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The Fabulous Rudies, a seven-piece North County ska band booked to return as the “BBQ band” on this year’s Vans Warped Tour, have had a change of plans. In exchange for towing a large grill behind their tour bus and preparing and serving the food for 50-plus bands almost nightly, they would have played every date on the 46-stop tour.

In preparation for this year’s tour, Rudies members quit jobs, sold cars, and gave up apartments. But trombone player Don Carter says one of the band’s key members stopped communicating with all other band members six weeks ago.

“Two weeks after I lost contact with him, I called [Warped Tour founder and director] Kevin Lyman to let him know that one of the members was missing but we were going full-steam ahead and wanted to be the best barbecue band ever.”

But the missing musician continued to avoid contact with his bandmates. One member of the band blamed the player’s absence on a “meltdown.” On June 12, eight days before the tour began, Carter and Lyman knew they couldn’t count on the Rudies. Carter talked Lyman into replacing the Rudies with the Bleeding Irish, a four-piece group that relies heavily on traditional Irish drinking songs. Carter manages the Bleeding Irish.

Carter has been with the Rudies since high school. He and three others spent 12 years in the band.

“I think the Fabulous Rudies are over, but some of us have reorganized and are recording for a new project,” says Carter. He blames part of the Rudies’ demise on the fact that ska music has stagnated commercially. Carter says that the Rudies were asked to be on last year’s tour because of Lyman’s appreciation for ska.

The BBQ band gets $700 for each date of the tour – $300 for performing and $400 for food. The band is responsible for buying the burgers and hot dogs at each stop.

The Bleeding Irish are the third BBQ band from North County; the first was punk band Wanted Dead, which went on the 2002 tour. Pennywise and the Dropkick Murphys are two former BBQ bands to go on to commercial success.

– Ken Leighton

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