The Strokeland Superband is back with their anxiously awaited new release, Bumped Up to First Class, featuring 12 new tunes co-written by Stephen ‘Doc’ Kupka and a few of his talented friends.
Best known as a founding member of Tower of Power and a prodigious songwriter, Doc has once again pulled together the best of the best for this Strokeland Records release. Founded in 1998, Strokeland Records has become the launch pad for the Strokeland Superband, a project featuring a revolving set of world-class musicians with ties to Tower of Power and other Strokeland bands.
Bumped Up to First Class is the Strokeland Superband returning to its roots. Doc’s original formula of “sharing the musical goodies” with big names has come around again, much to the delight of the fans. The album opens with the funky “It Is What It Is,” sung by legendary frontman Edgar Winter, featuring a kick-ass Hammond B-3 solo by Chester Thompson of Tower of Power and Santana fame. “Colin Powell” takes an upbeat, tongue-in-cheek approach to our current political situation by asking “When will Colin Powell write his tell-all book?” The album also features several ballads. “All of the Above” is a love song to that special someone thanking them for all of their positive attributes. “Soulful Kind of Love” brings to mind some of the classic ballads that have made Doc one of the most memorable songwriters of his generation. The rest of the album contains a plethora of amazing tunes that are guaranteed to get you on your feet. You’ll find a mixture of soul, blues, Latin, and funk that gets your feet tapping, your fingers snapping, and your head bobbing. Doc has wowed us again with his ability to modulate at any time, in any direction, and be completely interesting musically.
Working with co-producer and former Tower of Power guitarist Jeff Tamelier, Doc has assembled a stellar group of artists to record this new musical endeavor. Doc credits Jeff with bringing together all of this talent and making it cohesive. Bumped Up to First Class features outstanding lead vocals by Mike Finnigan (Crosby, Stills and Nash), Huey Lewis (Huey Lewis & the News), Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Lydia Pense (Lydia Pense & Cold Blood), Fred Ross, John Lee Sanders, Edgar Winter, and the late Frank Biner.
The tight, funky horn section is comprised of original Tower of Power horn section leader Mic Gillette (Tower of Power/Sons of Champlin/Mic Gillette Jon Smith Project), Lee Thornburg (Tower of Power/Tonight Show Band), David Woodford (Bonnie Raitt/Jeff Golub), and the Funky Doctor himself – and all tenor sax solos feature current Saturday Night Live bandleader and ex-Tower of Power member Lenny Pickett. Not to be outdone, the rhythm section features strong performances by Jeff Tamelier (guitar), Mike Finnigan (keyboards), Chester Thompson (keyboards), as well as current TOP drummer David Garibaldi and bassist Francis Rocco Prestia, and many more.
If this music doesn’t put a smile on your face, you weren’t listening! There’s so much going on – listen closely and you’ll hear something new every time you play it.
“The world needs cheering up and I love making music with Doc.” -- Huey Lewis, Huey Lewis & the News