As part of the Victoria BC Society's mandate, we provide free workshops during the festival to educate people and nurture skills within our community. Our workshops usually draw from the the talent and experience of the artists we bring to the festival. These workshops are a fantastic way to learn from international legends in an intimate setting.
This Year's Workshops
Workshop details will be available as soon as the details are confirmed.
Past Festival Workshops
Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest SPECIAL TRIPLE BILL WORKSHOP @ Cinecenta, University of Victoria
Sat. June 25th 2016 1pm - 3:15pm Free
Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival is committed to helping expand our community's knowledge and appreciation for not just ska and reggae music, but of all the offshoots its spawned, but the art, culture and history that surrounds the music. With that spirit in mind we are proud to once again present workshops featuring presentations from festival artists covering the many facets of what makes this Festival and this culture so special. This second workshop of the festival will have three very different presentations from people involved with the creation and performance of the music.
DUB FX - The Independent Musician’s Balance
Artists are external sponges that open themselves to a wide breadth of cultures, viewpoints, historical data and contemporary works. They do this in an effort to provide a fresh perspective that is accessible to their audience and follows their previous works in a comprehensive manner. All of this work can be overwhelming but it is the heart of what makes artists such a passionate group. There is, however, the business side of being an artist and ensuring what one does is sustainable. Balancing both the creative side and business end of an artist's career is often tiresome.
How do you find the a good balance between creativity and business? How do you explore the nuance between what is satisfying creatively and what will sell? Can that be the key to artistic success that does not take a personal toll? Join international recording artist Dub FX as he helps to answer these questions and provides some insight into what drives him artistically and how this drive can be attributed to his career trajectory in a realistic manner.
WESTERN STANDARD TIME SKA ORCHESTRA - Collaborations in Ska
Artists are typically visionaries that have to work to make their fantasies exist in reality. There are many constraints in this process including time, money, technology, physical space, skill and accessibility. This process becomes more involved when two or more artists with unique styles and visions, converge to produce something that becomes more than the sum of its parts. Collaboration happens in all forms of art but is especially prevalent in the world of ska and reggae.
One of the most accomplished collaborative projects to come out of the ska and reggae world in the past twenty years is Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra from LA. This twenty piece monolith has a style that is itself a blatant product of collaboration, mixing big band swing with early Jamaican ska and rocksteady. The band has incorporated members of great ska bands Jump With Joey, Hepcat, The Aggrolites, See Spot, Los Hooligans, The Debonaires, The Expanders, Kingston 10, and Yeska, to mention a few.
So how do you get 20 different musicians from different backgrounds, with different artistic visions to work toward a common idea? How do they constructively and diplomatically deal with the creative conflict and debate that will inevitably arise when each artist attempts to improve the direction of the combined effort? Join Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra as they discuss their own history, their creative process and collaborations that they've admired throughout the history of ska and reggae at large.
BRIAN WALLACE of SUBPAC - Tactile Audio Technology and Jamaica’s contribution to Bass
SubPac is a patent-pending tactile audio technology – it transfers low frequencies directly to your body and provides you with a new physical dimension to the musical experience. Join Western Standard Time bassist Brian Wallace as he discusses his role in founding this technology and the journey that brought him there. The idea of the SubPac would not be possible without the foundation that was laid down by the pioneers of Jamaican Music. He will also discuss the experience of using the technology in the creation of the latest Western Standard Time record. This workshop will also include a demonstration of the cutting edge technology.
Roots of Ska Workshop @ Vinyl Envy
Thu. June 23rd 2016 1 - 2 doors at 12:30 Free
"I have heard the term "ska purist", understand how it is used, yet the term itself begs the question - what is pure ska? Is there such a thing?
In truth, original Jamaican ska was a fusion of various musical elements that mixed together to form a sound that is instantly recognizable, yet which is most accurately one link in a chain of musical evolution has that continued forward through rock steady and reggae to modern dancehall influencing many non-Jamaican styles along the way.
In this workshop, we will investigate the pre-ska musical styles that contributed to the birth of ska music as a recognizable style in its own right."
Language of Music Workshop: Brooklyn Rocksteady @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Fri. July 3rd 2015 2pm - 3pm doors at 2pm
BROOKLYN SKA/ROCKSTEADY (VIC RUGGIERO OF THE SLACKERS) Friday July 3rd at 2pm
In the 1990s New York City became a musical mecca for popularizing ska and rocksteady music within North American audiences. Of all the bands to emerge from this culture, The Slackers have resonated with audiences for decades while impressing ska and reggae purists with their interpretations of ska and rocksteady in and outside of Jamaica. New York has always benefited from having almost every kind of music and a cornucopia of culture from which to draw. Through this diversity a vibrant ska and reggae community emerged and became a vital part of New York’s music culture. Agent Jay of The Slackers has been exposed to every part of the process. He will elaborate on his experiences within these genre and analyze its nuances.
What made The Slackers choose ska and rocksteady and what other kinds of music influenced them along the way? Is there a universal sound or style of playing ska and rocksteady that is shared among ska and rocksteady groups in New York? How has that musical community evolved since the Slackers were created?
Language of Music Workshop: Jamaican Rocksteady @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Fri. July 3rd 2015 1 - 2 doors at 1 pm
We start with the birthplace of the music that we intend to educate people about. Ska has always been a music of creative interpretations. It started when African workers in the Caribbean re-interpreted their traditional African hymns as calypso, mento and finally melded with rhythm and blues in America to create ska. In some cases the weak transistor radios they used picked up two frequencies at once which further fueled their musical imaginations. It makes sense that a style of music that went on to form countless sub-genres and influence so many was an amalgamation of numerous styles itself. Keith and Tex were part of the culture that brought Jamaican Rocksteady to the world stage. They have seen the evolution of the music first-hand and will provide valuable insight into its humble beginnings.
How did they come across their sound? Did they actively seek a fusion of different genres or did it happen naturally? How do they feel about the many permutations of the sound that they helped to create?
Language of Music Workshop: Modern Dub and Electronic Reggae @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Thu. July 2nd 2015 3 - 4 doors at 3
Language of Music Workshop Series: MODERN DUB AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC (Dubmatix) Thursday July 2nd at 3pm
Dub is a subgenre of electronic music that grew out of reggae. The rhythm section is generally created by one person on a set of turntables, synthesizers, drum machines or other equipment. Where a guitarist or a saxophone player may learn a piece and reinterpret it subconsciously, a selector (A Disk Jockey or DJ) will knowingly take a direct recording and alter it to fit their vision. Part of the job of a selector is to bring together musical interpretations that may otherwise never meet. For example: There is not a great chance we'd ever hear Toots singing on a Michael Jackson bassline but a selector is able to take the tracks and mix them together. Canadian composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist & Five-time Juno Award winner/nominee Dubmatix is among the leading dub selectors in the world. He has seen the musical movement from its inception and will provide his perspective.
In the creative process of a selector, how do they work with these different musical cultures and interpretations to decide which ones will fit together? Are there any recordings or riddims (backlines) that are considered sacred in the community that knowledgeable selectors use? How have looping pedals changed the face of the genre? This workshop will address some of these questions.
Ska Festival Workshop Series: Kaiso Newscast - Music as Parody and Information
Drew Gonsalvez (of Kobo Town) @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Sat. July 5th 2014 3PM doors at 3PM Free
Kaiso Newscast: Music as Parody and Information
3 pm Saturday July 5th @ Long and McQuade Education Centre (2822 Nanaimo St)
Kobo Town is one of Canada's premiere Calypso bands. Front man Drew Gonsalvez will be presenting this workshop that promises to be both educational and funny. The workshop will explore the history of Calypso with a focus on the development and use of humour, innuendo, double-entendre and satire to slip messages past censors. Gonsalvez has a unique cultural background as he lived in Trinidad until he was a teen and then moved to Canada. Shortly after he moved to Canada he was inspired to become more in touch with his roots. His desire led him to complete a degree in the history of calypso and ultimately create the band known as Kobo Town. His combination of life experiences, education and eccentricity will make this a workshop not to be missed.
Ska Festival Workshop Series: Fishbone - Everyday Sunshine @ Blue Bridge at the Roxy
Fri. July 4th 2014 1PM doors at 1PM Free
Fishbone: Everyday Sunshine
1pm Friday July 4th @ The Roxy Theatre (2657 Quadra St.)
One of the most exciting interactive programs of the fifteenth anniversary is a film presentation and Q&A with Fishbone. Fishbone has been a premiere band in the ska, funk and punk scene for decades. This will be their third time playing the Victoria Ska Festival. The screening of ‘Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” will provide audiences with a unique experience as they will have the opportunity to interact with members Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher (the leaders of Fishbone) following the film. Audience members will have a chance to ask the musicians about the content of the film, the trials and tribulations of being a band on the cusp of stardom and the perceived changes in the music industry in the 29 years the band has been performing.
Ska Festival Workshop Series: Lynval Golding - The Meaning Behind The Lyrics @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Fri. July 4th 2014 3PM doors at 3PM Free
Lynval Golding: The Meaning Behind the Lyrics
3 pm Friday July 4th @ Long and Mcquade Education Centre (2822 Nanaimo St)
Arguably one of the most acclaimed ska artists in the world: Lynval Golding of legendary ska band The Specials will be presenting his workshop titled “The Meaning Behind the Lyrics.” This workshop will explore the music and culture that has transformed the genres of ska and reggae throughout England and beyond. More specifically, Golding will explain in depth some of The Specials' most popular songs offering the historical context behind the lyrics and why they were written. This will be an incredible learning experience for both regional and international artists and festival fans as will they have an opportunity participate in a cross educational experience with an artist who has found international success spanning generations.
Ska Festival Workshop Series: Classic Analogue Solutions for the Modern Home Studio
Patrick Watson Quine (of Natural Flavas), Matthew Gibbs (Electric City Sound), Danny Franco (of Burnt), Luke Devillier (of Giraffe Aftermath) @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Thu. July 3rd 2014 3PM doors at 3PM Free
Classic Analogue Solutions for the Modern Home Studio
3pm Thursday July 3rd @ Long and Mcquade Education Centre (2822 Nanaimo St)
The fifteenth anniversary workshop series will kick off with a panel-style seminar titled “Classic Analogue Solutions in the Modern Home Studio.” The panel will be moderated by self-made Vancouver producer/musician Patrick Watson Quine and the guests will include producers Matthew Gibbs (Electric City Sound – Victoria), Danny Franco (Burnt - San Francisco), Luke Devillier (Giraffe Aftermath - Vancouver) and more TBA. This diverse collective will discuss the ever changing face of music production and its place in the world of ska and its related genres. This spirited and interactive panel will expose attendees to multiple techniques and viewpoints on the production process and allow them to interact as well.
Ska Fest Workshop Series @ Cinecenta
Sat. July 13th 2013 1pm - 2pm doors at 1pm Free
"Evolution and Speciation: The influence of ska and reggae on hip hop"
VICTORIA'S 13th ANNUAL SKA FESTIVAL WORKSHOP: Reggae Hit Bass Lines @ Long & McQuade - Victoria
Fri. July 13th 2012 1pm - 2pm doors at 1pm Free
Leroy "Heptone" Sibbles is the man behind many of reggae music’s most famous bass lines and classics, and we are honoured to be playimng this year's festival and graciously hosting this workshop.
Leroy Sibbles is widely known for his work as the lead singer of the Rock Steady group The Heptones and as a solo artist. However, many people are not aware of the huge influence Mr. Sibbles has had on all reggae music as the Studio One Bass player, arranger and A&R rep during the late 60’s and early 70’s. During his time in this role he was responsible for many of the classic reggae bass lines that have been and continue to be used by new artists over and over again.
During his keynote interactive session Leroy will discuss how he created the bass lines and arrangements for songs like "Satta Massagan" , "Declaration Of Rights", "Kutchie" (Pass The Dutchie) , "Queen Of The Minstrels" , "No Man Is An Island" and "Drifter."
He will also discuss how he auditioned artists like Burning Spear, Dennis Brown and provided bass lines for artists like John Holt, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis just to name a few.
If you are a true lover of the history of reggae music, this is a session you won’t want to miss.
VICTORIA'S 13TH ANNUAL SKA FESTIVAL WORKSHOP: Horn Arrangements in Ska Ensembles @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Thu. July 12th 2012 3pm - 4pm doors at 3pm Free
This workshop features the The Pietasters Horn Section: Alan Makranczy, Jeremy Roberts and Carlos Linares
Since the early 1960s with the birth of ska music in Jamaica horns have always been key instruments in what many people recognize as the definitive signature of the genre.
Traditionally ska bands have always had horns as a part of their arrangements even though the guitar took a greater role in many bands' sound in the second and third waves of ska. This is not the case when one looks at cousin genres rooted in ska, such as rocksteady and reggae, although these genres also use horns.
The Pietasters Horn Section will address the origins and influences of ska as a base going back to Cuban music, American jazz and mento. They will talk about contributing factors as to why horn sections were so predominant in the early wave of ska music and how the role of horns is still so important in identifying the ska genre today.
VICTORIA'S 13TH ANNUAL SKA FESTIVAL WORKSHOP: Music that Inspires Social Change @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Thu. July 12th 2012 1pm - 2pm doors at 1pm Free
Adham Shaikh is a Juno Award-nominated music producer, composer, sound designer, and DJ who brings his uniquely powerful global sounds to the world stage and screen, not to mention many a crowded dance floor.
One of Adham's greatest talents is his ability to use sounds and visuals within his global electronic repertoire to evoke certain emotions from the audience and get important points across through his set.
The idea for this workshop was planted after Adham Shaikh performed a song at a show in Nanaimo that was used to address the crisis of water. His music, visuals and the costumes of his dancer during the set vividly conveyed the crisis. This song was just one of many that used visuals, music and dance to convey various themes.
In this workshop Adham will touch on some of these techniques when selecting to bring each idea to the forefront. He may also talk about what influences him to use music to inspire social change and why his shows leave such a lasting impression on the audience.
Workshop - Trombone Performance with Ska/Rock/Reggae Bands
Unlinked Musician @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Fri. July 8th 2011 2:30pm - 3:30pm doors at 2:15pm
Dave St. Jean is a force in the reggae and ska scene on Vancouver Island and the west coast of Canada. Born and raised in Nanaimo, B.C., Dave has played the trombone professionally for 12-years. Known for playing in Nanaimo’s The Kiltlifters he also performs full-time with Victoria "new roots" band Current Swell. Over the past three years, he has joined them on multiple tours and recorded on two of their albums.
Free FREE (Admission by advance sign up at Long & McQuade)
St. Jean’s trombone resume is impressive playing headlining acts on the Victoria Ska Festival including Fishbone, Neville Staples of the Specials and Toronto-based dub-master/Juno Award winner Dubmatix. With his talent, experience, and on-stage confidence, Dave aims to be the"go-to bone player" in the reggae and ska scene for both recording and live performance with local and touring acts.
St. Jean’s workshop will cover general brass playing, performance and improvisation in ska/rock/reggae bands. He will also demonstrate and discuss stage etiquette as well as what to do when jumping up with other bands on stage.
Other topics will include how to get involved with other bands and branching out in the industry and first time jamming with new groups.
Workshop - TIMELESS TECHNIQUES OF A GLOBAL ELECTRONIC SELECTOR @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Thu. July 7th 2011 3:30pm - 4:30pm doors at 3:15pm
Thursday, July 7, 2011 (3:30pm - 4:30pm) @ Long & McQuade Music Education Centre
Free FREE (Admission by advance sign up at Long & McQuade)
Gaudi’s history is intriguing and musically international. Born in Italy Gaudi’s beginnings were spawned from being a keyboard player in a band called Wild Planet that experimented with fusing new wave and ska together. Groups that he was a part afterwards experimented in electronic, punk and traditional melodies. In the 90s his solo career took off going on tours with reggae artists such as Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Mutabaruka, and Third World. The key components to Gaudi’s musical success was innovation through constant experimentation. With a thirst for experimentation and his love for various musical styles Gaudi was able to climb to the top of the charts in the UK after he moved from his native country in Italy in the early 90s.
This workshop will go into depth about the history of Gaudi’s career and events or experiences that influenced his musical direction. Although influenced by many genres, Gaudi will address reggae and dub music’s influence on his career and his current music.
For DJs and fans of electronic music Gaudi managed to keep contemporary, innovative and engaging to his audiences. It is widely known throughout DJ circles that Gaudi’s performances have always been cutting edge and use a variety of musical fusions, styles and techniques to bring out a sound that is unique to other DJs in the global electronic world (which was in and of itself molded by Gaudi). Gaudi will demonstrate some of the techniques he uses to keep audiences coming back time and time again.