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54-46 That’s my Number

The 13th annual Victoria Ska Fest kicks off Tuesday, July 10 with Toots and the Maytals at Ship Point.
Legendary reggae and ska pioneers Toots and the Maytals are headlining the Ska Fest kick off party at Ship Point, Tuesday, July 10.

Victoria is one rude city.

For five days, Ship Point in the Inner Harbour is being transformed into a celebration of ska, reggae, dancehall, dub, rock, jazz and Latin music from across the world.

Now in its 13th year, the Victoria Ska Fest is the largest and longest running festival of its kind in North America. This year’s lineup has musicians coming from Jamaica, New Zealand, U.S.A., and across Canada.

Headliners include the legendary Toots and the Maytals (Tuesday, July 10), Katchafire (Saturday, July 14), The Pietasters ( Friday, July 13), Leroy  “Heptone” Sibbles (Saturday, July 14) and Adham Shaikh (Thursday, July 12).

The festival has a mix of ticketed and free events, with afternoon shows at Ship Point being all ages.

Choose an All Fest Pass ($125) or a Harbour Pass ($75) and get skanking. Tickets at Lyle’s Place, Ditch Records and The Reef, or online at

The Rocksteady Collective

The Rocksteady Collective’s Multimedia art exhibit, “2Tone” featuring the work of 14 local artists ranging from an artistic welder to painters, photographers and poster artists opens Saturday, July 7 with musical guests Whitey and Forcast. The opening party will also have live body painting, an interactive mural, silent auction and beverage garden. Doors at 8pm. All ages. Admission is by donation and proceeds go to the Alpha Boys School project, helping to send musical instruments to underprivileged Jamaican children.

The theme “2Tone” is based on the racial unity movement of the same name that united people on the dancefloors of Britain.

“All ska fans share a desire for equality, to tear down the walls that separate us from each other. I wanted to see what the artists could come up with, what this means to them,” says curator Christina Cheply.

Participating artists include Steve Kitchen, Jada LeBlanc, Andrew Murgatroyd, Eli Konsorado, Rachael Gurevitch, Melchor Abubo, Derek Galon, Sean Behnsen, Mu5h, Howard St-Roy, Karla Hoeg, Carl Constantine, Kristin Grant and Christina Cheply.

This Week:

Tuesday’s Ska Fest kick off party at Ship Point features ska and reggae pioneers Toots and the Maytals, with American rudies The Delierians and Nanaimo seven-piece powerhouse groove sensation Bananafish Dance Orchestra. (All ages. Doors at 4:30pm. To 10pm.)

Catch last-minute addition Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band at the Toots afterparty with Danny Rebel and the KGB, and Victoria’s own rude and raw reggae band Tuff Jelly, making its Ska Fest debut.

“We’re definitely excited to open for Clinton Fearon and play after Toots. Clinton Fearon is one of the biggest vocal inspirations for reggae that me and Orrie (guitar, vocals) have. When we found out it was a possibility to play with him we spent like five days going ‘oh my God!’,” says Sean Edwards (drums), in an extremely high-pitched voice. “It was pretty magical.”

Local Gypsy-roots-folk-grass band The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra is headlining the second day of music at Ship Point, which is free for everyone to attend. Skanking not required, but strongly encouraged. Blackberry Wood and Natural Flavas, both from Vancouver, are also on the bill (4:30pm – 10pm, Ship Point, Free).

Then turn up the heat with Burnt, a three-piece reggae, hip-hop and punk outfit from San Diego, alongside local ska-punks Hillside Hooligans and B.C. Ska-funk-metal rockers Ninja Spy (who are playing a full set with Whitey/Whistkey Chiefs horn section).  (9pm, Club 9ONE9). M