Saturday was the last day of SkaFest and needless to say, the organizers had definitely packed it in with a free family show during the day, featuring Easy Big Fella, and Monkey and then two (not one but two!) Grand Finale Closing shows that evening and I got to Ship’s Point just in time to see the first of the two. As I arrived I caught the tail end of Giraffe Aftermath (definitely my favourite band name of the whole festival) and then sat down on the grass next to the venue to wait for the next band. For a second I thought back to what an awesome festival it had been this year.
I recognized The Natural Flavas were coming back on stage (they played on Wednesday night) and quickly grabbed my program out of my bag to read that Leroy “Hepton” Sibbles was supposed to be playing. What the heck. After a couple of instrumental verses by the Flavas a tall man with flowing off-white pants and classy button-down shirt came on stage, the crowd cheered, and I thought this must be Leroy. His smooth, R&B sounding voice immediately entranced me as I headed towards the front of the stage. Leroy Sibbles is one of the legends of ska that was performing this year. In the 1960’s, he was part a band called “The Heptones”, who would later be identified as one of the bands who defined the rocksteady jamacian sound. To date himself, during the set Leroy even admitted that he was involved with the song “Pass the Duchie” before Musical Youth made it famous. (Triva tip from Leroy Sibbles: The song was originally called “Pass the Kouchie” but was later changed to “Pass the Duchie” as duchie refers to a commonly used cooking pot as apposed to another kind of pot which the original lyric references).
Leroy played through soulful songs like “Baby Be True”, “Equal Rights” and “Rock and Come On”. I don’t know if it was his voice or his accent or the fact that he celebrated the fact that we were both (us in the audience and him) from islands cultures (Vancouver Island and Jamacia respectively) but I think Leroy was my favourite performer on Saturday.
Katchafire, all the way from New Zealand, were the headlining band for this Grand Finale Closing show, and once again are a great example of the SkaFest Society’s ability to seek out and get great international talent to this festival. And again, this must be a ska-thing, another multiple membered band came on stage. There were so many of them in fact, it took me a couple of songs and guitar solos before I could even find the lead guitarist, who was placed behind the second percussionist. Katchafire played a mix of upbeat reggae, with songs like “Seriously” and soulful R&B (must have been the theme for the night) songs like “Say What Your Thinking”. During the show, Katchafire’s lead singer called out to all those in the “cheap seats” to which we all turned around and saw every person in the bleachers on their feet and doing some kind of The crowd knew every word. The band finished with a cover of Marley’s “Three Little Birds”.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this 3-part review and have gotten so stoked on SkaFest that you will come out next year! One recommendation that I can make for those of you who are interested in SkaFest is to volunteer your time as part of the Skafia team. I have volunteered for many music festivals in the past and can say that nothing beats SkaFest for meeting new people, chillin to great music and helping out an amazing festival.
To find out more about SkaFes website (victoriaskafest.ca). And if you go there soon you can find that they are still offering a free sampling package from all of the artists that played in the 2012 show.