Friday, January 27, 2023

Mendocino County’s Very Own Acclaimed Reggae Band Top Shelf Celebrates the Reasons for the Season with their Annual Christmas Party at Ukiah Brewing Company

[All photographs and poster provided by Carter Lane]

Mendocino County native sons Carter Lane and Drew Nicoll started Top Shelf in 2003 while living in Chico, California. Twenty years later, their unique blend of punk, rock, and reggae has led them across the world to play shows alongside reggae legends such as Steel Pulse and Rebelution. In celebration of the holidays and the band’s upcoming 20th year, the band is hosting a Top Shelf Christmas Party at Ukiah Brewing Company on December 26th, 2021.

Carter Lane, the singer for Top Shelf, told us the band “cut their teeth on house parties and dingy bar gigs for the first 3 years with the original guitarist and bassist, Jonny Fingers and Trent Taylor.” Drew Nicoll, the band’s drummer, graduated from Chico State University and Top Shelf “returned home to Ukiah and re-formed the band with new goals and ideas.”

The reformation “introduced Chad Goodin on bass with Tim Parks on guitar and the first show back was ‘The 1st Annual Top Shelf Christmas Party’”, Lane explained. A few years later, Korey Ross would be introduced as the band’s permanent guitarist. 

For 12 years, Top Shelf toured the world, recording three albums and Lane said “returning to Ukiah each year for the annual Christmas party show.”

The band’s tours were generally “performing in California opening for larger reggae-rock bands but also spent time out of the state and out of the country.” Top Shelf’s tours included a 2009 tour of Hawaii, 2010 in Mexico, and in 2019 South Korea and Japan. 

Top Shelf has shared the stage with reggae legends like The Dirty Heads, Iriation, and performed at music festivals. According to Lane, Top Shelf “drew one of the biggest crowds during their 3 performances [on]Sunday in the Park in Ukiah.”

The hard-living of stages and vans and floors crept up on Top Shelf and in more recent years careers, children, and family took “the front seat to the members’ lives and Top Shelf, for once, took the back seat.”

The years of touring and creation created an “unwavering brotherhood,” Lane explained and the band’s inevitable reunion has finally come. The band is currently working on a 4th album and will be performing in their hometown once again at the Top Shelf Christmas Party.

If your holiday needs some live music and cheer, purchase your tickets for Top Shelf’s Christmas Party here.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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