World ska icons and locals make “dynamite” in Leipzig


“I want to ska/ The whole world want to ska”, goes one of the Skatalites’ most famous refrains.

Sure enough, acts from around the globe will appear in the Dynamite Ska Festival this Saturday, 5 November. From “first wave” Jamaican legends like Roy & Yvonne, to “third wave” French group Skarface and UK newcomers The Barstool Preachers, Leipzig’s Felsenkeller will host a wide selection of ska bands from across time and space.

Undoubtedly, though, the main attraction is the Skatalites – pioneers of ska, and still going strong after 50 years.

This legendary supergroup have had a huge influence on the development of the genre. As central figures of the emerging scene in Jamaica in the 1960s, the Skatalites collaborated with the likes of Prince Buster, The Maytals, The Wailers and Alton Ellis.

In 1967, the Skatalites’ cover of “The Guns of Navarone” spent 6 weeks in the UK Top 40, bringing them trans-Atlantic fame. After a hiatus of several years, the group reformed in 1983 and have been playing ever since.

Over six decades, they have released more than 200 singles and at least 40 albums, in a multitude of styles from ska to rocksteady and reggae. Their current European tour is promoting their latest album, Platinum Ska, which was released this summer.

With two of the group’s original members – vocalist Doreen Shaffer and saxophonist Lester Sterling – set to make appearances in Leipzig, this will surely be a gig that ska fans cannot afford to miss.

But there is more than one reason to head down to the festival on Saturday. For starters, Dessau outfit Hörinfarkt will be kicking things off in their lively punk-infused style. Also worth a look are The Slackers, a band from New York whose influences include early ska and American music of the ‘50s and ‘60s: a sound they call “Jamaican Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

To make things even better, the party is set to continue into the wee hours.

There will be an after-party hosted by Johnny Reggae Rub Foundation, along with Saxony’s very own Rudeboy Soundsytem, promising to run late and lively.

The diverse lineup at this year’s Dynamite Ska Festival is testament to the music’s infectious quality. Ska’s happy beat has been adopted by musicians throughout the world for over half a century now, and Saturday will bring together artists old and new to celebrate its influence.

The Dynamite Ska Festival starts 5 pm Saturday at Felsenkeller (Karl-Heine-Str. 32 in Plagwitz). Tickets are still available online here. Don’t miss out!

Written by Tom Lynas

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