By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 25, 2009 at 9:10 AM

From the organ-fueled rock steady of "Love Ain’t Easy" to the breezy, trombone-laced early ‘70s-style reggae of "High and Mighty" to the uptempo ska of "So Far Away," Madison- and Milwaukee-based combo The Socialites is built on a strong foundation.

The backbone of the band -- Milwaukee drummer Jeff Carpenter -- has a long history playing this kind of music in local bands like Mood Grove, International Jet Set and Highball Holiday.

The Socialites open for British reggae veteran Pato Banton at Shank Hall on Tuesday, April 28 at 8 p.m. Cover is $20.

"The band got together as a result of our passion and love for reggae, soul and ska music," says Carpenter. "We have all been in a number of recognized bands over the years, and we consider ourselves a collective of music lovers."

In addition to Carpenter, The Socialites include trombonist and singer Danielle Russell, saxophonist Heather Lang, organist Kyle Smith, guitarist Matt Manske, bassist Nicholas Reynolds and singer Mo Olig -- some of whom were members of bands like Catch of the Day, Skaput!, Model Airplane, the Roughness and Early Means Two.

Although the band hasn’t done much recording yet -- Carpenter says a demo was recorded and a full-length CD will follow later this year -- it has been busy on the club circuit in Milwaukee and Madison and that has led to a good following.

That local popularity has, in turn, led to some high profile gigs, such as opening for Banton in Milwaukee, Madison and Stevens Point, setting the stage for The English Beat at Turner Hall recently and warming up the crowd at Madison’s High Noon Saloon for Mustard Plug.

Ever since the Two Tone ska revival scene exploded in Coventry, England in 1979, there has never been a shortage of ska-flavored bands in the U.S. So, what sets The Socialites apart (beyond its rare all-female horn section)?

"Our strong points are strong songwriting, a danceable rhythm section, outstanding horn harmonies and the fact that we love putting on a great show where everyone dances and has a really fun time," says Carpenter.

"We played a peace rally in Madison earlier this year, and the place was packed with dancers shaking the floorboards."

Here is a look at The Socialites, performing Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come," at The Globe South in Milwaukee ...

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.