Monday, May 23, 2011

The Return Of Urban Blight!

During a moment in time in the 1980's Urban Blight was New York City's house band. Playing a mix of funk, reggae, pop and ska, they ruled the live club scene performing regularly at CBGB's, The Lone Star, SOBs, Tramps, Roseland and many others.  However it was at The Ritz (now known as Webster Hall) where they seemed most at home and where they returned last night for the first time in more than 20 years to perform at a benefit show to raise funds for The Children's Art Museum of New York City.

By late 1986 and 1987 what is now considered the core of the old school New York ska scene had quickly coalesced. Urban Blight along with The A-Kings, The Boilers, The Toasters, Second Step and Beat Brigade helped to create one of the most vibrant, creative and important ska scenes in the U.S. which in turn helped to galvanize scenes across the country. Urban Blight were unique in that the band had formed when many of the members were still in elementary school in the early 1970's and went on to become one of the most popular live bands in all of New York City throughout the 80's and early 90's.

Singer, songwriter and drummer/trombonist Keene Carse founded the downtown Manhattan group in the early '70s as "Urban Blight: a rock band of 12 year-olds".  In 1978, brother Jamie and friends Danny Lipman (guitar, trumpet and vocals), Paul Vercesi (alto sax) and Tony Orbach (tenor sax) joined Keene and Jere Faison - who would later be replaced by Wyatt Sprague (bass) - to form the line-up that went on to perform their original blend of Funky R&B and Reggae.

Urban Blight headlined all the major clubs in New York, regularly played throughout the Northeast and did well-received U.S and European tours. Winners of the WLIR-FM and K-Rock battles of the bands, and recipients of a New York Music Award, the band shared bills with dozens of groups including national headliners like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, UB40, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper and Kid Creole. The band even headlined a performance at The Ritz on October 26th, 1984 for which the Beastie Boys opened and with whom they remain close.

Though the band is no longer active, they played an incredibly tight, energetic and well received set of their best known tunes last night.  If you were a fan from back in the day it was almost like stepping into a time warp and being transported back to the heyday of the 1980's.  The songs sounded fresh and danceable and the band seemed road tested despite this being their first show in three years.

While I wasn't able to make it to the show last night, a few hardcore fans of the band did, and one of them was kind enough to film most of the show and post it on his blog.   Have a look at three of the band's most well known songs below.  Here's to hoping they consider playing out and about more often!

Get Closer

House Of Gold

Knock Me Out


Steve from Moon said...

Still sounding good!

Sonam said...

Good write-up! I was there, as one of the band-members is my bro-in-law. Was upfront so took this video from closer-up:

Hope you enjoy!