The story of Space Monkey Mafia

is one that has only just started. This dynamic band of maestros has toured relentlessly in over 20 states, winning the hearts of every audience they’ve performed in front of. The band’s infectious sound is distinguished by high powered horn lines, stratospheric vocal harmonies, and innovative songwriting. Every member of the band writes music, bringing to the party more than just their own chops.

Since the band’s inception in 2016, Space Monkey Mafia has cultivated a following in an array of different music scenes in different regions around the world. Their infectious live energy is a galvanizing sonic experience that leaves audiences shocked, awed, and in a state of euphoria. Their 2018 debut album Sorry For Your Time, and its 2019 follow up, Captain Crook EP, have helped bring their name recognition to a global scale, specifically within the community of die-hard ska fans anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 4th wave.

As an independent band of hard working professionals, Space Monkey Mafia also plays weddings and private events. With a wide repertoire of crowdpleasers and covers, plus a hefty balance of catchy upbeat original tunes mixed in, Space Monkey Mafia can get the party started anywhere, in any form, whether it be a stripped down acoustic duo at the airport, a swing dance party at a wedding, or a full blown 7-piece sonic frenzy at a music festival. Each member is a multi-instrumentalist with versatility over a wide range of musical styles.

Space Monkey Mafia can be found playing frequently around the Twin Cities and greater midwest for crowds of enthusiastic followers. With this band, friends and fans are one in the same. While every member of the band has multiple other music projects, they share a common value in that Space Monkey Mafia is their passion project, and there is no happier place than sharing the stage with each other.

Dante (Lead Vocals, Saxophone)

Frontman Dante Leyva is a captivating force within the band. Dante never fails at getting a crowd dancing, even if that means jumping into the crowd mid-sax solo and bringing the party straight to the audience. A lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, Dante can be found around town singing and playing saxophone in many different music scenes. While it may not be evident by his powerful stage presence, intense vocal power, and politically charged rants, Dante is actually a gentle soul at heart. Mutual aid and community service are some of Dante’s top priorities in everyday life, right behind the most important priority, which is self-care. This message is evident in Dante’s original song “Go to Therapy”, a captivating passionate ballad that emphasizes the importance of mental health and learning to love yourself before you can love others.

Joe (Bass, Vocals)

A distinguished member of the Twin Cities music scene, founding member Joe Barron is the glue that holds Space Monkey Mafia together. Hailing from the small town of Whitefield, New Hampshire, Joe B moved to the Twin Cities in pursuit of becoming the greatest bass maestro in the music industry, which is evidenced by his hard work and ass-kicking basslines. A punk rocker at heart, Joe’s influences span far and wide from jazz to bluegrass to funk and far beyond. A lifetime of trials and tribulations are expressed through Barron’s original lyrics and melodies, which all have an wistful yet optimistic tinge (Unexpected Places, AM/PM, Anarcho Busline). If there’s one thing to be said about Joe’s original songs, they undeniably come from the heart. And he is never going home.

Tim (Saxophone, Vocals)

Hailing from South Minneapolis, saxophonist and occasional vocalist Tim Kingstrom has been involved in the Twin Cities music scene since the young age of 14. He cut his teeth at all ages ska and punk shows in his teens, later honing his performance chops at Normandale College and then University of Maine at Augusta. Tim has performed with a diverse array of local acts including Mae Simpson, New Reb, Megan Hamilton, and Rolling Stoners, in addition to countless others. The wild card of the group, Tim will sometimes step up to the mic to sing lead vocals on one of his original songs, many of which have become crowd favorites. Tim Kingstrom original songs have a tendency to invoke strong emotions in the listener whether it be hardcore rage against the political establishment (Oligarchy, Planet B) or heartwarming ballads about the best days of our lives (This is We, One More Song).

Sam (Trombone)

Samuel Ogden Charlton joined the band in early 2020 when he moved from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis to obtain a masters degree in trombone performance from the University of Minnesota. Charlton’s trombone playing contributes a unique sonic edge that brings the Space Monkey Mafia sound to a new level. Back in Oklahoma, Sam played trombone in a ska band called LFNC, and he regularly toured with other ska bands around the region. Sam and SMM first crossed paths when he was touring with Texas ska band Flip and the Combined Effort, who shared a bill with SMM in Madison Wisconsin in 2017. During Space Monkey Mafia’s set, Sam jumped up on stage and ripped a trombone solo on Can’t Eat Money, and the rest is history.

Blake (Guitar, Vocals)

Hailing from the swamps of Melbourne, Florida, Blake Foster is the founding member of Space Monkey Mafia. He moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota in 2012 to study guitar and songwriting. Born in 1993, Blake has always been an avid lover of ska, punk, and metal, which is evident in his original songs like Day After Day, Beyond the Grave, and Chicago. The first iteration of the band formed for Blake’s senior recital, when he recruited then-classmates Joe Barron and Riley Jacobson to be his rhythm section, then decided to add a horn section to showcase his ability to compose intricate horn arrangements. Blake’s influences range across just about every style of music, but his top influence of all time is his mentor, the late Paul Chapman of UFO. Back in Florida, Chapman spent 8 years working intensively with Foster, honing in on the craft of guitar and the way of the rock & roll lifestyle.

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