A few months back, my friend and show promoter Rob Alapick dragged me out of my apartment to a show at the Stanhope House. It was down the street from me, and he promised me The Toasters. Even in my weepy state, I figured that was just what I needed to cheer me up. I ran into some good friends (pretty standard for a ska show) and was sitting around hunched over my diet coke licking my wounds, when out of the corner of the club I heard them hit the stage. Who in the world is this and why have I not heard them?! My feet were immediately tapping all over the floor. I forgot I was cranky.
Rob informed me…this is The Rudie Crew. (to his credit, he had told me I would like them…)
I was blown away! The bass lines and the horns grab you immediately, but then in comes the vocals with this fresh dancehall sound, and you are hooked. I was hooked. This is great, tight, danceable ska. This is summer nights in sweaty clubs, ants in your pants on the dance floor, fast-talking ska flavor. THIS is the sound that has been missing! If you can catch Rudie Crew live, and you can manage to stand there and not dance, I don’t know what to do with you and you are probably lacking a soul. This is the music that grabs you by your soul and drags you to the floor. It’s exciting, vibrant, beat-heavy, brassy ska with an authentic and warm reggae flavor. It’s funky and energized, but soulful and grooving. But the thing that caught me the most was that they have a sound all their own underneath all those essential ska/reggae components.
This is not a ragtag bunch of thrown together characters either. The Rudie Crew is comprised of professional musicians from across oceans and scenes. They have seen years and many a lineup change since their 2003 debut, Invasion. Seems to me they found the perfect formula now. El Husey brings the tenor sax and vocals, and Dan Dulin with trumpet and vocals. Both started this train in ska fusion pioneers Skinnerbox. Add in Chris Malone on trombone and vocals, Phil Wartell on that grooving bass, BeatBlast rocking drums, Dean Wartell handling keys, and Dave Parsons on guitar. Singer Roy Radics brings a JA/UK flavor to ice the top of the whole production. What you end up with is a tight ska sound with dancehall flavor and reggae groove. The Rudie Crew is it’s own sound, it’s own vibe, it’s own taste of this scene…and it’s not only fun on the floor. It’s intelligent and exciting in your ears. It's impossible to listen to and sit still. Try it. I dare you.
2011’s release This Is Skragga! Is a perfect example of this unique take on a familiar sound. “Propaganda” opens it up, and throws you in, full force. See if you are not singing along on your second listen through…”Propaganda Propaganda…!” The brass is clean and funky, and I love the guitar work and the bass lines. My favorite track is “Pretty Girl”. It’s in my headphones right now, and I am not hiding the fact that I would rather be dancing than sitting at this desk. Hear this live? Forget it. This is why I go to ska shows. This feeling. This groove. A sound that gets inside and lights you up, makes your legs and your hips move. The Rudie Crew nails it, and I am left aching for a show.
I was able to catch up with singer and heck of a nice guy, Roy Radics, for an interview and got to delve into what the band was up to as well as the story behind his own unique style. I don’t review or chase down anyone for an interview that I don’t genuinely like anyway, but I was really excited to do a profile on these guys! I am fascinated with this sound, and Radics was happy to let me grab him for a few questions.
What attracted you to this music and this scene in the first place?
As a child growing up in the UK from a Caribbean heritage, I always loved music and my brothers used to play a lot of original ska and reggae along with other genres…but it’s the feel of ska and reggae that grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and I never looked back. What fueled the fire was we used to go to these parties that my uncle would throw and he had the best record collection. Prince Buster, John Holt to Stax and R&B and Reggae… So I would often sit on the stairs waiting for the ska and reggae to drop so I could nod my head feel the vibration. Later it got to a point where I would imitate the singers, especially the MCs. Then the Two Tone scene hit and I was smitten and could relate. I could really appreciate the hard edge punky style mixed with the Ska & Reggae. I often used to think they brought it out especially for me.
To cut a long story short, I started listening to a lot of Two-Tone and original ska and reggae, and began writing my own stuff and practicing my early MC style from the dancehall era of Super Cat, Early B and many more (I could list all but it would be pages long) to cap it off the local sound systems like Saxon Sound, Unity and Sir Coxsone steered towards us English youth, chatting our own unique style and interweaving it with a faststyle chat. Finally I came to New York and started following Moon records, The Toasters etc and met up with El from the Rudie Crew at Wetlands. We talked and clicked, next minute I was the MC for a song or two before taking over and becoming the Lead singer and MC .....my respect will always go out to El Husey ,Dan Dulin and Buck from the Toasters who always believed in me.....
What are you working on now? Shows in the works? Music coming out?
Well last year we finished our brand new album "This is Skragga" for Megalith Records which we are heavily promoting, and trying to venture out on Mini Tours so everyone can hear our unique style. We are writing and putting together ideas as we speak for new material so by next year we can come with yet another new album (hopefully). Now and again I work with P-dub on solo stuff so that’s all been happening. This weekend we are honored to be part of King Django's Stubborn Records label celebrates its 20th anniversary show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. We are so happy to be there as good friends playing on this night (not to be missed) And we have a special guest playing with us on this night so don't miss it! Other than that, we plan on taking the road again in September, but I don’t have specifics as yet.
Where do you see the ska scene in NY headed as we move on from 2012?
I think it’s healthy right now and shows promise of rising up from the ashes, as it’s always threatened. The Brooklyn scene is really growing and as I don't have a ska crystal ball one can only predict healthy things, and let’s keep this growing and getting stronger !!!!
What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
Booking shows, going on the road, taking a little break, …but really it’s all about writing new material and doing shows so we can spread the word that the Rudites are coming ....That’s our internal alias…The Rudites ......
You can catch The Rudie Crew at the Stubborn Records 20th Anniversary show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, this Saturday May 12th. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. That is a promise!
More info about the show HERE:
Get your tickets to the show HERE: