Moon Ska Records

Last updated
Moon Ska Records
Founded1983
Genre Ska, Ska punk
Country of origin United States

Moon Ska Records was one of the most influential ska record labels of the 1980s and 1990s.

Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat. It was developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads.

A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.

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The label operated from 1983 until 2000, and during those seventeen years, only released ska and ska-influenced music. Originally named Moon Records, as a tribute to Sun Records, the label changed its name to Moon Ska Records because another label owned the copyright to the Moon Records name. The label was started by Robert "Bucket" Hingley, founding member of The Toasters as a means to distribute albums by The Toasters. The label became an American source for many British ska import albums.

Sun Records American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950

Sun Records is an American independent record label founded by producer Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in February 1952. Sun was the first label to record Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Prior to that, Sun had concentrated mainly on African-American musicians because Phillips loved rhythm and blues and wanted to bring it to a white audience.

Robert "Bucket" Hingley Pioneering Ska musician

Robert "Bucket" Hingley is lead singer and guitarist for the ska band the Toasters.

The Toasters band that plays punk rock

The Toasters are one of the original American second wave of ska bands. Founded in New York City in 1981, the band has released nine studio albums, primarily through Moon Ska Records.

History

The label rose to prominence in the early 1990s by releasing albums by many of the ska genre's biggest acts, such as The Toasters, The Slackers, Hepcat, The Scofflaws, Mephiskapheles, The Pietasters and the debut album of Dance Hall Crashers — as well as many up and coming bands such as Spring Heeled Jack and Mustard Plug. The label also promoted non-Moon Ska bands, such as The Allstonians, Gals Panic, Less Than Jake, through various compilation albums. Some of these compilations featured the earliest recordings by No Doubt. In 1997, the label branched out to form Ska Satellite Records, in order to produce albums from smaller acts at a lower budget. Moon Ska also produced patches and T-shirts that were sold at ska concerts around the world.

The Slackers band that plays ska

The Slackers are an American ska band, formed in Manhattan, New York in 1991. The band's sound is a mix of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, soul, garage rock, and jazz. The Slackers' notability is credited to their prolific career, tours of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, and signing to notable punk label Hellcat Records.

Hepcat (band) band

Hepcat is a ska and reggae band formed in southern California in 1989. Their soulful harmonies and mellow rhythms were unlike those of contemporaries and more akin to musicians from the heyday of 1960s Jamaican ska with elements of soul, jazz and R&B.

The Scofflaws are a Huntington, Long Island, New York-based third wave ska band that debuted in 1988. Known for their rambunctious live shows, technically proficient horn solos and tight arrangements, the Scofflaws were one of the top third wave ska acts of the '90s and one of the most beloved bands on the now-defunct Moon Ska label, as well as the center and focal point of the once-thriving Long Island ska scene.

In the mid-1990s, the label operated its own store in East Village, Manhattan. The original storefront was located at 150 East 2nd Street in the Alphabet City section of the East Village. When space became an issue, the business moved to a larger location at 84 East 10th Street. The storefront was a way for fans to purchase albums directly from the source and at cheaper prices than those of chain stores. It also became a place of social interaction for both ska band members and fans from around the world.

East Village, Manhattan Neighborhood in Manhattan in New York City

The East Village is a neighborhood on the East Side of Manhattan, New York City, within Lower Manhattan. It is roughly defined as the area east of the Bowery and Third Avenue, between 14th Street on the north and Houston Street on the south. The East Village contains three subsections: Alphabet City, in reference to the single-letter-named avenues that are located to the east of First Avenue; Little Ukraine, near Second Avenue and 6th and 7th Streets; and Bowery, located around the street of the same name.

Alphabet City, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Alphabet City is a neighborhood located within the East Village in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Its name comes from Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have single-letter names. It is bordered by Houston Street to the south and by 14th Street to the north, along the traditional northern border of the East Village and south of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Some famous landmarks include Tompkins Square Park and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Amidst the end of the ska boom of the mid-1990s, sales began to drop and many records were returned to the small label. Several distribution companies were filing bankruptcy while owing Moon Ska thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices, for albums that were already sent to stores. Those same record stores refused to keep the album prices in the suggested $10 range, and instead marked them up to between $17 and $19. All of these factors led to the end of the Moon Ska store, and eventually, the label itself.

The label is survived by Moon Ska World (formerly Moon Ska Europe), which is a licensed affiliate and is not owned by Hingley. The label, based in the United Kingdom, has released albums from acts such as Rhoda Dakar, Symarip, The Big, The Upsessions, Skaville UK and Go Jimmy Go. Unlike its American sister label, Moon Ska World has released albums from outside of the ska genre. With the name change, the label shifted its focus to ska and old reggae. Moon Ska World has remained dormant since album and single releases by the Dub City Rockers in 2011.

Moon Ska World, formerly known as Moon Ska Europe, is a ska record label based in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1998 as the European sister label of the defunct American label Moon Ska Records, which was owned by Robert "Bucket" Hingley of The Toasters. Moon Ska World is a licensed affiliate run by Lol Pryor, the former Dojo Records and Link Records head. Due to illnesses in both Pryor and the other principal owner, Sonia "Red" Bailey, as well as deaths in their families, the label was put on hold until 2006, when Pryor changed its name to Moon Ska World and began running the label on his own.

The term affiliate is used to describe the relationship between two entities wherein one owns less than a majority stake in the other's stock. Affiliations can also describe a type of relationship in which at least two different companies are subsidiaries of a larger parent company.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

In 2003, three years after the demise of Moon Ska Records, Hingley started his second ska label, named Megalith Records. The label has released material by The Toasters, New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, Victor Rice, Eastern Standard Time, Mr. T Bone, Bomb Town, Bigger Thomas & The Hub City Stompers.

Megalith Records

Megalith Records is a ska record label founded on August 22, 2002 and located in Norman, Oklahoma. It is owned by Robert "Bucket" Hingley of The Toasters and the defunct label Moon Ska Records, and managed by Jeremy Patton, current webmaster and graphic artist for the Toasters. Manufacturing duties are carried out by Brett of AtoZ Media Services, a CD pressing plant company based in New York City.

Victor Rice is an influential musician, producer and mix engineer from New York City. Raised in Huntington, New York. He attended the Manhattan School of Music and began his professional career in the late 1980s during ska music’s so-called third wave as both a bassist and producer. In the late 1990s he became a composer and sound designer for television. In 2002, Rice moved to Brazil and although he continued working as a producer, performer and sound designer, he shifted his focus and became renowned as a mix engineer, working with a variety of local groups representing a number of different genres.

Label roster

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The Pietasters band

The Pietasters are an American eight-piece ska/soul band hailing from Washington, D.C., with additional members from Maryland and Virginia.

Spring Heeled Jack (band)

Spring Heeled Jack is a third wave ska band based out of New Haven, Connecticut. The band was formed by guitarist/vocalist Ron Ragona and drummer Dave Karcich in 1991. After a short breakup, Ragona and Karcich reformed the band with a new lineup. This lineup went on to record two albums before announcing a hiatus in 2000. While the band members moved on to perform in several new bands, their intention was to play the occasional reunion show. This plan would never come to fruition as a cerebral aneurysm would be cause for Karcich's death in 2002. In 2015, several band members returned to reform the band full-time. A third studio album, Sound Salvation, followed in 2017.

Stubborn All-Stars are a New York City ska band led by King Django, front man of Skinnerbox and owner of Stubborn Records.

Mephiskapheles American ska band

Mephiskapheles is a ska band based in New York City. Their name is a portmanteau of "ska" and "Mephistopheles", of the Faust legend. As their name suggests, their lyrics are often playfully satanic in nature.

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"Disco" Dave Hillyard is a tenor saxophonist originating from San Diego, California. He has performed in groups such as The Slackers, The Rocksteady Seven, The Donkey Show, Hepcat, Stubborn All-Stars, and has guested with the likes of Rancid, Victor Rice, Skinnerbox NYC and Alexandra Lawerentz. He is a skilled improviser and composer/arranger with more than thirty album credits to his name.

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The Players Band is an American 9-piece ska band formed in Baltimore in 1999. The band's musical style combines Jamaican ska, rock, and reggae, and is characterized by the use of upbeat horns and percussion. The band has performed over 500 live shows in various states, including; Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Long Island, Vermont, and Virginia. The Players Band has performed with acts such as Grammy Award Winner The Isley Brothers, Grammy Award Winner Toots & the Maytals, The B-52's, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Joe Strummer, Matisyahu, The English Beat, Third Eye Blind, Citizen Cope, Fishbone, The Toasters, The Skatalites, Reel Big Fish, The Pietasters, The Aggrolites, The Slackers, Rebirth Brass Band, Big D and the Kids Table, The Know How, King Django, The Scofflaws, Westbound Train, Eastern Standard Time, Junkyard Band and many others. Notable ska musicians who have performed on stage with The Players Band as guests include; Adam Birch, Jeff Richey, Buford O’Sullivan, Vinny Noble, Dr. Ring-Ding, Morgan Russell and H.R..

The Victoria Ska Festival aka Ska Fest is a music festival that takes place every summer in Victoria British Columbia, Canada. The festival is organized and executed by the Victoria BC Ska Society, a non-profit organization, and over 200 volunteers. It is the longest running ska festival in North America.

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