Magadog: Tampa's top dogs of ska
Meet the band: Ed Lowery (vocals), Jim Pedigo (keyboards), Dave Akright (bass), Keith Bartlett (guitar), Carlos Velez (drums), Kenny Pullin (trumpet), David Russell (trombone), Joe Terrana (sax).
Their story: Formed in 1993, Tampa ska masters Magadog once appeared on national TV in an episode of NBC‚Äôs Seaquest DSV, and their tune Monkey in the Whitehouse got play on MTV‚Äôs 120 Minutes. The band went on hiatus the latter part of the ‚Äô90s and early 2000s, but reformed and began playing actively around year and a half ago. Ska fans young enough to be some of the members‚Äô children bop in skinny ties with the old-school folks to the band‚Äôs latest and resoundingly successful incarnation.
The goods: Click here to check out Magadog's Hearts On Fire in the player on the right, then watch the video of a recent rehearsal in Tampa. Then click here to vote for them as Tampa bay's 2009 Ultimate Local Band. And keep reading for the full scoop on the band's comeback on ska's fourth wave...
Ska came in waves, and Tampa‚Äôs own Magadog surfed its third tsunami among some of the genre‚Äôs greats.
Ska, that bouncy Caribbean music with horns, soulful vocals and offbeat rhythm, hit the airwaves in the 1950s and ‚Äô60s, with a few hits making it to U.S. shores, like Desmond Dekker‚Äôs classic Israelites. The second wave in the ‚Äô80s highlighted British groups such as Madness and the Specials.
The ‚Äô90s saw ska‚Äôs biggest U.S. popularity in its third wave, and Magadog rocked among the most popular touring bands in that scene, opening for such greats as the Skatalites, Toasters and Pietasters.
Formed in 1993, by original members Ed Lowery, vocals and timbales; Jim Pedigo, vocals and keyboards; and Dave Akright on bass, Magadog appeared on national TV in an episode of NBC‚Äôs Seaquest DSV and their tune Monkey in the Whitehouse got play on MTV‚Äôs 120 Minutes. In between, the band kept a busy and raucous touring schedule.
‚ÄúWe played in Sonora, Calif., to a hundred white hippie rastafarians who pelted the stage with joints and THC edibles,‚Äù Lowery says. ‚ÄúRecently in Orlando, the stage was overtaken by tradition skinheads that squeezed Jim and me of the mics, but force-fed us countless pints of beer.‚Äù
The band went on hiatus the latter part of the ‚Äô90s and early 2000s, but reformed and began playing actively around year and a half ago. Ska fans young enough to be some of the members‚Äô children bop in skinny ties with the old-school folks to the band‚Äôs latest and resoundingly successful incarnation.
‚ÄúThe current lineup features tighter instrumentation and overall higher skill level,‚Äù Lowery says. ‚ÄúThe early lineup was more infamous for their ganja smoking, sloppy beats and fancy footwork.‚Äù
The musicianship comes through during Magadog‚Äôs performances. Lowery often jumps down into the crowd mid-show. The whole room is usually dancing.
Playing in the current roster are some second- and third-generation members: Keith Bartlett, guitar; Carlos Velez, drums; Kenny Pullin, trumpet; David Russell, trombone; and Joe Terrana, sax.
‚ÄúSometimes we get a call for an older song when we are out playing,‚Äù guitarist Bartlett says. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm proud that we‚Äôve weaned ourselves off of those old songs and pretty much just play all new material.‚Äù
The band is now working on a new record titled Ybor City, featuring a song called The Great Depression, ‚Äúabout the current state of the economy,‚Äù Lowery says.
-- Story by Julie Garisto, photo by Luis Santana