2nd Annual New England Ska Festival Program Hepcat (1998)
Hepcat is arguably the best ska band in America. They have released three brilliant albums on three different labels and have maintained their signature sound throughout. The band's eight members make music the old fashioned way: from their heart. They keep true to the roots of ska and rocksteady and exploring old school sounds while breathing fresh life into the music with hints of soul, R&B, Latin, jazz and blues.|
Hepcat started in 1989 when lead singers Greg Lee and Alex Desert would go to local ska shows together and witness the growth of ska in America. They admired the diverse scene and found themselves enjoying the music being spun by DJs between the bands. It was the early Jamaican music emanating from the DJs turntables that really tickled their fancy. They realized that there really weren't many ska bands dedicated to the old sounds. Hepcat was founded by Greg, Alex and old school aficionado, keyboardist Deston Berry. Raul Talavera joined soon after on alto sax, as well as Dave Fuentes on bass. With both praise and respect for legendary Southern California band Jump With Joey (it was on Joey Altruda's Laughing Pussy Records which released Hepcat's first 7" called "Nigel"), the band gathered players and set off to discover a true modern interpretation of "the Jamaican sound." In 1992, Hepcat appeared on a compilation of California ska bands put out by a small ska label in New York City called Moon Records. At the time, most of the California bands were focused on forcing punk into a meaningful relationship with ska. The following year, Moon released Hepcat's debut full length CD titled "Out Of Nowhere." As the name implies, Hepcat sprung on the nation and the underground ska scene began to catch wind of this amazing authentic band. With the help of Elyse Rogers (Dance Hall Crashers) at the management helm, Hepcat continued to venture out of their region and infect other areas with their grooves and harmonies.
Their contagious sound continued to spread in 1996 with the release of their second album "Scientific" on BYO Records. At this point, the Hepcat lineup solidified with Efren Santana on sax and Kincaid Smith on trumpet. The band went on the road with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones for an extensive tour following that release. In 1998, the band released their new album "Right On Time" on Hellcat Records (Epitaph). Debuting on that album is Scott Abels behind the drum kit and Aaron Owens on guitar. This is the lineup Hepcat retains today. Their second foray into the world of video with "No Worries," means you are sure to be seeing a lot of them in the near future.