Friday, September 2, 2016

The English Beat at City Winery

Dave Wakeling
During a period of high unemployment and social upheaval in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s, Madness, the Specials, the Selecter and the Beat started a revival of Jamaican ska music and had audiences dancing to positive vibrations. The Beat was founded in 1978 in Birmingham, England. In North America, the band was renamed the English Beat because an American band already took the name of the Beat. The English Beat's music fused ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock on three albums in the early 1980s. After the break-up of The Beat in 1983, the band's two vocalists, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, performed in General Public from 1984 to 1987 and again briefly in the mid-1990s. In 2004, the VH1 show Bands Reunited tried unsuccessfully to reunite the Beat's original line-up. Wakeling and Roger later formed separate bands playing their old catalogue. Wakeling is touring with the English Beat mostly in America while Roger is leading the Beat in the United Kingdom. Wakeling's band is expected to release Here We Go Love, an album of new compositions, in 2017.

The English Beat that headlined two nights at City Winery consisted of Wakeling on lead vocals and guitar, with vocalist King Schascha, keyboardists Kevin Lum and Minh Quan, saxophonist Matt Morrish, bassist Brad Engstrom, and drummer Nucci Cantrell. Trinidad-born Schascha, who was moonlighting from his solo career to be in the English Beat, was particularly show-worthy with his speedy toasting and high-stepping on the small City Winery stage. As expected, the set rocked with favorites including "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Hands Off, She's Mine" and "Tears of a Clown," a cover version of the hit by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, as well as General Public's reggae remake of the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There." Working as a unit, the septet became a party band, and even though the chairs at City Winery were pressed rather tightly together, dozens of audience members were inspired to create space for dancing to the Beat.

Visit the English Beat at www.englishbeat.net.