Smokin’ Out with Fishbone!

“You can roll me in some papers – yes you can
You can smoke me in a blunt – yes you can
Or a pipe just right – yes you can
Or maybe just a can – yes you can
Or you can smoke me real legal like in Amsterdam – yes you can
You can grow me in your closet – yes you can
Linguini pesto shrimp alfredo mayonnaise marijuana sauce!”

? From the Fishbone song: I’m a Weed Plant

I had no idea. Until you see Fishbone live, there is no way you can. Passing out joints backstage before the show, I found myself in-between Tori Ruffin’s giant Afro that threatened to swallow me whole, and a phallic dreadlock protruding from Norwood Fisher’s head like a unicorn. How could I have imagined the horrifyingly beautiful collision of jazz, metal, reggae, funk, blues, rock and soul that would soon have me dancing like a wild banshee?

How could I have predicted the cultural parody that would become fused with Angelo Moore’s sweaty stage diving onto the masses? (I’m still asking myself that question as I preach to the non-believers.) Don’t get me wrong. Of course I had heard of Fishbone, but like many people my age I hadn’t heard Fishbone. Looking back now I am glad that my first exposure to the Gods of Ska was a live and stoned experience.

It all started Friday night. After flashing my Cannabis Culture press credentials to the bouncers at City Limits nightclub I sauntered into the “Green Room” with a joint behind each ear. Norwood was sleeping on the couch, sporting a hat that said “Rock Out With Your Cock Out”, which in retrospect I identify as a foreshadowing.

I was offered tequila and finger foods, and in turn I lit up. I blazed with Fishbone to the tune of three synchronized joints, which seemed to serve as a wake up call. I was in the presence of a band that provided the creative inspiration for Outkast, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and No Doubt, just to name a few, but I was still naive to the levity of the situation before me.

I had no clue as to the magnificent revulsion that was to spring forth from Norwood’s head once that hat was removed, so I made myself comfortable on the couch beside him and passed the doobie like it was any given Friday. I snuck him an extra jay and invited him to light it up on stage if the mood struck him.

By the time I made my way back out to the club I was good and stoned. The club was packed with some familiar faces, and the air was heavy with anticipation. The lights dimmed, and out came Fishbone. The crowd shouted their wanting love story for Moore and Fisher, and then I saw it! The fresh golden shine of horns and New Orlean’s style funk that promised jazzzzzz. And it started out that way, too. For about thirty seconds it was an Orlean’s jazz show.

But then, as Kendall predicted over twenty years ago, things turned ugly. And when I say ugly, I mean beautiful. It quickly turned into an AC/DC style reggae with horns, sung by a horse. And where was Moore? He is on top of the speaker, screaming out the names of every kind of liquor you can imagine. No, he’s flying through the air, landing on the crowd with his feet in the air. No, he’s on the floor, with bouncers madly scrambling to find him and get him right side up. And he managed to never lose his hat.

The performance was so multi-dimensional that it challenges one’s sanity. I looked back at my friend Max, who was dancing 50s style swing, and it seemed to fit. I looked out at the crowd, and witnessed mosh-pit frenzy. Norwood was thumping the bass and swinging his big dread like a helicopter, and the horn section was working their asses off. Then I saw the security guards dancing, and I knew that Kendall was on to something. Had it not been my own weed I’d smoked, I would have started to wonder.

Moore became less and less clothed as the night progressed. Starting out with a retro suit and tie, he ended the show with brown slacks barely held by one suspender, drenched in sweat that flew from his bald head like hair on a head-banger. The performance was more than full length, but responding to the demand for an encore, Fishbone bounced back out just as fresh as the first song. Norwood had the joint I had given him pinched between his lips, and nodding at me with a wink, he fired it up and smoked it down good before passing it around to the rest of the band.

The crowd loved it, and needless to say, I am a new Fishbone fan. I thanked and hugged each one of the Fishbone crew after the show, which was at about 2:00 am. I recently visited their web site, and noticed ironically that Fishbone is performing at this year’s New Orleans Jazz festival. Knock ’em dead!

DID YOU KNOW? It’s rumored that Kendall Jones, Fishbone’s original guitarist, left the band after becoming convinced that none other than the devil himself was driving the music. The real drama occurred when Norwood “kidnapped” Kendall to save him from the religious brainwashing of his family. Norwood was arrested but later acquitted of all charges.

FOR ALL BC FANS: Fishbone will be playing in on July 16th, 2005 at the Victoria Ska Festival in Victoria, B.C. Vancouver Island.

Current Line Up (2005):

Angelo Moore ? Vocals, Sax, Theremin, Cuica
Norwood Fisher ? Bass, Vocals
John Steward ? Drums
Tori Ruffin ? Guitar
Rocky George ? Guitar
Pastor Dre ? Trumpet, Vocals
Dre Gipson ? Keyboard, Vocals
John McKnight ? Trombone, Vocals

Original Line Up (1979):

Angelo Moore- Vocals, Saxes, Theremin, Cuica
Norwood Fisher- Bass, Vocals
Phillip ‘FISH’ Fisher ? Drums
Kendall Rey Jones- Guitar
Christopher Dowd- vocals, keyboards, trombone
Walter Adam Kibby (II) ? 3 Valve Brass & Vocals?

Fishbone Discography

Full Length CDs
In Your Face (1986)
Truth & Soul (1988)
The Reality Of My Surroundings (1991)
Give A Monkey A Brain (1993)
Nuttasaurusmeg Fossil Fuelin’ (1996)
Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge (1996)
The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx (2000)
Party At Ground Zero (2001)
Live At The Temple Bar and More (2002)
The Essential Fishbone (2003) Movie Soundtracks
Back To The Beach (1987)
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Say Anything (1989)
Last Action Hero (1993)
The Mask (1994)
Fled (1996)
Play It To The Bone (2000)

Eps & Other

Fishbone (1985 EP)
? (Modern Industry) 12″ (1985)
Party At Ground Zero 7″ & 12″ (1985
When Problems Arise 12″ (1986)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1987 EP)
He’s A Flyguy 12″ (1988)
Sounds Blasts! EP1 (1988)
Freddie’s Dead 12″ (1988)
Ma & Pa MAXI-CD (1989)
Set The Booty Upright (1990 EP)
Sunless Saturday Promo (1991)
Everyday Sunshine 7″ (1992)
Everyday Sunshine/Fight The Youth (1992)
Swim Promo (1993)
Unyielding Conditioning Promo (1993)
Alcoholic Promo (1996)
Ska Island (1997)
Red Hot & Latin (1997)
Tapeheads (1988)
Folkways: A Vision Shared (1988)
Steady Sounds (1998)
The Suffering Promo (2000)
The Friendliest Psychosis Of All (2002 EP)