Music has long been the driving force in the two-decade career of Mark and Katherine Reckling, who are better known as the reggae and samba music duo Sugahbeat. Regardless of the size of the audience or venue, their deep passion for playing feel-good music with positive vibrations always shines through.
The group’s following has grown exponentially in recent years, as has the size of the shows it has played. Recently, the group performed possibly its biggest gig ever, serving as an opening band for English reggae and pop band UB40’s 40th anniversary tour show at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre on August 29.
“This year has been very exciting for us as we have graduated to performing more festivals and opening for national acts such as UB40, The Revivalists, and Matt Nathanson,” Mark said. “UB40 was definitely a highlight for Sugahbeat as they have always been one of our favorite bands, and they have such worldwide appeal.”
With friends and family in the audience and their first proper merchandise booth, it was a special night Mark and Katherine will never forget.
“Playing for a big audience like that also introduces us to a whole new set of eyes, and the energy was electric in the Marquee,” Mark said. “There’s nothing like it, and we hope that these types of high-profile shows continue leading us to more opportunities.”
Before becoming a well-known duo around the Valley’s music scene and opening for big-time acts, Mark and Katherine met as bandmates and performed in a group called the Azz Izz Band. As fate would have it, they fell in love and decided to take some time off and have a child.
“When we started a family, we quickly realized that traveling was not going to work so well with a baby on the way,” Mark said. “So, we took a break from music for a few years.”
The couple turned their focus to their residential real estate brokerage, Reckling Properties LLC. As a power duo of another kind – designated broker and real estate agent – they worked to grow their real estate business. Music was never far from their minds.
“Even though we were not actively performing, we were still writing songs and recording demos,” Mark said. “As the kids got a little older, we thought ‘we really like these songs, why don’t we at least record them with some of our former bandmates?’ Then we realized how much we missed playing music, and Sugahbeat was born.”
Katherine credits their extended family of bandmates and dedicated music lovers with keeping them in the music scene after all these years.
“It might be our unique sound and energy, or maybe it’s our vision to always continue to write and create feel good music and positive vibrations,” Katherine said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to travel and play in a wide assortment of locations in the last few years, including San Diego, the southwest, Grand Cayman Islands, Mexico, Las Vegas and more.”
No matter where they are or the size of the audience, Sugahbeat is committed to its musical mix of upbeat reggae, Latin, soca (soul calypso), funk, R&B and even a little bit of jazz. Others describe their music as worldbeat.
“It’s a festive, distinctive sound that usually has an appeal to all ages featuring steel drums, three vocalists and traditional instrumentation,” Mark said. “For festivals and some bigger venues, we also include a horn section.”
Sugahbeat’s big year will wrap up in style with beachside shows in Mexico, including Wrecked at the Reef in Rocky Point, as well as local gigs at Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake.
While Sugahbeat’s fame grows, Mark and Katherine also remain committed to their local community, raising spirits and encouraging smiles and laughter through their songs. On Sunday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m., they can be found performing at OHSO Brewery in Paradise Valley. OHSO even named a beer after the duo called “Sugahbeat Tropical IPA.”
“They have been especially supportive and hopefully we return the favor by providing a lively atmosphere,” Mark said.
The group also partners with the Arizona Humane Society, dedicating 20 percent of sales of the song “I Finally Feel It” to benefit animals in need. It’s all part of Sugahbeat’s desire to leave a positive impact on the community that has given the group so much.
“Without an audience, you won’t find yourself playing many gigs, so the support from the community means everything to us,” Mark said. “We love the craft of songwriting, but performing the tunes live is what really drives us. You get immediate energy back from the audience.”
Mark and Katherine look forward to continuing their inspirational musical craft for years to come, and are recording new songs to be released soon.
“We are really excited about the future,” Mark added. “As Katherine says, we hope our songs ‘make the world a better place, three-and-a-half minutes at a time.”
For more: sugahbeat.com.