Bands often try to avoid being labeled as one-trick ponies, but when members of Hepcat say their group isn't just another ska act, they're not kidding.
The veteran nine-piece dabbles in nearly every Caribbean musical style possible, from calypso to rock steady to reggae. And though the group does play some ska material, songwriter/-keyboardist Deston Berry describes Hepcat as being "very Jamaican," even when its members actually hail from Southern California."When we started, everyone was doing the `Third Wave' style or punk-ska. Nobody was doing the more traditional music," Berry said during a telephone interview. "We didn't know if we could pull it off, but we're still around now, so that must mean we're doing something right."
In fact, Tim "Lint" Armstrong, who runs the label Hepcat currently records for, says the band possesses "a devotion to the classic stylings of reggae and ska that is unparalleled . . . (they) are true scholars in this type of music."
Along with Let's Go Bowling and Jump With Joey, the band is spearheading a back-to-the-roots movement on the West Coast (while acts such as Skavoovie & The Epitones and the Slackers are attempting to do the same thing on the East Coast).
"What we're trying to accomplish is to get young people to really dance, not run into each other. And we think we've found a groove that will do just that," he said.
Hepcat performs Saturday, March 7, at Club Wrapsody (formerly the Station), 118 N. University Ave., Provo.
Even though the group has been very busy tourwise (including stints on last year's Vans Warped Tour bill and with reggae greats such as the Wailers and Desmond Dekker), it has had to work around the schedule of another of its vocalists, Alex Desert.
A busy film and television actor (known for his work in the movie "Swingers," as well as TV's "Boy Meets World"), Desert also provides a strong presence in the band.
"If we're going to teach the kids how to dance, we need Alex," Berry said. "He knows all the moves."
Joining Hepcat for the all-ages show, which starts at 8 p.m., will be New York's the Slackers and punk-ska outfit the Gadjits.
Tickets are $10 in advance from all Tom Tom Music locations, Crandall Audio in Orem and both Salt City CDs and X-Mart in Salt Lake City.