Songs from the Back Porch
By Al Kaufman
It's a tricky thing about tribute bands. They are great ways for musicians to make money and pay homage to bands they idolize. But for true musicians, tribute bands do not allow them to create. Some are able to break out. Marshall Crenshaw managed to parlay his role in Beatlemania (he played John) into becoming one of the best pop song writers of our time.
Badfish, a Sublime tribute band that was created by a group of guys from Rhode Island, has now been together for eight years, as long as Sublime was a band. Since Sublime only released three CDs before lead singer Brad Nowell's heroin overdose, Badfish had the added problem of playing the same handful of songs over and over again. Add to that the burden that Sublime was from the dreaded Long Beach, California, while the boys from Badfish, including current Atlanta resident, bass player Joel Hanks, are die hard Boston Celtic fans, meaning that hating LA is in their blood.
Pat Downes joined Badfish as their new lead singer in 2007. Besides sounding just like Brad Nowell, Downes had his own songs to contribute, and Scotty Don't was born.
Not too surprisingly, Scotty Don't sounds a lot like Sublime, albeit a more sanitized version. They blend elements of ska, punk, dub reggae, hip-hop, and rock in their songs. The knock on ska is that it becomes monotonous over time. One of the keys to Sublime's success was keeping their songs fresh. Scotty Don't achieves the same end. While their songs aren't able to quite generate the same excitement as Sublime's "What I Got," they also wisely steer clear of Nowell's frat boy humor, and they make sure never to bore. There is nothing incredibly original on Songs from the Back Porch, but it will keep your head bopping for a good hour.
The standout on here is "Falling Down, a straight ahead power pop song. While it maintains some ska and pop elements, it is the song that deviates the most from the band's Sublime influence. It might be the best direction toward which Scotty Don't should move, unless the band wishes to be known as Badfish II.
Scotty Don't plays Variety Playhouse with Badfish on Saturday, February 28, at 8:30 p.m. $16/$18 door.