ska, from its roots in Jamaican R&B, calypso and Caribbean mento through to the successor genres of rocksteady and reggae. The word ‘ska’ allegedly derives from the sound made by a single piano or guitar note, and you can expect both instruments in abundance, ably supported by keyboards, drums and more trumpets than you can shake a trumpet at.
This year’s line-up includes ska stars such as Horace Andy, Derrick Morgan, Keith & Tex, Ken Parker, Mad Professor, Dennis Bovell, Jazz Jamaica and London’s own King Prawn, who play the Electric Ballroom in Camden on 20 April. If you don’t know King Prawn we have a definite explanation for that empty feeling you have when you wake up each morning, and here to fix it is ‘Caught Inna Rut’.
Regular gigs are not the only way to enjoy the festival. On 18 April you can head over to the lawns of the Victoria & Albert Museum for a ‘V&A Ska Garden Party’, a free afternoon event hosted by the Gladdy Wax Sound System and Tighten Up crew. And if dry land bores you, that evening it’s time for Rocksteady on the River – a gig on the Dixie Queen paddle steamer at Tower Millennium Pier, featuring Ken Parker, Keith & Tex, The Sidewalk Doctors, The Delegators, Mr T Bone and DJ Little Diane.
No London ska festival would be complete without a little Madness, and though the band aren’t playing themselves you can enjoy a screening of their 1981 epic ‘Take It Or Leave It’ at the Prince Charles Cinema at Leicester Square on 19 April.
In addition to the festival itself, organisers are launching the London International Ska Festival Collectors LP series, featuring nine exclusive and limited edition vinyl albums from ska legends including Dennis Blackbeard Bovell, Phoenix City All-stars, Rebelation and The Sidewalk Doctors. These LPs are available to pre-order here.
Tickets for the festival are available here, including tickets to individual shows and a full Easter weekend ticket to every show if you just can’t ska your mind up.
Image from Chris Stonehouse in the Londonist Flickr Pool.