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Ska is one of the only music scenes in which the community is overwhelmingly positive and everyone is friendly," declares Matt Turner, organizer of SkaFest 2010 and lead singer of Paranoia Dance Party!, one of the festival headliners. That mentality is echoed in the architecture of the festival, which has been an all-ages event since Turner kicked it off in 2005.
"The whole thing got started because there was nothing like this happening at the time," he says. "There were ska shows, but nothing this big. I think the SkaFest series of shows is part of the reason that these things are happening more often now."
This year marks the first time SkaFest has reached beyond the Tampa area, adding two local bands for each of the three stops in addition to the roster of regional favorites. When the festival rolls through Pompano Beach, South Florida will be represented by Boca Raton act the Strikeouts! and Fort Lauderdale's King Rooster. The Strikeouts blend infectious, upbeat, third-wave sounds with a harder, hard-core edge, while King Rooster blends hints of 2 Tone with the ska-punk feel of Operation Ivy.
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"There is a rather wide array of the type of bands playing this year, though all of the bands lean more towards the energetic side," says Turner. He points to third-wave bands (the Taj Motel Trio, Victims of Circumstance), traditional and 2 Tone (the Sweet Kings), and his own band, which is "probably the strangest band playing this year, with a mix of ska, hardcore, and dance music."
In keeping with the festival's inclusive mentality, the South Florida stop will be held at Rocketown. Turner, along with co-promoter Christina Healy from South Florida music promotion outfit the Florida Scene, chose the Christian youth outreach facility, which recently began programming concerts, because it boasts the size and an all-ages policy matching with the ideals of the fest.
"The way I think about ska is just good times and having fun," Strikeouts! trombonist Adam Seruya says. "I know South Florida is kinda known for people just having fun all the time, you know, just out for a good time."
Arguably, that's the whole point of ska and the whole point of the festival: to get music lovers together to have a good time. As Turner puts it, "There are ten amazing bands from all over the Southeast playing this year, and that means there are ten unique takes on the genre. I'm excited to see if both North and South Florida react to this the same as Tampa has."
Adds Seruya, "It's a good opportunity to listen to new music, so why not come out?" Your move, SoFla.