NEPA Scene Staff

Bumpin’ Uglies and Elephants Dancing play ska and reggae at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Feb. 9

Bumpin’ Uglies and Elephants Dancing play ska and reggae at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Feb. 9
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From a press release:

Maryland ska/punk/reggae quartet Bumpin’ Uglies will be teaming up with Wilkes-Barre’s own reggae rock band Elephants Dancing and soul rock singer/songwriter Jordan Ramirez of Half Dollar and Fake Fight for a show at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains this Friday, Feb. 9.

Doors at the Jazz Cafe (667 N. River St., Plains) open at 7 p.m., and the 21+ show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $5 in advance or $10 at the door, can be purchased online via HoldMyTicket.

For nearly a decade now, Bumpin’ Uglies have been playing their brand of groove-heavy jams – a curiously fun mix of ska, reggae, and good old punk rock – all while putting strong lyrics at the forefront of the music. It’s a formula that quickly took them from local favorites, playing around Annapolis, to a national stage. With a wildly infectious sound, tattoo-worthy lyrics, and an itch to take their music to the masses, the band piled into the van years ago and have rarely seen home since.

The Bumpin’ Uglies’ origin story begins with singer/guitarist Brandon Hardesty playing open mics around Maryland. He met bassist Dave Wolf not too long after and Bumpin’ Uglies was born. With a proper set of wheels and TJ Haslett on drums, they went off to spread their music across the country like modern day Johnny Appleseeds. The group later added Chad Wright on keyboards, expanding on their sound.

Raised on everything from Bad Religion and The Beach Boys to Sublime and Reel Big Fish, Bumpin’ Uglies have managed to take inspiration from some of the best out there, run it through their own distinctive filter, and end up with a truly original take on the various genres, creating an original hybrid. With a unique sound that’s nearly impossible to ignore, the band has gotten everyone from dreadlocked kids to PBR-fueled tattooed punks moving their heads to their music at festivals and on headlining tours across the country.

When they aren’t on the road, they’ve been camped in the studio, churning out three full-lengths, two EPs and a live record. Their latest, 2016’s “Keep It Together,” came out on Right Coast Records and is proof that the band has found their groove. The album consists of a dozen stand-out tracks, any one of which could be considered instant classics for the band. They’re already at work on the follow-up while maintaining their never-ending tour schedule.

Elephants Dancing is a seven-piece ska/reggae band from Wilkes-Barre driven by the chill beach vibe and powerful roots of reggae. The group delivers an island feel filled with heavy grooves, fun melodies, syncopation, and clever raps.

Elephants Dancing was created by singer/songwriters Michael Iorio (lead vocals/bass) and Danny Sales (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), who were childhood friends. After experiencing several lineup changes since the band’s inception in the summer of 2015, the full and unique sound that the band possesses is fulfilled through the versatility and spunk of its members: Ross LeSoine (tenor sax/percussion), Miles Fagley-Orfanella (trumpet/percussion), Karl Rucker (lead guitar), Samantha Carwell (keyboard), and Jerry Coyle (drums). The Elephants groove to roots reggae, island hip-hop, and beach rock, but the influences go much farther. Both writers are influenced by a wide variety of genres, including pop punk, metal, rap, math rock, and classical.

In the winter of 2016, the Elephants released their debut EP, “Clear Skies,” which paved the way for their creative growth. Soon after, in the spring of 2017, the 19-song full-length album “Rituals” was released, encapsulating many of the band’s influences and setting the tone for the road ahead. Over the summer of 2017, the band refaced itself and solidified its lineup, adding another guitar and two-man horn section featuring a tenor sax and trumpet/flugelhorn. As the summer of 2017 approached its end, the single “Sunshine” debuted, featuring the revamped lineup for the first time.

Amidst the growing process, Elephants Dancing was awarded Song of the Year at the 2016 Electric City Music Conference for “Panic Static” and was honored the following year with the 2017 Reggae/Jam/Funk Band of the Year award. To date, Elephants Dancing has performed on bills with acts such as Badfish, Ballyhoo!, Bumpin’ Uglies, Roots of Creation, Of Good Nature, and The Waffle Stompers. They aim to expand their roots throughout the Northeast and plan to release a new album this spring, “Get Tropical,” just in time for the summer vibe.

Watch or listen to Episode 33 of the NEPA Scene Podcast with opener Jordan Ramirez’s folk funk band Fake Fight, which also contains some exclusive acoustic performances: