If you’re a fan of the local music scene and have never heard of the Upper U.S. Showband, you are to be excused even though they’ve been around since September of 1975.
You see even though they have been around for over 40 years, they have never played the local bar scene or done any of the other things that most local bands do to get noticed.
The reason is the group has only rarely made public appearances. Instead they have played mostly at private venues, speakeasies and invitation only events throughout Chicagoland and nationally.
So who are these guys? Well, the Upper U.S. Showband is a ten man group that features a six piece horn section and a four piece rhythm section. Performing in their traditional white tuxedos, the band plays everything from big band music to rock and roll and country.
And in addition to their wide mix of musical genres, the group also adds some satire to their performances with parody songs and other comedy as well.
So how is it that a band that doesn’t play the bar scene has been around so long and yet has their own following? The reasons are as varied as the mix of music the band plays.
One reason is the group is simply just too large to fit in most venues on the bar scene. Another is that the group at one time had their own speakeasy in Hammond. The facility was a former body shop and warehouse that would hold 350 to 400 people that the band converted into a nightclub called the Paint-N-Place.
A third is the band also played the road show circuit at larger venues in Reno, California and Texas as well as performing in Las Vegas.
Another reason is while the group performed locally and did, on occasion, make rare general public appearances, it mostly played at private parties and invite-only events at places like Club Ki-Yowga, and long gone places like The Log Restaurant and the Scherwood Club.
Still another reason for the relative anonymity is that the band usually performed only five or six times a year. But maybe the most important reason is that the group enjoyed the mystique.
But in spite of the lack of wide general exposure, the band did develop a following of better than a thousand people over the years.
And recently the group has come out of its shell, so to speak, and has begun to make more public appearances like opening for the Village People at Pierogi Fest at Oil City Stadium in Whiting in 2016.
The Upper U.S. Showband currently consists of Jason Robbins (tenor sax) and his sons Dennis, Brian and Eric Robbins (on baritone sax and trumpets respectively). The rest of the horn section is Richard Hays (alto sax) and Kevin Peterson (trombone).
The rhythm section consists of Richie Sims, the last founding member of the group on guitar and bass, Larry Horvath (guitar and bass), Justin Albright (guitar) and Michael Peterson, the father of Kevin, on the drums.
To learn more about the group you can visit their Facebook page. You can also see videos of the band on YouTube.
This Saturday, October 28th, the public will get a rare chance to see the group first hand when they host a “Halloween Costume Party with the Upper U.S. Showband” at the Patrician Banquet Center in Schererville.
Tickets are only $25 for the adult only event that will begin at 8:00 pm and conclude at midnight. Dave Hutchens, AKA “Hutch” will open the show and will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening and there will be a best costume contest with cash prizes of $500 prize for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third.
In addition, there will be a cash bar and food available. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3094207. The Patrician Banquet Center is located at 410 US Route 30 in Schererville.
“Come on out and enjoy the party, win some money and most importantly have a good time,” said Larry Horvath, a band member since 1979. “Come and see a band that’s been under your radar for over 40 years.”