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And The Beat Goes On

The English Beat is still grooving to its special blend of progressive vibes.

November 26, 2009
Trisha Smith

I loved listening to vocalist and guitarist Dave Wakeling’s distinctive crooning in hits such as Save It for Later, and loved dancing like a maniac to EB’s unique brand of music they called “punky reggae party” in tracks like Mirror in the Bathroom. Still do.

After punk rockers spit out livid lyrics during an era of sociopolitical turmoil in the mid-’70s, a “second wave of ska” brought forth influential bands from England like The Beat—as EB was originally known—in 1978, which sent positive messages of love and unity, all set to a great dance beat.

Alongside comrades The Specials, they were part of the “2 Tone” era, when bands of black and white members formed to play a blend of ska, soul, punk rock, reggae and pop.

Article Photos

Ska revivalist Dave Wakeling will lead The English Beat during their first show ever on Maui.

“I think it’s a miracle that 30 years later, I’m still here, rocking it raw,” said Dave.

Dismantling in 1983, Dave and original toastmaster Ranking Roger formed iconic pop group General Public (Tenderness), while other members went on to form Fine Young Cannibals (She Drives Me Crazy).

Roger still tours Europe as The Beat, while Dave leads the U.S. version backed by the best lineup he’s put together yet, he said.

Dave doesn’t foresee another reunion anytime soon.

EB has always supported pertinent issues, including environmentalism with Greenpeace. Dave worked full-time for the organization back in the ’90s.

As executive producer of the 1994 Greenpeace benefit album, Alternative NRG, Dave made the first album recorded and mixed entirely by solar power.

And rumor has it, if you throw money onstage while EB plays a request, the donations benefit the humanitarian children’s project The Smile Train.

Over the last 30 years, the band has had the privilege to tour with The Clash, The Talking Heads, among other great bands, and a few John Hughes films even sport some EB tracks.

Dave’s trademark Vox Teardrop guitar currently rests within the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. “I miss it—I might go back and get it,” Dave said mischievously.

EB has been touring extensively, even recently co-headlining a tour with ska mainstreamers Reel Big Fish, and played the illustrious music fest SXSW in 2008.

“The highest compliment is having fans say your music has been in the soundtrack of their lives,” said Dave.

EB is looking to release a new album—working title, For Crying Out Loud!—next year.

Dave said the energy of recent shows has been phenomenal, with fans of all ages, from all walks of life, coming together.

“It’s pretty sweet to see teenagers and those in their 40s/50s dancing a similar groove together,” said Dave.

LA resident Dave is stoked EB is finally coming to Maui, and said, “The island’s temperament compliments the music.”

“We have a menu of songs to pull from—no set list,” he said. “We’ll feel the crowd’s energy and go from there.

“Maui spreads its wonderful vibes across the world, and we like to think we do as well,” he said. “I can’t wait to put the vibes together.”

On The Rock Productions and Hot Lava Entertainment will present The English Beat and SoCal’s Common Sense on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Maui Theatre at 878 Front St. in Lahaina.

Purchase tickets for this skanking good time at or by calling toll-free: (866) 448-0718. Dinner and show packages that include the afterparty are available at Longhi’s in Lahaina.



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