For quite some time I believe that gathering experiences is better than collecting things. That’s why my first bet here would be gifts that will make that possible. And is there anything more beautiful than a memory of your favourite band’s gig or a good festival trip? Ok, only if the quantity of liquor won’t tire you too much. A ticket bought long ahead of time will allow you to reasonably manage your travel budget, which is not of no importance. By the way I recommend extending your trip by 2-3 days and do some sightseeing – that kind of tourism works great for me. Where is it worth to go in 2019? I have a few ideas!
- For starters here’s an option for the impatient ones, who will want to get their gift working as soon as possible. On January 26th it’s worth to go to Germany to Berlin Ska City, especially that it’s gonna be its last edition. There’s Roy Ellis, Intensified and Bad Manners in the lineup among others.
- By the end of March The Specials are going for their European Tour and considering the fact that some of those gigs are already sold out, it’s worth to think about tickets early.
- On April 18th starts the 31th edition of the festival I’ve never visited yet, but I want to change that every single year. Among others there’s gonna be Steady 45’s , Chris Murray, Le Birrette or Misty In Roots at London International Ska Festival.
- April’s last weekend is the best time for a trip to Cologne. Freedom Sounds Festival has a special place in my heart. It’s not a huge party but with a greatly selected lineup. Next year it’s for example Le Grand Miercoles or Top Cats with a special tribute show to Prince Buster.
- This Is Ska Festial promoters havent announced any bands yet, but to many fans of outdoor partying that’s not an obstacle in planning a trip to Rosslau already. If you want a true Christmas surprise, buy the tickets and make time between 20th and 22nd of June.
- If it’s not only ska and reggae playing in the heart of that someone you want to gift, a ticket for a festival with a little wider horizons might be a good choice. I can recommend Mighty Sounds in Czech Republic with a clean consience. I love this event and I always have a great time there. Promoters have already started to show their hand. Between July 12th and 14th there’s gonna be New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble, Buster Shuffle and Jaya The Cat playing there among many others.
If not a concert, then what? Of course, music from a record! In my case it’s gotta be vinyl, but despite growing sales of black discs, CDs are still widely available. Sticking to a less-waste idea I’d recommend poking about in some second-hand record shops and flea markets. There’s still some time and who knows, maybe there’s some legendary gem waiting for you somewhere there. Minimalists can be gifted with a subscription plan for one of streaming services. It might ba also a cool idea to buy a gramophone, cd or cassette player, some accessories, headphones and pretty much anything that is needed to listen and store music. But let’s get to records shopping.
- As they say: “support your local ska scene and retail stores”. In Poland we have Jimmy Jazz Records that extends their offer of jamaican sounds on a regular basis. There’s lots of ska, rocksteady and reggae from all over the world and some cool polish records you won’t find anywhere else. Good shipping rates and christmas discounts – that sounds like a great choice.
- You can find some ska, like latest record by Lollypop Lorry, at Bad Look Records. There’s a good chance you’ll end up adding some oi! or punk to your basket.
- Among many European labels and resellers we’ve got our favourites. German Copasetic has prepared a December discount. At Moskito you’ll buy anything from Grover Records probably cheaper than elsewhere, and at Belgian Badasonic you’ll find for example a new single of The Slackers, latest Reggae Workers Of The World or still fresh record by Caz Gardiner & The Badasonics. Don’t forget about Liquidator‘s catalogue too.
- If you’re looking for American bands or some exotic imports, you should definitely check out Jump Up Records website. We order there regularly and we’ve never had any reasons to complain. Thinking about shipping rates you should probably try to to buy LPs by threes. If you want to gift some rarities and limited editions collector, you can also consider buying him or her one of 2019 club subscriptions. Also make sure to check out Jump Up’s Facebook – some sweet deals are popping up there lately.
- A compilation which nicely connects two of our gift ideas had its premiere recetly. One of them being a concert, another a record. By purchasing “Rudies All Around” you can give yourself a chance to win a golden ticket for London International Ska Festival. I didn’t make it, but still, I have a really cool vinyl to cheer me up.
In between gigs and listening to music true fanatics read books about.. music, of course! That’s also a good gift idea – paper or even digital version.
- “Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King” by Lloyd Bradley is a classic now but I remember when I wanted to buy it in Poland, it wasn’t so easy. It’s probably much easier abroad so if you can catch it somewhere, I assure you that every reggae fan will be delighted to have this compendium of knowledge on his shelf.
- “Rodigan: My Life In Reggae” is a book, every true reggae lover should read, so I heard. Fans of David Rodigan will like it for sure. For decades now he’s been promoting Jamaican music on BBC radio and in clubs. Widely available, so no problems here. David is a walking encyclopedia on reggae music and through the years has met and played with the greatest musicians. In his book he shares some unique stories from his life.
- Most fresh book option in our gift guide is Heather Augustyn’s new item released this autumn. She’s known to regularly publish new stories about origins of ska and reggae. In “Operation Jump Up: Jamaica’s Campaign for a National Sound” she looks closer at events of 1964, a time when ska appeared in United States. You’ll find it easely on Amazon.
- Lots of reviews and news from our ska and reggae world appear in the longest running zine in this genre. Do The Dog Skazine had its 94th issue published on December. You can simply put a yearly subscription under a Christmas tree. There’s also an offer to order a package of last 12 issues with a special price – bargain!
Enough with all that fun. Lets get practical. Music is great to fill your free time but what’s really useful is some cool clothes for every occasion. If you’re not sure about your gift recipient’s sense of style you should aim at accessories and classics – socks, scarves, Fred’s polo shirts are probably safe. Of course you can also get wild. And when you completely don’t know what to put your hands (and money) on, you can simply settle with particular shop’s gift card.
- While looking at textiles, try to find stores of small, original brands. It’s worth to suppot small business and.. your local scene, exactly! Nowadays In Poland the best source of cool ska/reggae t-shirts is Old School Design. Malwina paints all those shirts personally and you can order custom jobs by your own idea. She’ll be happy to send them worldwide.
- If you’re looking for something different than a t-shirt, there’s a cool polish store Clothes Of London with a stock you should definitely check out. Shirts, polos, dresses, harrington jackets – you’ll pick something.
- This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Who’s Keith Moon – one of the most famous drummers ever. For this occasion Ben Sherman released a special collection. It’s also worth to take a look at their northern soul inspired line. And of course the more you spend, the bigger your discount gets.
- Huge choice of women’s and men’s clothes, from classic brands and designs to some really avant-garde options – that’s what you’ll find at Atom Retro. I know them, I shop there and I like them very much. For the Christmas season they’ve prepared a discount calendar. Every day another category of products gets its prices reduced.
- I could not forget about beautiful dresses on my gift list. If you want to make some mod girl very happy, check out offers from Love Her Madly and Mademoiselle YéYé. Magnificent designs are also made by Magdalena Sokolowska, who stands behind Marmalade brand, but that’s where it’s getting seriously high-end.
- If during winter you like to plan your summer vacation, why not drop under the Christmas Tree something that might come in handy when you’ll hang out at the beach. Ewa is a designer for a Polish brand Bodymaps and sells some amazing retro swimsuits! They are simply made to lie down, drink cocktails and listen to reggae and soul. And can be shipped to EU countries.
And here are some gifts for gadgeteers fitting a category “no idea what I need it for, but hey, it’s great”. Knick-knacks, cute accessories and shiny things.
- I like it when my favourite bands have something more than t-shirts and records on their merch. Polish band Vespa went another level, now they have nice silver bracelets with their wasp logo. Bling, bling.
- Who wouldn’t like to put a figurine of skinhead Bob in Merc clothes besides his gramophone? Ok, I know one of those guys, but I direct the rest of reggae gadgets lovers to Merc’s official shop. You can make a crew of those figurines – there’s also Jimmy, Lulu and Sue.
- Boys and girls with sense of humor might be gifted with somethin absolutely most Christmassy ever – sweater or t-shirt with an appropriate motive or gingerbread tights.
- I dream about a retro radio. Maybe your special someone would also like to have one. 60s design lovers will probably be happy with this one here.
- Flasks, bidons, ashtrays, pendants and all kinds of other gadgets – it’s on Zazzle. I recommend to choose those with designs of Madame Colonelle of Bigger Boss Sound. And that’s Monika Suska – you’ll also find her designs at Redbubble.
Have a nice shopping and remember not to delay it to the last moment. Couriers are people too. Ho, ho, ho!