Big milestones deserve big celebrations and this year Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival celebrates 20 years in truly international style! In an ever-shifting musical landscape where festivals come and go within years, we are so proud to be able return once again to put a cap on two decades of welcoming the global music community into the heart of downtown Victoria. To mark this momentous achievement, we've been hard at work putting together a lineup that reflects both where these last two decades have taken us and where future roads may lead. Once again we find ourselves in the enviable position of kicking off the west coast festival calendar, as we immerse Victoria in groove JUNE 19-23, 2019.
Headlining this years festival is a member of reggae's royal family and one of the true shining stars of modern reggae music, Ky-Mani Marley. It's been eight years since Ky-Mani had our main stage jam packed and rocking for one of the most legendary sets Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest has ever seen and we couldn't think of anyone we'd love to bring back more. And as luck would have it, this years Summer Solstice falls during the festival. That means the Reggae Summer Solstice Splashis in full effect!
Headlining our main stage on Saturday, June 22 are third-wave ska icons and one of the hardest working bands in the genre, Florida ska-punk rockers Less Than Jake. There are few bands that embody the DIY, communal spirit that birthed the ska revival like Less Than Jake. It's that very same that has helped keep Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest strong and vital after two decades and we're all so excited to see what they have in store for us. This celebration of ska also brings the return of one of Victoria's most powerful ska bands as the mighty One Drop to get rowdy and unpredictable once again for the first time a decade! Festival veterans have an idea of the insanity that will ensue, but if you're new to the festival we can only advise you to buckle up, because this is going to be an unforgettable Saturday under the Victoria skyline.
We always strive to make the music as accessible for fans as possible. In this spirit, our main stage at Ship Point in Victoria's iconic Inner Harbour will once again host a series of FREE, all-ages shows featuring a musically diverse lineup of local, national and international talent. UK ska sensations Chainska Brassika will be kickong off night one, Wednesday, June 19 with The Leg-Up Program, a funk and soul behemoth and a true Victoria original. From Peru, Vieja Skina, a powerful 8-piece that combines traditional ska sounds with influences from the homeland, make their Canadian debut this year. They'll be joined by Vancouver's new groove phenomenon Salsahall Collective on Thursday, June 20. A pair of Quebec's most firey musical acts will be sharing the stage on Sunday, June 23 as The Brooks bring their otherworldy funk to the west coast for the first time and powerful Boogat, fresh off his 2019 Juno nomination for Best World Music Album, will be bringing his groovy cumbia-reggaeton stylings to our Massive for another Victoria debut.
What would a Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest be without at least a couple of straight-up reggae legends? Dancehall/reggae legend and viral sensation (His song “Cucumba” put him on the radar of a whole new generation of reggae fans a little over a year ago) Macka B makes his way from the UK to Victoria for the first time for an intimate club show on Saturday June 22 at Capital Ballroom. And returning to the Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest for the first time in seven years is the golden-voiced Leroy Sibbles of the Heptones, who will be playing a very special headline set to close out the festival on Sunday June 23 at Distrikt.
Our evening club series looks to be one of our most musical diverse in the festival's history as we reach out to the many corners of the musical globe to give a real display of Jamaican music's truly international reach. We get kicked off with a heavy dose of bass as Barry Ashworth of (in)famous British reggae outfit Dub Pistols touches down for an exclusive DJ set, joined by west coast legend Mat the Alien as he lays down a specially crafted set of serious reggae, dub and dancehall riddims. We are excited to welcome back the enduring leaders of the swing-revival movement, fiery swing-punkers Cherry Poppin' Daddies as they set to pick up right where they left off the last time they landed in Victoria. One of the most straight-up soulful ska bands North America has ever produced, and veterans of multiple Ska & Reggae Fests (Including 17 years ago at #3!), Baltimore's The Pietasters make a triumphant return for a very special intimate show at Capital Ballroom.
All of this and that's only the beginning! The lineup also includes more local friends and family like Vancouver rapper Def3, Victoria's own ska masters SweetLeaf and reggae-punk weirdos Blackwood Kings, silky-smooth Nanaimo surf rockers Boomshack, as well as too many more to list here now! In the coming weeks we'll also be announcing information about the art wing of the festival, The Rocksteady Collective as well as our free workshop series that allows our audiences to get a different look at the music they love. Stay tuned and we'll you out on the dance floor very soon!
Full Festival, VIP Passes and individual tickets available Monday, March 26 at 10am PST on ticketweb.ca and at select outlets.
Check victoriaskafest.ca for schedule information.
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