Words by: Gabriela Kerson :: Images by Robert Chapman
Fishbone :: 09.28.06 :: CBGB :: New York, NY
"You know how when dogs have sex their penis swells?" grins Norwood Fisher in response to my question about his band Fishbone's new album title: Still Stuck in Your Throat. I can feel myself flushing as the five men who make up the L.A.-based punk, funk, reggae, ska band laugh around me. I nod sheepishly. We are sitting between the stage and the bathrooms in the plywood-walled Green Room at the Lower East Side's CBGB's, talking band history and sharing sobriety tips.
Fisher & Moore - Backstage CBGB :: 09.28
Fishbone rehearsed for the first time in 1979, played their first club in '83, and cut their first record in '85. 21 years later, the band has changed some personnel but retains two of the founding members, Norwood Fisher and vocalist/sax man Angelo Moore.
This new CD has brought Fishbone past the 20-year mark, and Fisher seemed especially excited for their European tour, (they love 'em over there). He not only looks forward to pushing the new record, but he also looks forward to the next album, new inspiration, and more producing. After 25 years of playing music and a year of sobriety, Fisher seems to be working harder then ever.
Angelo Moore - Fishbone :: CBGB :: 09.28
On the 28th of September, a crowd gathered in front of CBGB and OMFUG, waiting for the surly security guards to open the doors and let them in. Anticipating a wicked quadruple bill starting with The Rodney Speed Experience and ending with Fishbone, the excited horde outside the club greeted, as true rockers will, the tour buses that troll Manhattan with raised arms and shouts, sarcastic laughter, and comments to hide the uncomfortable tension of the end of an era. The reality is that in mere days this club - the one and only CBGB - that housed the birth of Punk Rock will have been swallowed up by the NYC real estate wars, like so many venues before it.
The small dark room backstage was partially filled for the opening band, The Rodney Speed Experience, which is described best by this e-mail that went out days before the event:
The rock critics may not have figured it out yet, but the history of the New York City music scene over the last 15 years could never be complete without a chapter on Rodney Speed.
Rodney has been in the trenches of this shit - as literally as it gets - since the Dinkens administration.
And you think YOU love rock and roll.
Rodney LOVES rock and roll.
He's been working at CBGB since Wetlands closed. And now he's about to lose another club he loved.
There's no way we're letting this place close its doors for good before Rodney gets a chance to rock that stage. September 28th, we are staging the second-ever performance of The Rodney Speed Experience. A full set of rock classics, sung by a man who is living out his dream as fully as anyone will ever get to.
-Excerpt from an e-mail from Rocks off Presents
For this rare rock show, Sir Joe Russo accompanied Rodney on drums, Backyard Bill Stites on bass, and Scott Boots Metzger on guitar. They raged the old school rock & roll as they do so well. Come on guys, full time cover band? And they left the stage for the next two acts.
Fishbone at CBGB :: 09.28
Hours later, with the crowd hot, packed-in, and waiting, cheerfully but aggressively, Fishbone hit. After watching closely and continually counting heads, I conclude this tremendous and variegated sound was really coming from just seven men - John Steward on drums, Rocky George on guitar, John McKnight on trombone, vocals and guitar, Dre Gibson on keyboards and vocals, and Curtis Story Jr. on trumpet and vocals. The two remaining founding members, Moore and Fisher on bass and vocals, rode the front of the stage. Norwood's outspoken nature was eclipsed by Moore's flamboyant stage presence. He had changed from a purple caftan and cap that channeled Sun Ra to a suit, complete with suspenders, losing the jacket after the first few songs. He bounded between Theremin, barri sax and vocals.
They played their hit, "Everyday Sunshine," with hard-pounding instrumentals and catchy lyrics. The announcement of the song "Alcoholic" brought more cheers and crowd-surfing to the reggae into ska into hard-rock sound. The audience crowded the stage, and suddenly Moore's suspenders broke, dropping his drawers as he flashed the audience. A true professional, he kept singing, shrugging rhythmically as he redressed himself.
Fishbone at CBGB :: 09.28
There was such an intense male vibe to the evening: dark, sweaty, manly. They performed "Date Rape," which they had contributed to the Sublime tribute album. It was tight with a twisted sense of mania; the crowd and band were soaked in sweat. The small room pulsed. They played "Party at Ground Zero," written nearly 20 years before 9/11, so potent in our city's present state. An audience member climbed onto the stage, sang the chorus into the mic, and jumped off.
"Fishbone is red hot!" called the people in perfect rhythm. "Red Hot!"
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