Ska Fest fêtes the local scene
The Fabulous LoLo, feat. Ska Fest’s Lorraine Muller (right), photo courtesy Icon Ink
Rude boys and girls, skins and other ska-lovers are breaking out their braces, 2-Tone gear and dancing shoes, because reggae’s about to get dirty in Montreal.
Still coming off last year’s high of hosting the Skatalites, the Montreal Ska Festival is back and is kicking off its fourth edition tonight at Petit Campus with the Fundamentals, the Dropsteppers and friends.
Lorraine Muller, for one, is pumped. Formerly of the Kingpins, now of Lo and the Magnetics and the Fabulous LoLo, the Queen of Ska is also the fest’s spokesperson, and has been helping out main organizer Valérie Desnoyers since the start.
“Our main goal is promoting the local scene,” Muller says. The non-profit organization puts any and all surplus cash into paying bands, putting on ska shows year-round and funding the festival. This year’s edition features an NYC showcase, but is stacked with local talent, as always.
“[The money] goes straight to creating opportunities for young bands, making sure they’re backed,” Muller says. “Making sure they have something to reach for — it’s key when you’re a young band. It’s fun to pay your dues and to play small shows, but it’s nice to know there’s someone in your town promoting you.”
This year’s Ska Fest sprawls out over the course of four days, ending with a cheap breakfast and performance on Sunday morning at Ye Olde Orchard on Prince-Arthur, and a secret show that will be announced Saturday night.
Muller says the Ska Fest offers a little something for every kind of ska fan: instrumental, traditional, poppy, punky, jazzy. A team of 15–20 volunteers helps out to make sure the bands and the show-goers are happy, and tickets are affordable ($12/$15 for Thursday/Friday; $22/$25 for the all-ages, “All Skanadian” Planet Smashers show). “It’s a very welcoming scene,” Muller says. ■
The Montreal Ska Festival runs today, Thursday, Oct. 11, through Sunday, Oct. 14, with shows and free afterparties at Petit Campus, Club Soda and l’Absynthe. Check the festival’s website for details. Sunday breakfast at Ye Olde Orchard costs $5, and the show (by Mitch Girio) is free.