Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach is stuffy--even worse than outside, where historic summer rains are turning Orange County into one giant sauna. But the dancers crowding the floor at the iconic tiki bar don't give a shit. In fact, they're writhing and grooving as if trying to will a storm into the place so it can soak them all and take them to Zion.
Or something like that. What's moving everyone is Reggae Sunday. Younger couples skank, high-step and spin one another around, ballroom style. Groups of beach cougars, gray-haired couples and kids smile and loosen up their limbs to the songs of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Gregory Isaacs--the faces carved onto the metaphoric Mount Rushmore of Reggae. Off to the side, a father teaches his doe-eyed daughter, her head full of braids, to dance to the band's stoned, one-two shuffle.
It's just 5:30 in the afternoon, yet the Beachcomber is already packed. From 3 to 7 p.m. every Sunday, George "Fully" Fullwood plunks down bass lines from his fingers as if transmitting straight from Trenchtown. To his right, drummer Rock Deadrick, guitarist and singer Bruno Coon, keyboardist John McKnight, and guitarist Tony Chin help him tear it up. And while most people who come to eat expensive seafood and dance to a cover band probably couldn't name any of the players, Fullwood and his crew get shoutouts of appreciation from the crowd throughout the evening. Because when Fullwood and his band perform songs such as "Jim Screechie," "Taxi Riddim" or their favorite Wailers songs, they're playing more than just covers; listen to the originals, and there's a decent chance it's one of Fullwood's bass lines you're hearing.