Laid Blak live | Don Letts (BBC6Music) | Count Skylarkin (Trojan Records) | Tony ‘Naked’ Nanton | more

With Reggae Xmas now firmly established at The Bullingdon after 20 years down the road at the ZO2diac, it felt like the right time to extend the festivities to Easter Sunday – with a live set from perennial favourites Laid Blak. Widely considered to be the best live dancehall act in the UK, the 7-piece were recently voted the best reggae band in northern Europe. In truth, their sound owes as much to their native Bristol as it does to Kingston, Jamaica, and it’s this that makes them such a vibrant, unique band.

On the decks, get ready for something really special – as BBC 6Music and Big Audio Dynamite‘s Don Letts joins Count Skylarkin to pay tribute to their friend, the late, great DJ Derek. Expect heard and unheard reggae, ska, soul, rhythm & blues and calypso direct from the legendary selector’s personal collection.

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DJ Derek was a musical institution. His close friend and fellow DJ Count Skylarkin has spent the months since Derek’s funeral trawling through the great man’s legendary collection, and will be dipping into those famous Sweet Memory Sounds for an Easter Sunday Special.

Also on record-spinning duties is award-winning film-maker and broadcaster Don Letts. Credited as being the man who introduced the punks to reggae as resident DJ at The Roxy in 1976, the years since have seen The Don form Big Audio Dynamite with The Clash’s Mick Jones, pick up a Grammy for Westway To The World and collaborate with DJ Derek on the as-yet-unreleased portrait ‘Ring The Alarm’.

Playing live, Derek’s fellow Bristolians Laid Blak need no introduction. An acclaimed 7-piece live band featuring legendary west country mic-man Joe Peng and the record-cutting skills of DJ Bunjy, or as Derek knew him, “Young Ivor”.

“To say that Derek made the world a better place sounds trite but it’s true. You left your cynicism at the door when you went to see Derek play and you got back pure love instead. Music as a catalyst for joy and companionship. Music as a force for good. Bringing people together. For The Good Times. He was the antidote to an industry that strives to take itself too seriously – simple, straightforward, playing the music he loved, giving the people what they want to hear. I can’t wait to share these Sweet Memory Sounds on the Cowley Road, where Derek himself played for so many years.”
Count Skylarkin

Venue: The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1UE
Times: 10pm-4am
Tickets: £8 earlybird / £10 advance / £12 door


DJ-Vadim returns to Skylarkin’ Soundsystem off the back of his hugely acclaimed Dubcatcher series of LPs. One of the hardest working and most respected DJs and producers in the game, expect a wild ride through classic roots music, 80s digital, bashment, original UK 2 step soul, bass culture and of course some boom bap rap. Aided on the mic by Mr Scruff, Aim and Friends & Family’s MC Kwasi and abetted on the turntables by fellow reggaeholics Count Skylarkin and Oli Lochman.

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 31st March at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
10pm-3am | Tickets | Facebook

*Sadly Daddy G has had to cancel his appearance this Friday due to reasons beyond our control. All tickets remain valid and refunds are available to any diehard Massive fans (but we’d much prefer you to come along and enjoy one of the best DJs in the game instead…)

After a sell-out session with Mungo’s Hi Fi, Oxford’s longest-running night for all things reggae returns with legendary London roots six-piece The Majestic live onstage. Formed way back in the early 80s by Tony Alli and Faada Ras and currently enjoying a resurgence thanks to earth-shaking shows at Boomtown Festival and an acclaimed new LP, this is lovingly-crafted roots-rock-reggae at its most regal. On the decks Count Skylarkin and special guests take you through 50 years of soundsystem culture – from calypso, ska and rocksteady through to dancehall, bashment and jungle!

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 24th February at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
10pm-3am | Tickets | Facebook

Mungo’s Hi Fi | Deemas J | Count Skylarkin | D-90 | more

Forward-thinking roots reggae music, seismic productions and democratic dancehall fun for a Skylarkin’ Independent Venue Week special! Festival dons, 6Music favourites and soundsystem legends Mungo’s Hi Fi make the trip down from Glasgow for their Cellar debut.

They’re joined on the mic by livewire Tru Thoughts vocalist Deemas J and on the decks by Trojan Records remixer Count Skylarkin and One Drop’s D-90. This is going to be a big night! Don’t miss!

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 27th January at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
10pm-3am | Tickets | Facebook

Reggae Christmas returns to The Bullingdon with our biggest headliner yet – legendary lyricist, activist and positivist Macka B – live onstage with the Roots Ragga Band!

One of Britain’s most influential dancehall toasters, Macka B has been performing and making consistently interesting, intelligent, relevant, occasionally hilarious reggae music for more than 30 years, recording for Fashion Records, Mad Professor, Jetstar, Peckings and countless other labels and producers. From 1983’s “Maggie’s Letter” to more recent hits like “Medical Marijuana” and “Wha Me Eat”, Macka has been at the top of his game for four decades, and we can’t wait to welcome him to this most suspicious annual festive tradition!

Support comes from Reggae Xmas originators, Oxford’s original rebel sound DestaNation, CowleyRoadblocker Count Skylarkin, Ockard Riddim’s Constant Jammin + surprise guests to be revealed on the night. Dasher and Wazzy bring the party to room two.

Reggae Xmas has been a Cowley Road tradition for the past 20 years. If you’ve been lucky enough to have been, you’ll know. If you haven’t, well there’s never been a better time to find out!

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Christmas Eve at The Bullingdon
162 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1UE

9pm-3am / <del>£5 earlybird</del> / £8 advance / £8 before 10pm / £10 after 10pm

skylarkinsoundsystem.com | thebullingdon.co.uk | tinyurl.com/reggaexmas2016

The mighty DUB SMUGGLERS return to Skylarkin’ to rattle the Cellar ceiling once more. The crew’s Manchester nights are the stuff of legend – always ram-jammed, with people travelling the length and bredth of the land to squeeze in. Further afield, the boys have rocked Beatherder, clashed with Mungos Hifi and Iration Steppas and, famously, made The Beach stage at Outlook and Dimensions festivals in Croatia sound AMAZING. They play heavy-duty dancehall, dub and roots and (best of all) they’re bringing their famous handmade bassbins. BE VERY AFRAID! Aided and abbetted by Count Skylarkin at the controls.

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 25th November at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
£6 advance | £7 door

‘The essential festival band!’
Having spent the summer rocking crowds at Boomtown, Shambala and Glastonbury, Laid Blak return to Skylarkin’ Oxford for an intimate show in their favourite basement. Born out of the 90s jungle scene in their native Bristol, over the past decade the Laid Blak project has grown into an acclaimed 8-piece band – winning awards left, right and centre for their incendiary live shows, which take in reggae, dancehall, hip hop and soul. They’ve had hits too – Red and Bristol Love have been played all over the radio and all over the world. Once experienced, NEVER forgotten! Get down early.

On the decks, Count Skylarkin is joined by Laid Blak’s own DJ Bunjy and MC Joe Peng, rocking the dance with big and bouncy reggae, dancehall, hip hop and drum & bass till the small hours.

Skylarkin’ Soundsystem
Friday 30th September at The Cellar, Frewin Court, Oxford OX1 3HZ
10pm-3am | Tickets | Facebook


Oxford’s newest dub sensations take over Oxford’s longest-running reggae night!

After tearing up the stage at Common People and conquering the airwaves courtesy of David Rodigan on BBC1Xtra, 9-piece brass’n’bass pioneers ZAIA are bringing their deep, danceable, dubwise grooves to The Cellar for a very special live show. Featuring the bewitching vocals of Amy Mackown, the richter-scale bass rumble of David Tomlinson, roof-rattling rhythms by James Bolton and a slew of special guests onstage and on the decks.

“…a phenomenally slick reggae band…” Nightshift Magazine

Friday 24th June 2016 at The Cellar, Frewin Court (off Cornmarket), OX1 3HZ
10pm-3am / £3 earlybird / 5 adv / £6 otd

Every Thursday night this summer, Count Skylarkin and friends present Jamaica Rum Tings Rooftop Sessions at The Prince of Wales in Brixton. Great food, amazing drinks, sunshine, BBQ and BASS! Featuring guest appearances from Daddy G (Massive Attack), DJ Vadim (Ninja Tune), Earl Gateshead (Trojan Soundsystem), DJ Shepdog (Nice Up!), Wrongtom (Tru Thoughts), Dirty Dubsters, Aldo Vanucci and more. Best of all, thanks to our friends at Wray & Nephew Jamaican Overproof Rum, admission is FREE!