The Carnival King
One of Notting Hill Carnival’s most flamboyant performers, Gaz Mayall’s Rockin’ Blues makes an much anticipated appearance at this year’s Wilkswood Reggae Festival. With two sets lined up, anyone that’s already caught Gaz’s performances will know to be in for a wild carnival of rock steady, ska and old school reggae.
The eldest son of influential blues-rock musician John Mayall, Gaz Mayall has veered towards a musical blend that he playfully calls ‘Celtic Ska.’ Since performing his debut concert as a member of the Trojans in 1986, Mayall has continued to expand upon his musical concept. As well as his annual appearance at the Notting Hill Carnival, Gaz also DJ’s and hosts London’s longest running one-nighter Gaz’s Rockin Blues which he first began in July 1980 after a few guest appearances at the Two-Tone Club in Oxford Street in 1979.
Raised on a musical diet of R&B and dragged around every beat, pop & rock festival and venue throughout the sixties as a child, he became a lifelong fan of reggae on the football terraces in the skinhead era circa 1968-72. Gaz began collecting records aged 17, bulk buying cheap reggae and ska collections down street markets such as Portbello road and Brick Lane at a time when it seemed no one wanted them. Also a great fan of boogie woogie, rock’n’roll, traditional Irish music, funk and world music, Gaz, heavily influenced by a family friend, Radio One DJ and blues musician Alexis Korner, pursued his love of music in earnest and now has a world famous collection of predominantly black dance music ranging from the first tribal drum beats to the latest drum’n’bass.
He occasionally plays live with his ska band The Trojans. Specialising in ska and reggae with a dash of soul, funk, R&B and world roots, The Trojans were formed in late 1986 and their debut gig was at the Astoria on Charing Cross road in 1986. His album, Wild And Free, combined bagpipe drones and ska rhythms, while his album Cool Rulers set blues-inspired shuffle tunes to rock steady syncopation. After releasing his debut album on his own Ala Ska label in 1987, he has built a still-growing following in Japan, where he has toured several times.