Reggae rockers Bumpin’ Uglies playing Susquehanna Tavern in Exeter April 9 with special guests Robb Brown, Jordan Ramirez
EXETER — With a style that fuses reggae, punk and ska, Bumpin’ Uglies has grown popular throughout the mid-Atlantic and east coast regions. In anticipation of their forthcoming studio album, the Annapolis, Maryland three-piece is on a tour that will take them through the Wyoming Valley to share a bill with two local artists.
Bumpin’ Uglies will headline a show that starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at the Susquehanna Tavern, 167 Susquehanna Ave., Exeter. The trio of Brandon Hardesty, Dave Wolf and T.J. Haslett will be supported by the solo efforts of Wilkes-Barre songwriters Robb Brown and Jordan Ramirez. There is no cover charge for the evening.
Songwriter and guitar player for Bumpin’ Uglies, Hardesty said the band’s sound developed when his passion for lyricism found a vehicle in reggae.
“I grew up listening to folk singers, Johnny Cash, Neil Young,” Hardesty said. “I’ve always loved story tellers. Before I ever played music, I always wrote stories and kept a journal. Then I found this genre of music that I connected with immediately.”
Hardesty said hearing Sublime is what made him want to play music but that he wanted to strive for a signature sound.
“You’ve go this really cool, laid back vibe that rocks out at times, but then you’ve got these slammin’ hip-hop grooves that make people want to dance,” Hardesty said. “That’s where the sound came from, trying to emulate that without biting it off. I don’t want to stray from that sound, because that’s what we do, but I find ways to incorporate different styles into it.”
Bumpin’ Uglies scored recognition in 2013 with the release of their album Ninjah Reggae Assasins, which went to No. 1 on the iTunes reggae chart, but their latest effort, which is scheduled to be released in late August or early September, is the band’s finest work to date, Hardesty said.
“Our first few albums have a decent following,” Hardesty said. “People were into them, and it’s gotten us to the level we’re at now, but in terms of musicianship and knowing what we were doing in the studio, we just had no idea. It’s been night and day having the rhythm section I have now. Everything grooves so much better.”
Hardesty said the new record stays true to the band’s style while working in various influences from doo-wop to calypso.
“We’re really swinging for the fences on this one,” Hardesty said.
Bumpin’ Uglies will make its third appearance in the Wyoming Valley on April 9, and Hardesty said he, Wolf and Haslett were treated to warm receptions during past shows at the River Street Jazz Cafe and Ole Tyme Charley’s in Plains Township.
“The last time we were there with the Bastard Suns, it was wild,” Hardesty said. “We played some roadhouse spot, and it was awesome. Everyone was out raging.”
This time through, Bumpin’ Uglies will be supported by two of the area’s talented solo acts in Brown and Ramirez.
Ramirez, who is also the front man for the Wilkes-Barre based four-piece Half Dollar, said 90 percent of what he’ll play on April 9 will be original music.
“I’ve been writing music for 10 years, and the band started the performance part of the career,” Ramirez said.
The songwriter has a penchant for hip-hop-infused soul music in his original songs, but he hinted that he might cover a tune or two by famous female artists.
“Now that I know there’s more reggae going on, there’s a ton of that to Half Dollar, so we’ll have a couple reggae-ish tunes to keep the vibe going throughout the night,” Ramirez said.
Brown, who performs solo and as the lead singer in the reggae, roots-rock ensemble Subnotics, brings a multi-faceted act to the table capable of turning out everything from reggae to rock to R&B.
Hardesty, although unacquainted with Brown and Ramirez, said he’s looking forward to playing with artists from Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“That’s one of my favorite parts about this is seeing other good music,” Hardesty said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]