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Ray Charles was the innovator of soul. Rei Mastrogiovanni wants to innovate ska; he says it’s in his blood.

“I heard a monk in Kishiwada, where my family is from, hitting a mokugyo (wood block in the shape of a fish) and it was on the upbeat. It was like ska!” he explains, referring to the distinctive “ska stroke” guitar rhythm. “They’re the only monks in the world that do that. So my ancestors must have listened to the upbeat every time there was a religious get-together.”

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