.The 85’s Bring 80’s dance party to Sweetwater

Featuring a veritable who’s who of the North Bay music scene, The 85’s are surely not your average cover band. Instead, this group of like-minded musicians add their own spin to all those rad 80’s songs you purchased originally as a 45rpm while constantly sticking to the vibe and live presentation of its original writers.  

Originally formed 19 years ago, the group has been a headliner at countless venues including Bay Area clubs, private events, and outdoor festivals while paying homage to and playing a heady mix of songs from The Clash to Devo, English Beat to Eurythmics, The Fixx to Madonna, The Police to Pretenders, Journey to Prince, and much more. 

For those not in the know, the band features founding members Adam “Bagel” Berkowitz (drums, vocals) and Monroe Grisman (guitar, vocals), both alumni of neighboring 

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music in the park san jose

Tamalpais High School in 1985. Additionally, the band is rounded out by the very capable vocal stylings of April Grisman (Eric Martin, Clarence Clemons, Irene Cara & Y&T) alongside new (er) members Steven Seydler (keyboards) and Joey DiBono (bass).

We caught up with drummer Adam Berkowitz during his downtime in between gigs to get the lowdown on their upcoming Sweetwater Music Hall show. 

Pacific Sun: The 85’s must have a huge pool of songs to choose from. About how many will your Sweetwater Music Hall show feature? 

Adam Berkowitz: Yes, and the song list keeps growing. It’s funny to think back when we first formed this band – a one-off for my Tamalpais High Class of ‘85 high school reunion. We picked ten tunes from our high school years and that was supposed to be it. Later that year, we put together a holiday show over Christmas at The Sweetwater and opened it up as a hometown reunion. We had to learn a couple sets of music. Once you learn about 30 tunes, you basically have a functioning band and so we kept going with it. I think we now we have about 60 songs to pull from and we keep adding new ones. For the Sweetwater show, we’ll be doing two sets which is about 25 songs. Stylistically, we cover a lot of ground so there is something for everyone but the goal is to get folks dancing.

Pacific Sun:  As a drummer and background vocalist to boot, are there are songs you find more difficult than the others on the kit? What about background vocals? 

Adam Berkowitz: I don’t find the songs to be particularly difficult to play, but adding vocals on top of that adds an element of complexity. When we first formed the band, prior to April joining, we all sang lead vocals. April would sit in on occasion and, after about 5 years of pleading, we were finally able to get her to officially join the band. Though April sings the majority, Monroe and I still sing lead on many of the songs. We love singing harmony parts as well. Singing and playing just adds another element of fun for us and it sounds great.

Pacific Sun: Any goals or aspirations for The 85’s in 2024 / 2025? 

Adam Berkowitz: As we come up on our 20th year, I’m not sure we have any grand plans. We’ll probably just cycling in new tunes to keep it fresh. I can’t recall a specific gig that stands out, though I really love the Sweetwater holiday party we do every year around Christmas since it becomes sort of a reunion with so many old friends. We’ve played so many clubs, private events, weddings etc that they all tend to blend in together, but it really comes down to how the crowd reacts. If we have the dance floor moving and folks are singing along, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The 85’s play Sweetwater Music Hall located at 19 Corte Madera Avenue in Mill Valley. Doors open at 8pm and the show kicks off at 9pm, Friday, June 7. Tickets are $20 advance and can be purchased at www.sweetwatermusichall.com. All ages are welcome. 


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