English Beat at the Belly Up | AspenTimes.com

English Beat at the Belly Up

Joel Stonington
British ska band the English Beat, led by singer-guitarist Dave Wakeling, plays the Belly Up tonight. (Courtesy thebeatuk.com)

Almost 27 years ago, the English Beat took to the stage for the first time at a little club in Birmingham, England. Since then, lead singer and guitarist Dave Wakeling has been playing with various groupings of those musicians and others, continuing to make dance tunes and influence the British ska movement. These days, he’s on tour with the English Beat, which plays tonight at the Belly Up. “Aficionados might be worried about the original band,” Wakeling said during a phone conversation from Los Angeles, where he was getting his hair cut. “But after the second song they won’t be worrying. It’s on a roll. I’m very confident about the way the show is at the moment.”In the late ’70s and early ’80s, the English Beat released such hits as “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save it for Later” and “I Confess.” The band toured with David Bowie, the Police, R.E.M., the Clash and the Specials – to name just a few. Even though the original band was only together about five years, Wakeling said he felt something special from the very first show the Beat played together. “There was something a little odd about that first gig,” he said. “It was just an auspicious time. Right from that very first show it felt like there was magic in the air.”The original band consisted of Wakeling, Andy Cox on guitar, David Steele on bass, Everett Morton on drums, Ranking Roger on vocals and Saxa on saxophone. After the band broke up, Wakeling and Roger created General Public, while Cox and Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals. There have been a few reunion concerts, but for the most part original members of the English Beat are off doing their own thing.”There’s still an open invitation to anyone who wants to come,” Wakeling said. “Andy and David from the Cannibals don’t seem interested in pop music,” he said. “Roger was going to join in but we think someone got hold of him in the U.K. and asked him to make a Beat record without anyone else in The Beat in it. That seems to prevent him joining in at the moment.”No matter, Wakeling said he is happy with his current band. “I have a guy called Rick Torres, went on to be quite famous and the leader of Supreme Beings of Leisure,” he said. “He’s really good. The drummer, Rhythm Epkins actually changed his name that shows the confidence of the man.”The current version of the English Beat is coming out with an album of new songs, and Wakeling said he just signed a contract to make an acoustic album with a full string section. It will be acoustic hits from the years with the Beat.”It would be a mixture of old classic style, but instead of congas and chimes you’d have someone making noise on a DJ rig,” Wakeling said. “I have to get used to the idea that I’ll actually do it.”He said he’s looking forward to going back on the road for a few weeks with the band, though the big party days are over. “Straight to bed with a warm bath and a cup of cocoa,” he said. “Leave it all on the stage, that’s my advice to all the aspiring musicians.” He said his favorite song to sing is “I Confess” – “because you have six chances to hit the falsetto part.”Tonight’s show starts at 9 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. The Belly Up is at 450 S. Galena St.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com

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