The Shanghais R&B dance party at Tio Leo’s
by BART MENDOZA
Published - 01/17/20 - 12:45 PM | 2409 views | 2 2 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Shanghais R&B will play 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at Tio Leo’s.
The Shanghais R&B will play 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at Tio Leo’s.
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Numerous new bands have emerged over the past year in San Diego, but few have the pedigree of The Shanghais R&B. As the name implies, the band specializes in gritty roadhouse rhythm and blues, with a line-up that includes vocalist, Shurren Dupree, and keyboardist Spencer Bailey as well as bassist Ruben Ramos and drummer James Bowman, best known for their work with The Bedbreakers, and guitarist Alan Fuentes, formerly of The Sleepwalkers. With those players on board, a night manic, rockin’ music is to be expected and the band delivers. On Jan. 18, The Shanghais R&B will team up with The Sleepwalkers for a dance party at Tio Leo’s.

The band came together via a classified ad, though it turns out the various players were already acquainted. “If you can believe it, Alan actually posted an ad to Craigslist and I answered it. And I never look at the CL musician ads,” Bowman said “Based on the description, I’m pretty sure I knew it was Alan before I called. We were familiar with each other from past bands playing shows together. He brought in Shurren and Spencer. We tried a few different bass players before I asked Ruben to join.”

While some groups mix genres, Bowman is clear on the group's sound. “We typically call it raw R&B. It’s definitely geared toward getting people moving. It’s dance music with a bit of dirt on it.”

For the moment the band’s set is based on covers of classic tunes with a few like-minded originals in the mix. The band plans on flipping the ratio soon. “We’re influenced by everything from Etta James to Bo Diddley, The Fabulous Wailers, Carol Fran, Bobby Parker, Dave Lewis Combo, lots of Stax, random old R&B 45s, various U.S. garage combos, 60s British bands, etc.,” Bowman said. “We play tracks from several of the influences we mentioned, and we’re consistently hashing out originals. But the goal is to add more originals to the set in the coming months—both instrumentals and vocal-based songs.”

While the band is hoping to record soon, touring is on the back burner for now. “We plan to get into the studio sometime in the near future,” Bowman confirmed, “However our focus has been on the live set up until now. For road trips, there is nothing significant beyond some LA talk right now. But stay tuned.”

The Shanghais R&B has picked up a fast following, something that Bowman credits partially to the supportive nature of the local scene. “We love the San Diego’s music community,” he said. “A few of us have played around town for years, and it feels safe to say that the scene is in a good place right now. You have established bands still active and drawing good crowds, and you have great new bands playing different genres at various venues that consistently feature live music. And the overall vibe feels pretty positive.”

He cites the local festival circuit. “A great example of the support and camaraderie from both audiences and other bands is readily apparent at events like the annual SoNo Fest. Before and after your set you watch friends playing in different bands, you see more friends in the crowd, and everyone is having a good time hanging and supporting each other,” he commented. “All of this is why we enjoy playing shows with other groups. We’ve shared evenings with Action Andy & The Hi-tones, Chloe Lou & The Liddels, Rip Carson, Creepxotica, The Loons and more.”

Bowman is pleased with the progress the band has made in a few short months. “It’s all about playing live, having a good set, watching people jump up and dig in from note one—it’s hard to beat that,” he said good-naturedly.

The Shanghais R&B: Saturday, Jan. 18 at Tio Leo’s, 5302 Napa St. 9 p.m. 21 and up. $12. tioleos.com.

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Belinda D.
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January 17, 2020
The lead singer Shurren is extremely talented. Can't wait to see this upcoming performance!!
Jeff Ferdinador
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January 17, 2020
I am overwhelmed with joy.

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