Gig Seeker Pro


Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Band Americana Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"FUBAR: Rock's Heart and Soul"

On a visit to Ireland's remote Dingle Peninsula years ago, my wife and I got wind of a music session at a local pub. In a back room, local musicians — mostly farmers — gathered with townsfolk, friends, and relatives. It was a rousing good time, with music as rich and polished as anything I've ever heard. At one point they called to the stage a young woman in the audience. She sang in a voice as clear and moving as a spring sky after a heavy rainstorm.

Walking into the Del Rio on a Tuesday evening to hear FUBAR is the closest thing to that experience I've had in Ann Arbor. They don't play Irish music, but the sensation is similar, even down to the unexpected thrills from a disarming female vocalist.

Seeing FUBAR is like sitting in on a jam session among discerning pop-rock veterans. They play with energy and skill that would be the envy of far-better-known bands — and with an enthusiasm that comes from playing the stuff they want to play. Apart from some highly compelling original material, most of their numbers are covers — but not of the standards that oldies stations have played to death.

Organized and fronted by Randy Tessier, the bassist of George Bedard and the Kingpins, FUBAR ranges idiosyncratically across the pop landscape of the last half century, from the Everly Brothers to Etta James to the Kinks to Jackie Wilson to U2. When FUBAR covers songs from well-known groups such as the Byrds, it's likely to be something obscure like "You and Me" rather than "Mr. Tambourine Man." This six-piece ensemble is equally adept at reinvigorating catchy but little-heard R&B tunes, such as Maxine Brown's infectious "Oh, No, Not My Baby." And not too many bands would reach for the flipped-out psychedelic frenzy of Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" and make it sound powerful and fresh. Most remarkably, FUBAR tackles the 1960s San Francisco cult group Love, spinning out energetic, inventive covers of two of that enigmatic group's most complex songs, "Alone Again Or," with its Latin-style saxophone wails, and "A House Is Not a Motel."

You don't expect a bunch of seasoned musicians to be this daring. But Tessier is a wild man — like a caged animal shaking his cell bars — and he's put together a band of musicians' musicians. Out front is the unprepossessing Sophia Hanifi, formerly of Map of the World, who doesn't look or act as if she has the kind of tart, tangy, soulful voice that can jolt your heart. The contrast between her almost evanescent stage presence and the power of her interpretations is disconcerting. The combination of Hanifi's sassy vocals, Tessier's rebel-rock attitude, and the rest of the band's talent and verve restores the heart and soul and unrepentant energy that rock used to have before it was hijacked by self-obsessed ironists.

FUBAR is at Leopold Bros. on Wednesday, June 12, and at the Top of the Park on Sunday, June 30.

—Michael Betzold
- ArborWeb Reviews


"Tell It. Think It. Speak It. Breathe It." Benefit CD Compilation for Michigan Peaceworks. Recorded at Big Sky Recording by Geoff Michael. 2002. FUBAR performs "For What It's Worth" (Stephen Stills).

"Suddenly FUBAR." Full-length CD on Country Whale Records. 2005. Available through CD Baby.

"FUBAR Four-Song Mega Single: Clean House." Country Whale Records. 2006. Available through www. thisisfubar.com.



About FUBAR:

FUBAR is one heavy band. Our combined weight probably approaches a ton and a half sans clothes and instruments. We typically practice on Mondays.

I’m already there. Who am I? Just your average suave and debonair cool guy looking for adventure in all the wrong places, or is that “love?” Did I also mention I was born to be wild, or is that “alive?” I’m confused. It must have been the acid I took at that last John Kay, Patrick Hernandez, Borders concert. But seriously, when I play the guitar it’s like ringing a bell. Problem is, I’m talking literally. I get more out of one note than most people get out of two. I sing with a growl reminiscent of the wood chipper in Fargo, and I’m a back-door man, as well. And remember, if you don’t like my chickens, don’t shake my tree. That’s the way I roll. I simply can’t be topped, unless we’re talking in the Othellonian sense of being 'tupped,' you know, like your you, or me, or ewe, yeah, that’s it, ewe.

Jim, or Andy, arrives first. Jim’s infectious laugh and Andy’s jocular good humor always bring a warm smile to my face. Just mine. Beer and tequila, two critical components in the pre-ceremonial, dithyrambic rites that steady us for rehearsal, are then dispensed. Cacophonic discussions commence regarding world events (Rush Limbaugh’s chequered past), local gossip concerning the other members of the band’s weird foibles and strange quirks (mine and Dave’s snapdragon fetish, and Shadow’s litter eatin'), musical news (Prince’s blockage of Radiohead’s tubes), and other cool stuff. The British Columbians from next door often visit, bringing fresh Absinthe, Mushroom Quiche, and other world delectables.

Jim’s a pro. He’s a Tai-Chi master and garage sale guru. He knows what’s up, and how to keep it up there. Wanna know more? He regularly channels Gene Krupa’s ghost as a way of letting off steam. And what steam he lets off, sha-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye. His drumming provides the perfect accompaniment to Sophia’s angelic warblings and my dust-devil leads. His maraca work has been compared with that of the world-renowned triangle ensemble, the Square Roots. But even this skill pales in comparison to his cowbell work. He brings a freshness to “Mississippi Queen” that only a true student of the Sixties could pull off. They don’t call him Mr. Tambourine man for nothing. I don’t want to say he likes hippies, but he plays in a band called ‘Deep Space Six.' Jim Rules (right on)!

Andy is the brains of the outfit. He puts the man in Mensa. His glissandos flutter and dive like deranged birds on a kamakazi mission from Beelzebub. He plays good, too. Black keys, white keys, he can play ‘em all. He’s callin' the rain as he walks down the road to ever ‘cos he’s an artist who don’t look back. His accordion work on “Brand New Start” is so strong he received a glowing endorsement letter from Myron Floren. I recall a funeral gig where his organ playing revived a dead man. The shocked widow demanded her money back. His effusive affection for fusion fandangos fuels the full-throated fanfares he serenades his fulsome bride with. He can make a half-note sound like eight notes. He’s that good. He’s a sauna-building family man, too.

Next come Sophia and Oni. I typically have a bottle of vintage white wine awaiting our diva, Sophia (that means “wise” in Canadian).

Sophia has a sparkle, a wit, a grace, a charm that is so, so exquisite as to be, be, be, beyond words. Her voice is like the Zephyrs’ breath in birth of a nation, I mean, Botticelli’s Venus. Her subtle countenance belies a passionate intensity that is infused with Celtic drenched Bjork-like undertones that embellish her Foundational overtones. This not-so-swirling chanteuse will build up your buttercups and tear down your snapdragon (not snapdragons again!). She’s like the Wal-Mart of femme fatale torch singers: “Best Voice, Always.” Her sensitive treatment of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” and Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s have a party””…well, they laughed, they cried, they fell on their bums. Need I say more? No? Okay, I will. Won’t! Psyche.

The sound Oni gets on the bass was first heard on ancient Mt. Olympus when Zeussy topped Callisto. Their hoochie-coochin' was so thunderous, Hera turned her into a bear. Imagine the mating grunts of walri combined with a sassy sousa-phone, and you begin to get a vague idea of the country-whale-like backbeat this guy provides. An imperfect analogy for Oni’s and Jim’s steady presence would be if the rock of Gibraltar and Pyramid at Giza had a baby. Bruce Jack once studied at the feet of Oni, whose hands are like giant, graceful sausages poised to stoke your soul’s griddle. We be griddlin'. But seriously, Oni was playing the 13 string banjo-bass when Noel Redding was in three-cornered, or is that eight stringed, pants. He’s so good he makes Jaco sound like me. He’s a house-cleanin', Jamersonian, Huffington-huffin', hobgoblin that specializes in soul. He knows ribs.