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Ska Fest goes rocksteady

Canadian
Canadian 'Kings of Ska' The Planet Smashers are making their Victoria Ska Fest debut.
— image credit: Amelie Tremblay

After years of trying to make it happen, The Planet Smashers are making an exclusive Island appearance and finally playing the Victoria Ska Fest.

It will be their first showing at Ska Fest, and their first show in Victoria since 2005.

“There’s a time and place for Planet Smashers and Victoria Ska Fest is one of those places,” says Matt Collyer, guitar and vocals.

Not only are the Canadian “Kings of Ska” making their Ska Fest debut, but they’re also debuting new material with a sneak peek at tunes from their new album, Descent into the Valley of the Planet Smashers, which hits the streets Tuesday, July 12.

This fantastic fivesome is making a return to a more classic Planet Smashers sound and sensibility with their first album in six years, says Collyer.

“It’s more like the old stuff. More of the good stuff,” he says with a laugh. “The 2005 record was a bit of a downer. We tried doing one in 2007. We wrote a few songs but they weren’t fun, so we waited and now we’re coming out with a record in a good mindset. There’s some serious stuff, but mostly light topics, we just wanted to have fun. People will be like ’Yay! They’re not old moldy people,’ and will realize from the first song that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

The Planet Smashers are hitting up the Market Square main stage Friday, July 8, alongside The Resignators from Australia and The Hillside Hooligans from, well, Hillside.

Ska Fest has much more to offer in its 12th year, says organizer Nev Gibson.

“We’ve added an extra day and an extra free show this year,” he says. This year also marks a shift from the Victoria Curling Club to Market Square. “It’s an awesome venue and it allows us to go a little later and still be outside.”

There will also be a stage at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour, but it will close at 10 p.m.

Festivities kicked off Tuesday with the first of three free concerts featuring Jon and Roy.

Tuesday also saw the grand opening of the Rock Steady Collective multi media arts exhibition in the 4,000-sq.ft. Studio #17 in Market Square. Featuring the works of 13 west coast artists, this art installation was inspired by the music that gave them their name. The exhibit will be open to the public  Friday, July 8, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and again on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. To 1 a.m.

Entrance is by donation and all proceeds are going to the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica, which was responsible for teaching and influencing many artists including Ken Boothe and Bob Marley.

Studio 17 will also be host to Ska Fest key note address by legendary Rocksteady musician, Ken Boothe. From 12 noon to 2:30 p.m., Thursday, July 8, “Mr. Rocksteady” will speak about the genre of rocksteady, explaining the difference in beat patterns and instrumentation that makes rocksteady unique.

Boothe will also be playing an all-ages show Thursday evening at Ship Point.

The final free show will be Saturday afternoon at Market Square. Honeyboy Carencro, MOBADASS and The Fundamentals are playing from 1:30 p.m. To 5 p.m. before Ky-Mani Marley, Gramps Morgan (of Morgan Heritage), Kae Sun and Rocky Mountain Rebel Music take the stage to close out the festival.

Check out victoriaskafest.ca for tickets, times and more information. M

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