Everywhere you go on the Caribbean side of Panama, you will still find strong cultural ties to Jamaica- especially in its music and particularly in the province of Bocas del Toro. That’s why Bocas was an easy choice for filmmaker Brad Klein when he was deciding where first to screen his award-winning documentary film “Legends of Ska,” which will presented in person by the director himself on Friday, November 10th in the Bookstore Bar on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro.

Everywhere you go in the archipelago, you will find descendants of Jamaican Afro-Antilleans, with most of them calling home to Old Bank (Bastimentos Island) and Almirante. Many Jamaican and other West-Indies Islanders immigrated to Bocas del Toro to work in the banana industry years ago and built communities whose culture is still strongly linked to Jamaica. A lot of Bocatoreños still speak a dialect of English very similar to speech heard in present-day Jamaica and as such, are able to connect with the Reggae and Dancehall music released from that country. For such a small island, Jamaica is home to a massive music industry and its become this way rather fast. It’s history is short and begins with Jamaican Ska in the 1950’s and as the tag-line of the film goes: “Without ska, there is no reggae.”

“Legends of Ska” has won 3 film festivals: 2015 Best Documentary at the Jamaican Film Festival, Beat Feature Film at the 2015 Iphias International Film Festival and the Best International Film at the 2016 Bornze Lens. Here is a synopsis of the film:

Legends Of Ska celebrates the music, culture and enthusiasm of Jamaica as a newly independent nation more than 50 years ago. The documentary film chronologically explores the history of original Jamaican ska and the significance of the island’s musical impact. In the spirit of Buena Vista Social Club and 20 Feet From Stardom, this film focuses primarily on the years 1962-1966 by interspersing vintage and contemporary concert footage, rare photographs, newsreels, artifacts, interviews and authentic tourist 8mm home movies. Ska was Jamaica’s first popular musical export, which sprang from the jazz clubs and dance halls of Kingston to spawn a worldwide dance craze. Without Ska, there is no Reggae.

Brad Klein is the director of this film and has traveled all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota to be with us; staying in Bastimentos and exploring the province of Bocas del Toro. He will present the film in person at 8pm sharp in at the Bocas Bookstore Bar, on Isla Colon. This will take place on Friday, November 10th and after the 8pm showing there will be an ensuing Question & Answer session and Deejay set with the director himself: Mr. Brad Klein. In his travels he has brought a whole heap of vintage Jamaican vinyl records that he will be spinning personally, mashing up the Bookstore with the sounds of Jamaica.

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