Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime Finds Home Away From Home

GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio – Unseasonably warm autumn weather has kept music festival season going strong this year, and that was evident at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park this past weekend.

At a time when camping and outdoor concert festivities are typically winding down, the jam-packed Quarry crowd was all wound up for one of the most highly anticipated weekends of the year – Fall Badfish Weekend headlined by Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime.

For more than a decade, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has been a summertime haven for swimming, camping and outdoor weekend music festivals. Over the past several years, the venue has become an Ohio headquarters for the wildly popular Badfish, which has earned its title as the biggest Sublime tribute band in the Midwest and Northeastern United States since first launching onto the scene in 2001.

Sublime’s unique West Coast ska/punk/rock sound was a revolutionary musical triumph of the 1990s that ended abruptly in 1996 with the untimely death of singer/guitarist/songwriter Bradley Nowell shortly before the band’s major label debut was released. The band’s breakthrough self-titled album subsequently became an instant classic, catapulting the band to posthumous fame. Despite the career-ending tragedy, Sublime ended up becoming one of the most successful bands of the late 1990s, and the band’s seemingly timeless music remains popular among many generations of fans today.

Although surviving members of Sublime have reformed with a new frontman, Badfish continues to maintain the spirit of Sublime and helps carry on the band’s legacy with grace. The band tours the nation and has become such an integral part of the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park’s lineup each season, it has grown to headline two festivals there in recent years – packing the park every time.

Badfish recreates the Sublime experience, capturing the party atmosphere and the endearing ’90s beach-bum, hip slacker vibe that the original band embodied. Sublime only released three studio albums worth of material during its brief career, and Badfish always provides thorough coverage of that treasured catalog, cranking out crowd-pleasing hits like “What I Got,” “Santeria,” and “Wrong Way” among others, all woven together with more obscure favorites like “The Ballad of Johnny Butt,” “Seed” and the tribute band’s namesake track “Badfish.”

Fans of Badfish become part of the show at Nelson Ledges, where most are camped out for the weekend and are primed to let loose. Badfish responds to the enthusiasm of the capacity crowd by inviting legions of fans onto the stages during several songs and leading the masses in an onslaught of modern day surf-anthem sing-alongs.

Today, the Rhode Island-based band is comprised of Pat Downes on lead vocals and guitar, Joel Hanks on bass, Scott Begin on drums and Dorian Duffy on guitar and keyboards, along with occasional musical guests on horns. One of the most interesting aspects of Badfish is the fact that they are actually an original band that has become more popular and well-known as a cover band. In fact, the group often opens up for itself, performing original tunes as Scotty Don’t before returning to the stage to headline as Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime.

The raucously fun show by Badfish during the recent Ohio stop was supported by opening sets featuring Scotty Don’t, Spiritual Rez, the Mucklebuck, Sultans of Bing, Schrub and Tropidelic for a full weekend of music and fun.

Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has one last music-filled weekend this season. The annual Halloween weekend celebration Gory at the Quarry will take place Oct. 25-27 with the venue decked out in the holiday spirit. There will be ghoulishly decorated “haunted” campsites, a costume contest and musical performances by Aliver Hall, the Mucklebuck, Well Worn Boot, Sultans of Bing, Ball-n-Chain, BigEar, Dead Ahead Ohio, the Next Doors and more. A heated 40-feet-by-80-feet tent – complete with a solar fire light show – will be available to keep the costumed crowd toasty.

For more information on Gory at the Quarry and other events at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, visit