Sublime Tribute Band Badfish continues to keep 90s reggae-rock legacy alive

Reggae-rock music fans who never got the chance to see Sublime live will have the opportunity to relive their music with tribute band Badfish on Wed., Sept 21 at District Live.

According to band co-founder and bassist Joel Hanks, the idea for the band was formed during his time as a student at the University of Rhode Island in the late 90s where he met a fellow like-minded musician looking to start a tribute band.

“I was in computer science classes and I met a drummer in one of those classes,” Hanks said. “I had already known a singer and we kinda had the idea of forming a band for a few years but the timing just wasn’t right. He was in a different band and I was in college so I didn’t really have time to go away every weekend. But we knew we wanted to start a Sublime tribute band. For us, their music was the combination of all of our favorite styles of music growing up - ska, punk, and reggae.”

In 2001, five years after the tragic death of Sublime’s lead singer Bradley Nowell, Badfish was officially formed and they booked their first gig at a local music venue.

“Our first gig went really well,” Hanks explained. “In the late 90s, Sublime was what everyone was listening to. They were on a lot of the radio stations and blasting at house parties, dorm rooms, everywhere we went. So we were surprised by the positive feedback we received but also not surprised because of how popular the scene was at the time. I think from that first show we kinda knew that we were on to something.”

After their first gig was a major success, Hanks says that the band decided to continue performing regularly and eventually became a touring band. They have been continuously touring for over 20 years now.

“I don’t think any of us thought at that first gig that we would be playing Sublime’s music for 20 plus years,” he said laughing. “But I think that’s also a testament to how timeless their music is and now, this rock-reggae scene is bigger than it’s ever been. The crowd has definitely gotten older over the years but there are still younger fans that are listening to all of these revolutions and Sublime is really the band that started it all.”

In addition to Hanks on bass, the current lineup consists of singer/guitar player Pat Downes,

Drummer Scott Begin, and utility player/keys/guitar/trumpet player Danny Torgerson.

“We play the hits and coming to our shows is basically like a big party sing-a-long,” Hanks said. “I do have certain songs that I like performing as a bass player…’Don’t Push’ comes to mind. And of course the song ‘Badfish’ has a really fun baseline so that one is also fun to play.”

Other than touring and continuing to spread the spirit and music of Sublime, Hanks says that Badfish has been throwing around the idea of releasing some originals under their name.

“Up until this point, we’ve pretty much only performed Sublime stuff. But recently we started toying with that idea to change it up a little bit for us and we’re really excited about that! But really, it’s been an honor to pay tribute to the greatest reggae-rock music bands of all time for all of these years!”

Badfish will hit the District Live stage at 8 p.m. on Wed., Sept 21. For more information, visit

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