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February 18, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]


On Saturday 1 March, skank on down to The San Fran for the Ska-BQ! Only $15 pre-sales, or $20 on the door, PLUS a sizzling bbq (with vegetarian treats) for only a gold coin koha! The Ska-BQ originated in Auckland, organised by Matiu Sadd (the singer from the WBC) and his company Lolly Legs. Dusty McLoughlin, the dancing keyboardist/sporadic vocalist of Wellington ska band The Offbeats, who also works at VUWSA, decided to move it into the Orientation line up and for the last few years, around 4 or 500 people have come along to “sweat and skank and smile.” This is Wellington’s 3rd Ska-BQ and it looks set to be a scorcher.

Headlining the gig are The Offbeats (Wellington), The Managers and The WBC (both from Auckland), who are the “most established and longest serving ska bands in the country.” Joining them will be Skankamelia, who hail from Gisbourne, and have more of a “reggae-ska” feel, “the singer’s got a very much Bradley-esque Sublime style voice, he probably doesn’t like me saying so, but he does sound good.” Playing at the Wellington Ska-BQ are two local bands:

Battleska Galactica, comprised of jazz students who use a lot of improvisation in their show and “play more of The Skatalites’ jazzy sort of ska”; and Leadpipe Larry and The Dangermen, made up of mainly Vic students, including Baz (one of the main members of BOOBS) who “plays one of the craziest keyboards I’ve ever seen, he has a keyboard, or organ, but he straps it over his shoulders like a guitar. He’s very much a metaller on the keyboards.”

The ska scene is alive and well in New Zealand, what with the annual Ska-BQ, and the first overnight ska music festival “Toots and Grooves” which was held in January at Tatem Park. The last few years have also seen some of the most respected and well known ska acts visiting our fair shores, including the Beat, Neville Staples and the Special Experience as well as Jamaican band, the Skatalites, “Everyone on stage was over 50,” Dusty recalls “[and] some of them had to walk on stage with walking sticks and sit down to play… But I’ve never seen such a happy crowd.”

Although Dusty acknowledges that some people can find ska music repetitive, and that “you can’t quite capture the magic of it on cd,” he insists that before criticizing it, “go to a live show and you’ll experience something completely different… When we’re on stage… We’re gonna have a good time and the crowd’s more than welcome to join in.”


According to Dusty, “there are two real prongs to ska music, one is have fun, play some cool music have a good dance, hang out with your mates… The other side of it is the more political side; the conscious politics, which evolved in Jamaica from very poor people living in the slums and the shanty towns of Kingston, Jamaica… They didn’t have many outlets other than trouble – getting into violence, or playing some really cool music.” Common themes within ska music include “political awareness, social equality and racial equality explored in a tongue-in-cheek, fun way.”

Ska originated in Jamaica in the early 1960s, as a response to the blues and rock n roll music coming out of Southern America. The early Jamaican ska bands were made up of larger numbers of musicians (often more than ten). Stand out examples include The Skatalites, The Maytals, and Byron Lee and The Ethiopians. Eventually ska was introduced to working class England to Britain via Jamaican immigrants in the early 1970s. Ska’s infectious rhythms became very popular in England, and several remarkable bands such as The Specials, Madness, and Bad Manners emerged from a blend of Jamaican ska and punk rock (also known as 2 Tone). Jerry Dammers, the keyboardist from The Specials, created a record label called 2 Tone, which was based around the symbol of black and white checks, representing black musicians and white musicians playing together, and the idea of “racial harmony through music.” Finally, ska got exported to the United States and combined with punk rock in the 1980s, which was known as Third Wave Ska. Notable bands include Operation Ivy, The Slackers and The Toasters.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Huh says:

    Why have you spelt Gisborne with a U ?

  2. Sophie says:

    Sorry. i Have appalling spelling! and i’m a geographically ignorant Aucklander. I hope i didn’t offend!

  3. Jenn says:

    what time does it start?

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