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Surviving Sublime Members Join Forces with Late Frontman’s Son to Raise Funds for H.R. of Bad Brains

It was the first time Jakob Nowell, son of Bradley Nowell, had stepped in for his late father for a concert performance.

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Source: Facebook / Sublime

The surviving members of Sublime and Jakob Nowell practicing for their gig on December 11

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When Bradley Nowell, lead singer and guitarist for the Long Beach band Sublime, died of a heroin overdose in 1996, it seemed for all practical purposes the end of Sublime. Indeed, in the wake of Nowell’s passing, Jason Westfall, one of the band’s managers, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram, “I don’t think Bud [Gaugh] or Eric [Wilson] have any interest in making anything in the future with the name Sublime in it; we will go in music and do other things, but just like Nirvana, Sublime died when Brad died.”

Since then, Gaugh and Wilson have found numerous ways to honor the legacy of the music they made with Nowell over the years, performing first as the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, and later as Sublime With Rome, alongside singer-guitarist Rome Ramirez. But for the first time since Bradley Nowell's death, the two once again performed with a lineup consisting of the names Gaugh, Wilson, and Nowell, with the late frontman son's Jakob Nowell singing and playing guitar.

The three performed on December 11 in Los Angeles, during the Positive Mental Attitude Happening show to benefit H.R., frontman for legendary D.C. punk band the Bad Brains. The end result certainly wasn’t the only amazing moment during the course of the event, but make no mistake, it definitely was one of ‘em. As the detailed review on L.A. Taco put it, "It was a ska-punk night for the ages."

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Source: Teragram Ballroom

The official concert poster for the Positive Mental Attitude fundraiser on Dec. 11

Q was not present for the show, but per the aforementioned L.A. Taco piece, the younger Nowell lead the group in renditions of Sublime standards like "Santeria," "The Wrong Way" and "April 29, 1992" to close out the show, which stretched into the late hours. In addition to being the first time the younger Nowell performed with his father's old bandmates, it was also the first time Gaugh had performed with Wilson since leaving Sublime with Rome a decade ago.

There's no indication that this performance will be repeated, although there's certainly precedent for this sort of multi-generational reunion performances (Jason Bonham has filled in admirably on drums for his father John during Led Zeppelin's scarce reunion appearances over the decades). Nowell, who performs his own music with the Epitaph Records-signed Jakobs Castle, noted on Instagram: "Bad Brains has inspired me since I was small so it’s an honor being asked to perform in a benefit for the legendary HR. Gonna be playing some Sublime songs with my uncles Bud and Eric, feels like the timing is right…I feel very grateful to get to share the stage on the 11th with so many great artists while at the same time raising some money for a living legend."

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The evening started off with a DJ set by Marco C, perhaps best known for his work with the Beastie Boys, followed by a formal introduction by longtime Fishbone bassist Norwood Fisher, who described the entirety of Bad Brains as his “big brothers” and underlined the reason behind the event: to help pay for the medical bills accrued by H.R. Also with Fisher: Kentyah Frasier and "Mama" Troy Dendekker, a.k.a. Jakob’s mother and Brad’s widow, with Dendekker calling her first Bad Brains show “life-changing.”From there, they played a brief video message of gratitude from H.R. himself.

A variety of artists took the stage to perform the music of H.R. and Bad Brains, including Fisher, percussionist Santa Davis, keyboardist Money Mark, and Ras Israel Joseph I, who served as a onetime replacement for H.R. in Bad Brains. Soon he was joined by Angelo Moore of Fishbone, as well as drummer Dave Lombardo of Slayer. SNL and Portlandia alum Fred Armisen also performed a comedy drum performance at the benefit.


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