Jeff Richey is the former sax player of world famous 2-tone ska band The Toasters (1999-2007). He is currently the lead singer and sax player for Orlando area ska, rocksteady & reggae group Control This!, as well as the sole proprietor of Florida Ska Events, a full service consulting, booking and promotions company for ska, reggae & punk bands in the state of Florida.
Recently Jeff spoke to Ed Lowery, former Magadog front man, current Apes FLA front man & founder of Citrus Records on behalf of Musical Occupation to discuss his background, Citrus Records, as well as the history and the current state of Florida Ska.
Jeff: Ed, if you could, please give myself and the readers a brief look into your history in the ska scene, including Magadog and other projects, past and present.
Ed: I moved to Tampa in 1986 to attend USF after graduating high school in upstate NY. I joined local Tampa mod/garage faves “The Immediates” on drums that fall. I met Jim Pedigo around this time and we became friends and roommates as the year progressed. The Immediates broke up around 1990. Magadog formed in 1992 and started off as a side project for Jim (keys) and myself. At first I played drums and moved to lead vocals a few months later. Magadog toured the SE with the Toasters and did a small tour with the original Skatalites (New Orleans/House of Blues and a few other SE dates). Magadog signed a distribution deal with Moon SKA in 1993 for our 1st CD release. After forging a close relationship with Moon Ska, I was contracted to produce the Florida Ska compilation “Closer Than You – Vol 1” in 1996. Shortly after this, Moon released Magadog’s 2nd CD “DUI and I” and also contracted the 1st Magadog CD as a full on Moon Ska release. At this time the 3rd wave Ska explosion was in full effect but was on the verge of collapse.
Magadog toured non-stop around the US from 1996 to1998 but remained the red-headed stepchildren of Moon Ska. Magadog was dropped from the label around 1997 due to diminishing sales and lukewarm reception on the road. In 1997, just prior to Magadog leaving Moon, I did 2 small tours as merch guy and roadie for the Specials, King 7 and the Soulsonics and the Pilfers. In 1998 I took a leave of absence from the road to raise my first daughter Keely Lowery and to pursue a career in real estate appraisal. During this period I started Citrus Records International
After a 20 year career, Magadog called it a day in 2013 due to the death of Jim Pedigo. Displaced after Jim’s death, the core members of the band decided to reform as The Apes FLA. The Apes FLA also features members of Rude Squad, Gwan Massive, and Poetry’n Lotion.
Other notable bands I have played in (drums or vocals) over the past 25 years include The Unrequited Loves, Rock Steady @ 8, The Boozers, and Lizard Man.
Jeff: What is the history behind Citrus Records, including landmark releases and bands?
Ed: [The first releases were] “Closer Than You – Vol 2” and Magadog’s “Daze” (in 1998). The motivation to start Citrus was to give Florida Ska artists a place to hang their hat and a label to call their own. Citrus at this time provided distribution and signed Sarasota’s celtic ska favorites “Pork Pie Tribe”, “Skahumbug” from Tampa, and “Skif Dank” from Daytona Beach. In 1999/2000 Moon Ska was in the midst of financial ruin and closed shop. Magadog was cut off from all access to their first two releases hence the release of “Daze” (a compilation of tunes spanning 1992-1997).
In 1999 Magadog started recording “Sunrise.” After several personal changes and never ending recording sessions, “Sunrise” was released on Citrus in 2007. In 2010 the Duppies from Gainseville released “1000 Bullets” on Citrus and gave the label a breath of fresh air and a new start. Magadog released their last and best release “Ybor City” in 2011 on Citrus. Magadog’s “Ybor City” features an all-star cast with supreme mixes by King Django and lead vocals on “For Another Man” by Hepcat’s Greg Lee. In support of “Ybor City” Magadog did a small Florida tour and also doubled as backing band for King Django. Citrus joined forces with record label 24 Hour Service Station in 2011. 24 Service Station, offers Citrus digital and street distribution to such market places as Amazon, ITunes, Spotify and others.
Jeff: We have both been intimately involved with a solid resurgence in the Florida Ska scene over the past 12-18 months. Talk about the recent growth of the Florida Ska scene and current ‘state of the union’ in the sunshine state.
Ed: Unlike the rest of the US, the ska scene never totally died in Florida over the past 14 years. All ages venues like the Skate Park of Tampa have given birth to a new generation of younger ska type bands. Many of the Florida veterans of the third wave are still playing around and combined with the newer bands this state has kept ska thriving. I decided to release “Closer Than You – Vol 3” around 3 years ago but I have been waiting for the right time. In the past two years there have been a number of traditional ska/reggae bands popping up. With this addition I feel the scene has a large healthy variety and needs to be exposed to the rest of the world.
Jeff: Who’s going to be on the new comp?
Ed: Closer Than You Vol. 3 will include The Duppies, Control This!, Askultura, The Apes FLA, The Supervillains, Coldspot 8, Rocksteady @ 8, Stop the Presses, Rude Squad and many more. The comp will include around 25 bands and will be a 2 disc CD release. Disc one will be for the Traditionalist and includes mainly traditional ska, rocksteady and reggae bands. Disc two will be for the Ska Punks and/or the harder edged bands. All the artwork and graphic design has been done by Andy Jeter from Skaspot. The comp will be distributed by 24 Hour Service Station and will be available from all of the larger internet shopping venues for digital download and/or CD purchase.
For all your Florida Ska needs head to facebook.com/FloridaSkaEvents.