The Uptones, the RaveUps, and the Titan Ups gloriously bring to life the heyday of Jamaican music, from rocksteady through ska and reggae, as well as British rock, in this one-night festival. While Berkeley’s first ska band, the Uptones, has been an Ashkenaz favorite for years, the RaveUps and Titan Ups are making their first appearance on our stage. The upbeat night features three bands with “Up” in their monikers; pure coincidence, they say. However, RaveUp Chris Solberg comments, “It has been proposed we change the name of the club to The AshkenUp for this event.”
They celebrated their 30th birthday in 2011, but the Uptones still play some of the youngest music around: Jamaican-born ska in all of its blistering, dance-crazed glory! As Rolling Stone magazine reported, “Sitting down at an Uptones show is like keeping your eyes shut at a movie.” They are performing songs from their latest CD, “East Bay Orbits,” plus favorites from throughout the Uptones’ history. The Uptones broke out of Berkeley High School in 1981 at the height of the 2-Tone movement, inspired by groups such as the English Beat. The first West Coast band devoted to ska, the Uptones play the jumpingly fast ‘60s Jamaican pre-reggae dance music with more than a little punk attitude. Several of their recordings were regional hits, and for a time they were the most popular band in the Bay Area. Three members of the original band – guitarist-singer Eric Din, keyboardist-singer Paul Jackson, and bassist Bennie Wood – have been playing music together since they were students at Berkeley High. A few years ago they revived the Uptones and continue with an expanded, charged lineup, including fellow original Adam Beach on saxophone, to provide the ultimate, transcendent ska experience. The current Uptones also include trombonist Jeanne Geiger, guitarist-singer Emily Jayne, guitarist Moose Lethridge, and drummer Mike Stevens.
The best Yardbirds tribute band extant, the RaveUps tonight will include nods to various British Invasion groups, and in honor of tonight’s reggae-ska theme, they will do a couple of Yardbirds classics reggae-style. Expect such Yardbirds hits as “Shapes of Things,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Heart Full of Soul,” and “For Your Love.” The band is a bunch of heavyweight veterans, starting with lead guitarist Chris Solberg, a founder of Berkeley’s first reggae band, the Shakers, before spending years in the Santana band and working with other Bay Area stars including Chris Isaak and Eddie Money. Solberg has racked up 15 gold, platinum, and double platinum records as a sideman. In the RaveUps he brings to life the guitar wizardry of the Yardbirds guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Lead vocalist and sculptor Dave Seabury is a founder of Psycotic Pineapple. Drummer Donn Spindt is one of the Rubinoos. Guitarist and bongo master Bob Lewis (who recently played with the current version of the Yardbirds) and bassist Kit Newkirk round out the RaveUps.
From San Francisco’s Mission District, the Titan Ups sing and play traditional Jamaican rocksteady and early reggae with an accent on authenticity. Whether it’s a classic track from Toots and the Maytals, or soon-to-be-classic original tunes, the Titans keep the dance floor packed from start to finish! The group is led by Bob Reed, ex front man of ’90s San Francisco noisepop favorites Overwhelming Colorfast and lead guitarist for indie rockers Oranger. Drummer Dave Leonard has handled drumming duties for the likes of The Sermon, Pat Johnson, and Penelope Houston. The Titan Ups also include guitarist Mark Gordon, keyboard player Jen Hale (Killer’s Kiss), bassist Bill Cramer (Only Sons, Ride the Blinds), and Carroll Ashby on trombone.
When & Where
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).