Bethlehem Press

Sunday, July 21, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTORick Kuebler, front, and The Ultra Kings, June 22, “Summer Soltice III,” Alternative Gallery, Allentown CONTRIBUTED PHOTORick Kuebler, front, and The Ultra Kings, June 22, “Summer Soltice III,” Alternative Gallery, Allentown

Night On The Town: The Ultra Kings join ‘Summer Soltice III’

Friday, June 21, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Summer Soltice III,” 4 p.m.-11 p.m. June 22, brings six bands to the Alternative Gallery, 707 N. Fourth St., Allentown, including Ronnie Rock and The Trendsetters, The Ultra Kings, Scotty and The Slammers, The Fux, Big Handsome, and The Purrverts.

The event is well-timed and named, happening one day after the Summer Soltice, officially, 11:54 a.m. June 21.

Based on previous “Summer Soltice” events held in the first-floor concert venue at the former cigar factory near Fourth and Tilghman streets, Allentown, the concert should be fun and then some.

Ronnie Rock (Ron Sabol), formerly of the Lehigh Valley, and now of Virginia Beach, Va., is again putting together the show.

Rick Kuebler of The Ultra Kings is looking forward to the event.

“It’s a showcase of bands,” says Kuebler. “Ronnie Rock organized it from The Trendsetters.”

It’s the first time The Ultra Kings will play at The Alternative Gallery.

The Ultra Kings is Kuebler, lead and rhythm guitar, vocals; Rich Freese, acoustic standup bass (with Steve Szmeigel sitting in, or standing in, at the Alternative Gallery concert), and Carl Ehst, drums. Szmeigel was The Ultra Kings’ original bass player.

The Ultra Kings, playing rock ‘n’ roll, surf and rockabilly circa 1950s and 1960s, has released four albums: “She Never Says No” (2001), “Streamline Deluxe” (2003), “Church of the Weak” (2006) and “Gunmetal Grey” (2011).

Kuebler, a Dieruff High School, Class of 1975 graduate, says The Ultra Kings have a new album, “Lucky Store,” in the works.

“We’re still mixing it,” he says. The eight-cut album of originals by Kuebler except for one is to be released in about a month.

The Ultra Kings were founded in 2000.

“We’re coming up on two decades,” says Kuebler, adding, “I’ve been in pretty many bands.”

These include Club Now and The Rhythm Jacks, the latter with John “Johnny Jam” Stranzl.

The Ultra Kings perform 70 to 100 gigs annually, with venues including restaurants, bars and festivals.

“We’ve been to Europe a couple of times for three-week tours,” Kuebler says, including 2012 and 2013 trips to Belgium and Holland where The Ultra Kings playd at clubs and festivals.

“We played every day,” recalls Kuebler. “In 21 days, we did 22 gigs. I loved it.”

Kuebler began playing music in junior and senior high school and in groups during the 1980s.

“I got more into the roots when I saw the Rebeltones. And then John and I started The Rhythm Jacks.”

Of The Ultra Kings’ sound and music genres, Kuebler says, “You can dance to it. It just got a good beat. It’s upbeat.”

Most of the songs are two- to three-minutes.

“Short and sweet gets it done,” says Kuebler.

The Alternative Gallery lineup includes The Purrverts, an all-female band; Big Handsome, hard rock; The Fux, Matt Roman’s band, and Scotty and the Slammers, led by Scott Hatfield.

Ronnie Rock is expected to sing and play three songs with The Ultra Kings, prior to the band’s full set right before The Trendsetters, which is scheduled on go on last. Emcee is A.J. Fritz of WLVR, Lehigh University.

“Night on the Town” is a column about popular music. Information: pwillistein@tnonline.com