By Chris Courtice

Almost 50 years ago, a fusion of RB, jazz, classic blues, and shreds of other genres formed ska. Talent like the Skatalites, Desmond Dekker, and even Bob Marley pioneered the genre to great heights. Ska may have evolved over the years into a new permutation, but many bands still carry that great traditional sound from long ago. JFK and the Conspirators is one such band, laying down the best of traditional ska, rocksteady, and reggae beats. Though they prescribe mainly to the traditional sound, it doesn’t mean new wave ska is without its advantages. “It brought other people into ska,” Dave Adams, aka JFK, proudly exclaims while driving on the road.

The third wave ska movement, though short lived, introduced a whole new generation to the musical merriment that is ska. As people listened in greater numbers and with more intensity, according to JFK, they investigated the roots of these bands and discovered a whole other world of music spanning the past several decades. This aided ska, reggae, and dancehall musicians in expanding their fan bases and ability to continue creating such unique tunes. This increased ska-wareness enriched the ska environment here and abroad. However, it couldn’t stop the breakup of the Conspirators in 2000.

“Most of the people in the Conspirators at the time couldn’t take time off for the next tour to build on,” explains JFK, referring to the band’s hiatus. “I just wanted to go on the road.”

The split, occurring after their excellent debut album Mayor of Ganja City, led JFK to Montreal where he joined the Kingpins for a brief touring stint. The union just didn’t feel right for him and he eventually ended up back in his home town of Winnipeg. Unfinished business brought him back into the Manitoba city and presented the opportunity to revive the Conspirators for another go.

“More of the people getting into the band were eager to make more of a go of it,” says JFK. After assembling a team of musicians who were up for a full time investment, Mash Up The Dance was released this past March. But this musical resurgence didn’t mean they were picking up where they had left off.

“We lost a lot of the momentum we had in the first place, so we had to start from scratch, as far as building crowds in the rest of Canada,” he explains.

JFK need not worry about filling venues. The Mash Up The President Tour has thus far been a huge success through its Western Canadian stops. Conceptualized by King Django, the tour plays off JFK and the title of the new album, as well as the American presidential election. The tour with King Django will be rounding out here in Calgary.

“Calgary’s the perfect last show for us,” exclaims JFK. “I think it’s been our favorite spot for the last few tours, it feels like we’re coming home. People get ready, because we’re coming to mash up the dance!”