Skabour started in 2010 from a discussion between John “Teflon” Sims & Tony “The Codfather” Pye.
It has become a key feature of the festival calendar and is acknowledged by its many fans as one of the must book events every year.
In its brief history it has gone through a few different organizational and management approaches and set ups finally settling on a community co-operative as being the best way to ensure that it delivers what you, our community, wants from the original and best Ska & Reggae Festival.
The Folkestone Ska Co-op are:
Amanda Atkin (Chair)
John “Teflon” Sims (deputy chair, advertising sales, designer, figurehead, talisman, the face of Skabour);
John Keeley (accounts & Financial supervision)
Aaron-Phoenix Presswell & Meg Ridyard (Merchandise, Scooter Rally organisers, DJ);
Slim Magnificat (Promo animations, artist and music advice)
Nathan Atkins (Ds extra-ordinaire & DJ organiser);
Colin O’Rielly (video master);
Yvonne Sims, Anita “Nuttygirl” Triton, Tracey Middlebrook, Paula Jelley & Natasha Jelley (guest and artist liaison, merchandise sales, charity collectors);
Neil Middlebrook, Kerry King, Ian Jelley, Peter McLaren (construction, artist & guest liaison, general assistance);
Lee Edgington (DJ, DJ support & advice);
Danny Claridge & Paul Sheldrake (PR/Marketing advisors)
Special Thanks to
Ross Miller (ex Chair/Promotor & major sponsor/funder – the last 4 Skabour Festivals have only been possible due to his generosity in covering any financial shortfall);
Peter “Aspy” McHugh RIP (Peter was our Social media guru & a DJ);
James Fairfoul (web designer & web master – none of what you are looking at was possible without his perseverance, goodwill, determination and hard work)
Luke Jordan & the RSBlu crew for the fantastic sound system
Star Protection for providing the wonderful security team
Grand Burstin Hotel Management & Staff for looking after all of us and providing a great venue
2010 – The beginnings
FOLKESTONE SKABOUR first originated in 2010 based on an idea by graphic designer John Sims and a discussion with local seafood seller Tony Pye of Chummys Seafood, aka and affectionately known locally as “The Codfather” (www.chummys.co.uk).
The idea progressed to the possibility of having a few bands at the Folkestone Harbour to compliment John’s (aka Teflon) “This Art 2 Tone” exhibition in Folkestone, having already featured at Margate, Brighton, London, Coventry and New York. Friends Andi Elliott, Andy Shorten, Trevor Moss came to form a festival team utilising all their individual experience and work skills. Ilir Hoti a local web designer in Dover took on producing the website and the word quickly spread, along with the help of flyers, posters, banners, BBC Radio Kent support and a printed programme. The idea suddenly became a full blown festival with some funding from Folkestone Town Council and the Roger De Haan Trust. It was also funded by tickets sales of indoor venue evening events at the Quarterhouse in Tontine Street.
Andy Shorten was to candidly come up with the name SKABOUR as the event was ska music and at the harbour… and so SKABOUR was born. It was astonishing and amazing that the local community really got behind it and supported it. Visitors came from afar including Australia, USA, Europe, South Africa and Japan. A fabulous success. The Beat were the headline act at The Quarterhouse, plus Arthur Kaye & The Originals and Intensified. King Hammond, Special Brew from Coventry and local bands featured outside at the Airstream stage at the harbour.
Year 2011 saw Andi Elliott leave the team to then go north to Harrogate and local community project manager, designer & photographer Joe Grey joined the team.
Other friends and supporters adding to the success that the Skabour adventure had now become included Tom Fahy and Christine Sugary Staple, adding their own ska enthusiasm and contacts to the mix. Big Phil Enthucol, local DJ (Hot Bomb Hi-Fi) and specialist vinyl seller, organised the many respected and established Ska DJs who performed. Local musician and sound engineer Andy Thomas-Emans became our sound recordist. Folkestone ska and reggae DJs, Nathan and Amanda Atkins of Frederick’s Unique Sound System (F.U.S.S.) spread the word with their ska and reggae show on Folkestone Academy Radio 105.9FM. Kevin Gillespie landlord of the harbour’s Gillespies and True Briton public houses and Tony Pye of Chummys were very supportive of this community event that had sprung up on their doorstep boosting trade..
For the second year running, Skabour pulled off another top-rankin’ and skankin’ event. With an estimated 8,000 people turning out to the 2010 festival, 2011 was said to have brought almost double the amount of Ska fanatics and festival-goers to the Folkestone Harbour area.
The pre-festival gig commenced at midday on Friday 2nd September, and was held in the Leas Cliff Hall, Channel Suite with a special appearance and DJ set from Trevor Evans, resident Specials DJ, who went down a treat with the many excited rude boys and girls. Pauline Black of The Selecter was meeting and greeting her delighted fans between interviews with Radio Kent outside the suite and book signing at Waterstones. Neville Staple of the Specials was in attendance and chilling out with fans and media attention which included BBC South East TV.
Later the main auditorium of the Leas Cliff Hall saw a magnificent performance from Ska band The Skabilly Rebels featuring Roddy Radiation Byers of The Specials, followed by The Selecter featuring Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, who after all the years have proved that they still have the same energy, if not more, than they did in their early days. Then it was time for The Beat – Rankin’ Roger and son Rankin’ Jr. put on a spectacular show, sprinting and bouncing around the stage. From the opening of the doors through to their eventual final encore, the crowd loved every moment. The party was far from over at this point, the sea of rude boys & girls made their way to the True Briton ‘Nite Klub’ for another few hours of serious skanking.
Saturday, the first day of free events held at the Harbour, drew in thousands throughout the day, with great English bands such as Hey Rudi and Toot’N’skamen, as well as some fantastic European talent like Les Skalopes (France) and the Easy Snappers (Germany). These great bands were alternating with DJ sets roaring through the OLAS Scooter club’s ‘BOSS’ sound system. The Harbour was packed to the gunnels and was bursting with energy all day, and fortunately the weather was kind too!
The Trojan Lawn – the new addition to the layout, proved a huge success, blasting out classic Trojan records whilst festival-goers sat amid the replica Shanty shacks with drinks from the bar unwinding or browsing the adjacent Dr Marten’s area (main Skabour sponsors).
There then followed brilliant Quarterhouse performances from The Skanx and The Dualers, showing that one Dualer, singer Tyber Cranstoun, was a true star with his eight piece band! All to the delight of the crowd who totally filled the venue to sell out. After a second evening of great music, it was once again time to skank or stroll to the True Briton ‘Nite Klub’ where the party continued into the early hours of the morning.
Sunday, the final day of the festival arrived, bringing in an audience of all ages, buzzing with the sound of Old-Skool Ska, Reggae, Rocksteady and Roots performed by bands such as Call Me Malcolm, Blaster Master (from Finland) and other Ska talents despite sudden deteriorating weather.
The atmosphere all weekend had been through the roof, there was a great sense of unity between the die-hard Ska fans and local community members alike.
In 2012 saw Skabour see-sawing in its planning. Andy Shorten was to suddenly leave the team. The outside free event was hard pressed to be delivered, including its location with all the license permissions required by Shepway District Council… Outside permissions were denied by the council for various locations, but the team delivered another great festival that saw again a big attendance who had a great time. Top bands Bad Manners, Dave Barker (Double Barrel fame), The Dualers, The Skatonics and The Estimators, Reel Big Fish, Bottlenex and Popes Of Chillitown, played at Quarterhouse. The outside “free” area was named the “Unity Bell Stage” at the sea front andnsaw bands King Hammond, Goldmaster Allstars, TootNskamen, Urang Matang, Covered In Skas, Tallowah. Mainley Madness, The Downsetters, Two Steps Twice and Dubtonik with ex Selecter Charley Anderson.
2013 saw more team changes. The festival also changed dramatically to be renamed “Ska Splash” and went in a very different direction. It was very ambitious and worryingly so to some.
The line up included many major international bands including The Skatalites, The Beat, The Selecter, Bad Manners, The Toasters, Neville Staple Band, Nick Welsh, Freddy Loco & The Gordos and The Dualers. Roddy Radiation guested with Tootnskamen. Other bands included The Talks, The Skanx, Blaster Master, Goldmaster Allstars, The Equators, Orange Street, The Estimators, By The Rivers, The Ghouls, Tallowah, Hey Rudi, Les Gueules Noire, The Snare, The Apocryphalites, Chainska Brassika, Skatacus, The Skatonics, Covered In Skas, Call Me Malcolm, The Meow Meows, The Pisdicables and from Scotland Urang Matang. Debut French band The Skamanians not only played on the magnificent stage setting but also did a fanfare marching around the town performance.
The festival from the outside was a great success. Behind the scenes though its organisation and management resulted in a lot of problems and a lot of firefighting. It was due to circumstances beyond their control resulting in a split in the management and an icognito takeover with a commercial agenda. Those that had made the festival from its beginnings, suddenly found themselves on the outside.
Thankfully it happened… but only just… and at great loss and cost to some. Much has and can be said, but what goes around comes around. The end resulted in the town festival being taken back by those of the local core community group collective which was to become the SKA CO-OP.
The festival returned in 2014 to its community ethos.
The core group of dedicated ska volunteers (Ska Co-op) took back control led by Ross Miller and John Sims, under the auspices of the town’s “Folkestone Festivals” community group. It was decided to re-stage it at Leas Cliff Hall, the Channel Suite, on The Leas, The Harbour and the Town. It was renamed “Folkestone Ska Fest” and re-established. Headliners included from Jamaica the famous PIONEERS, Roy ‘MR SYMARIP’ Ellis, Winston Francis, Judge Dread Memorial Band, King Hammond & Skaville UK, The Skamanians and from Holland The Upsessions. From Germany were the Easy Snappers.
The festival was well received by the fans and performers, but required a significant financial commitment from the organisers leading to some serious soul searching as to whether we could continue…
SKABOUR 2015 saw a great opportunity to return to the harbour with the Grand Burstin Hotel as the main venue, with its main stage in the luxury ballroom and a 1000 capacity. The Ska–Coop team, led by chair Ross Miller, was instrumental in successfully negotiating with the hotel management and Britannia Hotels, a bookings package that delivers to Skabour fans, room accommodation, half board meals; a luxury festival venue and a star studded programme of top artists and DJs.
The plan was a ska weekend with all mod cons at a fabulous price for the fans pockets, that in return would hopefully cover the festival budget. There was also allocated a limited amount of tickets for those living locally who just wanted to see the bands play. A Skabour Stage 2 and Nite Klub was situated at The Party Bar, Tontine Street.
A Skabour photographers exhibition of previous festivals images took place at Googies restaurant and bar in Rendezvous Sttreet. This included the ambience of free ska bands and DJs in the surrounding pubs, clubs around the harbour to make it a ska party for all. It was a great success and featured bands: The Selecter, The Original Aces, Beat Goes Bang, The Toasters, Pressure Tenants, Winston Francis, The Skadillacs, The Hotknives, Mark Foggo, Urang Matang, Big 10, Count Bobo. Millie Manders, Skabretta, The Meow Meows, Tree House Fire and Hey Rudi.
This really was a step in the right direction and was again a huge success for fans and performers. The ska-coop again had to dig deep to cover costs, though thankfully this commitment was less than in 2014 and gave the necessary confidence to cointinue.
With a new high and now new found home of Skabour and its association with the Grand Burstin Hotel, the 2016 campaign boded well for the festival’s 7th year.
This year featured a Skabour Scooter Ska Park of classic scooters at the front of the hotel and a ride out to the Battle-Of-Britain Memorial at Capel-Le-Ferne. Stage 2 became a DJ area in the Burstin Lounge with added clothing stalls. A “This ART 2-Tone” exhibition was held at Lime Bar, Tontine Street.
The line-up featured for the first time at Skabour Dave Wakeling and the English Beat, The Skints, Rhoda Dakar sing The Bodysnatchers, Macka B, New Town Kings, Les Skartoi from Greece, Mad-In-Ska from France, King Zepha, The Defekters, Rooted N’ Booted & The Gumboots Reggae Band. We also saw return performances from The Dualers The Skadillacs from Belgium, Mark Foggo, Barb’D Wire, Hey Rudi, & Hey Maggie.
Another great festival with attendance and bookings up and a much sounder financial outcome.
This event is truly part and probably the best of the UK and beyond ska calender… and now for 2017 at Folkestone..
WHERE THE SKA MEETS THE SEA!
Following the illness & untimely death of Peter “Aspy” McHugh this was a difficult year that presented a numbe rof challenges.
These challenges included, in hindsight, some choices of artists that perhaps pushed the boundaries and challenged or audience a little too much; reduced audience numbers; some disagreements on socila media and a number of issues with bands engineers.
Nevertheless the Co-op rallied round and got the festival across the line yet again.
The highlights included Bitty McLean who was a triumph, totally wooing the audience as he closed out the festival; Misty in Roots, eventually, charming us with some sweet roots reggae, Maroon Town storming the Friday night & some extra-ordinary performances from the support bands. (Millie Manders, Bombskare, Freddy Loco to name 3). As always our Skabour DJs entertained us royally both in the main hall and in the main bar, ensuring all those who came had a great time.
The Burstin Hotel has gone from strength to strength over the 3 years of our relationship, in no small part to the the attitude of the management team that took over 2 years ago, we thank you for your continued support and assistance.
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