If there’s one thing I surely won’t be complaining about, it’s the sizzling summer concerts happening in RI and beyond — specifically all the ska and reggae music coming our way! First I should mention the regulars. The Parlour in PVD has a weekly Monday Reggae night that they run year-round. Boasting the Upsetta International Sound System DJs and the phenomenal Natural Element Band, it is the premier Reggae Night in Providence. There’s no cover and the place stays jumpin’ till 1am.
Traveling south, Hope Underground in Newport has a steady rotation of both ska and reggae lined up for the summer. Another no-cover affair, you can listen to hot music while you spend your cash on cold beer. Artists ranging from Destroy Babylon to the Soul Rebel Project and King Django will keep you sweaty long after the summer sun has gone down.
Newport also features The Mintones every Fri night at the Tavern on Broadway, and The Ravers will be tearing up the Dockside every Sun night throughout the summer. No wonder the locals never leave the island!
Summer tours are coming through New England as well. Jun 12 has King Django at the Fatt Squirrel in PVD. Playing a mixed set of ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall, Django is a powerhouse with a history stretching back to the ’80s with bands such as Skinnerbox NYC and the Stubborn All Stars. Local Caribbean quartet Panoramic View opens the night with their energetic tropical vibes.
The following night, Firehouse 13 hosts a PVD ska party sure to leave you sweaty and breathless. PVD’s own traditional ska and soul band, The Copacetics, headline the night. They are supported by Attelboro locals Truth in Soul as well as Connecticut’s The Screw Ups. The Pandemics from Long Island start the night off. With each band bringing their own brand of ska and reggae to the table, it’s going to be a cornucopia of dancing grooves!
Another double weekend brings us the rougher side of ska. Jun 26 has New Bedford based punk/ska Sweet Babylon’s CD release party. They are joined in this celebration by Short Handed Goal and The Eradicates. I hope Firehouse 13 has recovered from the previous week, because this is going to be a knock-out punch!
On Jun 27, Inspector 7 hits Fete with their ska/hardcore sound of high energy sing-along tunes. Also on the bill is the silver tongued vocal styling of Riki Rocksteady backed by the Thaddeus Merrit Trio, the Ska/Punk of Llama Tsunami and A Minor Revolution.
Fri, Jul 17, Bim Skala Bim starts their biannual string of shows at the Parlor (Newport). Hailing from Boston, Bim has been local favorites for over 30 years and it seems that everyone loves their mix of ska, reggae, world music and rock. This will be one of those shows that can’t be missed!!
If you absolutely have to miss the Bim show on Jul 17, it should only be because you are headed up to Boston for The Slackers annual Booze Cruise. The Slackers, based out of NYC, take you on a three-hour tour of Boston Harbor and it is way more than the waves that keep that boat rocking! On the bill this year is The New Limits, a Boston band that combines all the best bits of the various ska sub genres into a mighty powerhouse of dance! Someone needs to book a show like this out of the Ocean State somewhere. Just sayin’…
The Masters of Third Wave Ska, The Toasters, hit the Ocean State on Jul 29, once again at Manchester 65 in West Warwick. Going on 35, The Toasters put on an amazing show pulling from their extensive back catalog of hits. Sweet Babylon brings the punk/ska and Rival Roots supplies the reggae/rock.
The culmination of the summer for many reggae fans is sure to be the Waterfront Reggae Festival on Aug 8. It’s home for the last five years, the Newport Yachting Center, has closed, so this year it is being held at India Point Park in Providence. Featuring a packed line-up consisting of Steel Pulse, Barrington Levy, Third World, The Mighty Mystic, High Hopes Band and The Copacetics, the Waterfront Reggae Festival promises a full day of music and dancing.
All in all, summer 2015 looks to be a paradise of sweet Jamaican music and I’m sure there will be even more added to this list as the season rolls out. Whether you are on vacation or just looking for something to do after a long week at work, do yourself a favor and hit up one of these events with a drink in one hand and your feet on the dance floor. It’ll be another New England winter before you know it.