Dan Davies & the Uppers International Highlife Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dan Davies & the Uppers International Highlife Band 

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One of the burningest dance bands in town right now, the Uppers International Highlife Band plays highlife, a bright, jazzy Ghanaian style that has established itself as one of the world's great dance musics. The Uppers, as they're locally known, really hit the club circuit only last year, after two years of mostly private performances--weddings, etc--for people in Chicago's Ghanaian community. So although they're Chicago-based, the Uppers can make quite a strong claim to "authenticity," if you care--some of the guys, including vocalist Dan Davies, are African-born. That said, let's point out that the others have quite a firm grip on the highlife idiom, too: trap drummer Alan Waters in particular differs from a real African percussionist only in that he lets how hard he's working show instead of making it look easy. Though the Uppers have on occasion backed up visiting Ghanaian highlife stars here, they also boast a strong original repertoire; and watch out for Cameroonian guitarist Jean Koko, who sounds like a thumb piano player one moment and like Carlos Santana the next. Tonight, Equator Club, 4715 N. Broadway; 728-2411. Saturday, 5 PM, Northalsted Marketdays, Halsted between Belmont and Addison; 883-0500. Next Saturday, August 4, 5 PM, International World Music Festival, Grant Park, Roosevelt and Lake Shore Dr.; 201-0300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.

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