Thu, Sep 12

Bumpin Uglies

Tunnel Vision, Dubbest
Show: 7:30 pm Doors: 6:30 pm
Black Sheep
All Ages
Additional Info
Bumpin Uglies
Bumpin Uglies knows all about hustle. The Maryland reggae-rock band had spent more than adecade on the road, starting with local open mics and backyard parties and growing into roadwarriors, building an ever-expanding audience with sold-out shows in clubs and prime spots atfestivals from coast to coast, on one national tour after another. Then the pandemic hit, andtouring shut down.After being in motion for so long, singer and lead guitarist Brandon Hardesty wasn’t about to sitstill, even if he couldn’t be out on tour. In fact, Bumpin Uglies never really stopped working—they adapted. The group returned to playing backyard parties around Annapolis, where they’rebased, and added socially distanced concerts and full-band livestreams. In the fall of 2020, theyalso started releasing a new song every month as part of a project called the Never EndingDrop.“We felt like prospectors going out and trying to find gold—it was just uncharted territory,”Hardesty says. “We had to figure out a way to make aliving. That’s kind of what being amusician during Covid has felt like to me. You can do it, but you have to be bold.”Hardesty has been bold from the start. He was waiting tables when he started the band in hisearly 20s. With an ear for melodies and the determination to succeed, he poured his time andenergy into making Bumpin Uglies a success. For years, the band did just about everythingthemselves, from booking shows to releasing their own albums, building a sense of momentumalong the way that eventually became self-sustaining, and then Hardesty wasn’t waiting tablesanymore.No surprise, then, that a musician with his strong work ethic found a way to take maximumadvantage of the sudden surplus of time at home. For one thing, he got to hang out with histoddler son, and he and his wife welcomed a new baby. He also wrote a ton of songs. For thefirst time, Hardesty approached songwriting as a discipline, dedicating time to working on newmusic rather than waiting for inspiration to strike and then jotting down ideas in the back of theBumpin Uglies van on his way from one gig to the next.“I just woke up every morning and I made a pot of coffee, and I had this running list of ideas inmy phone for hooks and riffs and progressions,” he says. “I satdown every day and mademyself write a song, and 85 percent of them were pretty good. And it was awesome. I really,really enjoyed the process.”The result is the band’s seventh studio album,Mid-Atlantic Dub, which they recorded in 2021and plan to release this fall. After showing the breadth of Bumpin Uglies’ influences on theNever Ending Drop, from folk to classic country to hip-hop,Mid-Atlantic Dubbrings the group—also featuring Dave Wolf on bass and vocals, Ethan Lichtenberger on keyboards and TJHaslett on drums—back to the core of what they do.“It’s very groove-focused,” Hardesty says. “It’s very hooky, very vibey. It’s very accessible, butthere was no compromise on the storytelling or the lyricism.”
    In fact, Hardesty had a lot on his mind while working songs forMid-Atlantic Dub. He hadrecently lost his own father while he was stepping into being a dad himself and letting go of thevestiges of childhood, all during the uncertainty of a global pandemic. It’s all there on “SlowBurn,” featuring Jacob Hemphill from SOJA. “Before the oak you got the sapling and the seed /Before you triumph you will swallow a defeat,” Hardesty sings over unhurried upstroke guitarsand a beat laid back into a deep pocket.“I was doing a lot of growing up during Covid,” he says. “It was very much like a survival thing,and when you’re in that kind of mode, it forces you to cut a lot of bullshit out of your life.”What’s left, in Hardesty’s songwriting as in his daily life, is what’s real, and what’s real stands asolid chance of connecting with an audience that appreciates openhearted lyrics paired with atight reggae-rock vibe.“For me, it’s just all about honesty,” Hardesty says. “That’s what I listen for when I’m listeningto music. I want to feel like whatever the author’s saying is honest.

Ryan Thaxter – Vocals, Keys, Melodica
Andrew MacKenzie – Guitar
Cory Mahoney – Guitar
Kyle Hancock – Drums
Dimitri Giannoulis – Bass

Coming from the East coast with a fresh, upbeat yet, vintage sound, DUBBEST has swiftly emerged onto the North American Reggae radar in recent years. The Boston-bred outfit of four high school friends have created a unique sound for themselves that intertwines their earlier passions for punk and ska while submersing them in their more recent infatuation with experimental dub and jam style genres.

Originally formed in 2009, DUBBEST has taken time to explore an entirely new musical approach that was influenced by jam bands such as The Grateful Dead and Phish but also reawakened by the likes of pioneering dub producers, Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, Lee “Scratch” Perry and more specifically, Augustus Pablo’s 1974 dub classic, Ital Dub.

DUBBEST’s 2012 debut release, Avoid The Pier, showcases their devotion to the simple riddims and overdubs that clearly drew heavy inspiration from the glory days of 1970s reggae selectors. Followed by the 2013 release of their single,Heat and Water, one could easily tell the band was continuing to evolve their craft into a more complete sound that put more emphasis in the band’s soothing 3-part harmonies and talented core of melodic musicians.

The strengths of each member really began to shed light with the 2015 release of DUBBEST’s second full-length album, Light Flashes. Produced by Craig “Dubfader” Welsch of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, the band credits the veteran producer with taking their musicianship to a higher level of authenticity by tapping into each band member’s unique talents and providing them with the large stock of vintage instruments prominently heard throughout the album. Mastering work provided by the legendary Kevin Metcalfe cemented the old school sound on the album as a result of his expertise from working with U.K.’s pop, rock, and reggae luminaries since the 1960s.

While most songs are driven with catchy organ and synthesizer leads alongside heavy bass lines and a crisp drumming groove to hold the glue together, there are still plenty of tasteful dubs and guitar licks intertwined within it all. Following the summer release of Light Flashes, DUBBEST played two hometown shows before taking their newly refined sound to new territories marking their debut in California and surrounding areas. Less than a year later, the band made the decision to move to San Diego where the North American Reggae scene was continuing to thrive. It was here where the band added a new bass player, bringing in an outside perspective to the northeast-cultivated sound.

Since moving to the West coast in February of 2016, DUBBEST has quickly become noticed as one of the hardest working bands on the rise. Touring relentlessly and sharing their infectious energy all across the nation whether as openers, supporting acts, or headliners, the band continues to make fans with each new encounter. The live show is not one to be overlooked as the band embraces the chance to be themselves by frequently throwing in expanded freestyle dub sections to their original songs while also performing obscure roots reggae tracks in a style all their own. Their unique, melodic sound has been widely accepted to the point that within a year of relocating, the band released 2016’s Live at The Belly Up, which was recorded live during their set at one of So Cal’s premier venues.

The band’s professionalism on the road and passion for playing live in front of any audience has gained them the respect from many established reggae bands of the same era. Now having shared the stage with well-known talent from earlier times such as The Wailers, Barrington Levy, and The Itals to more recent acts like Stick Figure, The Green, J Boog, John Brown’s Body, The Expanders, Iya Terra, Arise Roots and more, DUBBEST proceeds to seek out any opportunity to display the experience of life, love, happiness, and truth via sound and vibration.

DUBBEST released their eagerly awaited third studio album, Gold Fever, on November 1, 2019