The Sunshine State was a breeding ground for some pretty cool ska acts in the '90s. You would almost think the state invented the genre.
Maybe it is our proximity to the Caribbean and a large presence of Jamaicans that made the feat possible. Who knows? The reggaefied punk trend at least gave many band geeks a chance to show off some chops and prove to their parents that second-chair trombone was OK.
Here are Miami's 10 best ska bands of all time.
See also: Miami's 20 Best Punk Bands of All Time
10. King 7 and the Soulsonics
Active in the mid '90s, this crew toed that Dade-Broward county line with some deliciously wicked traditional ska rooted in toasting and dancehall fun. Aside from its lone split seven-inch and a track on a ska comp somewhere, all King 7 and the Soulsonics left behind was happy memories of singing along and dancing with skinhead girls, as their Chelsea cuts tickled our ears.
9. Jean P Jam
Monsieur Jean Pokito has been rocking South Florida for a very long time and it feels like he's still a well-kept secret. Heavier on the reggae than any other act on this list, Pokito has been known to run through Jamaica's entire musical history in one jam before embarking on a sonic exploration of his native Haiti's konpa and racine styles. He's that well-versed.
See also: Florida's Ten Best Ska Bands of All Time
8. Jive Step Bunch
Last year, our colleague Jacob Katel listed Florida's 10 best ska bands and it's nice to see that there is some agreement between scribes here. Always a fun show at old-school Miami punk club Cheers and an extreme crowd-pleaser, Jive Step Bunch kicked ass. The only displeasing thing about this outfit was the fact that nothing except a lone track, "Skinhead Girl," the B-side to the aforementioned King 7 split seven-inch, was ever recorded. These Jive Steppers owe South Florida some demos. Or at the very least, a crappy rehearsal recording.
7. The Monjees
A weird cross between ska and alternative rock, the Monjee guys also exhibited punk leanings and a deep appreciation for hip-hop. That about sums it up. They were the dreaded Caucasian poster boys for 4/20 fests across town! Their lone gift to South Florida was a live CD-R release (limited to 250 copies) of a show at the Alley on August 24, 2002. Liner notes by a certain Matt Underfoot. Famed Monjee member Harry Gamez went on to be in numerous other bands and currently lives in Canada.
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6. Stop the Presses
A newer band that's keeping the South Florida ska train rolling through this millennium, Stop the Presses is fun, energetic, fronted by the charismatic Ali Culotta, and perhaps the only band on this list willing to perform at your wedding, bar/bat mitzvahs, and quinces for competitive prices!
5. The Fundamentals
This group was around for only a short bit a while back. Not much for committing its sound to tape and/or video, the Fundamentals' live performances were always fun. As the younger guys and gal on the scene (at the time), this crew's members proved that they could hold their own with local outfits, as well as with out-of-towners. These days, percussionist and triangle virtuoso Danny Messemer plies his skills in Hollywood's stuntman trade.
4. Bingo Mut
This band was always honest about its intentions.The back of Bingo Mut's lone seven-inch reads: "Ska sucks, we're only in it for the bucks." Now, we can't confirm if those "bucks" ever materialized, since our second-press copy still bears its $2.75 price tag from April 1996. But Bingo Mut sure caught somebody's eye, because Ska in the World Records saw fit to release the complete BM discography last year.
3. The Methodaires
This outfit mixed roots, rocksteady, and traditional reggae into its ska style. Drawing members from numerous other bands in South Florida's underground, the Methodaires' biggest surprise was the fabulous Nia Divine, Miami's "Voice of Urban Soul." This girl can sing. She has recently released a solo effort, the Sextape EP. Check her out. She's going places.
See also: 50 Best Miami Bands of All Time
Imagine just for a second that you're a type 2 diabetic. You've been invited to a private screening of Alejandro Jodorowsky's latest feverish nightmare. The film will be scored by a mob of Miami punks as they stomps on the ashen corpses of Gogol Bordello. There will be kalimotxo, sweetened with Stevia, and Colombian empanadas served as refreshments. That's Askultura.
1. Against All Authority
Everyone got all butt-hurt over AAA not being included on Miami's best punk bands list last week. One reason and one reason only: "ska-punk." Notice how "ska" precedes "punk." That's it. That's our reasoning.
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Over the years, AAA had a long and illustrious career with core members Danny Lore and Joe Koontz always in the mix. (The video above is by Ian Maguire and it dates to 1995.) The band went from three horns to one, but it always maintained that ska flavor, even on the punkier mixes. Prolific and true to the DIY ethic until the end, the AAA dudes should have enjoyed some serious money for all their troubles. But alas, we are talking 'bout ska-punk rock.
Never stop skankin'.
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