Your Guide To The London International Ska Festival 2018

Posted: Wednesday 14 March 2018

Originally launching in 1988, the London International Ska Festival has played host to some very special performances over the years, and to celebrate their 30th anniversary, they’ve booked a phenomenal line-up of all things ska, rocksteady, reggae and beyond. Here’s a look at who’ll keep you grooving across the four-day event this Easter.


DAY ONE – THURSDAY 29 MARCH

The Clarendonians + Doreen Shaffer + Otis Gayle + Alpheus + DJ Francesco Nembokid
Formed in 1963 by Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin, The Clarendonians recorded a series of char-topping Jamaican singles in the early years, such as the attention grabbing, ‘Rudie Gone a Jail’ and ‘Sho Be Do Be’.

Joining The Clarendonians is the “Queen of Jamaican Ska” Doreen Shaffer. Known as one of the greatest female voices from Jamaica, her luscious vocal tones have lent themselves to many duets over the years and have been a focal point in the sound for original ska band, The Skatalites.

Ska veteran, Otis Gayle will also appear on the bill. Having spent much of his career as a vocalist for Bryon Lee and The Dragonaires, as well as working on his solo music, he’s become one of Jamaica’s standout singers and this performance will be a rare opportunity to see him live.

Completing this incredible line-up and making his UK debut, is singer extraordinaire Alpheus. With a handful of beautifully authentic ska, rocksteady and early reggae albums under his belt and another on the way, this’ll be a performance you won’t want to miss.

O2 Academy Islington - 6pm

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The Spitfires + DJ Little Diane
Having already supported Paul Weller and The Specials, The Spitfires have become one of the UK’s brightest hopes and they’re bringing their tales of modern society to O2 Academy Islington for an intimate performance.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 6pm

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Ranking Joe + Clive Chin + Oxman + Gladdy Wax Sound System
The legendary DJ Ranking Joe, known as the dance hall godfather, will be playing his picks of all the best classics from the 70s right up to the modern day, alongside prolific reggae producer Clive Chin. Joining them will be respected London DJ Oxman and sound system operators, Gladdy Wax. All of these acts have become staples at festivals and carnivals across the globe and have created legacies for themselves through their work, so don’t miss them in action.

O2 Academy Islington  11pm (Over 18s only)

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Ja Soul + DJ Barrie Shape (Big Stuff) + Alan Handscombe
An unbeatable soul-driven club night of Jamaican funk, ska and rocksteady hosted by Jamaican music legend, Barrie Sharpe. Alan Handscombe will also be a special guest DJ for the night, who returns to the London International Ska Festival after DJing the first ever festival 30 years ago.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 11pm (Over 18s only)

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DAY TWO – FRIDAY 30 MARCH

Derrick Morgan + Freddie Notes + The Uppertones + The Hypocondriacs + The Baracutas + Lilli Rudies
Day two of the London international Ska Festival is headlined by ska legend Derrick Morgan and one of world’s finest performers, Freddie Notes. Support will come from Italy’s powerful trio, The Uppertones, 60s rocksteady troupe The Hypocondriacs and sextet reggae band The Baracutas – all whilst DJ Lilli Rudies keeps the anthems booming between acts.

O2 Academy Islington - 6pm

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African Head Charge + Smiley and the Underclass
African Head Charge is a globally-acclaimed, pioneering dub-reggae ensemble led by original co-founder, Bonjo Iyabhinghi Noah. Fusing together primal rhythms with heavy psychedelic dub, roots reggae and 21st century electronica, the collective have gone on to create 13 albums and grace stages across the world.

Self-described as wicked and wild dub-punk, Smiley and the Underclass have taken influence from the likes of The Clash and infused Jamaican vibrations to create a striking sound that offers a refreshing new take on the ska genre.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 7pm

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The Clash In Dub by Phoenix City All-Stars + DJ Don Letts + Tessa (The Slits)
Day two's club night features a world exclusive performance of Clash Version Rockers, the ultimate dub re-imaging of “the only band that mattered” by the Phoenix City All-stars. Not only that, but your DJ for the evening is British film director, BBC Radio 6 Music host and living legend, Don Letts!

O2 Academy Islington - 11pm (Over 18s only)

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Manasseh Meets Wrongtom Dub Night
Two of the UK’s finest dub producers present an evening of dub exclusions galore. Between them they’ve worked with, Roots Manuva, Hard Fi, Acid Jazz, Lee "Scratch" Perry and many more, so join them for a very special evening of their choice dub selections.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 11pm (Over 18s only)

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DAY THREE – SATURDAY 31 MARCH

Pama Intl perform Trojan Records ft. Ken Boothe + Mighty John Street Ska Orchestra
Following the sell-out success of their UK tour, Pama International will be returning with their truly unique Trojan Records songbook show. The event will feature the greatest hits of the world’s most iconic reggae label with special guest vocalists, Ken Boothe and The Aces, for what will be a truly unique celebration of Trojan Records’ music legacy.

O2 Academy Islington:
1pm - 5pm Matinee Show (Kids FREE with adult)

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Evening performance - 6pm - SOLD OUT

Do The Dog Skazine presents: Bombskare + The Kubricks + Heavyball + Captain Accident & The Diasters + Almighty Uprisers
The world’s longest running ska publication - Do The Dog Skazine - present an unbeatable night of modern ska. Edinburgh’s “undisputed masters of Scottish death reggae,” Bombskare will headline the event, with support from four of the best new acts on the scene. This is your chance to witness the new generation of ska music live, so don’t miss out.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 5pm

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2 Tone Disco
Complete your third day of the London International Ska Festival by dancing to the sounds that defined and inspired an era, including: The Specials, Madness, The Beat, The Selecter, Dexys Midnight Runners, Bad Manners, Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Clash and many, many more.

O2 Academy Islington - 11pm (Over 18s only) - FREE ENTRY

DAY FOUR – SUNDAY 1 APRIL

Horace Andy + Johnny Clarke + The Hempolics + Reggae Choir + Ras Digby Sir Jessus + Positive Vibration DJs
The fourth and final day of the festival sees a world exclusive roots special, featuring a double headline show from Massive Attack collaborator Horace Andy and Johnny Clarke. Support comes from the highly adored, organic roots outfit Thee Hempolics, who have Paolo Nutini, La Roux and Eliza Dolittle as fans. The Reggae Choir will also be blessing the day with their welcoming voices, whilst legendary selector Ras Digby Sir Jessus and the Positive Vibration DJs keep the vibes coming.

O2 Academy Islington - 6pm

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Maroon Town + Potato 5 Horns + Capone & The Bullets + DJ Peter Craig
The late 80s saw an incredible Ska explosion happen and from it bands such as Maroon Town and Potato 5 Horns arrived on the scene, so to have them back performing for the London International Ska Festival’s 30th anniversary is special moment indeed.

Joining them will be Capone and The Bullets, who are dedicated to honouring the ska and 2 Tone movement and always deliver live, plus with DJ Peter Craig on the decks, crowds can expect a whole lot of fun from this joyous line-up.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 6pm

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Tighten Up Closing Party + Champian + Mistah Brown + Keith Lawrence
To bring the festival to a close we have not one, but TWO parties. The first is brought to you by London’s Tighten Up crew, who have been hosting some of the finest reggae, rocksteady and ska nights the capital has to offer for three decades. They’ll have the room bumping and swaying all night long.

O2 Academy Islington - 10:30pm (Over 18s only)

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Time Tunnel Closing Party + Boy About Town + Liam Curtin + Nanker Phelge + Sean Bright
Your second party for the night comes from the Brixton born Time Tunnel club night. Hosted by four superb DJs, Boy About Town, Sean Bright, Liam Curtin and Nanker Phelge, they’ll be playing the best in ska, rocksteady, reggae and 2-Tone, with a healthy dose of soul and more.

O2 Academy2 Islington - 10:30pm (Over 18s only)

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Weekend wristbands are now sold out for the London International Ska Festival, but for other ticket options and more information visit: www.londoninternationalskafestival.co.uk


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