The legacy and legend of Long Beach ska/punk/reggae/rock band Sublime is already written. What it achieved, what it means to people—there's nothing left of which fans need to be reminded. All over the world, especially Southern California, Sublime are beloved.
Brad Nowell is no longer with us, and that still sucks, but we were never left empty-handed. In 2009, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh joined forces with singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez and went on tour as Sublime With Rome. (Gaugh has since departed, replaced by Josh Freese.) We're told the tribute band 40 Oz. to Freedom is more than half-decent. But before all that came the Long Beach Dub Allstars.
"Myself, Eric [Wilson] and Bud [Gaugh] carried forward and put together a lineup for an event called Enough Already in 1996," says drummer, DJ and former Sublime man Marshall "Ras MG" Goodman. "It was a fund-raiser for substance abuse, and a ton of friends of Sublime played: Pennywise, No Doubt. They came and played a set of their own at the Los Angeles Convention Center . . . and one Sublime song. And then our lineup, which was everyone I mentioned before as well as some local musicians and friends—Opie Ortiz, Jack Maness, Tim Wu, Richie [Ras-1] Smith, Isaiah Owens. We all got together in order to do a complete set of Sublime songs."
It was a bunch of friends coming together in a combination of grief over Nowell's early death to play Sublime songs for friends, family and fans who were also mourning. They didn't have a name, and they didn't have plans to continue after the Enough Already show. But when people started asking about their "next gig," the guys heard a calling.
“We got to talking, and there was a name that had been tossed around by Brad and Michael [“Miguel” Happoldt] in case the deal that they made as Sublime didn’t work out as they wanted,” Goodman says. “They would go across the street, like Parliament/Funkadelic did, and sign another deal under another name with the same lineup. The alternate name that Brad came up with was Long Beach Dub Allstars. We had no plans to form a band, but when we started discussing forming a band, it only made sense to use that name.”
The Long Beach Dub Allstars' 1999 debut album, Right Back, was released on Dreamworks and Skunk Records, the latter of which was co-founded by Nowell. With major labels on board and an acclaimed album in the bag, it seemed as though the members of Long Beach Dub Allstars would continue on their musical path without missing a beat. Their second album, Wonders of the World, was released in September 2001, right around the time of the 9/11 attacks in New York. The following year, the band was dissolved.
The rest of the 2000s saw the Allstars playing in all manner of side projects and supergroups, including Long Beach Shortbus (Ras-1, Trey Panghorn, Wilson, and Damion Ramirez) and Dubcat (Goodman, Maness, Ortiz and members of Hepcat). In 2012, the Long Beach Dub Allstars played their first gig in 11 years at the Blaze and Glory Festival at the Queen Mary. They then played sporadically for a while, with members switching in and out, but things firmed up again last year.
“We were asked in June 2016 by Kevin Zinger if we were interested in playing his SRH 25th-anniversary show at the Blaze and Glory Festival,” Goodman says. “I wanted him to talk to Eric Wilson, but he wasn’t available for the show, so we got Ed Kampwirth on bass, Roger Rivas on organ, [Happoldt] on guitar—the same lineup we have today played that show last June. Since then, we’ve been working with Kevin, booking more shows, taking it slow. We’ve been relaxing, having fun. There’s no big goals other than to play good music to people that will appreciate it.”
Consistent with Long Beach Dub Allstars' origin, their sets today feature a mixture of Sublime tunes and originals, representing and respecting where they come from, where they've been and where they're going. "We don't run a whole Sublime set," Goodman says. "We play a majority [of Allstars] songs, and then we like incorporating covers. We always have, since the Sublime days. We love taking good music and playing it the way we play it."
According to Goodman, the group have written new material, but they don't feel any pressure to rush it out and get back on the "record music and tour" machine. "I'd rather play live music [and] engage with people," he says. "We're fortunate to have a modest legacy where people know who we are and enjoy our songs. We'll have plenty of new material when necessary."
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The band plays at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach this week, and Goodman says the audience can expect good music, a good time and good energy.
“Alex’s used to be a place that we rented and called the Fake Nightclub,” he says. “That’s where [the Allstars] did our first rehearsal. That’s where we became a band before we had a name.”
If there’s one thing the Long Beach Dub Allstars are not lacking, it’s history.
The Long Beach Dub Allstars play with Thicker Than Thieves and Bodegas at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $25-$30. All ages.