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Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Melbourne, VIC
In 2003, the time was right. A world-record attempt to have the largest number of horn players on stage at the same time playing the ska-skank saw a slew of musicians take the stage at St Kilda’s Gershwin Room, and although nobody remembered to check if the record had actually been set, from this sold-out performance the Melbourne Ska Orchestra was born. Assembled from some of Australia’s preeminent names in Ska and Reggae and fronted by inimitable frontman Nicky Bomba (Bomba, Bustamento, John Butler Trio), the soaring popularity of the band is seeing the MSO fast becoming a fixture in Australia’s musical landscape.
The self titled Melbourne Ska Orchestra debut album was released to rave reviews in 2013 and picked up 2 ARIA nominations that year. Now, after more than a decade of sold-out shows and electrifying Australian festival appearances at Bluesfest, Golden Plains, Caloundra, Queenscliff and AWME the 26 (often stretching to 34) piece band have acquired an impressive, ever-growing and dedicated overseas fan base. MSO sold out their debut London show, appeared on the bill for the iconic Glastonbury Festival and played a headline set to a crowd 50,000 at the Montreal Jazz Festival during their 2014 tour, without blowing their own horn it is safe to say MSO are quickly becoming a household name! “The night is beyond electric—wild calls and responses, epic Mexican waves; Lennox busts out ‘Imagine’ on steel pans to a spine tingling crowd singalong. We’ve never seen such a sea of heads, a true bucket-list moment for all of us.” – Cam Hassard, Tenor Sax.
Drawing on the vast amount of musical legends that have shaped the genre from the Jamaican movement through to UK Two Tone and the present day Latino Ska, MSO demonstrate a unique Australian vision with the exuberance and freewheeling colour of contemporary Ska. The outfit have crafted their sound with unexpected arrangements and seductive harmonies, of powerful horns and foot-stomping drums. Each song is like a vignette from a Ska-infused storybook, full of cinematic colour and characters bursting to life from every verse.
The mighty Melbourne Ska Orchestra continue their feat for world wide Ska domination with a 2014 ARIA nomination for ‘Best Live Act’, plans to release a sophomore album in 2015 and continue touring nationally and internationally.
Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Conducted by Nicky Bomba in his ad hoc style, the music of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra covers the golden ska period from 1963 (Skatalites, Wailers) through to the British Two Tone craze (Madness, Specials, etc) and anything positive or significant in between.  With original tunes, reggae, rocksteady classics and latin-based ska in the mix, this 30-piece orchestra is dedicated to energizing its audiences.    

MSO members hail from some of Australia’s leading ska & reggae bands, with many shows featuring special guests including Joe Camilleri, Jali Buba Kuyateh, Dereb Desalegn, Nadee and international reggae greats such as Carlos Malcolm, Dawn Penn and Stranger Cole.  The bands first international invite was Jamaican singing legend Owen Gray, resulting in a massive sold-out show. As a result Nicky and Owen recorded the track “Inna One Yard” (featured on the ‘Weekend Sessions 2’ compilation)

First started in 2003 by musical dynamo and John Butler Trio drummer, Nicky Bomba and PBS FM announcer / Jamaican music historian Mohair Slim, MSO is dedicated to educating and entertaining audiences to the sweet sounds of Jamaican ska and roots music and the evolution of the genre.   MSO is fast becoming an institution in the Australian music scene with recent festival performances proving, without a doubt, the international calibre of this mighty orchestra. Skank on!

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