Date: Sunday, May 25th, 2014
Line Up: Skunk Records 25th Anniversary Show
Venue: California Roots Music Festival – Cali-Roots Stage – Monterey County Fairgrounds. Monterey, CA
25 years ago, Miguel Happoldt created Skunk Records and found Sublime. Together with Brad Nowell & Sublime, they built Skunk Records & it would later be the platform for bands such as The Ziggens, Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, Long Beach Dub Allstars & others to bring this specific genre to life. They spent years breathing life into this genre of music that has become a staple to a feel good lifestyle and in my opinion, there isn’t a California Roots Festival without the early groundwork of their originality & ingenuity.
Sunday night, at about 6:15PM, Skunk Records took the stage to help conclude a 3 day sold-out festival. While the Skunk performance wasn’t the last act on Sunday, they were the most anticipated act I cared to see all weekend. That is at no disrespect to the other acts, but a nod to whom I believe is at the root of this entire movement. Roaming the festival for 3 days, even with as much merchandise that was being pushed out by all the vendors, I still couldn’t count how many Sublime t-shirts & hoodies I saw on the backs of fans, landscaping the festival grounds.
As we’ve learned in recent interviews, Sublime was more than just the advertised & promoted 3 piece of drummer Bud Gaugh & bassist Eric Wilson alongside the late Brad Nowell. Sublime was a movement of players that contributed to the evolving sound that we celebrate today. These players consisted of Skunk Records founder, Miguel Happoldt, drummer & DJ Marshall Goodman as well as the visual presence of Opie Ortiz. Hell, it was Opie’s Sublime art I saw on all the kids t-shirts & it was only fitting that these 3 gentleman have a place at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival with the Skunk Records Anniversary set.
Guitarist/Vocalist, Miguel Happoldt, alongside his band Perro Bravo, which includes Gregg Lowther on Drums & Mike Long on Bass, opened things up as the entire set lasted for just over an hour, including a few line-up changes to accommodate the 25 year history of what Skunk has accomplished. I have to admit, the set most definitely missed the presence of Tim Wu on Sax, Jack Maness on keys/guitar/vocals, not to mention Ras-1 on Vocals/Guitar. There was talk backstage that Opie & Jack were unable to make it due to their current work schedules. No word on Ras-1 & for those of you wondering why Bud Gaugh or Eric Wilson were not in attendance, read my latest interview with Miguel Happoldt by clicking HERE
Miguel introduced the history of Skunk Records by first playing “Falling Idols” and I’m proud to say that they stirred up what I believe to be the festival’s only real mosh-pit! As you could imagine, fans went nuts when Miguel introduced & performed Sublime’s “Slow Ride”. This was a Sublime audience appreciating the roots of Sublime’s music, led by Miguel Happoldt. Of the 18 song set-list, they performed just 4 Sublime covers, the most notable one being “Caress Me Down”. For that song, Miguel introduced Brad Nowell’s son, Jakob Nowell who came out and led the crowd with his Dad’s music. I have to admit, it was pretty emotional seeing Brad’s son out there, performing one of his Dad’s songs with some of his Dad’s best friends, in front of a sold-out festival. Jakob was tall, confident, wearing all black, throwing his fist up in the air, igniting the audience with an overdue celebration of his father’s music.
Miguel, sporting a beard, hat & a white t-shirt that read “Hated” across the front of it, seemed the most energetic performing alongside Jakob. After Jakob stepped off the stage, Miguel introduced The Ziggens who came out to perform 3 songs, including crowd favorite “Big Salty Tears”. Miguel introduced The Ziggens, starting with frontman Bert Susanka, reminding the crowd that Bert Susanka made Brad drink, as mentioned in Brad’s lyrics of Sublimes song “Greatest Hits”. Joining Bert Susanka on drums for the 3 songs, was Ziggens drummer, Brad Conyers.
Miguel kept things interesting by performing a whole mix of songs, that werent dependent on Sublime covers. He played a couple of Perro Bravo originals with “Last Ska Song” as well as new song “False Preachers”. Following The Ziggens set, the line-up changed once again as they brought out Marshall Goodman of Sublime on Drums, Aaron Owens of Hepcat on guitar, Roger Rivas of The Aggrolites on keys & Opie Ortiz of Long Beach Dub Allstars to contribute vocals.
Opie was great and played a couple throwback ‘Dub Allstar songs with “My Own Life” & “Listen to DJ’s”. He’s currently been working on newer material and performed a new reggae song titled “Don’t Bring Me Down”. One of the more popular songs from Opie’s time on stage, was Opie & Miguel trading vocals for the Sublime rendering of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias”. I think it goes without saying that fans sang a long & went nuts! Opie killed it, covering Brad’s rap verse & the fans let him know it with their hands up, cheering.
The last Sublime cover of the set was “Get Out” where they brought Hirie out on stage. This collaboration didn’t make much sense to me as I don’t see her in anyway being relevant or tied to the history of Skunk Records. To her credit, she did a good job and I like the song choice for her, but I would have much rather seen Jakob perform 1 or 2 more songs with Miguel & the group, rather than just the one.
The biggest & probably the most underrated special guest appearance for the whole festival came at about 7:05pm with 15minutes left in the set. It was at this time that Miguel introduced the living legend of HR of Bad Brains who came out and performed 3 songs with the Skunk family. This made such perfect sense as HR was such a HUGE influence on the music of Sublime & all the players on stage. You had 2 separate generations of legends performing 3 songs together and I really feel bad for anyone at the festival who missed this collaboration.
When the last song was done, fans IMMEDIATELY chanted “1 more song” & Miguel didn’t allow 30-seconds of chants to go by before he picked up his guitar that he just put down and said to the audience “We got one more for you” and closed the set out with HR of Bad Brains, performing “Re-Ignition”. Up to this point, I believe that this was only the 2nd act of the weekend, next to Nahko, to receive a demanded encore from the crowd, without being a headliner to the festival.
I grew up listening to this music & without it, there’ wouldn’t be The Pier Magazine & in my opinion, there certainly wouldn’t be the California Roots Music & Arts Festival. 10 years ago, there were only a handful of Reggae-Rock groups, at most, that were able to tour the US. Now, bands just sprout up and go on tour & the genre has evolved over 10 years to a massive 3 day festival, specific to this genre of music. Without the early groundwork of these living legends from Sublime & Skunk Records, a festival like this, may have been harder to achieve. Miguel, Marshall, Opie, Bert, Aaron, HR as well as Tim, Jack, Ras-1, Kelly Vargas all belong on this stage & deserve so much more for what they gave & introduced to us fans.
It’s my hope that this wont be the last time we see this collaboration or performance and would love to see this celebration extend to include Slightly Stoopid, Tim Wu, Jack Maness, Ras-1 in the future. If the promoters of Cali-Roots are reading, we hope you make this happen each year, including this year’s Carolina Sessions in September. Maybe we can see Opie Ortiz do a live-painting on stage?
Thanks to Reid Clow for his help on this article & to Cali-Roots for enabling a true history of Cali-Roots music with Skunk Records.
Skunk Records Set List:
1.) Falling Idols
2.) Slow Ride (Sublime)
3.) False Preachers (New Perro Bravo Song)
4.) Early Man (Bad Religion-Sublime)
5.) I Would Do For You (UB40)
6.) Last Ska Song (Perro Bravo)
7.) Caress Me Down (feat. Jakob Nowell)
8.) Goin’ Richter (The Ziggens)
9.) Big Salty Tears (The Ziggens)
10.) Something About A Waitress (The Ziggens)
11.) My Own Life (Opie Ortiz)
12.) Don’t Bring Me Down (Opie Ortiz)
13.) Scarlet Begonias/Romantic Girl (Sublime/Grateful Dead Cover – Opie Ortiz)
14.) Listen to DJ’s (Opie Ortiz)
15.) Get Out (Sublime Cover feat. Hirie)
16.) Leaving Babylon (feat. HR of Bad Brains)
17.) I & I Survive (feat. HR of Bad Brains)
18.) Re-Ignition (feat. HR of Bad Brains)
Exclusive Sublime Blog
Perro Bravo Facebook
Miguel Happoldt Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Miguel Happoldt Exclusive Interview Pt 2
Opie Ortiz Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Opie Ortiz Exclusive Interview Pt 2
Marshall Goodman Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Marshall Goodman Exclusive Interview Pt 2
Article by: Mike Patti
Photos by: David Norris
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