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Florida's Ten Best Ska Bands of All Time

Magadog! The thumping heart of Florida ska.
Magadog! The thumping heart of Florida ska.
Via Magadog's Facebook page

If it wasn't for Miami, there wouldn't be ska.

This musical style was born in Jamaica during the 1950s from a mix of traditional Caribbean mento with American jazz and R&B.

But when Miami radio first started playing independent black music in the 1940s, Jamaica and the rest of the islands were listening too. On a clear night, our radio signals carried all across the Caribbean.

In the 1990s, ska came back to these shores, knocked boots with punk, and still lives here today. Here are Florida's ten best ska bands of all time.

See also: Florida's Top Ten Black Metal Bands

10. Askultura

Thriving and local, this Miami crew has spent the last five years crisscrossing the state of Florida, building an independent concert promotions network, playing more shows a month than some bands do in a year, putting out an EP (You Stank, We Skank), an album (Ten Strong Superpunk Skarantella Reggae Rumba Fury), and creating its own multi-culti hybrid of third-wave ska, Italian folk, rumba, and straight-up punk.

9. Jive Step Bunch

Sometime around 1995 at a little club called Cheers at US 1 and SW 17th Avenue in South Miami, the weekends were ruled by all-ages hardcore, punk, and ska shows. The rowdy SoFla rudeboys, punks, and skins of Jive Step Bunch were known to stomp in with the Docs and pork pie hats, set their horns blazing, and turn the floor into a writhing, elbow-swinging dance off.

See also: Miami's Ten Heaviest Current Metal and Punk Bands

8. Pork Pie Tribe

The defining artifact of Florida ska's 1990s third-wave heyday is Closer Than You, Vol.1, a compilation of the best and brightest bands on the scene at the time. Among Pork Pie Tribe's contributions, the cut "My Dog Pedro" is a supremely catchy two-tone send-up about a mangy mutt. The breakdown is guaranteed to get humans with a pulse nodding their heads or jogging in place. For this song alone, which the group also self-released on cassette, Pork Pie Tribe will never be forgotten.

7. Skif Dank

Hailing from the beaches of Daytona, Skif Dank's aggressive take on traditional Caribbean riddims was labeled ska-core. And over the years, this crew left many a Central and Northern Florida show venue slick with the sweat of dancing fans. Occasionally, the Dank dudes even drove down to SoFla and caused the same kind of chaos. But unfortunately, the band's 1,000 concert run ended with a breakup in the year 2000.

6. The Usuals

The velvet smooth voice of the chick singing lead for this easy skanking Gainesville band from the 90s is the predominating musical force of The Usuals. Still, the rhythmic force of The Usuals' trombone, sax, and trumpet's syncopated wailing, the thumping bass, the Ginsu-sharp guitars, and cracking drum beats just cannot be denied.

5. The Duppies

For the past decade, this still-active band of trad-minded show rockers has offered its modern spin on the classic sounds of ska. The Duppies' stuff offers the jazzy improv runs of The Skatalites, the feel-good lyrics of Derrick Morgan, the jokester's sensibility of Prince Buster, the party hits of Alton Ellis, and Lee Scratch Perry's ear for instrumentation. It's a nod to the past that's fresh for the future.

4. King 7 And The Soul Sonics

The song "Rude Boy Invasion" by Fort Lauderdale's King 7 is the sonic equivalent of an entire Encyclopedia Britannica volume titled South Florida Ska in the '90s.

3. Less Than Jake

This Gainesville group is by far the most popular band on this list. The five-piece outfit has released the most albums, and achieved the greatest global reach. For this reason, Less Than Jake belongs more to the world than Florida.

2. Against All Authority

The AAA dudes invented took ska-punk in all its fury from the streets of Miami's Cutler Ridge to the world. Over 20 years later and we're still screaming, "Fuck the law."

1. Magadog

Every other band on this list has owned at least one Magadog t-shirt. Active or not, this Tampa crew remains the thumping heart of Florida ska and it always will be. RIP to lead singer, founding member, and Tampa revolutionary Jimmy Pedigo.

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