UPEPO - Photo courtesy of Ed Neff
UPEPO - about 1977
Photo courtesy of Ed Neff
Portland, Oregon
1971 - 1983


Steve Bloomberg ~ Drums
Charles Croft ~ Guitar
Brian Davis ~ Percussion
Antonio DeLuna ~ Guitar
Joanna Grammon ~ Vocals
J. Michael Kearsey ~ Bass
Dave Nelson ~ Steel Drum, Saxophone, Vocals
Al Nohlgren ~ Saxophone
Dave Poulshock ~ Keyboards
Warren Rand ~ Saxophone
Buzz Rhea ~ Drums
Glenn Rueger ~ Keyboards
Brian Whittman ~ Saxophone
Peter Williams ~ Drums ('81)
Stan Wood ~ Vibraband


Scott Reuman ~ Sound Engineer

Listen to a New re-mix of UPEPO's Clam Dance"
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UPEPO, was a large latin/rock/disco/funk/jazz group that hailed from Portland, yet ruled Seattle for many years (esp. Bombay Bicycle Shop) and was the band that really brought on the first Fat Tuesday Celebration with Ed Neff and the Pioneer Square entertainment mob.

UPEPO also ruled Eugene, Corvallis and Ashland and eventually took Chico and Santa Cruz before folding the tent in 1983.

UPEPO released two singles and a very popular LP, International Ties, which contained a real hit, CONDO CONDO.

The band size ranged from 6 to 13 members over the years and was immensely popular.

J. Michael Kearsey, UPEPO bass player / producer, November 2003

Image courtesy of Dave Nelson
Image courtesy of Dave Nelson

Poster designed by and provided courtesy of Simone Treacy-Croft
Poster designed by and provided courtesy of Simone Treacy-Croft
Photo courtesy of Antonio DeLuna
Antonio DeLuna

Image courtesy of Dave Nelson
Image courtesy of Dave Nelson
Stan Wood played "vibraband", (an instrument of his own device, I believe), which was a narrow strip of rubber stretched with the thumb and finger and placed to the lips to produce amazing trumpet-like sounds.  it was astounding.

Zimmerly Zash, July 2005

Upepo in 1978 - Courtesy of Dave Nelson
Upepo in 1978 - Courtesy of Dave Nelson
Upepo is an African spirit exorcism ceremony.  I now run a recording studio in San Francisco... Outpost Studios.

Dave Nelson, January 2006, October 2010

I had a bar in Seattle “The Bombay Bicycle Shop” from 1974 until 1979.  I think it was in late 1974 or sometime in 1975 I was hoping to run into a sound that was different from everyone else. At that time Disco, copy bands and Rock where strong.  One Day Upepo walked through the bar door and “The Bombay” sound changed from that day on. Upepo was great and everyone loved them at that time they had 12 or 13 members. Upepo was instrumental in creating a music that was enjoyed by any type of music lover The Bombay was the place for all walks of life to come together and just plain have fun. The guys in the band where smart, fun and had great imagination when it came to making sounds that feel good together.  It was a fun time.

Ed Neff, August 2006

"Joanna Grammon, Upepo vocalist, has a remarkable vocal flexibility and is at home just as much in the jazz-related work as in the Latin and Middle East music." March, 1974 - The Oregonian A review of the multi-media show, "Chi'en the Creative II," at the Portland Art Museum.

Joanna joined an experimental band including a Portland drummer/percussionist, Buzz Rhea. It was an "art group" exploring improvisation; she played harmonium and electric bass and sang. Rhea invited her to a jazz workshop, which later became known as Upepo, a 9- to 11-piece band that played an eclectic mix, including improvisational jazz and Latin and Middle Eastern sounds that would now be described as world music. She sang with the Portland-based group for three and one-half years, performing from British Columbia to Northern California. The band opened shows for Charles Lloyd and Larry Coryell, and played at one Portland club every Friday night for more than a year for an entourage of sweaty dancers.

They self-produced a multi-media show with dancer troupes, lights, mimes and special effects staged in a 1,500 seat auditorium at the Portland Art Museum. The show, "Chi'en the Creative," sold out multiple performances two years in a row. They took the show to Western Washington State University and elsewhere. Upepo did a 25-year reunion concert at Laurelhurst Park in 1997. They didn't rehearse a note, but it sounded like they'd never stopped playing together.

from www.joannagrammon.com, March 2007

Article provided courtesy of Simone Treacy-Croft

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Last Update:  15 February 2014
Credits:  J. Michael Kearsey, Don Ross, Zimmerly Zash, Dave Nelson, Ed Neff, Simone Treacy-Croft, Joanna Grammon, Antonio DeLuna, Danny Schauffler, Scott Reuman, Peter Williams, Glenn Rueger
Band # 1423