Sometimes things just work out, this is one of those times.

When Shadow Ministers were slated to play Basement Reggae Fest 2020 for just their second gig ever, I knew we had to make it a special one. It’s Canberra’s best band room for a start and the fact that it was such a killer lineup of local reggae/ska/Latin acts meant that we had to rise. Finally, we were representing Cultura Clandestino coming straight out of COVID restrictions, so the crowd were hungry.

The gig was a banger although you wouldn’t have picked up from the audience perspective the bumpy lead up, including getting dogged out of a soundcheck and having a guest vocalist fall sick on the day. Fortunately, the level of experience, musicianship and sheer work ethic kicked in to make the desk mix we received of a full hour of tunes some of my proudest musical moments to date. Even while the ghosts of the old guard heckled from the back stage and a foul pustule left this bassist a middle finger down, nothing could hold back this exciting dub jazz phenomena from going off.

Coming out with 2 hard hitting versions made known by the Melbourne Dub super group Sine, Black and White was followed by Headcase and the crowd caught on fast, wailing in appreciation of the spacious steppa grooves. The Ministers followed up with secret onboard weapon Joel Dreezer on flute to smash a swaggering boombap-reboot of the Rocksteady classic Don’t Stay Away (Phyllis Dillon). Now the roots were truly exposed. Next up it was time for guitarist Matthew Lustri to shine on the L O’Connell original Death’s Door – handily nicknamed Felafel in appreciation of Arabic culture, knowledge and cuisine. This track went stratospheric when the drumming of Simon Milman ratcheted up the heat coming off stage like a whirlwind pyramid.

Expanding the massive lineup further came Kenyan songster M.C_Tomasky with his lovers rock anthem Angels, which was reminiscent of a clear eyed Horace Andy in vocal tone if not sentiment. The crowd showed all the love for his uplifting vibes and humble swag. Due to popular demand, Joel reprised his virtuoso flute skills on another classic female-led cover version: Portishead’s flagship trip-hop single Glory Box. Was there to be no stone left unturned along the path to full genre gourmet? Clearly not.

With time running out however and Los Chavos keen to rock the headline spot, Shadow ministers announced their final rejoinder, another original-cum-version, Root Hoppa (best known as the riddum track used for Agency Dub Collective’s Bail Out). This punky mid-Naughties Rubadub apocalypse hammered the final nail in the coffin of that worn out old road show; establishing a new team in town for Canberra dub fans to get behind. Freer in opposition than anybody at the helm, Shadow Ministers are bound for more parties, gigs and sound systems in the brave new world of the Twenty Twenties.

Check the first versions available to the public and be sure to follow Branch Stack records on soundcloud and bandcamp for the polished and mastered tracks in early 2021. In the meantime, the band are in the lab over summer working hard on new compositions, strategies and venues to host their real live dub with next level musicianship. Unleash the beast!

Also: we filmed the whole damn thing from 6 angles so look out for DVD and blue-ray releases next year through Clandestino Productions.

It will be an afternoon and early evening of crazy dancing vibes when the Kingstons kick off Basement Reggae Fest 2020 with 3 inter-stellar reggae-influenced local bands.

Wielding an armoury of classic Rocksteady and Ska hits as well as brand new originals, The Kingstons are true to the feel of 1960s Jamaica and London when they get grooving.

Following on is latest 3oB dub bass incarnation: Shadow Ministers, featuring Coolio Desgracias (drums), Matt Lustri (guitar) and Joel Dreezer (keys/flute). Spacious Rockers rhythms are the perfect place to dub some crazy jazz masters. Instrumental action with guest singers.

Headlining the event is Canberra’s favourite Latin-ska party group Los Chavos. This tight 9-piece ensemble knows how to rock you with more bounce to the ounce.

It promises to be a colourful and vibing day of live music to help welcome Spring.

5.00-9.00, Sunday September 27, The Basement Belconnen, 2 Cohen Street Belconnen ACT 2617.


Having been collecting music since the mid 1990s, 3oB has amassed a fairly decent collection of vinyl, CDs and MP3s in the genres of dub, roots reggae, rap, hiphop, dancehall on one end of the vibe spectrum, and on the other end (as it were), a stack of early jazz (1920s – 1950s), rnb, shuffle, blues and soul. A dj3oB mix usually crosses 2 main genres and hints at up to 3 others, whilst smoothing out the edges between continents and styles.

Each show runs from at least 30 up to 120 minutes, usually without announcements. Check out the latest instalments below.

Shadow ministers exists where the accumulation of generational change meets the right to stay the same. Some have identified them as potentially the next Mount Rushmore. They may play versions of your long forgotten jam of yestercade. Raw hot steppas and rockers beats are provided by Coolio and Shadow Minister 3oB, while on guitar Matthew Lustri reinvents the spaceous and surreal. Out front is renowned flautist and keytar aficionado Joel Dreezer. The group aim to break new ground with a few classic manoeuvres.

Live at Blackbird, Canberra’s latest live music spot – photo by Cultura Clandestino

Debut gig, freshly popped venue

It was sensational to be playing in a new City venue with great ambience, acoustics and alcohol. The staff at Black bird are so friendly and warm it basically felt right at home to be entertaining the lovely punters who grooved in their seats or cheekily with the band. Glad you liked the psychedelic dub jams and even the slightly random rocksteady meets triphop vibes we dropped. Props to Joel for busting his first gig. You slayed it. next gig is locked in for Tuesday 25/08/2020. Doors at 7.00, music starts at 8. Check with the venue for other great bands on Tuesday nights.