After 15 years of making you dance, Skylarkin’ Soundsystem is finally giving you something to take home with you – the first ever release on Skylarkin’ Recordings – three and a half minutes of reggae magic on heavyweight seven inch vinyl – courtesy of Mighty Leap.

One of the best-loved bands ever to have played my night, I first discovered the then teenage Dave Pickavance and Greg Machon performing with Bermudian ex-pat Desta Zion Wilson as Zion And The White Boys back in 2009, and was completely blown away (despite the dodgy name!).

Here was one of the best voices I’d ever heard, backed by a young band fizzing with positive energy, who intrinsically understood reggae. You got the sense that they couldn’t wait to get onstage and share their love of music with people every night. The first time I booked them, after soundchecking they went out into the street with flyers and busked. Everywhere they went, people fell in love with them. They played 2010 Cowley Road Carnival and everyone wanted to know who they were. They supported Dawn Penn & The Upsetters at The Cellar and were so good we had to get them on again after Dawn had finished playing.

Wrongtom likened their sound to the great Dennis Bovell‘s seminal 1970s group Matumbi, and it’s not a bad comparison. The band are rightly considered among the best of their kind playing reggae in the UK today.

After a brief hiatus and line-up reshuffle, Zion & co returned in 2013 as Mighty Leap, bolstered by the addition of Tom Seal on keys and Oli Lochman on drums. A tour-support with The Wailers quickly followed, and a cover version debuted on those dates garnered a lot of attention when it surfaced on YouTube.

With the band holed-up in the studio recording an albums-worth of original songs and summer on the way, the prospect of releasing their version of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere was too tantalizing for me to resist. So what if I’ve never put out a record before? Between us we’ll figure it out. The aforementioned Wrongtom has given us a killer, speakerbox-bending dub version for the b-side, and DJ Derek is coming out of retirement for one night only to make sure that the launch party goes off with a bang. All we need is you.

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 1st August at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
9pm-3am | £5 advance/£6 door


The legendary DJ Derek was always a confirmed Glastosceptic, ever since he got booked to play the famously sodden 1984 festival and contracted gout for his trouble. Well the old man may have passed the Sweet Memory Sounds reigns on to Count Skylarkin and Natty Bo, but they’re not going to go to bloody Glastonbury either. Well, strictly speaking, Count Skylarkin is. But not before he’s played records for you at Notting Hill Arts Club this Saturday night.

Reggae, ska, soul, r&b, calypso, latin, dancehall and jungle dynamite. Drinks served in glasses rather than paper cups. Toilets that *don’t* look like something from World War I. Guaranteed mud and Metallica free! From the 1940s to the present day – from Kingston to New Orleans via Brixton and Bogota – your selectors journey through rare and classic vinyl nuggets from the golden age of bass. This could catch on!

Saturday June 28th at Notting Hill Arts Club
8pm-2am, £6 before 10pm, £8 after

ZAIA + Tom Showtime + Count Skylarkin + SENSIBLE DANCEHALL

Count Skylarkin gears up for the annual Cowley Road bonanza with a bass-heavy line-up of local heroes and visiting dignitaries.
ZAIA are OX4′s latest live roots reggae offering, born from the ashes of Raggasaurus and featuring a procession of top vocal talent over hot horns and deep, dubby basslines.
On the decks Robin from Sensible Dancehall dusts off his carnival classics and Tom Showtime makes the trip from Melbourne, Australia with reggae, rocksteady and hip hop party starters aplenty.

*On Carnival day itself you can find Count Skylarkin spinning tunes outside The Bullingdon (early afternoon) and The Hi-Lo Jamaican Eating House (from 4:30pm)

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 4th July 2014 at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
10pm-3am | £5 advance / £6 door
Facebook event

Brand new Count Skylarkin & Harvey K-Tel tune (and video from Rumpus Animation) coming soon

Sweet Memory Sounds, Count Skylarkin and Natty Bo‘s Notting Hill Arts Club residency, is coming to Oxford for one night only! Expect the wildest and craziest rhythms from swing and be-bop through jazz, jump-blues, northern soul, heavy funk, cumbia, calypso, boogaloo, gospel, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dancehall and even jungle.

The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers

Formed in the old Brickworks basement in 2004 after a few too many Belgian ales, The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers are now one of the best purveyors of authetic live ska, rhythm & blues and and caribbean boogaloo in the UK, sharing stages with Toots & The Maytals and The Skatalites along the way. Featuring the vocals and guitar of UK r&b legend Sir Bald Diddley, the unmistakable drumming of sometime Mungo Jerry sticksman Bruce ‘Bash’ Brand, the honking horns of Johnny Temptation and Pama International’s Simon Wilcox and the tonking piano of Kid Wig, this is pure, authentic island ska and Jamaican boogie as it was originally intended.


Natty Bo is a record collector, DJ, dancer, bandleader and singer of Ska Cubano, The TOP CATS SKA, Yiddish Twist Orchestra and of course Natty Congeroo & the Flames of Rhythm. He also spins the best sounds in town, having honed his craft over the past three decades at Gaz’s Rocking Blues and countless other festivals, clubs, house parties and late-night shebeens.


Count Skylarkin stumbled into DJing in mid-nineties South London and has since gone on to work with legendary Jamaican acts such as The Wailers (UK tour DJ), Toots & The Maytals, The Skatalites, Max Romeo and countless others, not to mention his decade-long association with outgoing Sweet Memory Sounds headliner DJ Derek in Oxford and beyond.
SMS Logo Skylarkin Natty
Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 6th June at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
10pm-3am | £5 advance/£6 door

Count Skylarkin
and guests spin reggae, ska, soul, r&b, calypso, latin, dancehall and jungle dynamite at West London’s best-loved musical bunker. From the 1940s to the present day – from Kingston to New Orleans via Brixton and Bogota – your selectors journey through rare and classic vinyl nuggets from the golden age of bass.

Saturday May 31st at Notting Hill Arts Club
8pm-2am, £6 before 10pm, £8 after


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