The Next Big Thing Out of East L.A?

Upground's New CD Releases 8/31 with a party and high expectations

By Camilo Arenivar
Published on LatinoLA: August 24, 2006

The Next Big Thing Out of East L.A?

Upground (website: http://www.upgroundmusic.com) has announced that their much anticipated full length debut CD will be formally released on Thursday, August 31st with a concert and party at Hollywood?s famous Knitting Factory. Produced by Rudy Salas (Tierra), ?FEEL THE VIBE? is the long awaited follow up to their very well received debut EP. It contains 12 new tracks plus a special hidden track

The CD Release Party at The Knitting Factory will feature performances in addition to Upground by local Latin ska favorites La Banda Skalavera, Viernes 13, Ezkala, and hip hop artist Gifted Born Wisdom. DJ C-LOS will spin tunes in between sets. The event will be hosted by Viviana Vigil of LATV.

Upground has taken the local music scene by storm in a relatively short time. From their inception in 2003, to their self produced EP in 2004, no one could have expected that a band of young musicians, many still in High School (they range from age 17-22 presently) would make the strides that they have with their genre crossing music and exciting live performances. Critical acclaim and recognition greeted Upground?s live performances as time went on, culminating in a surprise April 22, 2006 Los Angeles Times review. Writer Agustin Gurza wrote a glowing review of their show called ?They?re Younger than they sound? and said:

?Despite their age, they seem to channel artists many of their peers have never heard of -Bob Marley, Glenn Miller, Arturo Sandoval, and Tower of Power; And they play with a surprising mastery of complex harmonies and time changes.?

Garza?s review took Upground?s growing popularity to a new level. It led to Nationwide attention including an offer to play Hollywood & Highland (Kodak Theater)s Fridays by the Fountain, interest from the Reality TV show Jammin (on SITV), and yet more press in the form of a Tu Ciudad Magazine feature story in their August/September Music Issue.

Their musical style is loved by many but not easily defined. Some call it Latin Ska. Some call it Latin Reggae. On the ?Feel the Vibe?, half of their songs are sung in Spanish, and the rest in English. Their music has clear influences of reggae and funk, pure energy and a horn section that any jazz fan can appreciate. Cumbia Latin rhythms pulse throughout ?Feel the Vibe? for a cohesive hybrid of Latin and American pop that hasn?t been seen in years.

Upground?s popularity is not the result of some well-heeled media machine. It wasn?t until after they got the LA Times and Tu Ciudad media coverage that their managers realized it might be time to hire a publicist and even when they did, it was a grass-roots firm with a principal they knew and trusted.

Things continue to look up for Upground ? on August 17th they knocked the socks off a surprised Los Amigos Invisibles audience in a Sprint Battle of the Bands performance at Hollywood?s The Avalon Theater. Unlike their previous week?s performance on their home turf in East L.A.?s Belvedere Park that jammed hundreds of people to the park to see them perform, the majority of this audience was not there to see Upground. By the time their passionate 30 minute set was over, the audience was on their feet, pleasantly surprised and in amazement at the sensational hybrid of Latin music. They won't know if they made it to the next round in the contest until September 7th. In the meantime they were selected by Chris Blackwell?s Latin Musica Fresca to perform at the Los Angeles celebration of Latin fusion music at the House of Blues in Hollywood on October 1.

It certainly looks like the times of seeing Upground in a place as intimate as Hollywood?s Knitting Factory may soon be behind them, catch them while you can! For more information, please go to http://www.mediaelemental.com/upground

About Camilo Arenivar:
Camilo Arenivar is a freelance journalist who has written numerous articles for LatinoLA.com and other organizations. He can be reached at camiloj@gmail.com

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