20 Years of The Uplifter : 2004-2024

2024 marks 20 years since Tom Earwaker stepped onto the stage as ‘The Uplifter’.

Earwaker is a one-man-band on stage whilst a music producer and multi-instrumentalist off-stage, currently living in England, beneath the towering cranes and clanging shipping containers of Southampton docks.

The Uplifter live shows are fierce yet playfully-delivered, with bass in the driver's seat and live drums at the helm.  Both simultaneously joyful and ferocious live shows channelled though a unique stage performance fuelled by a mission to uncover and expose reggae, ska, dub and punk-influenced music from the underground to crowds all over the world. Music that people need to hear. Culminating into an exquisite energy that has consistently encouraged people to come together on the dance floor effortlessly, for over 2 decades. 

Splitting his time between the stage and the studio The Uplifter’s live shows have taken Earwaker from the UK, to Europe, as far as New York and New Zealand… with a hardcase full of percussion and drums always in-tow.

Thriving most when performing in smaller independent venues The Uplifter -although an underdog artist who rarely headlines at festivals- is far more in his element on smaller, more intimate stages, where the tangible atmosphere can be felt emanating from both the stage and the crowd. That's where the magic is. 

The Uplifter releases include a sold out 12” vinyl in collaboration with Paul Fox named Freedom Chant / Flag So High followed shortly by a limited edition 10” vinyl entitled, Stroud (Music Video) / Stroud (Instrumental Version). 2023 saw The Uplifter step into new musical territories with the single and music video, Riverbed: a dark and atmospheric journey out of the mist and into the sea.

The sailing into new realms of music and visual art continues with The Uplifter’s next single ‘Woodknot Shuffle’ which drops Friday 1st March 2024, recorded alongside longtime co-producer Rory Thomas-Lawton accompanied by a music video once again shot and edited by his brother, artistic collaborator and award-winning filmmaker, Jake Earwaker. 

This story begins the year 2004, in the city of Southampton, UK. After unknowingly saying "yes" to perform at an 'open record decks' event in Southampton at the age of 19, Tom 'Uplifter' Earwaker brought along some percussion, a small box of Reggae, Dub & Ska LP's and a pair of Walkman headphones. That night ignited a spark which not only led to The Uplifter subsequently later becoming a well respected part of the UK Reggae & Dub scene for over a decade - it also had a profound effect on the path in which Tom's life would take from then on... With countless live shows, vinyl releases and tours taking him around the globe from New York to Croatia to New Zealand and many a road in between...

The Uplifter was formed by Tom 'Uplifter' Earwaker who was brought up in a small town on the outskirts of London, later moving to the city of Southampton for university. Film and Television was a great industry to work in but he always felt that music was closer to his heart. Tom's deep love for Reggae, Dub and Ska was born during his time in a ska punk band he formed at secondary school with his best friend as a teenager... From his love of Rock and Blues in his early years his musical journey later led from Punk, to Ska Punk and then to Jamaican Ska after his band Punchbowl were the support act for the New York band The Slackers. Since that monumental show, he never looked back... From Jamaican Ska, his musical interests naturally gravitated towards Reggae and Dub music. This is when record collecting became an integral part of his life with regular pilgrimages to London's Dub Vendor shop in Labroke Grove.  

Since The Uplifter's beginnings in 2003, the performances have integrated DJ'ing with live instruments from the very start - the main focus being on live percussion. Tom approached a venue in Southampton city center named The Soul Cellar where a weekly Reggae night began every Tuesday which ran very successfully for 8 years. During these 8 years Tom invited some of his favourite artists to perform at his 'Reggae Vibrations' nights - these included The Slackers (3 times), The Aggrolites (USA), Vibronics, Zion Train, Westbound Train, The Black Seeds (New Zealand), Groundation (USA), Channel One Sound System (4 times) and more. 

His collaboration with Channel One Sound System led to The Uplifter joining them with French MC Tenja on a British Arts Council supported UK wide 'Dub to Dubstep' tour reaching London, Leeds, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Bristol with his friend Martin Davis of Still-Moving DJs. This tour firmly placed The Uplifter as part of the UK Reggae and Dub scene which then led to joining Channel One Sound System on a plane to perform at Outlook Festival in Croatia.

A very significant part of The Uplifter's journey was a vinyl release in 2013. The 12" record was co-produced alongside UK dub veteran Paul Fox and features vocals, live percussion, and melodica from Tom for the first time since his teenage years. The vinyl was very well received and is available in many good record shops including Dub Vendor (the first record shop Tom ever bought Reggae and Dub vinyl from), Supertone Records as well as Reggae shops in the USA (Ernie B), Europe and New Zealand. 

The artwork on the vinyl release was in collaboration with a very talented Brazilian artist named Victor Maristane. Over the period of communication Tom and Victor became good friends and produced artwork that Tom is very happy with, still to this day. Victor's talent can be found here at his website and a detailed description of why the artwork was created in such a way and how they got to work with each other in the first place can all be found in the music section in the shop.

The next release to follow was 'STROUD', a love letter to a town in the UK that has forever been so supportive to artists far and wide. This was a crowdfunded projects that culminated in a 10" limited edition vinyl as well as a music video:

2024 sees the 20th year of The Uplifter - As a way of celebrating, a brand new single and music video WOODKNOT SHUFFLE is due to drop Friday 1st March 2024. Pre-save it here:

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