Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Another Introduction (a rather long one at that!)

Punk Rock is where it all began for me. Mainly I blame good punk bands like the Clash, the Pogues, Stiff Little fingers, Rancid, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Sham 69, Cocksparrer, and so many more. It all begins in 8th grade my friend discovered this tape from some band that we had only read about before. It was the Sex Pistols and that summer we listened to that tape until it stopped playing. During high school I began to go to any punk show I knew about. There were 4 or 5 bands from my high school that played together one of those bands were the first ska band I ever saw live, Mobtown Beat. I think around that period I bought Operation Ivy’s Energy, but I do not think it sunk in until I saw Mobtown Beat. They did a mix of original songs and covers one being Dandy Livingstone’s “A Message To You Rudy.” As the ska band played I stood in the room amazed I had never heard this type of music before. I thought what the hell is this? It sounds like punk but it’s sorta more mellow. The horns?!? The very next day I had to find that song the Mobtown Beat had played and I found it (sort of). The only album I could find it on was this double CD called the Two Tone collection. So I bought it and I was sort of perplexed because besides at that show I had never heard this type of music ever. And even in middle school I loved music and everything I listened to I had to read about it. I always loved to study and read about music even from the beginning. The more I read the more I knew the more I wanted.

It took me a year I think before I actually decided I liked what was on this two tone cd. To me it didn’t sound like the punk rock I listened to and it sort of sounded like something my parents would listen to rather than me. As this began I stumbled upon bands like the Bosstones, the Toasters, Fishbone. The more I got into ska the more I found out about its history being related to this little island in the Bahamas called Jamaica. I think a friend of mine one day in my sophmore year brought in these cd’s he just ordered and he told me I had to borrow them. He heard about this label in NYC called Moon Records. I began to learn about all these ska bands from all over the US and eventually all over the world -- like the Scofflaws, Skavoovie and the Epitomes, the Skunks, the Pietasters, the Adjusters, Dr. Ring Ding, and many many more.

During my sophmore year of high school my friends and I also began looking for shows with these ska bands from all over the US and we found this wonderful club that booked ska shows every weekend. Ska really began to blow up right around than and all these bands had to play this small wonderful club in DC called Phantasmagoria. During this time I decided I had to help this small scene and I created a cut paste ska zine called Elevation. It was a big deal because all my friends and I really put our action into words. It was all about Jamaican music and modern ska. Looking back at the articles now I think we were truly ska snobs even as teenagers. Eventually my band got to open up for some of our favorite bands like the Scofflaws, the Skoidats, and King Django. Also when I joined the Ratchet Boys I met Michelle that ran dcska.com and she asked me to write for the site. And I spent years and years writing articles, interviewing bands, and reviewing albums.

Fast forward to a few years later I met this guy named Rudy at a show my band played and we both loved ska and reggae. At this time I had slowly begin to build up this huge collection of reggae and ska. My friend Rudy had a radio show at UMBC and we decided to do a ska/reggae show. This was the creation of Mobtown Ska Sounds. It lasted 3 years and we interviewed tons of bands, played tons of ska bands no one had ever heard of, and became the top rated radio show at our university. We had listeners from Japan, German, California, many places. At this time I also began djing a modern ska night at a local bar in DC. Eventually this led me down a road where I started delving into more original Jamaican ska and reggae. A year later I had suddenly joined one of the largest most popular reggae night in DC (dc soundclash). And now I still dj all over the place. I still play in a ska/reggae band (the Ready Steady Go!). Last year I began reading up on podcasts a friend of mine suggested we bring back the old radio show. So Mobtown Ska Sounds was reborn again via the internet. Before I started the Mobtown Ska Sounds podcast I could not find another podcast around that focused on reggae/ska music.

I wish I could explain what drew me into ska/reggae but I really can’t It is the sort of music that makes me feel alright. I come home from work – kick off my shoes, open a beer, and put on a rocksteady album on my stereo that’s what makes me a happy man. I really can’t see myself listening or being so interested in any other type of music as much as Jamaican music has sort of consumed me. Sorry if this seems rather long winded.

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