Who Exactly Are The Long Beach Dub Allstars?
The Sublime family tree is one with many branches, but if we consider Sublime the root, then Long Beach Dub Allstars would be the trunk of this unique reggae-rock genre. They started in 1997 as a way for this special community of artists to come together around the untimely passing of their brother in Sublime front-man Brad Nowell who passed away in May of 1996. The group was created by surviving Sublime members; drummer Bud Gaugh, bassist Eric Wilson, along with producer and sound-engineer Miguel Happoldt and DJ/percussionist Marshall Goodman. The group was rounded out with vocals provided by new lead-guitarist Ras-1 and Opie Ortiz, who in addition to designing all of the Sublime material, also designed all of the L.B.D.A. art. Then there was the late Ikey Owens on keys who sat opposite of Jack Maness on keys (and occasionally played guitar) along with Tim Wu on sax/flute.
“After Brad had passed we were all devastated,” Opie tells The Pier. “Our arms were open for all the homies and we were all just hanging out and jamming to help with the remorse. That was the only way Bud & Eric could deal, was to keep playing. I don’t know if it was just therapy for them or all of us, but we all came together and we kind of figured it out.”
Following their first live performance in January of 1997, a buzz broke out with demand for more shows. So what started out as a tribute performance to support Brad’s son, Jakob, turned into a band of Brad’s fellow brothers and musicians that would continue to write, perform and further this new genre of music. When they would perform live, they would play a mix of Sublime songs and reggae covers around a collection of original material using that unique ingredient of Reggae, Ska, Dub, Hip Hop, Punk with shades of Pop. They always paid tribute to Brad Nowell during songs, would let the crowd sing “Santeria” and were known to play as a backing band for such artists as Half Pint, Barrington Levy and Born Jamericans. Back then, L.B.D.A. was the only group of its kind furthering the Reggae-Rock sound with influence. Slightly Stoopid was still establishing their following and when it came to live shows or tours, it was Slightly Stoopid who would open up for Long Beach Dub Allstars.
“We were just trying to get back on track, trying to use Opie and Ras’s strength and diminish whatever little weaknesses there was,” Miguel tells The Pier.
Like Sublime, ‘Dub Allstars toured the nation on the Vans Warped Tour, but unlike Sublime, the ‘Dubs were able to continue touring the world for several years. Long Beach Dub Allstars benefited from the buzz of Sublime’s 1996 break-out self-titled album and hit single “What I Got.” Fans rushed to their shows and looked to the ‘Dubs for a continuation of a sound that didn’t have much of a platform without them. As Miguel explains of the group back then: “Long Beach Dub Allstars had one show that wasn’t sold out in its entire existence. And the smallest venue we ever played held about a thousand people.”
For being such a big band with so many members, Miguel explained a bit of the method to the madness: “We didn’t all play at the same time. It was very much arranged. Occasionally we’d all play at the same time at the end of the song with the crescendo building, but the next song would start and it’d be a 3-piece with Ras-1, Bud & Eric and that’s it. You give them a little, you take a little, and you bring it in and drop it out. That’s what we did.”
From 1997-2002, the ‘Dub Allstars put out an EP of sorts titled Long Beach Dub Allstars & Friends (1998) followed by 2 full-length albums, Right Back (1999) and Wonders of the World (2001). They collaborated with a slew of guest vocalists that included: Will.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas, Chali2na of Jurassic 5, Barrington Levy, Half Pint, Tippa Irie, H.R., Joe Strummer, Born Jamericans, and more! They reached radio play with spins on hit singles “Trailer Ras” (1999) and “Sunny Hours” (2001) while being known for fan favorites, “Rosarito,” “My Own Life,” and “Listen To DJ’s.”
A lot of the artists that Sublime were known for sampling or covering, Long Beach Dub Allstars actually got to perform and/or record with. Artists like Barringon Levy — Sublime put out “Saw Red,” that was a cover of Levy’s “She’s Mine.” Then ‘Dub Allstars would later record an acoustic version of “Saw Red” with Levy singing to close out their debut record. Half Pint, which Sublime used as inspiration for “What I Got” from Pint’s song “Loving,” was also featured on ‘Dub Allstars debut record with the song “Pass It On.” Miguel tells The Pier: “For me personally, I cant speak for anybody else, but I didn’t really care about anything except getting to know Half Pint and meeting Barrington and working with Tippa Irie. Brad would have killed for that! To know Half Pint he would have killed a man, do you know what I’m trying to say?”
A lot of the reggae-rock collaborative formula that was used in the success of Sublime & Long Beach Dub Allstars was also seen passed on to Slightly Stoopid with Miguel Happoldt and Marshall Goodman’s involvement in production. Slightly Stoopid’s Everything You Need (2003) and Closer To The Sun (2005) records felt like natural progressions to the Sublime & Long Beach Dub Allstars sound as Stoopid would also collaborate with a lot of the same artists that ‘Dub Allstars put back on the radar with the commercial attention they were receiving on the heels of Sublimes success.
So Why Did Long Beach Dub Allstars Break-up?
Miguel, in a previous interview, tells The Pier: “People started getting into drugs and fucked everything up. We could have used more structure. We made a lot of good music, played a lot of good shows; we put a lot of reggae artists back on the radar.”
And while drug use was certainly a factor in the bands demise, they were struck a significant blow when their highly anticipated sophomore record, Wonders of the World, was released on 9/11/2001. Instead of waking up to the excitement of a new record selling, they woke up with the rest of the world to see foreign terrorism on U.S. soil.
“Most of our shows people came out, but there was that fear throughout America and it restricted a lot of the shows,” Marshall Goodman tells The Pier. “The turnout was less than it would have been, otherwise. The record sales and all of that, yes, 9/11 majorly affected the band.”
Bud Gaugh quit first, but the Dub’s continued to play with Goodman replacing Gaugh on drums, much like he did during Sublime’s recording of their first album, 40oz to Freedom. After the group split in 2002, various members pursued miscellaneous side-projects with each-other over the years that saw little to mild success. Miguel continued to produce Slightly Stoopid in addition to staying busy with the various Sublime re-releases from over the years as well as writing in his own band, Perro Bravo. Marshall Goodman would continue to produce as well, working with Slightly Stoopid to Rebelution, Tomorrows Bad Seeds as well as Sublime with Rome. In 2009, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh reunited with new singer Rome Ramirez to form Sublime with Rome. Bud Gaugh would leave SwR in 2012, but it’s where Eric Wilson continues to write and perform on bass, today.
The Return of Long Beach Dub Allstars:
In 2012, Opie, Miguel, Marshall, Jack and Tim started to resurface, performing shows under the acronym: L.B.D.A. This resurfacing was without Bud, Eric or Ras-1. They had a new bass player along with other adjustments to the arrangement of the original line-up. This same line-up would perform the Skunk Records 25th Anniversary shows in 2014 that included a live performance at California Roots Festival to which Marshall described back then as the first step toward reuniting much of this line-up to move forward with new records: “That was actually a breath of fresh air in my opinion. It was a chance to take this legacy, this ‘what could have been’ and make it happen.”
They took long-time fans by surprise when they announced a series of shows in 2017, with one in Florida, boasting their full-name: Long Beach Dub Allstars. The group confirmed that they were in fact back and motivated to play music with each-other, inspired by the tragic deaths of brothers Ikey & Aaron Owens. They have had a run of shows in 2017 with gigs throughout CA and one-offs in Florida and Nevada. They’ve already been confirmed for a couple of gigs in San Francisco and Sacramento, CA for early 2018 as well as as a 4/19/2018 show at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO with 311, Method Man & Redman, Collie Buddz and Chali2na of Jurassic 5.
While the name Long Beach Dub Allstars is back, the same line-up is not. Bud Gaugh is not in the band as Marshall Goodman is now the drummer, which means no live DJ. Eric Wilson is still in Sublime with Rome, and has been replaced by another musical all-star in former Suburban Rhythm bassist Ed Kampwirth. Tim Wu returns with his sax & flute as does Jack Maness on keys/vocals. Sitting opposite of Jack is another new addition and musical all-star in The Aggrolites keyboardist & organist, Roger Rivas.
Ras-1, who was a big part of the original groups songwriting, is no longer active in the band. He has been replaced on guitar and vocals by Miguel Happoldt, although the group doesn’t perform much of Ras-1’s previous songs live — So if you were a big fan of songs like “Trailer Ras,” “It Ain’t Easy,” “Rosarito,” or even “Sunny Hours,” you’ll be disappointed in hearing those songs no longer being performed. Opie Ortiz, however, returns as the groups lead vocalist, performing the songs he originally sang, in addition to newer material the group is slowly introducing. Opie was known for singing previous fan favorites such as “My Own Life,” “Listen To DJs,” “Lonely End,” “Luke,” and more.
While L.B.D.A. has returned with an evolving line-up, the group tells The Pier that any of the original members are welcome to join them at any time on stage as they hope for a healthy return from Ras-1. Bud Gaugh remains a wild-card on whether or not there’s any interest to rejoin in any capacity and Eric Wilson seems content performing with Sublime with Rome.
So What About New Music?
On October 2nd, 2017 Long Beach Dub Allstars released new music for the first time in 16 years with 2 new singles, “Holding Out” and “Steady Customer.” Marshall tells The Pier: “Roger wrote the body and riffs for ‘Steady Customer’ and the rest of us did our parts for the recording. I’m really looking forward to having Roger involved in this next batch of song writing. I’m certain we are going to come up with some exciting new angles to deliver our sound. ‘Holding Out’ is a standard that Miguel dug up and we gave it our interpretation.”
The group tells The Pier that as long as the music is well received and promoters continue to book them, then we can continue to look forward to new music and live performances. They plan to follow up these 2 new singles with more music as Marshall hints: “We’ve got lots of ideas for re-introducing the band’s catalogue and unreleased material.”
Today’s generation of reggae-rock fans may not fully understand how critical this group was to the reggae-rock genre following Sublime’s conclusion in 1996. They played at a time when social media was non-existent. Live-videos of their early performances are mostly of grainy VHS quality, while most live-photos shot by fans were with throw-away cameras. There was no Youtube, Facebook, and this was before Myspace or even iTunes. They were the torch bearers of a genre that Sublime introduced and the original ‘Dub Allstars lineup included most of the players who were involved in cultivating that Reggae-Rock sound with Brad Nowell. Seeing them reunite and perform new music after a 15 year absence is exciting. To see what these musical professors and legends from Long Beach engineer together in the studio will be even more thrilling. They have a new website, new merchandise and the group tells The Pier they’re keen on exploring vinyl releases with Marshall saying: “Vinyl is the best source for listening to recorded media… Putting a piece of vinyl on a turntable, placing the needle on the vinyl, adjusting the sound source, and allowing this finite act to take its course will revive the type of listeners that disappeared when MP3s, earbuds, and device screens took over.”
“We have been blessed to have the majority of our songs leave a positive impact on listeners and establish a firm fan base,” says Marshall. “I think they just expect more of what we’ve always done, which is to create music that is authentic and genuine to our experiences and perspectives.”
It’s been 15 years since I’ve been able to proudly proclaim The Return of Long Beach Dub Allstars. Even when the group started to resurface in 2012, playing sparingly as L.B.D.A., the momentum didn’t feel as it does now. It appears that these Wonders of the World are comfortable moving forward with new music around a modern-day evolving line-up, continuing the legacy they started with Sublime.
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