16th day, Marghera, Italy, Thursday, 31st of october 1996, Oasi
There is a few to venice and lower left is Jeff Lucas after arrival when everything still was empty.
Today, 20 years ago, is the first show for the Skasplash in Italy. We are still in Switzerland early that morning, packing our things after the show. It’s already 3 o’clock in the morning, when we’re leaving. We’re driving in the deep darkness and there are several building sites along the highway. It’s like a obstacle course to cross Switzerland. Duncan needs all his concentration on the road and I try my best in finding the right way. Because I have no driver license at that time, I’m not familiar with the Swiss traffic signs and believe me it’s a mess. First sign directs to Gotthardo, the next sign directs to Zurich or Lucerne. Just to illustrate the problems I have to solve.
When we’re arriving Lucerne, it’s strange not to say hallo to all my friends, but the city is still asleep. And a few hours later, we’re already at Gotthardo. After this large tunnel, it’s the italian part of Switzerland to drive through. And in Chiasso we’re leaving Switzerland.
7 o’clock AM, Switzerland is already behind us. The biggest souvenir is the dangerous highway with all the worker’s stuff sometimes right in the way. Switzerland isn’t easy to cross by van in the night. At that time I had no driver licence, that’s why I wasn’t very familiar with the highways, I was always on the bicycle. It’s getting warmer in Italy. Switzerland was cold.
9.45 AM only 80 km until Venice left. Shay took the wheel from Duncan after he almost built an accident. But now, short before the destination Duncan gets the wheel back. The landscape is pretty.
Marghera is the industrial suburb of Venice. A few years ago, I was here with my bicycle. I drove from Elba up to Lucerne. After we’re arriving in the hotel, only little time is left to take the room and to sleep a little bit.
4.16 PM: Shay, Barney, Duncan, Jeff Lucas, Bessa, Tony Looby, Will Clark and I are driving to the venue. But it is very very difficult to find the place. We’re asking people on the street, but finally we’re on the 4 km bridge to Venice, no way to turn. That means, we’re driving 4 km to Venice and right away the same bridge back. Still no Oasi (that’s the name of the venue).
Remember it’s 20 years ago. No GPS, no mobile phone only a name and an address. We’re loosing more than an hour to find the venue. But we found it. It’s massive. BIG. Giant. Great DJ-equipment. Very nice place for the DJ. Almost perfect. I love it. The ambience is industrial, but lovely. And the most I love is the flyer.
I love this flyer very much, because the «Jamaican Djs» is me. Great, I’m not only one DJ but also from Jamaica. Lovely. This motivates me to the best selection of the tour. The DJ-set is a bit higher than the stage and behind the audience. Up here I truly find myself the Captain Claude, as they call me on this tour.
While the bands arriving from the hotel, I already select. Laurel Aitken is coming to me to ask for «Perfidia». After that I see Lester Sterling in the audience. I play «Bangarang» and he’s looking up to me and smiles nicely. Then Rolando Alphonso is asking me to play one of his tunes. I play «Tuff Talk» and «Determination». What a great atmosphere in this club. The older boys listen to their music they played 30 years ago and here are these youngsters dancing to those tunes. To me, those tunes sounds completely timeless. Listen now to those tunes, do you find them old fashioned? (YouTube) To me it sounds like this tunes have been here since always. The view I have from my cockpit is just amazing. There is Lester Sterling, Rolando Alphonso inside the audience, dancing with the youngsters the Ska. Nathan Breedlove comes to me to wish «Ringo». Finally Shay brings me the new CD from the merchandise of The Toasters «Dub 56». I play “Marlboro Man“.
While I see all that, I feel ashamed about the history. This musicians are maybe the most regardless influencing genius musicians of all time. Think about that. Before the internet and the mobile revolution there was only magazines, fanzines, books, newspapers and other print media to transport what’s going on. The very important things also on TV. But who cared about The Skatalites at that time? In 1996 there was not even in the biggest Jazz book a notice of Tommy McCook, Rolando Alphonso, Lester Sterling, Jackie Mittoo or Don Drummond. Maybe a little. What is music today without these musicians? Remember, these musicians are the founding members of Ska music. The forefathers of Reggae. They are idols of countless musicians, from Paul Simon to Sting, from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones. But nobody really respects them to feature them on their albums. Not one collaboration is possible. Why is that?
These musicians are service providers in culture. They need respect and recognition. They all died, before the world really accepted that or gave them the deserved respect. The spirit lives on and on. Please keep them in mind and listen to their music.
This poster was used for the Italian shows, and there is the announcement for me as “plus DJ”. What means, that the management invited me to play this tour as DJ without promotion.
I offer Laurel Aitken the tea I made out of the Swiss herbs.
The backstage is in a far away other part of that huge industrial building. Far away from the show. It is a metal podium hanging in the air. The hall is very very high. That metal skeleton seems to designed by Salvador Dali himself. Only the flowing watch is missing. There is a lot of workers stuff around. I step up the stairs to that hanging metal thing to.
The Skatalites are playing Police Woman after they didn’t play for a long time. Lester Sterling is bringing the crowed into real joy. It’s getting hot and it’s very nice. I can see the Godfather on his way to the stage. He starts skanking with a Rudeboy inside the dancing masses. What a great picture. With “Come Dung” he brings the masses into ecstasy. But this time Lester Sterling is overlapping with his solo the singing part of Laurel, while Laurel is trying to introduce the band, but he forget Nathan Breedlove. Guess Laurel is a bit nervous, don’t know why, but after “In the mood for ska” he introduces the band again, this time he introduces Will as the best in the world and Nathan and Bill as sexy. I don’t think, that it really helps to make that needed bridge between Laurel’s and The Skatalites’ world. They’re truly not in the same world sometimes. All this mess is continuing when the Skatalites starting “Sugar Sugar” with the intro of “Don’t stay away”. Bill Smith’s solo is brilliant though.
After the show the bus with HOR is already left. Rolando Alphonso is already in the van, when he remembers his saxophone. He asks me to bring down his saxophone from the backstage. I ran quickly upstairs to that crazy backstage. There is only Rolandos saxophone case. I take it. And when I give it to Rolando Alphonso, he is angry, because it isn’t his case and not his saxophone in it. I go back inside the club and find beside the stage another saxophone case. I change it with the one I found in the backstage. This is the right one. But Rolando is not listening to me, because he is still angry, how I could bring him the wrong instrument, but I explain him, that it was him, who took the wrong instrument up to the backstage. By the way, it was the saxophone case of the Fahrenheit 451 saxophonist.
Overview Marghera, Oasi
- audience: approx. 600 (capacity approx. 800)
- catering: not enough
- backstage: far away on a platform high upstairs, cold, industrial, entrance on stage only through the audience
- diner: outside the club in a restaurant
- DJ-set: on the flyer I am “DJs from Jamaica”, I fulfill a lot of music wishes from the team, 4 channel-mix with two turn-tables and two cd-players
- Local band: Fahrenheit 451, Laurel Aitken likes them, they play hard and loud
- HOR: not bad
- Laurel Aitken: he’s dancing with the audience, before he enter the stage
- Skatalites: the audience loves Lester Sterling the most
- hotel: very far away, most of the crew had a long rest after the overnight drive
- room mate: Will Clark
- driving the next day is peaceful and through a lovely landscape
Website today: not found
The Oasi was here v.le delle industrie 33 Porto Marghera (Venezia):
Tomorrow will be a drive to Aosta behind the Matterhorn.