The 2018 Supernova International Ska Fest brought some of the best ska bands on the continent to the 1781 Brewery in Fredericksburg, Virginia (an hour south of D.C.) for two days of soul-reviving, rain-soaked ska. Three if you count the Friday night V.I.P. parties. Tim and April Receveur and their army of volunteers brought it together and made it all fun, brilliant, breathtaking, outrageous and unforgettable. We also got a little rain. Not enough to stop anything, but enough for an occasional lightning delay. I put that tent-time to good use, asking musicians and bands and other ska folks four burning questions: What’s new, what’s on tap for the summer, who are you listening to and who are you most excited to see play at this year’s Supernova. Naturally, we start with the man himself.
News: Now that Supernova has wrapped, I’m trying to launch two projects this summer. One is to monitor Russian propaganda and disinformation in Central Asia and the second, to work with 1000 at-risk youth in the Maldives.*
Summer of 2018: My list is quickly being marked off. First was Supernova, second was my son’s graduation from high school (June 9) and last is selling my house and moving to the beach in July.
Listening to: The Kubricks, The Loving Paupers (who played at Supernova), the Meow Meows and The Bunny Gang. On the non-ska side, I’ve been listening to Father John Misty, Propagandhi, Jeff Rosenstock, Tim Barry and J Roddy Walston and the Business
Want to see: At Supernova, I was most excited to see MU330, The Suicide Machines and Doreen Shaffer singing with Western Standard Time. I got to catch nearly all these sets and none of them disappointed.
Special shout out: Thank you to everyone who came out and made Supernova 2018 so memorable! The community that has grown up around this festival is the best group of fans that we’ve ever been around, and I’ll never forget coming out of a 2-hour rain delay on Saturday and seeing smiling, happy people. We’re going to take a year off, but we’re beyond excited to start planning the next one. See you in 2020!
Roger Apollon Jr., lead singer, Rude Boy George
Band news: Biggest thing with my band is that today we’re unveiling our new lineup. We have some amazing new players who’ve been in the scene, so we’re very excited about that. And we got our new EP on CD, Love My Way. We’re selling that. That’s the biggest thing with us.
Summer 2018: You’re going to be the first ones to know. This summer we’re going to try to get to the UK for the Specialized, the thing in November. So we’re talking to them right now. We’re trying to work it all out. But our goal is to get to Specialized and to build a couple of shows around that.
Want to see: A lot of bands. Roddy Radiation, obviously. I’m excited to see Hub City. The most excited, I’d have to say the Western Standard Time. That’s probably got to be my highlight for me for today.
Joe Q, lead singer/guitar, Ian Jacks, sax, The Steady 45s
Band news: Joe Q.We’re finishing up our second full length album. Pretty cool support from Roger Ebers and Tom Cook of The Debonairs. They’ve been really pushing it and helping us out, mixing, producing …
Ian: The only other one that we have full length wise is Trouble in Paradise.
Summer 2018: JoeQ: We’re going to be doing a lot more touring. That’s when we’ll be hitting the road, Europe for sure. We’re kind of waiting for a couple more things to line up and then we’re gonna announce it and we’ll be good.
Ian: For me I’m really excited to go back to Mexico City to play Ska Wars down there. It’s like the motherland for a lot of us in the band. It’s just beautiful to be able to go and feel that energy and that love in a different country. We went to Germany last year, we were there for a few weeks and it just blows my mind to see that maybe you can’t connect with everybody else because of a language barrier or whatever, but when a DJ is playing a song that everybody knows and loves, that’s a heavy feeling man.
Listening to: Joe Q: I like a lot of the stuff the Colemine’s putting out like Duran Jones and the Indications, Soul stuff, Junior Thomas and the Volcanoes, a lot of those guys are just so great, they’re making great albums. People are making albums not just songs, the whole package. It feels like that’s what’s coming back.
Ian: Every day I’ve been really trying to study up on the old school stuff that we try to pay homage to and try to replicate in a sense that same feeling. So I’m listening to a lot of The Paragons, Ethiopians, Sam Cooke stuff. All kinds man.
Want to see: Ian: Hell yeah man. I’m really actually a little bit disappointed that we got here … that times didn’t work out but I wanted to see The Duppies. They’re very good friends from Florida. It’s just crazy man, I’m really excited for the whole festival. Western Standard Time, Chris Murray Combo playing right now. Those are two of my brothers backing him right now. It’s like everywhere I turn I just see family and we’re out here like how many thousands of miles away from home.
Joe Q: Western Standard Time. We’re so spoiled in California because we have Western Standard Time there, but to see them play with Doreen Schaffer and some of the guys from the east coast like Kevin Baxter and stuff was just amazing. I’ve never heard them sound like that, ever. It was great. I hope somebody recorded it!
Mark Cooper, The Green Room Rockers
Band news: We just put out Sweat Steady, our 90s R&B-going reggae record, so we’re out kind of pushing it.
Summer 2018: Playing lots of shows and festivals. And then we’re going to get together in July and start recording a new album. So that’ll be great stuff too. Probably out next year.
Listening to: I really love The Lions out of California, so I’ve been soaking all that in. There’s a new David Hilliard record coming out. I’m a huge fan and friend of David, so anything he puts out, I got to listen to. Yeah, you know, old Jamaican stuff, but soul music, you know, anything coming out on Deftone, it’s all good stuff.
Want to see: The Crombies from Chicago are label mates and good buddies that have taken us under their wing, got us our first Chicago show. They’re good guys. Gonna be a great show. So just glad to be here.
Heather Augustyn, author, historian
Book News: I am working on a book that is about the push from the Jamaican government to bring ska to America in 1964. There was a lot that happened that year with the world’s fair, but there were other events too.
Summer 2018: I’m going to be going to London and talking to Millie Small in August, so really excited about that. And she’s going to be kind of the focal point of the new book, but I’m getting a lot of records when I can dig them up from the New York Public Library and from Jamaica so I can put this story together, so right now, it’s in a lot of different pieces. And hopefully it will come together into a book. I’ll also be promoting Alpha Boys School: Cradle of Jamaican Music, the book I co-authored with Adam Reeves. It’s a look at about 40 of their most popular musicians, everybody from Joe Harriott to Yellow Man and then some, starting in about 1920 and going all the way through the current era. David Rodigan did the forward for it, and he’s been really supportive, and so I’m kind of excited about where it will take us.
Listening to: Well, I’m just going to say I know I’m late to the game, but the Steady 45s. I was completely blown away by them, and I bought their CD, and I can’t wait to get home and get it into rotation in my car. I love them! I love the vocals. I love how tight they are. I love their harmonies. I love that they’re so young and they’re so talented, so I’m really excited to see what comes out of those guys.
Want to see: Eastern Standard Time. I’m really excited about them. I love old traditional flavor ska, and that’s what they are. I loved Western Standard Time last night, Eastern Standard Time today … I mean it’s a great show.
original member of the Pietasters and the Scotch Bonnets, The Forwards Reggae Band
Band news: The Forwards, a new CD is about to drop. I’m really excited about that. And also, backing Roddey Radiation from the Specials. That’s been kind of a dream come true.
Summer 2018: We just got a lot of gigs, a lot of shows, we’re playing at the beach, you know, it’s just going to be some fun stuff and playing music, man, you know?
Listening to: Oh, man. Right now I’m really into Lady Leshurr. I came across her on youtube, and I not only like her music, but I’m determined to meet her. I’ve got to get to know her, man. She’s wicked. It’s more of like a dance hall hearted, but man, she’s sick with it, man. She’s real nice.
Want to see: Roddy Radiation. I mean, I love watching him. He’s such a good performer. Oh, Adam Birch from the Specials, too, with the horn. You know that’s going to be nice.
James McDonald, Eastern Standard Time
Band news: We’re very excited about the new record that we’re about to release.
Summer 2018: Working on getting the record into people’s hands.
Listening to: A lot of Dr. Ring Ding because we’re backing him tomorrow.
Want to see: I am very excited to see Western Standard Time, Steady 45s is obviously playing right now, lots of bands that I haven’t seen in a lot of years that I’ll be able to see. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend.
Steve, Sgt. Scagnetti
Band news: We’re excited to play a show in about two hours. We’re going to hand out some foam swords, divide the audience in half and see if they’ll play along with our reindeer games. And we are excited about trying to get some time off and write some new music.
Summer 2018: More new music hopefully. We were a band that existed in the 90s functionally, and then stopped existing until about six months ago. We’re playing a lot more shows than we expected to, which is awesome, and so we’re just excited about hunkering down, and we’ve recorded two new songs, but we’re excited about trying to get a whole bunch more of those done.
Listening to: We played a show back in New Haven, Connecticut with this guy named Ceschi. He does sort of an acoustic, punk rock, hip hop thing, which sounds like there’s too much going on, but he’s pretty good.
Want to see: MU330 because they’re one of my favorite bands of all time.
Brian Hiebel, The Duppies
Band news: We’re getting ready to release our senior album after 15 years and we’re extremely excited about that. We’re about six songs deep on about eight to ten songs on the LP.
Summer 2018: It’s probably going to be pretty chill for us because we’re going to be in the process of writing. I’m a family man these days so we don’t get to tour as much as we want to unfortunately.
Listening to: Sam Cooke and Dwight Yoakam. I also listen to a lot of traditional roots reggae, because I do a lot of DJing back home so I’m just really into a lot of Jackie Minto and stuff like that. I’m into a very big Sam Cooke phase lately.
Want to see: The Steady 45s. I love The Steady 45s.
Justin Ackermann, “What do you know about Ska Punk?” record label
Label news: We just released Volume 2 of “What Do You Know About Ska Punk?” 170 tracks, 170 artists, 170 original songs. All of them are touring and active around the world, around the United States, Canada, everywhere right now.
Summer 2018: Hoping to set up some shows later in a few months for south Florida. We have a few bands that were on the comp that are all going to be doing shows together. I think there’s going to be a mini tour.
Listening to: Big on Bumpin’ Ugly. That’s one of my main artists I’ve been listening to. Another band I’ve been really into right now is from D.C. Thirteen Towers. They’re about to start recording a new E.P. soon.
News: I’m kind of looking forward to seeing my grandchildren when I go home. That’s real punk rock, you know what I mean?
Summer 2018: The usual. Playing gigs, weekends, and maybe decorating my daughter’s houses probably.
Listening to: Good question. That’s hard. I love flamenco guitar playing. Spanish stuff, you know. It’s like this … if you’re a guitar player, you kind of like Django Reinhardt and all that kind of great stuff, you know. Tough question … my tastes go right across the board.
Want to see: Adam Birch. I haven’t seen him in a few years, it’s kind of like going to see an old friend.
Kristin (aka Lady Hatchet) The Scotch Bonnets
Band news: We’re wrapping up a tour with Roddy Radiation that we did up through New England and the Carolinas, culminating in our performance at Supernova.
Summer of 2018: We tend to gig a lot locally. There’s a lot of festivals. We like to go down to the Delaware shore. We’ve got some spots down there. We like to play by the beach. I’m looking forward to a little bit of downtime to write some new tunes and get ready for the new album that should be coming out early in 2019.
Listening to: A lot of jazz and Bossa Nova. Anyone in particular? Not really. I mean, I just put on my Miles Davis Pandora, or my Coltrane Pandora … oh yeah, My Girl From Ipanema, Bossa Nova version!
Want to see: Oh, God. I’ve never seen Stubborn All-stars, so I am really, really excited to see Jango get his due in a sense that he’s been, he’s one of the people who really I think got the third wave of Ska going in the ’90s, especially in New York, throwing Virgin City Parties, his label, his bands … I think it’s really wonderful to see him with Vic, and Jay, and Dave, whom I just love from my time in the Slackers. Yeah, and Eddie on drums. I’m really excited to see him. I know that he’s going to be amazing.
What’s new: Been on tour for the last few years. This is my first time in the U.S. this year and on Monday, I’m flying to Mexico. Have two shows in Mexico as Dr. Ring-Ding, then I will meet The Busters. I’m a member of The Busters as well, I will meet them in Columbia, Bogota. We are going to play one show there and then two in Mexico and then I’m flying back to Germany and then there’s more stuff in Europe.
Summer 2018: There’s much more coming on and been going down already. Record releases, this and that. I’m guesting on many, many other people’s CDs, albums. There’s a band from Catalonia called Drop Collective, it’s ska jazz. I sing two songs on that one. [second song] Then there’s a brass band from Catalonia, Spain, who are doing Jamaican songs, but in a marching band style, they’re called ZeBrass. I just released an audio book. I’m also a narrator for children’s books. It’s called Der Reggaehase Boooo, which is about a rabbit that likes to listen to reggae music. It’s already the fourth book in a row, and I’m the narrator on the four audiobooks. It’s in German.
Listening to: You, asking questions … A lot of stuff. Actually the bands I just mentioned, like the Drop Collective, they doin’ the ska jazz it’s really, really good … I listen to a lot of stuff. Really different styles of music … I just got the new Willie Nelson album that I like a lot. He’s 85 now and it’s a great album. I got the Johnny Cash tribute album.
Want to see: Western Standard Time definitely, because I know the music, I’ve never seen them live. So, that’s great. Then I really enjoyed The Steady 45s, I played with them in Mexico last year on two occasions. I mean we shared the bill so, their set blew me away today. That was great, and there’s much more like The Stubborn All-Stars gonna be great I’m sure. Well, my own performance will rock! Steady. That’s tomorrow with Eastern Standard Time. So yeah it’s great meeting these guys again and, The Duppies I enjoyed a lot. I actually saw them three days ago, already in D.C. Yeah, well there’s so much going on, and I’m happy to be a member of this community and being able to see that.
Padilla and Esteban, Matamoska!
Band news: Padilla: Right now we’re waiting. A couple of hours from now we’ll be playing on side stage. That’s what we’re doing right now.
Summer 2018: Esteban: We have a vinyl project coming out. We’re going to re-release our second EP, Slactivist Swing in vinyl with Scotty B Records. We’re working on a music video for one of our latest songs, East LA. And we’re planning for the next tour. Up to now, we’re planning a couple tours. We have something late summer, early fall in Chicago and MidWest. We have Arizona, we have the Bay Area. We gotta a couple things going on. It’s pretty cool.
Esteban: NOFX, Suicide Machines. I mean, I love the Suicide Machines. I just sit home and listen to them. I got back into some metal since like Helloween. Iron Maiden is cool. I feel like I’m going backwards and I’m going forwards. And I catch myself. That’s a big influence of mine at the moment.
Want to see: Padilla: For me it’s Suicide Machines, MU330. That’s a big one for me. 15 year old Padilla is loving it right now!
Esteban: I’m looking forward to seeing the Pietasters. I had a copy of “Give ‘em the Boot” and it had “New Breed.” That hooked me into them. So I’m looking forward to seeing them at the end of the show.
Edson Hinostroza, Thirteen Towers and The Skulttz
Band news: Thirteen Towers is getting ready to go into the studio at the end of June. We have an Indiegogo fundraiser right now that we’re pre-selling our newest EP called Two Banana Habit. The Skulttz are working up to a 45 minute set at the moment. But we’re ripping up a couple of shows.
Summer 2018: Thirteen Towers is going on a 10 day Midwest tour at the end of August into September. Huntington, West Virginia; Lexington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids. We’re going broke, but we’re going to do it!
Want to see: I’m kicking myself because I really wanted to see Suicide Machines, but I couldn’t make it yesterday.
*Yup, we’re all slackers compared to Tim. And not the good type of Slackers, just slackers.