The Hum: “Mac Is Big” ~ Mac Demarco @ Sapphire Palace 5/15

Mac Demarco ~ photo by Coley Brown

You probably know Mac’s face, although you may not know who he is. You’ve undoubtedly seen an ad for his upcoming concert since there’s a larger-than-life photo of him on a billboard along the northbound 101 safety corridor outside of Eureka. It shows Mac Demarco, a 20-something dude in a hoodie with a gap-toothed grin, and tells us he has a show in the Sapphire Palace at the Blue Lake Casino on Wednesday, May 15.

Tour for Mac Demarco’s latest, Here Comes The Cowboy is underway…

Mac popped up in my Facebook feed last week, a post from Happy, an Australian music mag I follow, with a link to his latest YouTubeage. They explain, “Mac DeMarco has shared a new video for [the song] ‘On The Square,’ the latest taste from his upcoming album Here Comes The Cowboy. We’re not sure what on earth’s going on in this video, but it’s great.”

I don’t know what’s going on either, but the strangeness features Mac in formal dress with a pig mask and a Cthulhu mask building a white brick wall. The music is what I’d called mellow alt. rock, others call it “slacker rock,” Mac prefers “jizz jazz.” The new album was just released on Mac’s record label called simply Mac’s Record Label. He recorded it with vintage Japanese synthesizers and beat-up guitars in an apartment studio called Jizz Jazz Studios. 

There’s a very local angle to all this: Mac’s successful career is intimately interconnected with former Eurekan Michelle Cable of Panache Booking.

Michelle is currently located in L.A. but she founded Panache in 1998 in Eureka, starting off with a zine. I wrote some stuff for Panache. And when Jensen Rufe made a movie about the local DIY scene, “Rural Rock & Roll,” in 2006, Michelle and I served as talking heads providing commentary. (If you’re a Humboldter, you can see lots of people you know here.)

As noted in a company bio, “Panache has existed as many different entities in the music industry since then. We originated as a music zine, born out of the pure love of discovering bands that both inspired and shook your soul. Eventually Panache evolved into a North American booking agency when we started organizing tours for bands nationwide. 

After existing as an agency for over a decade, Panache expanded into music management to help our uniquely talented artists find the guidance they needed to develop their art into sustainable, healthy, long-lasting careers.”

They’ve been handling the successful Ty Segall since in 2012; Mac DeMarco joined their roster in 2013.

From Paris 2013

There’s much more to Michelle’s story, a move to NYC, a bad van crash, recovery, etc. before eventually coming home to California. Panache today is described as “a collective of independent minded music lovers who pride ourselves in thinking outside the box [as they] bridge the gap between DIY culture and commercial success while always keeping the artist’s best interest and integrity to heart.”

Mac and Panache‘s Michelle are truly DIY personified.

I’m sure this will be a cool show. The opening act was supposed to be Instagram phenom Melanie Faye who loves guitars, Jimi and rainbows. However, Mac and co. report, “Some sad news – unfortunately, Melanie Faye can’t join Mac on tour this May… (but you can see what you missed)

“However, [Aussie pop singer] Holiday Sidewinder will join for all of Melanie’s dates (except Seattle)! 

Director Thom Kerr shot this vid in Los Angeles using a iPhone.

Check out the updated tour poster above made by the talented Robert Beatty. Doors @ 8 p.m. Showtime @ 9. Ages 16+ and they note, no chairs, “standing room only.”

The Hum: Blue Ox May Day Artisan Faire ~ 5/11 and 12


Blue Ox Historic Village’s 16th annual May Day Artisan Faire is coming up over Mother’s Day weekend, May 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the foot of X Street in Eureka. Michael and Monica tell you all about it…

The event features live music, storytellers, local food and libations, a kids zone, and more. Saturday includes live music from Dale Winget

Evan Morden and Seabury Gould

The Rinky Dink String Band

Rinky Dink String Band

Sunday’s music lineup includes Jaimie Fullmer, Icarus and Sons, and Mojave Green...

(more than a surf rock band….)

Blue Ox Village is a Historic Park and Millworks that’s been a pride of Humboldt County for 45 years. Blacksmithing, pottery, fiber arts, woodworking, and much more happen at the Blue Ox, and May Day is the public’s chance to check it all out, and maybe even sign up for a discounted day-of workshop during the event.

This 2019 event is the second year organized by Dayl Hollenbeck, daughter of Blue Ox founders Eric and Viviana. “Growing up in this community, I got to experience first hand what a unique and magical area this place can truly be,” says Hollenbeck. “The May Day Artisan Faire is just one way we at the Blue Ox Village try to support our community and all the talented artists and craftspeople in the area.”

“If you have ever been interested in trying one of our workshops,” Hollenbeck adds, “now is the perfect time to come out, get your hands a little dirty, and celebrate Mother’s Day and welcome in spring!”

Eric Hollenbeck

For more information on the May Day Artisan Faire, visit www.theblueox.org or follow Blue Ox Historic Village on Facebook.

photos by Bob Doran


The Hum: Redwood Coast Music Festival ~ 5/9-11


As you may or may not remember, 29 years ago the Redwood Coast Music Festival was known as the Redwood Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival. The transition happened slowly, first by adding what was considered “alternative” bands to an all traditional jazz lineup. A couple of other things happened when Deborah Lazio was handling booking. (I have to admit, I don’t remember the exact sequence.)

Big name non-jazz acts were hired as headliners, and a spin-off outdoor blues fest, Blues by the Bay, was added for Labor Day weekend. 

While BbtB was popular, especially with the baby boomer demographic, it lost money, and was discontinued a few years ago. (Acres of Blues is trying keep that spirit going at Redwood Acres, but that’s a story for another day.)

While there’s still an audience for Dixieland, its old fans are dying off, and the fest had added more pure swing, zydeco and R&B acts, basically all sorts of acts, like at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. At some point “Dixie” was dropped and for a few years it was known as the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival. In 2014, “jazz” was dropped from the name, as blues became important to the lineup and Western Swing was added. Redwood Coast “Music” Festival was born.

At this point it seems like the RCMF has completely merged with Blues by the Bay. The big name acts come from the blues world and you can go to the fest and hear no “jazz” at all, if that’s what you want to do. Really, with music in six venues, there’s too much to choose from.

My blues loving friend deejay Good Rockin’ Derral Campbell is afraid he’ll have a heart attack from a blues overdose. “Oh geez this lineup is stuffed with virtuosity and fun. It’s gonna be time for some very tough calls. Little Charlie’s gonna be wearing at least three hats 1) the Charlie Christian thing Saturday at 3 (Sat. at the Sequoia Center); 2) Two nights of performing with Carl Sonny Leyland… fascinates me with the prospects for high humor and hijinks (Fri./Sat. @ the Muni); and 3) A reunion w/ Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. Charlie and Kid Andersen at the SAME time? (Sat. 9-ish at the Muni) You know, all my college roommate buddies have had heart attacks now, and I know I’m playing on house money myself. And I may be pushing my luck this Friday night. I’m not excited though.”

(Here’s what he wrote about the fest for Jefferson Public Radio, “The Blues Is Back At The Redwood Coast Music Festival.” Derral is host of Rollin’ the Blues and The Blues Show on Saturdays on JPR’s Rhythm & News Service.)

Here’s what Little Charlie Baty, has planned, he’s the former leader of the Nightcats and will play with Rick Estrin and his former bandmates, as well as with Carl Sonny Leyland and others… well, I’ll let him take over.

“One of my big moments is rapidly approaching,” says Charlie. “It might be my biggest moment – you never know. This weekend I will be appearing as a Special Guest or Guest of Honor or a title with some sort of honorific attached to it at the Redwood Coast Music Festival in Eureka CA.

“My work starts on Friday. I will perform with the legendary pianist/vocalist Carl Sonny Leyland and his combo, during a set of blues and swing. Then I will rest for a few minutes and then reunite with Rick Estrin and the Nightcats for a brief spell. If all of that excitement doesn’t kill me, I’ll return the next day to perform a special Tribute to Charlie Christian set with a hand-picked combo of 7 or 8 people – drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist Sam Rocha, trumpet player Marc Caparone are just some of the players and we will also be joined by vocalist Dawn Lambeth. Then another set or two with Sonny Leyland. I get tired just typing about it.

“There will be so much talent at this festival. Curtis Salgado will be there. My friend Geoff Miller and the Twilight Drifters will be playing. Pianist John Cocuzzi will be swinging until the girls come home. It is such a fun festival – traditional jazz, blues, rockabilly, swing, and probably all sorts of other music that I’m not up on. Over 200 musicians will be performing. I’ll get a chance to play with some of the most talented swing and trad cats out there. Plus I’ll get a chance to ham it up with Rick Estrin and Kid Andersen again, listen to Lorenzo Farrell’s soulful organ playing, and enjoy the steady pocket of Alexander Pettersen.

“Then there’s trying to keep up with Sonny Leyland. What a talented soul and just a plain nice guy he is! I love the way Dawn Lambeth sings – a beautiful voice without a bunch of unnecessary frills – she just has a way of selling a song with her voice. And, finally, I’ll be able to release this catharsis of Charlie Christian songs and ideas that have building up inside me for months.

“Now you’re caught up – check the oil, check the tire pressure, fill up the car with gas, pack a light bag and head up to Eureka. You’ll be glad that you did!”

KHUM’s blues deejay Chas Lewis recommends “Aki Kumar, Carl Sonny Leyland and Charlie Baty, Anthony Paule Soul Orch w/Wee Willie Walker” (all blues of course).

As Charlie mentioned, there’s a couple of sets by Curtis Salgado, who was the template for “Joliet Jake,” John Belushi’s character in the Blues Brothers. They hung out in Eugene when Animal House was filmed, and Belushi basically lifted Curtis’ act, both the songs and his attitude. That happened while Curtis was in first incarnation of the Robert Cray Band, where he served as brash front man for shy “Young Robert.” Curtis went on to serve as lead singer for Roomful of Blues and by the early ‘90s, he had his own band. In 2010 he was one of the headliners for Blues by the Bay after winning a Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year. He’s played here a couple of times with Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blow-Out (and will do so again elsewhere), but lately he’s been playing with guitarist Alan Hagar

Look for the flags marking venues…

Sarah Marina says, “When picking bands, consider venues. I like pairing them like wine and food for a tailored experience. 🙂 Ex: Morris Graves Museum for an intimate and lofty artistic moment as opposed to the vibrant mass of energy at the Muni. Same band in each setting is a different experience altogether. Same venue with each band… also unique.

“The other factor is guest artists rotating through each band. I heard [fiddler] Tom Rigney duel it out with Brian Casserly [trumpet] a couple years ago and that was an on fire duo. They are back at the Adorni Saturday night to do it again and I expect it to be a great show if you don’t mind missing a portion of the Muni blues.”

Speaking of blues, my friend Katy Stern says, “Don’t miss Anthony Paule and Frank Bey,” part of the big blues-orama Saturday at the Muni (with Curtis as “special guest). Everyone has their faves.

It ain’t cheap, they have different prices depending on if you’re just going to one day, but $30 is the cheapest. Please note: ticket sales locations are at the Muni and Adorni venues ONLY.  Will Call is at the Adorni venue. If you can’t afford a ticket, there’s always the free show Sunday morning with our own Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir singing at 10 a.m. at the Adorni. And Les Craig notes there’s music all over Old Town, “We’ll be on the Gazebo Saturday from 11 to 1, courtesy of Eureka Main Street.”

It’s this weekend!

See ya somewhere, people…

The Hum: Turning Gray Skies Blue + (plus) + more

People all over the world (everybody), join hands (join), start a love train, love train… The next stop that we make will be soon The O’Jays

After working as a music writer for several decades now, I’ve assembled a massive collection of records, CDs, etc. I wish I could say they’re well-organized — alphabetized or whatever — but they’re not, not at all, except a side collection of music by local artists. One corner of my office is dedicated to shelves full of CDs by Humboldt-based artists (and a few tapes), A to Z selections by artists from Absynth Q and Afromassive to Yer Dog and Robert Ziino. 

The other day I was talking with my friend, the musician/deejay Lyndsey Battle, about local bands. She was thinking about doing a segment of her show on KHUM show featuring locals. I invited her over and we started going through my stash looking for music by folks that she hadn’t heard. We didn’t get far, maybe to the end of “D”s with the rare Dynamite Sweater demo. When she returned the discs, I asked what she’d liked best. The first one she mentioned was one she hadn’t heard before, the eponymous album by Barking Dogma, with none other than Tim “Timmy” Gray on drums and vocals, among others.

Barking Dogma

Now as it turns out, Arcata Playhouse is hosting a benefit for Timmy Friday, May 3 (doors @ 7 p.m. showtime @ 7:30). The musical evening, titled “Get On Board the Love Train,” will raise money for his medical expenses. As Joyce Hough explains, “Several years ago [he] was diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disorder which has restricted his ability to pursue his widely recognized talents as a musician and sound engineer/designer.” 

Timmy Gray at work

Even if you don’t know his name, chances are you’ve heard Timmy’s work. In addition to Barking Dogma, he was a member of Lance Romance (a long time ago), The Bayou Swamis, The Joyce Hough Band and other bands. He also recorded a mess of local bands, and served as music director for Dell’Arte for over 20 years. 

The upcoming Mad River Festival will feature “Turning Gray Skies Blue: The Music of Timmy Gray” with directed by Dell’Arte artist director Michael Fields. The Dell’Arte Company will celebrate “a lifetime of work” by their resident sound designer, with a “concert for the ages” featuring music he wrote for Mary Jane: The Musical, Blue Lake: The Opera, Wildcard, Grasshopper and the proverbial “much more!” (June 21, 22, 28, & 29 @ 8 p.m.)

Friday’s show at the Playhouse features the aforementioned Lyndsey Battle with Cory Goldman

Old Dog with Marty Dodd, Gary Davidson, Tom Pexton, and Dave Deason…

and a solo set by guitarist/handyman Jeff Landon, who just happens to be replacing the gutters on my house as I compose this column. (He’s also been working on a new song for the show that I can’t tell you about.)

(Jeff is on guitar and vocalst.)

Closing the show will be dance music by Home Cookin’ with Joyce Hough, Fred Neighbor, Mike LaBolle, Gary Davidson (again) and Timmy.

“Join us for an evening of celebration as we lend our friend Tim a hand on the Love Train,” says Joyce, adding, “You can also assist Tim at GoFundMe: gofundme.com/timgraylovetrain.” Advance tix recommended. Get ‘em at Wildberries or online at brownpapertickets.com.

Elsewhere

Coming to Humbrews Thursday, May 2, it’s Sepiatonic, an “electro-vaudeville” outfit from Portland, Ore. somehow combining “brass, bass, beats, bellydance, and burlesque.” A local connection is oneKarolina Lux, who says, “Hellooo Humboldt peeps! ‘Tis I, your long-lost returning HSU Marching Lumberjack bellydancing trumpet-playing friend 😉 back with my band/dance project Sepiatonic, and we are ready to RAGE the face off Humbrews… We have house/bass beats, we have brass, we have bellydance and babes. Please come by…xoxo”

If you know your Humboldt art history, you know that the deep roots of the amazing art umbrella org Ink People Center for the Arts lie in founder Libby Maynard’s printmaking. Their latest project is a back-to-the-roots thing, the Old Town Ink Lab, a “makers space for print media and literary arts” opening in Eureka at 212 G Street. The space will feature several printing presses, as well as work stations, tools, resources, and equipment for public use. They mark their Grand Opening Friday, May 3, from 4 to 6 p.m. when the public will have an opportunity to say hello and make their own prints on one of the presses at no charge.

Deadhead alert: Friday (5/3) at Humbrews catch Garcia Birthday Band (aka GBB) allegedly “the premier Grateful Dead Tribute in the Pacific Northwest,” based in Portland, formed in 1999. They play on days that are not Jerry’s b-day.

At the Alibi, late that same Friday, “a rockin’ night of heavy psych music” by The Freeks from L.A. and CV from Eureka. “Music at 11 p.m. sharp. Bring earplugs.” Nuff said.

You might know the soulful folksinger Chris Webster from her Sacto band Mumbo Gumbo. She plays without them at the Arcata Playhouse Saturday evening (5/4, 8 p.m.) backed by the extremely accomplished accompanist Nina Gerber, who is best known for her role as Kate Wolf’s guitarist. 

The Humboldt State Calypso Band, led by Professor Eugene Novotney, plays that same Saturday in HSU’s Fulkerson Recital Hall (also @ 8 p.m.) For 33 years they’ve been dedicated to “maintaining an accurate and authentic connection to the roots of the steel band movement, and to the innovative musicians of Trinidad,” with this special show dedicated to the memory of the late Clifford Alexis, a native of Trinidad & Tobago, who built and tuned the first set of steelpans made for the HSU Calypso Band and played with them dozens of times. Yes, of course, they’ll be playing one of his tunes, also one dedicated to him. 

Okay, that’s all for now… Take a dip in the pool with Visible Cloaks…

The Hum: 4/20 2019

If you live in Humboldt, you can imagine why four-twenty is such a big deal here – and it has nothing to do with blackbirds baked in a pie. For the uninitiated, 420 (or 4:20, or 4/20) is code for getting baked, as in the consumption of marijuana, or to be P.C. cannabis. Exactly why that number is lost somewhere in a smoky mist of lost memory cells for some.

The urban legend website Snopes.com debunks the theory that 420 comes from the California penal code section relating to marijuana use and pooh poohs the notion that there are 420 active chemical compounds in pot (for what it’s worth, High Times says there are 315). The folks at Snopes guess that the term came from a group of Marin County teen stoners who gathered every afternoon at 20 after 4 to share a smoke. (Was it pure chance that the initial legislative deal implementing California’s medical marijuana initiative Prop. 215 was Senate Bill 420?)

A controversial 4/20 gathering in Arcata’s Redwood Park 2008 ~ photo by Bob Doran

Whatever the source, the time and associated date have become synonymous with herb culture, which means it is an auspicious day to do something that stony types might want to attend, with special attention to jammish music, Dead stuff and, of course, reggae.

It’s 4/20 time at Humbrews, with Deadheads gathering for Hammond B-3 organist Melvin Seals and JGB in day two of a two-night run. (You’re supposed to know Melvin played keys for the Jerry Garcia Band.)

On Saturday, the Wave at the Blue Lake Casino celebrates 4/20 with The Miracle Show. You are invited to “bring back those flashbacks of that indescribable feeling that a great Dead show gave us all,” (for those not at the JGB show).

All day (noon-midnight) Blondie’s celebrates RedwoodStock on 4/20 with La Mancha, Over Yonder, Jade Moon (from L.A.), Los DuneBums, Cornbread Kelly. Flying Hellfish and Tonalites.

Forever Found (in Eureka) celebrates the “End of Prohibition” with a big reggae-centric bash with Rasta vet Don Carlos, plus Woven Roots and Object Heavy and local DJs and live artists galore. (Starts at 3 p.m.)

Skip ahead to 4:20

The Hum: A quick KHSU R.I.P. plus more…

Gregg “Vinny” DeVaney @ KHSU Pledge Drive ~ photo by Bob Doran

I’m in mourning. My dear friend died the other day. It’s not like it was a surprise. My friend’s health wasn’t that great, and frankly, as I grow older, I lose friends all the time. But losing KHSU is different. I was still suffering from a rough 2018, when I lost my radio co-conspirator Gregg “Vinny” DeVaney of Fogue fame, then my mom gave up on life. Oh well, what else can you say but R.I.P… I could go on and on, but that may have to wait for another day…

And in the end, Ed Campbell played a requiem by Stravinsky…
Phil Ricord gathered names for an R.I.P. ad in the Union ~ photo by Bob Doran

For now it’s time for some Humming…

The Sanctuary regularly hosts artists in residence. This time they’re puppeteers. They present Poppo & Baloney and the Dream Circus April 18, 19, and 20, an original tale told by a “multidimensional cast of puppets, dancers, and live musicians” in collaboration with students from Dell’Arte (and others, including my young friend Vela). “All things are possible with a little make-believe and your imaginary friend.” Kid friendly, but for adults too. Thursday and Friday @ 7 p.m. Saturday matinee @ 2 p.m. “Kids 12 and under FREE!”

David Jacob Strain and Bob Beach play some blues and more Thursday, April 18 (7-9 p.m.) at Westhaven Center for the Arts. David’s been playing mean slide guitar for decades, lately with Bob’s virtuoso harmonica.

Orpheus leads Eurydice away from the Underworld

Your chance to hear the Orphic Percussion Quartet in concert comes Friday, April 19 at the Arcata Playhouse. You might ask, what is “orphic’?

According to Classic Wisdom.com, “The Orphic religion, as well as their texts, was said to have been associated with the literature from the mythical poet, Orpheus. In the myth of Orpheus, his wife Eurydice suffers a fatal encounter with a snake. By journeying to the Underworld and composing a song that softens the heart of Hades, Orpheus is able to win his wife’s resurrection, but on one condition: he mustn’t turn back to look at her on his way out. Of course, he can’t resist one last look, and he immediately loses his love a second time. From then on, Orpheus can only recall Eurydice’s ghost through song.”

Young marimba master Cameron Leach spoke for the Orphic group. I started by asking about a connection with the local outfit Marimba One, who are usually responsible for marimba shows at the Playhouse. “We are sponsored by Marimba One,” he noted, adding, “although I’m personally sponsored by a different manufacturer.”

How would he describe the music? Is it classical music, neo-classical, experimental?

I’d characterize our music under the umbrella of “contemporary percussion ensemble music.” We are doing our best to bring together two things that sometimes are viewed as disparate in the contemporary music landscape—things that are easily listenable and accessible to a wide range of audiences, but also very high quality and substantial pieces that push the art form.

We think these two can go hand in hand, and are continuing to develop that idea through new commissions from exceptional composers. I’d say that in and of itself is an identifying factor of the group. We also all have experience marching with various drum corps, which is particularly uncommon among concert percussion ensembles. 

The instrumentation for the group is percussion quartet. We don’t really gravitate towards a particular setup, but recently we have been performing and commissioning pieces for mallet quartet (2 vibraphone and 2 marimbas—instruments that are typically provided at venues), and also smaller “suitcase pieces” which only require instruments that can be easily packed and transported.”

Friday, April 19 is your last chance to experience playwright Eve Ensler’s Any One of Us: Words from Women in Prison, this time at the Eureka Women’s Club. There’s a gourmet dinner at 6 p.m. Showtime at 7.

Remember those bluesy rockers the Clint Warner Band from a decade ago. They were allegedly “dubbed the ‘Hardest Working Band in the Region’ for 5 years straight” a decade ago. Well, they’re back to “melt the stage down” for a reunion show in the Wave Lounge at the Blue Lake Casino on Friday 4/19.

Also on Friday (4/19), Full Moon Fever returns to the Jam with tunes by the late great Tom Petty.

Yes, Piet and Pete are together again. Says Jam owner, Pete Ciotti, “I’m gonna be rejoining Full Moon Fever for a night this Friday April 19th at The Jam. It’s gonna be fun to dust off the guitar and sing some Tom Petty. I hope you all can make it out! 2 sets!!”

It’s kinda like 4/20-Eve crosstown at Humbrews, with Deadheads gathering for Hammond B-3 organist Melvin Seals and JGB starting a two-night run 4/19 & 20. (Melvin played keys for the Jerry Garcia Band.)

More on 4/20 haps coming tomorrow…

The Hum: Jenny Scheinman visits the City of Looms

Robbie, Jenny and Robbie

There’s a brief moment in local fiddler Jenny Scheinman’s movie/concert thing, “Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait,” when we see a man with a hat shot from below. He seems serious at first, like he looking off toward some unknown future. Then he looks down and sees the camera (and with it the cameraman), and that far-away serious look breaks momentarily, and he starts to smile. You’re supposed to smile for the camera. Sometimes you can’t help yourself.

Still from Chapel Hill, N.C., 1939 by H. Lee Waters

The cameraman was one H. Lee Waters (“H” for Herbert, but no one called him that), who ran a photo studio in Lexington, North Carolina (with help from his wife) for over half a century — 1926 on. 

He mostly made a living doing portrait work: weddings, school groups, people at church, shopping, at work, anywhere groups gathered, but as the Depression hit, the luxury nature of photography hurt his business. He had to find find another way to make some money with a camera, and he did, with a movie camera. 

H. Lee used his to make what he called Movies of Local People, focused on exactly that: folks at work, in the street, kids on playgrounds, parades, again, anywhere groups gathered in small towns in the South. The short flicks were shown in movie theaters before the main attraction — usually some Hollywood fare — and he got a small percentage of the take. As a side result the lives of “local people” were captured forever, set in amber for posterity. 

H. Lee’s work lives on. His negatives went to the Davidson County Historical Museum and the movies ended up in the Archive of Documentary Arts | David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Shooting in North Carolina and portions of Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, Waters produced 252 films across 118 communities. There’s a treasure trove there. 

At some point someone one at Duke burned a DVD of some of the (silent) movies, and gave it to Jenny. She was enchanted and wrote hours of music, matching the feel with Appalachian instruments. Jenny’s friends Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe, both multi-instrumentalist string players from Chicago, signed on to fill in the musical gaps, again with a timeless Appalachian feel. 

Jenny talks about creating a soundtrack for H. Lee Water’s films.

Finn Taylor, a Berkeley-based filmmaker (think Sundance) was enlisted. He worked with editor Rick Lecompte, and sound designer Trevor Jolly, to turn the raw footage into something new. The project was initially rolled out in 2015 via Duke Performances (like CenterArts, but for Duke University in Durham). What you’d have to call a multi-media event centered on a Carolina town called Kannapolis, once known as “the City of Looms,” home to a textile mill.

Getting off work at the mill.

You may know Cannon for towels, sheets, stuff you’d find at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, or K-Mart or wherever. They used to make that stuff in company towns like Kannapolis, until 2003 when Cannon went bankrupt and closed the mill. The Cannon label became part of Iconix, “a portfolio of strong global consumer brands across fashion,” etc. alongside Boxer shorts, London FogOcean Pacific and other product lines (plus Peanuts Worldwide, Charles Schultz’ brand). In short, they’re now made in China (or thereabouts), instead of in the U.S. of A. (A YouTube search for “Kannapolis implosion” shows you a huge factory collapsing, and with it, metaphorically, the textile business. 

Returning to Jenny’s musical “Moving Portrait,” it doesn’t exactly touch on current events, and is more interested, at least musically and visually, in the outer edges of America, where the South met the rest of the country, and the old met the new. 

Jenny is originally from Petrolia (where “shift happens”). Her fiddle took her across the country to play post-modern music with the likes of John Zorn and the downtown New York crowd. She’s played in righteous babe Ani DiFranco’s band, made Mischief & Mayhem with guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Jim Black, and bassist Todd Sickafoose, then came home, metaphysically and musically with a more folky record, The Littlest Prisoner (2014).

That was followed by Here on Earth (2017), which draws on the music she wrote for the Kannapolis project. It pulls you deep into the Appalachians, with tunes redolent of Scotch/Irish roots and touches of the blues, familiar yet totally original.

There’s resonator guitar and banjo, a little bit of electric guitar (Bill Frisell plays on the record, and but I’m sure the two Robbies suffice)…

…the only thing missing is the visuals.

I’ve been waiting patiently for her to bring it home, and thanks to gentle prodding from the folks at the Arcata Playhouse, it’s happening, and in a bigger venue, the Arkley Center, on Friday, April 5. There might be a few tickets left on this one-night-only performance. (Or maybe there’s a miracle out there.)

Listen to Lyndsey Battle speak with Jenny Scheinman about the show on KHUM radio.

“These are America’s home movies. They contain a clue to our nature, an imprint of our ancestry. They were shot before Americans had sophisticated understanding of film, and capture truthfulness that one is hard-pressed to find in this day and age now that we are immersed in a world of social media, video and photography. These people can dance. Girls catapult each other off seesaws and teenage boys hang on each other’s arms. Toothless men play resonator guitars on street corners, and toddlers push strollers through empty fields. They remind us of our resilience and of our immense capacity for joy even in the hardest of times.” – Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman ~ photo by Bob Doran

Event promoter and coordinator David Ferney from the Arcata Playhouse became aware of the project in 2015 when it first premiered at Duke University where is was commissioned. The university originally approached Scheinman with the idea of creating a performance piece with the archival footage of H. Lee Waters. Scheinman enlisted filmmaker Finn Taylor as a collaborator on the final project. Ferney had his eye on the performance film project and spent three years trying to coordinate a Humboldt screening.

“I knew it was special and felt that it needed to be presented in Humboldt.” said Ferney. “I originally approached Merrick McKinlay at the Minor Theatre and we planned to present it there, but we felt the capacity was just too small. Jenny suggested the Arkley and everything fell into place.”

The Minor wanted to stay involved so in addition to being a sponsor, they are providing the projections for the movie. “The Arkley has been great with helping us make it all work. It has really been a coming together of a great team to bring this special project to our Humboldt community.” said Ferney.

About Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe:

Guitarist and singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks, a mainstay of the Chicago folk scene, has released 10 solo records on the Bloodshot, Geffen, Boondoggle (self produced ), and Yep Roc labels. He’s made multiple appearances on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” “Mountain Stage,” and “World Cafe”, PBS’s Austin City Limits; NBC’s TodayLate Night with Conan O’Brien, and 30 Rock. Film use of his music includes True Blood and My Name Is Earl. From 2004 to 2008 Fulks hosted an hour-long performance/interview program for XM satellite radio, “Robbie’s Secret Country.” His compositions have been covered by Sam Bush, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, Rosie Flores, John Cowan, and Old 97s. As an instrumentalist, he has accompanied everyone from the Irish fiddle master Liz Carroll to New Orleans pianist Dr. John.

Robbie Gjersoe is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter & occasional engineer and producer who has worked on a variety of musical projects wide-ranging in style and content over the last 30 years. He plays guitar, bottleneck slide, resonator, dobro, baritone ukulele, mandolin, nylon string, cavaquinho, viole, 12-string, lap steel, pedal steel, and bass. With Screen Door Music, which he co-created, he has composed and performed soundtracks for many films including Grand Champion, Robbing Peter, and Vanishing Of The Bees. His music was used in the movie The Hot Flashes and the TV show The Mentalist.

About Finn Taylor:

Finn Taylor wrote and directed Dream With The Fishes (Sony Classics), Cherish (Fine Line), The Darwin Awards (Fox and Icon Entertainment) and Unleashed (Level 33 and Voltage Entertainment) and co-wrote Pontia Moon, produced by Paramount Pictures. A three-time Sundance alum and native to the SF Bay Area, his recent feature documentary, Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait, premiered at the National Gallery at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY and is continuing to tour throughout the country through 2019.

His most recent feature film, Unleashed, won six audience awards, at festivals across the country, including MVFF39, and was picked up for US distribution by Level 33 and foreign distribution by Voltage Entertainment. Variety, in its 50th Anniversary edition, selected Finn Taylor for its prestigious list of “The Top 20 Creatives to Watch.”

Jenny writes saying,

“Hello friends! Here we go again – more music and shows! A week from today my movie and live music piece Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait will commence a tour of the west coast. This piece is about community, so I’m especially excited to be finally presenting a hometown gig at The Arkley Center in Eureka!

We will also be bringing ‘Kannapolis’ to The Savannah Music Festival where I will be in residence as a teacher for a full week along with Bryan Sutton, Darrell Scott and Mike Marshall – very much looking forward to that!

In May and June Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller’s Parlour Game will be in the northeast, midwest and west coast. We have been working really hard to finish our debut album – it is mixed, nearly mastered, and we will be celebrating its official release at Newport Jazz Festival in early August.

Also I wanted to let you know that I will be leading a new string program at Jazz Camp West this summer in beautiful La Honda, CA. The faculty there is extraordinary, and from my friends’ accounts it is a completely transformative experience to attend. Feel free to email me with questions, and please spread the word to string players far and wide. 

Thank all of you so much for listening and staying involved in the arts. 

Love & gratitude,
Jenny

Jenny Scheinman on Tour:
April 4 – La Jolla, CA – Lawrence Family JCC (Kannapolis)
April 5 – Eureka, CA – Playhouse Arts @ The Arkley  (Kannapolis)
April 6 – Corvallis, OR – Oregon State University (Kannapolis)
April 11 – Savannah, GA – Savannah Music Festival (Kannapolis)
May 9 – Brooklyn, NY – Barbes (Parlour Game)
May 10 – Brooklyn, NY – Barbes (Parlour Game) 
May 11 – Baltimore, MD – An Die Musik (Parlour Game)
May 12 – Millheim, PA – Mother’s Day Matinee @ Elk Creek Cafe!(Parlour Game)
May 14 – Durham, NC – Sharp Nine Gallery (Parlour Game)
May 15 – Columbus, OH – The Refectory (Parlour Game)
May 16 – Madison, WI – Art + Literature Laboratory (Parlour Game)
May 17 – Chicago, IL – The Green Mill (Parlour Game)
May 18 – Chicago, IL – The Green Mill (Parlour Game)
May 19 – Cleveland, OH – Nighttown (Parlour Game)
June 4 – Berkeley, CA – The Freight & Salvage (Parlour Game)
June 5 – Healdsburg, CA – Healdsburg Jazz Festival (Parlour Game)
June 7 – San Diego, CA – The Athenaeum (Parlour Game)
June 22-29 – La Honda, CA – Jazz Camp West (Teaching Residency)
August 3 – Newport, RI – Newport Jazz Festival (Parlour Game)
photo by Bob Doran