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An evening of sixties British Explosion rocks Berkeley

by Katie Hickox

The sounds of the sixties British Explosion Unplugged rocked Berkeley, California, Sunday night at The Freight and Salvage.  A variety of tribute bands delighted the audience playing music that ranged from John Lennon, Donavan, The Who, The Yardbirds, and The Beatles, in that order.

Drew Harrison of the Sun Kings opened with a solo acoustic set of John Lennon songs followed by Steve Emerson who performed Donovan songs.  After Steve, Al Chan of The Hoo also played the songs of The Who using just an acoustical guitar but with a powerful voice like a young Roger Daltrey.

The Raveups were next with a long set of Yardbirds hits such as "For Your Love", "Heart Full of Soul" and included lesser known classics such as "I am a Man".  Per Raveups lead singer/guitarist Chris Soldberg, the Yardbirds spawned great guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.  The RaveUps have been putting on the  British Explosion nights every few months since 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area and they have made a point of including other sixties styled groups because "not everyone remembers the Yardbirds but most remember the Beatles and The Who" according to RaveUps guitarist Bob Lewis who does all the publicity for the events. 

The Rubber Souldiers

The five member Rubber Souldiers band offers a unique twist on Beatles songs that gives their interpretations an almost country bluegrass sound;  they also innovate mixing up some of the songs such as when they play Norwegian Wood but then swtich to That Boy and then finally playing them together.  On stage, they describe themselves as a "mashup, mixup, Beatles jam band." They improvise and mixup songs such as in "If I Fell Across the Universe" that starts out with the classic "If I Fell" and changes into "Across the Universe".

They also did an acoustic guitar version of Beatles music with no keyboards except they were accompanied by a drummer. In addition to one member using an acoustic guitar, a second member using an combination electric/acoustic guitar and a third member is a full drummer, they also include a fourth member who plays electric mandolin and a fifth member who plays the base cello on all their songs which gives them a  unique sound especially when they played a country-bluegrass jam version of "Baby in Black" which was the last song played of the evening.

The next British Explosion night is on June 5th at Slims in San Francisco.  For more information, go to The RaveUps website.

Published May 20, 2009

This article is Copyright © 2009, Katie Hickox, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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