Archive for the ‘Skylarkin’ Oxford’ Category

Ten years in, and (as witnessed at last Friday’s Laid Blak/Wrongtom double-header), people are still ramming out The Cellar and creating the special atmosphere that has made Skylarkin’ Soundsystem a unique and much-loved fixture on the local scene. Oxford, we salute you. See you again on Friday November 2nd with…

Now in his 71st year, the Bristol Sound grandaddy DJ Derek has been delighting dancefloors since the 1960s with his trademark mix-up of reggae, dancehall and soul, even influencing Massive Attack along the way. A much-loved figure in the music industry, and an icon in his native St Paul’s, DJ Derek’s appearances in Oxford are always sell-outs.

Featuring members of The Sidewalk Doctors and Pama International, Phoenix City All-Stars celebrate the legacy of one of Britain’s most iconic record labels (2 Tone) and Jamaica’s most seminal band (The Skatalites). Inspired interpretations and heavy, blazing ska.
“Utterly authentic, as if it was recorded in 1964 Kingston Jamaica” David Rodigan
“Killer!” Mark Lamarr


Count Skylarkin is a cartoon character. He likes drinking Super Juice and socialising with friends.


Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 2nd November at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
9pm-3am | £5 advance/door
Facebook event


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Advance tickets sold out.
HOWEVER! We’ve held 100 tickets back for the door, arrive early to avoid disappointment!
There will also be further availability after Laid Blak have left the stage from around midnight.

Laid Blak have rocked audiences in Oxford so many times that to some extent they need no introduction. However for the uninitiated (where have you been?), Laid Blak scored a slow-burning hit with the ubiquitous single ‘Red’ back in 2008. Since then the Bristolians have established a reputation as one of the foremost reggae bands in the country, and were recently voted the best reggae band in Northern Europe.

‘Red’ and the follow-up ‘Bristol Love’ have found their way onto national radio to become modern-day UK dancehall classics (check the youtube videos). Most recently, the patronage of Ed Sheeran has brought the 7-piece to their widest audience yet, just in time for the release of ‘Red & Blak’ – their much-anticipated debut LP. Arrive early, this will be roadblock!WRONGTOM meets DEEMAS J

A near constant companion over the first 10 years of Skylarkin’ Soundsystem has been my fellow South Londoner DJ Wrongtom. One of the finest DJs I’ve ever had the pleasure to share a set of turntables with, Tom’s productions came to wider prominence courtesy of an acclaimed dubwise remix album for Stockwell laureate Roots Manuva some years back, resulting in a record deal with Tru Thoughts and a new LP featuring long-time collaborator Deemas J.

‘Wrongtom Meets Deemas J In East London’ is a deep, fresh and bouncing reggae, dancehall and dub fuelled LP, with a vibe rooted in East London and paying homage to the culture and sound that first got them both hooked back in the ‘80s, when Fashion Records topped the charts and the likes of Smiley Culture and General Levy rammed the dances. The pair pitch up at The Cellar once again to premiere sides from the album, with Deemas staying on to add his unmistakable patter to Tom’s DJ set, taking in the best of dancehall, roots and heavy bass.


His festival hat firmly back on its peg for another summer, Count Skylarkin spins vintage heard and unheard rocksteady, reggae and ska 45s early doors, then dancehall, dubstep, jungle, garage and who knows what later on.


Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 5th October at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
9pm-3am | £7 advance/door
Facebook event

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Long-time friend of Skylarkin’ Soundsystem, Banana Klanner and bringer of heavy duty hip hop and bashment vibes, we love Jimmy Screech. With his new LP ‘The Remedy’ about to drop you can expect a big and bouncy, bass-heavy hour from Jimmy and the crew.

• Jimmy Screech (Vocals)
• DJ Mr Cosmo (Decks & FX)
• Gibbs (Keyboards)
• Shiffa Dan (Backing Vocals)

Long-time collaborators Skylarkin & Indecision are reunited for the first time this year, after some time apart spent successfully launching The Big Ten Inch and We Are Elements respectively. Dancehall, reggae, hip hop, dubstep, garage, jungle all feature in the quick-fire mix.

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 3rd June at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
9pm-3am | £5 advance/door
£4 before 11pm for Brookes Bass Associates

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Scorching live ska, a DJing pensioner and even the possibility of some free rum. Not bad for a fiver!

In a career spanning more than 40 years, DJ Derek has become a globe-trotting reggae phenomenon, influencing fellow Bristolians MASSIVE ATTACK and even starring in DIZZEE RASCAL’s recent video ‘Dirtee Disco’. Such has been his popularity on dancefloors the world over, he was able to quit his job as an accountant in the mid-seventies to earn his living in clubland ever since.

Though he should have retired years ago, his appearances at the likes of The Big Chill, Glastonbury and Bestival have added to his iconic status, and the reggae grandaddy’s services are in demand more than ever. A resident at Skylarkin’ Oxford for the past seven years, it’s no underestimation to say that this man has given us some of the best nights of our lives. Expect an inimitable mix-up of reggae, ska, soul, rock n roll, and vintage jump-jive hepcat sleaze.

A regular fixture at Skylarkin’ nights ever since they formed at the beginning of 2005, 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. The seven piece released their debut LP ‘Drop Some Leg’ in 2010 on Alopecia Records to widespread acclaim and tonight mark the launch of a new double-A side 45, ‘What I Gotta Do/The Clinch’ on French label String Rabbit. Not to be missed!

More bounce from The Count, fresh from an April that saw him sharing decks with Trojan Soundsystem, Aba-Shanti-I and David ‘Ram-Jam’ Rodigan. Featuring all, some or none of his acclaimed remix collaborations with Harvey K-Tel.


Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 6th May at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford
9pm-3am | £5 advance/door
£4 before 11pm for Brookes Bass Associates


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So it seems that a lot of you want to see Dawn Penn! Friday’s show has completely sold out – thank you – so I’ve had a word with Dawn and we’ve booked her and the band in for next Thursday (March 3rd) as well. This is a once-only opportunity to see a living legend in a tiny venue – advance tickets are exclusively available via wegottickets.com by clicking here.

12 weeks in the UK Top 40… Queen of Rocksteady and Studio One…
Live onstage with a full backing band in a uniquely intimate setting…
DAWN PENN is playing Skylarkin’ at The Cellar!

* * * * * * *

Dawn Penn has been singing since she first performed at Grace Missionary Church, Kingston, Jamaica at eleven years of age. By the time she had finished school, Dawn had already recorded hit rocksteady sides for Prince Buster and Bunny Lee. In 1967 she walked into Studio One and voiced a track that would become a worldwide smash and one of reggae music’s most enduring songs.

‘You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)’ is without doubt one of the biggest hit records that Jamaica has ever produced. A massive tune in the island’s dancehalls in the red-hot summer of 1967, the song crossed the Atlantic and became a hit all over again – first among the Caribbeann communities in London, Birmingham and Bristol and later amongst the skinheads – as reggae fever the UK. Fellow hitmakers like Max Romeo, Nicky Thomas, Bob & Marcia and The Upsetters seized upon the genre’s sudden popularity and toured Britain extensively. Dave Barker and Ansell Collins appeared on Top Of The Pops. Dawn Penn disappeared.

Dawn spent much of the next 20 years in the British Virgin Islands, bringing up her children and working for Barclays Bank. She returned to Jamaica at the tail-end of the 80’s, re-recorded her signature tune and won a whole new generation of fans. One million-plus sales, a Grammy nomination, endless remixes and countless cover versions of ‘You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)’ later, Skylarkin’ Soundsystem is bringing one of reggae’s biggest ever hitmakers to Oxford.

JAMATONE (Thursday)
Roots-Rockin’ Reggae and Dancehall from the East Oxford seven-piece, taking a rare night off from recording their debut LP.

Without doubt our favourite discovery of last year, Z&TWB fuse vice-tight Caribbean rhythms with Bermudian frontman Zion Wilson’s soaring vocal talents, which bring to mind Jeff Buckley as much as Jah Cure and Richie Spice. Epic reggae soundscapes, but with their feet firmly on the dancefloor.

MC KWASI (Friday)
Mic-mad Rasta from Manchester and frequent collaborator with Mr Scruff, Aim, Rae & Christian, Mungos Hi-Fi and The Nextmen. Rasta-fookin-faaari.

Riding high after the success of Duppy Writer (his second long-playing collaboration with Roots Manuva), Wrongtom has been a regular at Skylarkin’ since 2006.

COUNT SKYLARKIN (both nights)
Sometime Specials, Wailers and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry tour DJ, remixer and raconteur Count Skylarkin completes the pack.

* * * * * * *

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem Presents
Thursday March 3rd at The Cellar, Oxford – SELLING FAST!!!
Friday March 4th at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford – SOLD OUT
8pm | £12 advance

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Skylarkin’ Soundsystem Presents:

RAGGASAURUS – full reunion show!
+ DJ Wrongtom (Big Dada)
+ Count Skylarkin (Trojan)
+ more



As much a part of the Cowley Road furniture as The Excelsior Cafe, The Dodgy Deli and those weird wavey benches on Manzil Way – Reggae Christmas at the Zodiac (and latterly the Academy) has been the merriest festive ding-dong in town for well over a decade.

Sadly traditional headliners Mackating can’t make the show this year. But fret not, as we have something extra special for you instead………

RAGGASAURUS had become one of Oxford’s best-loved bands by the time of their untimely demise 18 months ago. Their unique fusion of dub reggae and ethereal Arabic vocals saw them supporting the likes of Jamaican legend Max Romeo and making waves at festivals around the country before they sadly went their separate ways in the spring of 2009. In the spirit of Christmas, the band are getting back together for one night only.

Supporting from the decks for the third year in a row comes from Trojan Records remixer and adopted Oxfordian Count Skylarkin, and DJ Wrongtom – currently earning plaudits for ‘Duppy Writer’, his latest collaboration with London rapper Roots Manuva.

This year we’ve got a bigger rig than ever before, the place is going to sound HEAVY.


Christmas Eve @ O2 Academy, Oxford
£6 advance/before 10pm / £8 after

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That was good. Mouth like sandpaper, my carrot-pickled intestines yet to be retrieved from the bucket I puked them into, some bloke called “Nigel” still asleep on the Skylarkin Heights sofa, and a vague recollection of a fantastic Cuban Ska band and the best night out I’ve had in years. And as Zyromski, my recently reinstalled valet-de-chambre, rids my bedsheets of whatever alcohol-induced detritus my enfeebled bladder has deposited therein, I’m suddenly reminded that it’s almost time to do it all over again!


Friday Night at The Cellar, Oxford
9pm-3am | £4 before 11 / £5 after

Without doubt our favourite discovery of last year, Z&TWB fuse vice-tight Caribbean rhythms with Bermudian frontman Zion Wilson’s soaring vocal talents, which bring to mind Jeff Buckley as much as Jah Cure and Richie Spice. Epic reggae soundscapes, but with their feet firmly on the dancefloor.


Mic-mad Rasta from Manchester and frequent collaborator with Mr Scruff, Aim, Rae & Christian, Mungos Hi-Fi and The Nextmen. Rasta-fooking-faaari.

These days mostly found in the studio with Roots Manuva, our Tom’s turntable excursions have their heads wedged in the bass bins, with their feet firmly on the dancefloor.

Actual vampire who feasts on the blood of bass-loving permatanned virgins.
© DJ Fu

Saturday at The Big Chill House, Kings Cross
8pm-3am | FREE before 10 / £5 after

As a big thank you to everyone who has supported our nights over the years, you can see some of the musicians from Ska Cubano performing in their other guise as THE TOPCATS at The Big Chill House for FREE.

Beloved of the late Joe Strummer, Ska Cubano’s Natty Bo and Miss Megoo head up this ten-piece ska explosion. One of the best live bands you’ll ever see.

Also featuring two rooms of killer reggae, rocksteady, ska, soul, dancehall, hip-hop, rock n roll and jump blues from The Count, Wrongtom, Natty Bo and The Big Ten Inch DJs. FREE before 10pm, or limited guest spots available for late arrivals if you message me pronto.

And don’t forget the BIG TEN INCH launches in just TWO WEEKS! Have you got your ticket?

In the meantime, I’m going to have to scrape out my innards with a toilet brush… or just keep drinking.

Hasta Pronto

Dalton Nuggets

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