We can still only dream about live concerts, but watching those available online doesn’t have to be a much worse solution. Especially, if we decide to listen to unknown bands from the other end of the world. This is how I treat virtual festivals and I rely on the selection of their organizers. What exactly can go wrong? I didn’t invest in a foreign trip, and if I don’t like something, I can always turn off the sound and play solitaire while waiting for the next recording. The only problem is the time zones, because the events I describe take place at not-so-comfortable hours for people in Poland. Sweet Girls Ska will start at 23:00 our time (16:00 UTC-05), and Supernova at midnight (18:00 EDT). Well, I guess I’ll sleep some other time.
Sweet Girls Ska Festival
Sweet Girls Ska Festival is the first international online festival dedicated to female artists present on the world ska scene. The organizers, Lucero Terrones and Milagros Paredes are from Peru and point out that in their country there are no female-fronted ska bands. This was probably one of the reasons why they decided to get involved in promoting female activity in this field. It’s a good opportunity to get to know some of the artists who combine ska with rocksteady, reggae, jazz, rumba, cumbia, swing, latin pop, rock, and even heavy metal. They are not always vocalists, bands with female instrumentalists also take part in the festival. Some are preparing a recording especially for this event, others will share some archival material.
The Sweet Girls Ska Festival will take place on June 11 and 12. Thursday is primarily dedicated to music from South America. Colombia will have the biggest representation. There are as many as 6 bands – La UrbanD, Alto Grado, Clase Obrera, La Suite, La Kumbia SkaNdela, Le Rouge Band. Added to this are ska-punk teams: Pikazos RSF from Mexico and Silvestre Skalón from Ecuador, Argentinian Mamita Peyote, Doctor No from Venezuela, and Skareta Lúgubre Ska from Chile. Two bands reside in the United States – Calavera NY Club and Dubistry. Note the funky reggae of the latter and the jazzing ska performed by La Suite.
On the second day of the festival, the streaming will be definitely more international, with a strong European accent. We’ll have a chance to listen to the Russians from Lollypop Lorry, which is not surprising because they are very popular in the countries of South America. Your computer screen will also feature gall-female bands – Italian Le Birrette and Irish The Skatuesques. The last band from our part of the world is the French-German project The Caribbean Soul Steppers. Don’t be fooled by the name Tef London – it’s a band from the United States, just like Stop The Presses. Malambo Ska Band are from Argentina, Girls Go Ska from Mexico, and eclectic Cooltiva from Bolivia. My tips for the day are: Liners from Ecuador, Mexican band New Lion Ska and Chilean singer Betania López.
Special guests will also appear, including the well-known Peruvian band Vieja Skina, Kristof Toth from the Hungarian Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra, and the American journalist and writer specialized in Jamaican music, Heather Augustyn.
2020 Supernova Ska Festival: Quarantine Edition
Supernova is one of the most known American ska festivals, although its history is not long at all. Tim Receveur organized the first edition in 2014. At that time it was still Virginia Ska Fest. The name Supernova first appeared 3 years later. Last year, the festival was not held for financial reasons, but the promoters managed to raise money for the next edition on Kickstarter. And then pandemic came and cultural life moved to the internet.
The virtual quarantine Supernova Ska Festival will take place on June 13. You will be able to watch streaming on the festival’s fanpage. 70 bands from around the world decided to participate. Each of them will perform one song or share previously unreleased live footage. The event will be hosted by Coolie Ranx, the frontman of a New York band, Pilfers.
You can easily find the full list of artists taking part in the festival on Facebook, so let me mention just a dozen or so: Less Than Jake, The Pietasters, Lynval Golding, Mephiskapheles, Pilfers, Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos, The Toasters, The Delirians, Roger Rivas, Bite Me Bambi, King Django, Dr. Ring Ding, Babylove and the van Dangos, The Uppertones, Eastern Standard Time, Catbite, The Fuss, The Skapones, The Steady 45s, Death of Guitar Pop, The Loving Paupers, Rude Boy George, The Prizefighters, The Scotch Bonnets, The Dendrites, The Players Band.
The virtual festival supports fundraising for a new music initiative for at-risk youth attending the Alpha Institute in Jamaica, formerly the legendary Alpha Boys’ School, as they celebrate their 140th anniversary. More information on the fundraiser can be found on the website.
For the record, I will add that during the pandemic, Supernova organizes Saturday streamings with ska artists. You can follow them on Facebook.