Bruce ‘Fish’ Barthol in Pompey


Bruce Barthol – from Country Joe & the Fish will be playing in the back room of The R.M.A. Tavern in Cromwell Road, Eastney on Wednesday 29th April – on acoustic guitar rather than his usual bass

Bruce Barthol was the bass player in the original and best ever Country Joe & The Fish line up, and appeared on their classic Country Joe & The Fish albums, “Electric Music For The Mind And Body”, “Feel Like I’m Fixin To Die” & “Together”. Without his bass guitar, tracks such as “Bass Strings” just wouldn’t have been the same. Country Joe & The Fish played the Monterey Festival in California, the first of the big open air festivals . This three-day event held in 1967, attracted an estimated attendance of 90,000. It featured the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix and The Who, and also the first major public performance of Janis Joplin, with her band Big Brother & The Holding Company. Country Joe & The Fish and Big Brother & The Holding Company also played at the 1969’s Woodstock Festival.

In 2004 The Country Joe Band was formed – Country Joe & The Fish without Barry “the Fish” Melton. Fronted by Country Joe McDonald (guitar/vocals), Bruce was on bass & vocals, David Bennett Cohen on keyboards/guitar and Chicken Hirsh on drums. 

They toured the U.K in 2004 and 2005, and headlined The Isle Of Wight Roots Festival in 2004, and in 2005 headlined Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Convention, in front of 25,000 people. 

After The Country Joe Band folded at the end of 2005, Bruce and David formed the supergroup The Former Members, with Roy Blumenfeld on drums, a founder member of Al Kooper’s Blues Project , and Greg Douglass , lead guitarist from the Steve Miller Band, Hot Tuna and Van Morrisons’ band. 

After successful Former Members gigs in the U.S.A , two U.K tours and a critically acclaimed CD, the band got together with guitarist Sam Andrew- founder and current member of Big Brother & The Holding Company. . The award winning U.K blues singer Bex Marshall joined them as “the voice Of Janis Joplin”. Their 2014 U.K tour was an unqualified success. 

As well Country Joe & The Fish, Bruce was also a founding member of the wonderful Formerly Fat Harry, and has also played Bruce has played with some of the best including Pete Seeger, Roy Harper, Ralph McTell, and many others, though his most enduring musical activity was as musical director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe for over 30 years. 

He’s written over 300 songs, and released a solo album, “The Decline & Fall Of Everything”. As would befit anyone who came out of that whole early 60s civil rights era, Bruce’s material oozes with razor sharp insight, social concern, deadpan humour and a cool anger, qualities absent from just about any other record you’re likely to hear in 2015. Anyone who’s caught The Country Joe Band live will instantly recognise ‘Cakewalk To Baghdad’ a satirical ode written specifically about the stupidity of the Iraq war, one he wrote after he heard some idiot talk about “it’s going to be a cakewalk.”

Doors open 8 p.m for 9 p.m, and tickets are just a fiver.

Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

3 thoughts on “Bruce ‘Fish’ Barthol in Pompey

  1. ‘Give me an F…….’

  2. “Gimme an F’#7 diminished!”

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