Urban Blight (band)
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Urban Blight is a New York City band. The seven-member group plays a unique style of music with various influences, including ska, reggae, rock, funk, R&B and pop, with a distinctively uncategorizable and danceable groove.
The group had two major releases: Playgrounds 'n' Glass ('92) and All The Way Live '95, recorded in NYC, as well as 3 singles ("My House/Ready For You, 1980, "Magic Six/Becky", '82, and "Peacetrain/Peacedub", '84) and two Eps ("My Side Of The Fence",'83, and "From The Westside To The Eastside", '87). The band and various members have appeared on recordings by The Fleshtones, Toasters, Beastie Boys, Bob Dylan and David Yazbek, including a guest appearance on the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? soundtrack album with the song "Beautiful Place (NYC)".
According to the group's official website, they were last active in 1998 but occasionally reunite to perform concerts, the last two being a sold-out show at NYC's Canal Room and a CMA fundraiser at Webster Hall. Two of the members, Paul Vercesi and Kevin Batchelor (who guested on trumpet with the band when not touring with Steel Pulse, Sister Carol, Skatalites) played instruments in the Broadway production of The Full Monty by David Yazbek, composer for the Carmen Sandiego show.
The band was formed in Greenwich Village in the early 1970s by Nelson Keene Carse, Wyatt Sprague, and Jere Faison (among others), and added members Tony Orbach, Dan Lipman, Jamie Carse and Paul Vercesi, all fellow pals from GV and IS 70, in 1978. The band played their first big shows at Stuyvesant HS (where Orbach, Lipman, Carse and Vercesi attended '77-'80) and auditioned at CBGBs in January 1980, eventually playing there over 20 times and setting the house attendance record in November 1982 upon the band's return from a self-financed, self-booked tour of Holland. After packing CBs and tiring of owner Hilly Crystal's curmudgeonly miserliness the band moved up to the larger Ritz on E.11th St. Soon after they were opening for such acts as UB40 (3 times), Thomson, Twins, Terence Trent D'Arby and Bad Manners, to name a few. Packed headlining shows followed as the band's effervescent live shows garnered larger and larger crowds. Support slots at Pier 84 (with The Alarm) and Nassau Coliseum (with Duran Duran) cemented UB as the go-to band for promoters and club owners. The band recorded "Peacetrain/Peacedub" in 1984, with Mark Kamins (who produced two tracks on Madonna's first LP) and the dance track was soon rocking clubs around NYC and the country. Northeast tours and a victory in the WLIR Battle of the Bands in 1985 landed the band a trip to the UK (where they had toured twice, playing London's Dingwall's and Marquee) and a single-record deal with Sire International, which the band turned down, preferring to keep their integrity - and publishing rights! - and release records on their own Stickman Records label. 1987's "From The Westside to The Eastside" gave UB's fans more to go on, and the band remained a top attraction in NYC, and clubs up and down the East Coast, with substantial followings in Boston, Baltimore and DC, along with tons of colleges and universities. 1992's "Playgrounds 'n Glass", produced by Keene Carse and UB, was the band's first full-length CD, and is a mighty representation of the varied styles - rock, funk, reggae, ska, and a live track - that made their music happily uncategorizable but ever-rocking.
Though the band had been solidified and anchored on drums by Brandon Finley, a top DC go-go skinsman since '93, by 1994 the band, feeling the pressures of 15 years together (not to mention parent- and adulthood for several of its members!!) took on 3 new members, Vere Isaac, Kevin Batchelor and Jon Vercesi, (with help from pals like Clark Gayton) and continued to rock crowds for another two years until finally curtailing touring and recording operations in 1996. During the last years though the band recorded soundtrack music for Seth Zvi Rosenfeld's "Brother's Kiss" as well as HBO's "Subway Stories", among other projects.
The Urban Blight Horns continued to work with various artists, including Queen Latifah, Beastie Boys, Lisa Stansfield, Bad Brains, Common, Dog Eat Dog, appearing live and on record, and are still in action today, appearing with various R&B and rock groups around NYC.
The group had two major releases: Playgrounds 'n' Glass and Alive in '95, as well as a guest appearance on the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? soundtrack album with the song "Beautiful Place (NYC)".