Just north of Naples, Florida, in Bonita Springs, The Sugarshack has long been a trusted venue for Bumpin Uglies’ blend of rock, hip hop, dub, reggae, and funk, which is all encapsulated on their new EP, Live at Sugarshack Sessions Vol. 2.
Founder and lead vocalist Brandon Hardesty explains, “Sugarshack has been a staple in our scene for almost 10 years, and we’ve done a lot of work with them… It was honestly a pretty low stress situation because the Sugarshack guys are such pros, and we’d been playing those songs for months, so we had them tight and ready to go… I really feel like we captured lighting in a bottle, I’m very proud of it.”
Live at Sugarshack Sessions Vol. 2. effortlessly captures the raw, energetic sound of Hardesty and his band consisting of: Dave “Wolfie” Wolf (bass, vocals), T.J. Haslett (drums), Ethan Lichtenberger (keys), and Will Lopez (tenor saxophone). It also features some regular collaborators, including Nick Reider (trumpet), Ben Bays (conga, percussion), Joey Harkum (harmony vocals), and Liz McBryde (violin), giving the whole project a robust sound within the gritty, hi-def vibe of the Sugarshack.
The EP opens with “Wild Girls,” a classic tale about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll with a funky reggae twist. This is one of three songs from their recently released album, Mid-Atlantic Dub. Hardesty sings, “It’s about to turn up / If you know then you know,” a sentiment that’s only further emphasized by the buzzing energy of a live recording.
Another irie reggae pop jam, “Make It Through the Day,” is all about vibes. Wolf’s funky bass line carries us through a list of the little things that make the day bearable. A nod to their east coast roots, Hardesty shouts out a bagel with some cream cheese, which, combined with a little THC and some good lovin’, makes the recipe for a perfect day.
The EP explores the band’s full range of sound and sentiment, ending with the particularly haunting Jason Isbell cover, “Cover Me Up.” Hardesty’s voice shines here, bringing forward an emotional depth that can get lost in the shuffle of genre-bending spacetime funk. McBryde’s swelling violin notes blend with acoustic guitar to create a gentle reimagination of Isbell’s powerful love story. You can watch their heartfelt music video here.
It’s a surprisingly emotional last track for a good time havin’ band called Bumpin Uglies, but that just speaks to their refreshing willingness to experiment with genre and sound.
“‘Cover me Up’ has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it, but it really became special to me when I sobered up a few years ago,” Hardesty reflects. “Making a life in music is extremely challenging. Making one while not drinking is even more challenging, while also being a bit easier, if that makes sense. The temptation is everywhere, but the clarity that comes with it helps me cut through the bullshit. I know Jason was newly sober when he wrote it, and to me, it feels like it’s a song about redemption.”
You can find this thinking man’s party band playing all over the country, from Brooklyn to Tahoe and Austin to Albany and much in between.
Catch Bumpin Uglies On Tour
5/04 – Washington DC – 9:30 Club w/ Joey Harkum & Higher Education
5/05 – Asbury Park, NJ – House Of Independents w/ Joey Harkum
5/06 – Pawtucket, RI – The Met w/ Crooked Coast
5/07 – Syracuse, NY – Funk ‘n Waffles w/ Crooked Coast
5/11 – Raleigh, NC – Bowstring Pizza & Brewyard w/ Joint Operation
5/12 – Isle of Palms, SC – The Windjammer w/ Doze & the Drift
5/13 – Charlotte, NC – Music Yard w/ Joint Operation
6/8-11 – Bedford, PA – Weekend At Wolfies
6/14 – New York, NY – Brooklyn Made w/ Mike Pinto
6/15 – Hampton, NH – Bernie’s Beach Bar w/ Mike Pinto
6/16 – Albany, NY – Lark Hall w/ Mike Pinto
6/17 – Fairfield, CT – The Lot @ FTC w/ Mike Pinto
7/05 – Ocean City, MD – Seacrets Nightclub w/ The Grilled Lincolns
7/14 – Youngstown, OH – Westside Bowl w/ C Level & Joint Operation
7/22 – Olympic Valley, CA – Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival
7/29 – Portland, ME – Bayside Bowl
8/3-5 – Thornville, OH – Everwild Music Fest w/ Pepper, Tropidelic, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
8/10 – Virginia Beach, VA – New Realm Brewing Co.
8/11 – Kill Devil Hills, NC – Outer Banks Brewing Station
8/12 – Roanoke, VA – Black Dog Salvage w/ Lazy Man Dub Band
8/13 – Myrtle Beach, SC – Boathouse
8/25 – Bethlehem, PA – Levitt SteelStacks
9/08 – Lolo Hot Springs, MT – Montana Hempfest
10/8 – Las Vegas, NV – Reggae Rise Up Vegas