I promised more… Here’s The Hum Feb. 5-9 part two…
The activists at EPIC ask, “Love good music? Interested in local wood craftmanship?” You know I do. The Environmental Protection Information peeps have a benefit coming on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Arcata Playhouse, 7:30-10 p.m. with Axon Orchestra, a Django-inspired trio with FabriceMartinez on violin, DustyBrough on guitar, and MilesJay on stand-up bass.
I know Fabrice from Fishtank Ensemble, who I’ve heard at the Playhouse years ago (and loved). Also, “this event will also feature the release of a year-long project of two hand-crafted, horse drawn ‘gypsy wagons’ that will be rolled out for the first (and possibly only) time in Humboldt before they get shipped to Topanga Canyon.” I suspect Fabrice is pivotal in all of this, but I wonder how it happened without my hearing about the “project.” Show up early, 6:30-ish, for a pre-show soup/bread meal (sound like a Crib thing).
Whomp Wednesday has moved to the Miniplex, at least Feb. 5, this week with the “cyberdelic extra terrestrial music producer” Tripzy Leary from Vancouver, BC, “Morphing together psychedelic alien synesthesia with rich analogue bass frequencies that are spread across cyberspace…”
There’s also Minnesota at the ATL..
…and Pink Talking Fish at HumBrews, bands I talked about in the paper last week.
At HumBrews Thursday (2/6) they have That1Guy (aka Mike Silverman) on his Magic Pipe, a strange homemade contraption that started out as a double bass and mutated with various gadgetry. He also plays the Magic Boot and the Magic Saw, with more electro-magic. It’s hard to explain. Best to see him do his magic.
Also on Thursday, Elwood, a folk and soul musician from La Grande, OR, plays at Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. starting at 8 p.m.
The Thursday concert at the Old Steeple with iconic singer Iris DeMent and special guest Ana Egge is totally sold out, which is the case with a lot of the shows there.
Hawaiian slack key master Led Kaapana is there Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. There tickets available for that one.
This weekend plus: Feb. 6-9, at Blue Lake Casino, they have the 11th Annual Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo, where you can meet tattoo artists and watch them work, or get a tat yourself.
Somewhat unrelated, they have the “first ever” Sushi Eating Contest at Sushi Blue Saturday at noon. (Registration on Friday at noon.) “Contestants will be challenged to eat a large amount of sushi (some quite spicy) in the fastest amount of time,” (three minutes or less). The prize? More sushi (a gift certificate, so you can share) and 200 bucks.
Semi-related, music, music, music, with ace cover band The Undercovers on Thursday (playing well chosen covers), then on Friday, Bleach, “the Bay Area’s most authentic Nirvana tribute band, and Saturday, the SoCal beach/rock/reggae band, Safety Orange, who are slightly Sublime-ish.
Saturday, Feb. 8, the Miniplex rocks heavily with Big Business. “They play heavy rock. On that, we can all agree. Things get tricky when you try to classify exactly where on the musical spectrum the dynamic duo’s racket falls. ‘I guess psychedelic heavy metal punk rock? I don’t know,’” says drummer Coady Willis, formerly of Murder City Devils. As of press time the mandatory local openers is “TBA,” but I’d suggest White Manna. Ask Colin, he’ll know.
At the ATL Saturday, it’s a “Decades Dance Party” with Gabe Pressure, GMNIITE and Copperton3 spinning music from decades past (take your pick).
“Dust off those poodle skirts, flapper dresses, zoot suits, tweed pants, bell bottoms, jump suits, and come out to hear timeless hits remastered.” Plus at midnight, a special performance with pianist Bailee Barnett with the ATL Dance Team. (Yes, they’re back.)
At HumBrews, same Saturday, MONEY, Humboldt’s own “homegrown Pink Floyd tribute, is planning on doing the full Animals album, with lights and projections by Shawn Lei.
Sunday I’ll be watching the Oscars with friends, but there are big parties in several places that show movies: the Minor and the Miniplex in Arcata, and the Eureka Theatre in Eureka where Absynth will be performing, maybe in tuxedos. Dress up for the Red Carpet, talk about films you maybe saw on tv. Whatever.
If your not going to watch the Oscars, up at the Van Duzer Sunday CenterArts has the Hot Rats Live! World TourPlus Other Hot Stuff 1969 flash from the past with Dweezil Zappa and company playing masterworks by Frank. Kevin will be there. (He may even be writing something. No one tells me what’s going on.)
What’s Cookin’? plus reggae for Bob, a benefit for the Playhouse “and more”
If you’ve been following the Hum for awhile, either since a quarter of a century back when it started, or lately, well, lately I’ve been nostalgic about the good ol’ days. I haven’t talked much about the real beginning of my writing career, such as it is. I was a Humboldt grad, but never a journalism student.
I was earning a living cooking, when a late reentry college student, a guy named Guy Cross, started a monthly entertainment newspaper called Edge City.
He knew me as the chef at the Silver Lining…
(We once did a cooking video together)
…and he knew I liked music “and more,” so he asked me to write for the fledgling paper about whatever I was interested in.
One of my early assignments was to go to a local reggae concert. The 2nd annual BobMarleyFestival at the Eureka Muni had Aswad, JudyMowatt and a fine Humboldt band, Rod Deal and the I-Deals, all brought together by the late Queen of Humboldt reggae, Carol Bruno. The show was in February in celebration of Bob’s birthday, Feb. 6, always a good time to hear reggae.
This year on Thursday, Feb. 6, which would have been Bob’s 75th birthday, El Gee and Booty Shakin Productions offer “A Celebration of Bob Marley’s Life” at the Arcata Theatre Lounge featuring Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser and The Black Soil Band and a special Bob Marley Tribute set featuring our own Ishi Dube, Madi Simmons and Vidagua (with Madi’s daughter, Lorenza)and DJSarge OneWise.
Headliner Tarrus Riley is a top flight reggae singer/chanter, and saxophonist Dean Frazer’s bands are always tight as a drum.
The reason that festival in the early ’90s came to mind was not because of Jamaica, but because of the late Rod Deal, who wrote timely anthems about what was happening in SoHum, like “2,000,000 Acres,” about the fight against the destruction of the redwood forest, and “Helicopters,” about the CAMP days when the government was raiding farms in the woods. He sang, “Helicopters are causing us to be afraid for life. Helicopters, one or two are always in sight. Helicopters, they’re violating our constitutional rights.”
A few years back Ishi, a Humboldt homegrown guy who was raised in SoHum, pulled that song out of the past for a remix, renaming it “Choppers,” and reminding us of a time when the herb was totally black market, before it was rebranded as cannabis, when the War on Drugs was fought by people on both sides wearing camo as more than a fashion statement. I’ll be surprised if Ishi doesn’t play that anthem on Bob’s day.
BTW, in advance of the big show, Tarrus Riley will be in town for a meet and greet Wednesday (2/5) from 5-7 p.m. at Proper Wellness Center in Eureka at 517 5th St. Can you guess what they sell there to help you to get well? (Yes, they also deliver.)
Another flashback from my personal past came in an email inviting me to an Arcata Playhouse benefit dance party coming up Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. with Home Cookin’. I hope I don’t have to tell you too much about all the good things happening at the Playhouse, where in addition to a great variety of music shows, they host “theatre by all ages, for all types,” and “and more” like oversized puppets, an Artists in the School program, their teen program Apprentice Entertainment, etc.
Haley Davis, the new Playhouse publicist noted, Home Cookin’ is “composed of legendary local musical veterans, Joyce Hough, Gary Davidson, Fred Neighbor and Mike LaBolle serving up savory musical entrees with a saucy backbeat.” (A food reference is mandatory.)
For me, to start with, I’d probably put Fred second on the list, since he’s married to Joyce, and they’ve been in bands together for around 50 years. I’ve been dancing to their music for decades. In a way, they were also instrumental in the founding of the Hum.
In 1993, Edge City had changed hands and I was writing for a younger editor, Chris Lauer. I had shifted my work at the monthly to interviews with big name artists who were coming to town, everyone from Jimmy Cliff and MickeyHart to RayManzarek and MichaelMcClure. I pitched a local story about an anniversary show at the Jambalaya — the club was marking 20 years since it was founded by Fred and Joyce, who took over the bar formerly known as Dan and Jerry’s at a time when they were the house band, Freddy and the Starliners.
They weren’t really cut out to be club owners, a hard, mostly thankless job (just ask Pete Ciotti, who just sold the same club), but their various bands still played there.
Anyway, Chris wasn’t interested in an interview with a local band, so I shopped the idea around. Jack Durham, then the B-section editor for the Arcata Union liked my idea. (BTW, Jack is now the publisher/editor of the Mad River Union.) That was one of the first pieces I did for a paper other than Edge City. Ultimately, it led to my longstanding Hum column, which started in the original Union.
Bouncing back to the times when Fred and Joyce owned the Jam, they eventually sold it to Andrew Cairns, who then sold the club to their friend Chloe Damus and a couple of others. It was a golden time for the Jambalaya culturally with musicians like Elizabeth Cotton, Etta James, Robert Cray and The Meters gracing the small stage, and too many local folks to mention, along with poets reading their work.
A friend and Westhaven neighbor of mine, Dixie Gorrel, started serving home-cooked meals at the Jam Fridays. The dinners became popular enough that it led to her starting a full scale restaurant in Westhaven, calling in Larrupin. The rest is more Humboldt history.
I mention this for a couple of reasons: First, the Jam is scheduled to reopen under new ownership in mid-February. (You probably read about it in the Union last week.) Second, another old friend of mine, Darcey Lima, who worked with me at the Silver Lining, has been doing something along the lines of what Dixie did years ago, but at the Logger Bar in sunny Blue Lake.
Darcey’s Dinner runs from 5-7 p.m. the first and third Friday of every month, with occasionally an extra bonus. There’s a meal Feb. 7, (The Stallions plays songs by Ween after at 9 p.m.), then there’s Darcey’s Special Valentine’s Day Dinner Feb. 14. Date night? That night, Eyes Anonymous plays “cheesy love songs and songs about break-ups.” Sounds romantic, right?
A little more reminiscing about the early days of the Hum, 25+ years ago: One of things I wrote about was a one-man-show called Writing My Way Out of Adolescence by my old friend, Jeff DeMark. The first in a long line of stories “and more” from the Blue Lake raconteur. He’s still doing the same sort of thing, only different. He dropped me a email recently saying:
“I’m doing a show at the Westhaven Center on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The band is Inscrutable Rabbit and includes my [twin] brother Paul and John Dillon on guitar. John gigged in bands in the Bay Area for many years: funk, pop, jazz, etc. He moved up here maybe 18 months ago. He is the brother of Amy Dillon, who is married to artist Jack Sewell of the old Sewell Art Gallery. Tim Breed will also be playing with us. He is currently the drummer in the [Trinidad country western band] Tidepool High Divers and led the Psychedelvis Band,” who mixed Elvis tunes with Bowie covers, to interesting effect. “We will be doing almost exclusively original songs, a bunch of mine, others by Tim and John. And I’ll be performing a couple of stories and maybe a poem or two, also.
“One of the stories is about Doug Sahm. Maybe you know this, but I got to know him at Slim’s [Boz Scaggs old nightclub] in SF, and he started coming up here, going to Crab’s games and hanging out semi-regularly. He died of a heart attack at age 58, 20 years ago this past November, and I want to pay tribute to him.
“The other story is called ‘PickleAnarchist,’ about working at McDonald’s. I wrote it for the Dell’Arte ‘Stories in the Tent’ event and they performed it with Jeff Kelley telling the tale. I’ve only done it once, so it’s very fresh.
I asked about the band’s name
“The Rabbit is a small sculpture I bought at a New Orleans flea market on Frenchman Street a few years ago. I liked the look of him and the title, “Don’t Underestimate Me”, made it imperative to buy it. So many people feel underestimated and the Rabbit is there for people. I call him Inscrutable because if you look at his face it’s an inscrutable gaze.
These lyrics from the Rabbit say it all:
“The Rabbit is a freedom fighter
puncturing inflated balloons
filled with ego gas
nobody needs that crap. Nobody knows what they’re doing
even if they act like they do
they’re just as confused as you
so just keep going.”
“So that’s the scoop. Any publicity will be much appreciated. Thanks, Jeff.”
I wrote what amounts to another column about the rest of stuff going on around the north county area, but I guessing Jack will balk at the amount of ink and paper required to put it in the paper. Plus, we haven’t really figured out how AB-5 is going to effect my work, ‘cause freelancers like me are in the crosshairs, but that’s a rant for another column. (See part 2.)
As July inches toward August, and the peaches are ripe, and the college students start trickling back into town, it seems like as good time as any for a festival of one sort or another. And there are a bunch of them, perhaps too many in fact.
Let’s start with something I’m moderately involved in, something called a “FleART Market” in the Creamery District. “Join local vendors on Sunday, July 28th 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for a special day of not just any old flea or art market, but a flea AND art market, where art, weird stuff, and cool junk is itching to be sold.”
I actually bought an EZ-Up a few years ago for a similar Creamery event where I turned it into a makeshift photo studio. This time I think I’ll do 3D portraits this time. And I have too much stuff in my life, especially CDs, so I’ll have some of those.
Expect “traditional booths,” and a “brand-new innovative idea, the Express Fifteen Aisle,” with sellers offering 15 items or less (like in the grocery store).
They promise “musical minglings” by Space Socks and The Blue Lake Choir (both involving Arcata Playhouse founder Jackie Dandeneau), and Humboldt Drummers with Jesse J (as in Jonathan), who is fresh from a summer Humboldt Drum Camp. Also the Pubis finally open so you can check out their new space, and their wood-fired pizzas, pub fare and local beer.
Along with stacks of CDs, you’ll be able to listen to Foot Fall, a collection of ambient music pieces created by Timmy Gray for a Creamery Festival in 2013. The work is a sonic “soundscape” of the Creamery and thereabouts, intended to be put on your portable music player so you can listen while you walk around the space that inspired it. It’s very cool, like its creator. Downloads available free of charge.
Also Sunday, July 28, the 59th annual Westhaven Wild Blackberry Festival. Yes, the 59th. Let that sink in. It’s a firefighter benefit, for the Westhaven Volunteer Fire Dept. held at the Westhaven Fire Hall and “proudly sponsored” by the Westhaven Ladies Club, from 10 a.m, ’til 4 p.m. Traditionally the “ladies” bake a bunch of homemade pies (they warn, “hurry because they sell out quick”) along with berry jams. There’s bbq, and kids stuff including fire trucks and Smokey the Bear, plus “artisan vendors” and music by The Sand Fleas (10 a.m.), Moonstone Heights, That Buckin’ String Band and Rinky Dink String Band “in that order.”
The ongoing EurekaSummerConcerts (6-8 p.m. at the foot of C St.) continue Thursday, July 25, with the Johnny Young Band, a “rockin’ country” band (or a “country hits” band depending on who you ask).
Aug 1 (again a Thursday) catch hot Cajun fiddler Tom Rigney and his band, always popular at the Redwood Coast Music Festival.
Friday, July 26, the Miniplex has Pieces, a duo collaboration that Hudson Glover explains, “toys with the boundaries of noise, dance, pop, psychedelia, and digital glitch. Rose Cherami and IDHAZ rarely have the time to leave the Bay, but we are lucky to have them up here. They will both be be doing solo sets and will then perform together so you can get the full taste of what their label/collective True Indigo has to offer.”
Hudson goes on to note, “Local support will be coming from Comma Comma,” of which Mr. Glover is a member. “Alex (upright), Henri (sax), and I (synth/rhodes) will be debuting two compositions that we’ve been working on for several months inspired by late ’60s minimalism and space music with liberal use of polymeter and key changes.” Sounds good to me.
The 30th annual Roll on the Mattole runs noon to midnight Saturday, July 27, out in Petrolia at the Mattole Grange, a fundraiser for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company. There’s a “Firefighters Challenge” VFD muster (hose contests), things to eat and drink, crafty booths and music, music, music…
With IshiDube and the Tuff Riddim Band (reggae), Rosewater (jazzy Dead tribute), Black Sage Runners (rock a la Cream etc.) The Bandage (alt. something), and locals, Mattole Muddstompers, Potholes 3 and Bodhimind (you’ll have to fill in genres). “Please no dogs, no glass containers, and no overnight camping at the Grange.”
Eureka declares Saturday “Get Out and Play Day 2019 on July 27” (#gopd2019 *for Jada who doesn’t care for #hashtags). There’s playful stuff all over town, but Sequoia Park seems to be a focal point with Blue Rhythm Revueproviding a soundtrack followed by a movie/cartoon at 8:30 p.m. Spiderman into the Spider-Verse.
Local rock and/or roll band, Wild Otis, hits Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. Saturday (again 7/27) starting at 8 p.m. That’s Norman Bradford and Rick DeVol on guitar & vocals (both from Dead On), with bassist Dan Davis and drummer Jimmy Moore as rhythm section.
At Blondie’s, touring Zen Mountain Poets are joined by locals band LodeStar, with Goodshield Aguilar and Linda Faye Carson. (Linda also hosts CampChair Concerts at noon Sundays at the foot of F St. in Eureka. BYO chair.)
Zen Mountain Poets are a “psychedelic neo-prog folk jazz” combo from San Luis Obispo County referencing Ram Das saying they’re “who’s here now and who hears now… a gathering of musicians, poets, artists, dreamers, manifesters, dedicated to expressing heartfelt original songs that take our audiences on journeys.”
LodeStar played with unrelenting passion at the recent Humboldt Folklife Festival, moving from the Street Stage last year (shown above) to rock the Main Stage. You get the picture (now). LodeStar @ 8 p.m. Saturday with Poets @ 9:30.
You are officially invited to “join Soul Party regulars DJ Red, #JAYMORG, and Funky T-Rex for another record slinging session at Humbrews Saturday (7/27) starting at 9 p.m. This time it’s a “summer, summer, summer time party!” whatever that means. As always, “still a 100% vinyl affair.”
The Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival comes to the Morris Graves Museum of Art, Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m. with Mendelssohn, Schubert and more modern classical pieces. If you’re out East, they’re also at the Hyampom Community Hall Friday, and at the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center in Weaverville on Saturday.
A little later Sunday at the D Street Neighborhood Center, the All Seasons Orchestra plays classics for its annual Summer Concert (’tis the season). They note, “ASO welcomes players of all ages. If you play a musical instrument and love to make beautiful music, [this] is your opportunity to participate in a community orchestra.” They rehearse Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
Experience psyche music of varying shades at the Miniplex, Monday, July 29 (8 p.m.) The bill is topped by JJUUJJUU, “a rotating ensemble of domestic & international collaborators, wrangled by Los Angeles-based musician, Phil Pirrone and collaborator Andrew Clinco (aka Drab Majesty mastermind Deb Demure)” of Desert Daze festivals fame.
Local support comes from “space-rock cosmonauts” White Manna, whose Cardinal Fuzz album, Ape on Sunday,’ was recorded in Freshwater. I picked up a copy of the vinyl edition, but couldn’t get them to cut loose with one of the purple vinyl special edition, which is now sold out, as well as the CD version. I think you can get a copy of the record at the show, or download it on Bandcamp.
Once again the Manna boys are paired with Opossum Sun Trail. “This is 21st century Cosmic American Music,” according to a Savage Henry review, with “hints of twisted Ennio Morricone, the sound of a spaghetti sauce stain on a Nudie-esque cowboy shirt.” How does a dirty shirt make noise? You’ll have to ask the Savage who wrote that. (Me.)
That’s all for now, see you at the FleART Market for festive fun.
Mojave Green and Lone Star Junction, “two of the most kick-ass Humboldt bands around” offer “an evening of rockin’ Outlaw Country covers and originals that are sure to supply the necessary soundtrack to your beer drinking Thursday night,” June 13, at The Jam (for a change).
The Eureka Summer Concerts Series celebrates a 22nd season of free shows Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at Madaket Plaza @ the foot of ‘C’ St. in Eureka.
Starting June 13 with R&B by Fargo Brothers, then June 20 reggae with Irie Rockers. (BTW, they killed opening for Mykal Rose the other day.) Lots more to come in the series, including more “tributes.”
June 27 Nate Botsford (Crossover Country)
July 4 Clean Sweep (R&B/Funk)
July 11 Britnee Kellog (Hot Country)
July 18 Journey Revisited (Journey Tribute Band)
July 25 Johnny Young Band (Favorite Country Hits)
Aug 1 Tom Rigney (Cajun/Zydeco)
Aug 8 Big City Swing Committee (Retro Swing)
Aug 15 Heartless (Heart Tribute Band)
In McKinleyville that same Thursday evening (6/13), it’s the other Chamber Mixer, this one for the Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. Bring your business card, buy some raffle tickets at Satori Wellness. You don’t need to be a member to attend, alternating between NoHum and SoHum.
Friday, June 14 is an Arts! Arcata night.
Friday (7 p.m.) Northtown Books welcomes Jacqueline Suskin to read from her new poetry book, The Edge of the Continent Volume Two – The City. You may recall in Vol. 1, she wrote of Humboldt and thereabouts as she sold freeform work at the Poem Store at the Farmer’s Market and elsewhere.
The further adventures find her heading south, a “move through the struggle of finding beauty, purpose, and joy in urbanity, and in doing so discover the infinite inspiration that exists in a place as unique as Los Angeles.”
Now she says, “Humboldt here I come! Heading north to Arcata for some river time and a few special book events: Friday the 14th reading at 7pm @northtownbooks and Sunday the 16th 5-7pm @creative.sanctuary for a writing workshop and potluck celebration to follow! Can’t wait to see all of my forest folks!”
Rancher Rick Levin sez, “Wow…..what a week of heat! But the weather is cooling and that’s gonna make a beautiful evening for Cadillac Ranch Under the Stars out in Blue Lake on Friday, June 14th at The Mad River Brewery from 6:00 – 8:30. Y’all Come!”
Returning to O-Day Saturday, The Basement has PD3 (L to R: Fred on guitar & Junior on bass plus Paul DeMark on drums).
Saturday evening (6/15), it’s the first Outer Space outdoors “Forest Show” of the season. “Meet in the big grass field at Redwood Park at 5:30 p.m. The walking audience takes off at 6” to hear Mash YellowBird, Blood Hunny, Cornbread Willie “and more!” The O-Space folks ask, “Please respect the forest! This show is a safer space for all creatures big and small, animals and plants alike.” Email email@example.com with any questions.
Mazzotti’s on the Plaza has smokin’ reggae on that night by the “legendary” Warrior King and The Rootz Warriors from Jamaica on their “Nuf Fraid Tour.” It’s a 21+ show, doors at 9:30 p.m. hosted in partnership with Proper Wellness Center, a medical cannabis dispensary in Eureka.
Same Saturday at the Blue Lake Casino presents Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in the Sapphire Palace. Remember “Zoot Suit Riot” from 1997, a song that helped kick off the neo-swing movement? Frontman Steve Perry is still at it.
Last year the Eugene-based band released Bigger Life, which Perry says has, “songs that will allow us to touch base with our punk/ska audience [as we] continue to play the all swing, classy theater type shows that are our bread and butter.” So, neo-swing/ska/punk? Why not?
Sunday, June 16, at 3 p.m. at Graves Museum, catch “For the Love of Cohen: Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert,” an intimate afternoon of classic songs by one of my favorite songwriters. Laura Hennings and Patti Hecht aka Gin & Laura are joined by Jerryl Lynn Rubin (piano), Matt Wardynski (clarinet), Randy Carrico (bass) and Jonathan Claasen (drums) for songs they love. “Hallelujah!”
It’s golden. Last weekend it was the 50th anniversary of the Kinetic Sculpture Race and there was much gold to be found. (Somehow this was the second Golden Anniversary Race, and K-Universe explained that, but I didn’t buy it.)
Kinetic time is over for this year, but there’s plenty of other stuff going on this weekend, stuff I’ll miss since I’m heading to my hometown, Walnut Creek, to party with other members of the Las Lomas High School Class of ’69. Yes, it’s our golden anniversary class reunion.
Friday, May 31, while I’m off having dinner and taking pics of my old classmates, there’s a Humboldt Folklife Society BarnDance at the Arcata Vet’s Hall with the usual suspects involved — The Striped Pig String Band and caller Lyndsey Battle — with a very special guest caller Nigella Baur, who happens to be graduating from high school. Supervisor Mike Wilson’s daughter Nigella (who I know as Ella) has been calling squares for awhile (she also plays in a rock band, Petty Education). The Folklifers invite you to “come celebrate spring and the end of school,” (and Ella’s acceptance at UC Berkeley). Doors at 6:30 p.m. with instructed dancing from 7-10 p.m. “No experience or partner needed, and all ages welcome.”
Friday is also Art Night Kick-off day for the 21st annual North Coast Open Studios. The semi-countywide event was started in 1999 by local artists Sasha Pepper and Susan Fox “to create an opportunity for visitors to view art, talk with the artists, explore the creative process, and expand their art collections.”
The main OS tour days are this Saturday and Sunday and next (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 1 & 2 and 8 & 9), but a bunch of eager artists are open an extra evening from 6-9 p.m. A schedule of Friday night-specific artists is available in the info packed NCOS guidebook (with maps), also online at www.northcoastopenstudios.com.
With Humboldt’s rep for colliding events, is should also be noted that NCOS Art Night overlaps with Trinidad Art Nights, also running from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, June 1, with galleries open, the Circus of the Elements fire show…
music by Jesse Jonathan’s kids’ Blue Dragon Steel Band and others, and only a couple of NCOS artists.
When you look at that map of artists, you may wonder why there’s no one from SoHum listed. Years ago, when they expanded to two weekends, I warned them that all the artists from South County set aside the first weekend in June for the annualSummer Arts & Music Festival put on by the Mateel Community Center. It’s in the 43rd year this year June 1-2 at Benbow State Recreation Area along the “majestic” Eel River, south of Garberville.
The fest features more than 150 craft, food and non-profit booths, with over 70 performances on four stages with the focus on local bands, dance troupes, DJs and kids stuff. The non-local headliner on Saturday is reggae/world beat chanter/activist Nattali Rize on her Ever Rising Tour. Sunday it’s three SoCal Sublime-influenced bands touring together: Tomorrows Bad Seeds, The Aggrolites and Long Beach Dub Allstars, a band that’s about as Sublime as you can get, while no longer including any members of the original trio.
Looking for your Dead fix? Sunday at 1:15 p.m. it’s “a SAMF exclusive,” US Blues with “an all star cast of Humboldt County musicians” paying tribute to the “Pigpen era” of Grateful history. That’s Andy B from Cold Blue Water and Piet Dalmolen from Money, Full Moon Fever, etc. on guitars and vocals (FMF plays Friday, 5/31 at the Wave). There’s Norman Bradford from Wild Otis on bass, Object Heavy’s B Swizlo on keys, and Alex Litzinger from Miracle Show on drums.
I wish I was there to reminisce about that time the Dead played at Las Lomas High (with Pigpen), but my old radio buddy Gregg McVicar is putting together a ‘60s mix for the party, something he does daily for “UnderCurrents,” a nationally syndicated public radio feed. It used to be broadcast on KHSU right after Gus Mozart’s “Music Box,” but I’m not sure if it’s still on or what the deal is now (or what the future holds for our beloved station).
Speaking of tribute bands, Night Moves: Tribute to Bob Seger & Creedence Clearwater Revival plays at Wave Lounge (@ Blue Lake Casino) on Saturday, June 1. The 6-piece band is basically a twofer adding CCR tunes to The Silver Bullet Band songbook. Of course Credence was a local fave when I graduated from Las Lomas, coming from elsewhere in Contra Costa County (El Cerrito) and peaking in 1969 with their big hit, “Proud Mary.”
Thursday, May 30, at Siren’s Song, sort of along the same lines (but without covers), The Blank Tapes, which is the nom de band of L.A.-based multi-instrumentalist, MattAdams, who “has produced over a dozen albums of ‘60s inspired folk-rock-surf-psych-soul-pop” for various labels, including the latest, Candy. Also on the bill, TERMINATor “total babes” from Seattle with a new EP, Visual, and for local support, Mojave Green described as “Eureka Spaghetti Western Americana Rock-N-Rollers who always put on a great show!!” (I concur.)
Arcata’s Mazzotti’s has started doing shows, mostly reggae, like Jesse Royal who plays Monday, June 3. He’s a Jamaican up-and-coming singjay, whose debut album, Lily Of Da Valley, came out on the New York-based label Easy Star Records, best known for Dub Side of the Moon (reggaefied P-Floyd covers).
More reggae Wednesday, June 5, at Humbrews when “legends will be in the building,” specifically TheMykal Rose + Sly & RobbieSummer Groove Tour with an emphasis on the Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner era of Black Uhuru. Who is coming over? Natty Dreadlocks. “Oh I can see you brought some herb for me, Natty Dreadlocks.” Locals Stevie Culture and DJ Tanasa Ras open the show.
Before we leave reggae, let’s talk Reggae on the River for a minute. Several headliners were announced last week and instantly caused a stir. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley is at the top of the bill, not surprising since he and his partners bought a controlling share in High Times, who started putting on RotR last year.
“It is now an honor to be a part of the High Times legacy that I’ve been a fan of for so many years,” said Jr. Gong in an official statement.
Toots and the Maytals are naturals having played RotR many times. (Toots was one of the first to use that word on a song, “Do the Reggay,” a single that was a hit in 1968 (when I was a junior).
Then there was Sizzla, who can’t seem to shake his history of homophobia. Protests were lodged immediately (his scheduled Mateel show was cancelled last year) and just as quickly he was kicked off the Reggae bill. High Times apologized saying, “We were not aware of his history (candidly I don’t know the artist) but as soon as we were alerted to his unfortunate past we immediately pulled the plug. Sorry…” Never mind.
Tourettes Without Regrets: Humboldt! Is coming Saturday, June 8 to the Arcata Playhouse offering, “A night of dirty haikus, rap battles, wild aerialists, burlesque, comedy and much more,” according to SF Weekly. Main man slam poet Jamie DeWolf is a former local (“born and raised in Humboldt”) who brings a troupe up from the Bay Area for multifaceted fun including an Open Freestyle Rap Battle with a $100 cash prize and an Open Poetry Slam with another cash prize. Expect circus acts, kinky mayhem, “and MORE!”
It’s a busy weekend at the Playhouse with another show Sunday, June 9, featuring San Francisco-based Supermule, a collective of disparate players exploring traditional American music on banjo, guitar and fiddle, plus and keyboards, with former local Mike Emerson tickling the keys.
“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.
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.”
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 MartyDodd, GaryDavidson, 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.)
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.
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…
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?)
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.)
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…
For now it’s time for some Humming…
The Sanctuary regularly hosts artists in residence. This time they’re puppeteers. They presentPoppo & 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!”
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Fog, Ocean 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
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 Today, Late 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.
Alice DiMicele is heading this way — again — playing two local Playhouses. She’s been making something she calls “organic acoustic groove” music for several decades, and since her headquarters are in Southern Oregon, well, she comes through Humboldt often. I figured it was time for another chat to get up to date. Dropped her a line and suggested a virtual interview. She was out walking her dog and the weather was threatening, but she was ready to roll.
“It’s starting to rain, but I have a waterproof phone,” she began. “What do you want to know? The basics are, I’m coming to town to play two shows in Humboldt: Thursday, March the 14th at the Arcata Playhouse, and Friday, the 15th at the Redwood Playhouse in Garberville.
“Thirteen-year-old phenom Delaney Rose is opening both shows, which makes me very excited because I’ve known her since she was a baby. Her mom Francine is one of my favorite people to sing with.” (You may know her from Francine and Nimiah.)
“I’m coming solo this time around, which is exciting because most of my last shows, for quite a few years, have been with a band. Kind of fun for me to just bring my guitars and get to pull out old tunes and be real spontaneous.”
I’m always interested in how musicians keep doing what they do. In your case, I know you just finished a big IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for an album. Did you reach your goal?
“I’m putting out a new live album with my band Force of Nature called Live at Studio E. It was recorded there in Sebastopol. It’s owned by Jeff Martin who used to be a Joanne Rand’s bass player, when she had the little big band.
“I actually did a small crowdfunding for it because I didn’t need a huge amount to get it to the presses, so I kept it small, only two weeks long, and raised my $5,500 or so that I needed to pay for all the expenses. I’m very grateful that folks are willing to preorder like that to make it happen for me. The album is really fun, kind of a snapshot of the band that I showed up with last time in Arcata.
It seems like the old ways of the music biz are fading with the coming of streaming with Spotify or whatever. Is it still important to put together an “album” for selling on your merch table, and who knows where else? I assume the income stream mostly comes from touring, although even that is a gamble.
“Oh yes, it’s all a big gamble, but I guess it really always has been. Definitely my living comes from people buying CDs and buying tickets to shows. Spotify is great for the listener, but it does not provide any type of income for me. Even though I get lots of plays, it’s such a small amount of money that it ends up being like $3 a month or something ridiculous like that.
“So I definitely rely on the support of people who love my music enough to go ahead and buy the CD, or buy the download, and buy tickets and come to shows. I’m grateful that I still have a career, although I am definitely living more on the edge than ever. One would hope at my age I would have a little more security. But the muse provides. I’ve got to trust that.
“The crowdfunding thing has really helped because even people who don’t want to physical CD or download have a way to make a donation towards the music. I’m grateful for the generosity of my fans and friends and family.
What was the last song you wrote? More about rivers and love?
“I seem to be writing less, but the songs seem to be a little more potent. I’m currently working on a song called “Compassion.” That’s kind of my obsession right now, developing compassion in myself and wanting for compassion to be developed in our world.
“The current political state of our government is so much about “me first, I got to get mine,” and not really caring about others. I’m quite distraught over it all and so I think what is coming out in my music is my sense of wanting to look deeper at ways of caring for everyone.
“Seems like homelessness is out of control. It seems the income gap is just getting so much wider and so many people are despairing right now. The focus of my music is to try to bring some Joy, but also to go deep and remind myself and the listener that compassion really needs to come first. Without it we are really doomed. The last election gave me a little bit of Hope with all the gals that got elected all over the country. I still think we need a council of Indigenous Grandmothers for President.”
What is the Grandmothers Empowerment Project you’re involved with?
“A group of us used to just pay Grandma Aggie’s rent, but with the recession, around 2008, most of the folks that would chip in every month had to stop, so we started this nonprofit so we could get money donated by a bigger donor. [We had one, but] that donor has since stopped his yearly donation, so now it’s left to me as the fundraiser to try to raise all the money. It’s quite a job, but our elders need the help. Where I live in southern Oregon is Grandma’s traditional homeland, but she can’t receive tribal benefits or support unless she lives up in Siletz, on the reservation. She wants to live in her traditional homeland, so we support her to be able to do so.
What else have you been doing?
“I’ve been at this troubadour thing for a very long time. I did my first coffeehouses in 1983 and started touring in 1987.
“My favorite thing is to play for folks and take them on a journey through the music. There is something magical about playing concerts. Each one is unique but there is a thread that weaves them all together. Music creates intimacy in a room full of strangers. We laugh together. We cry together. We explore myriad emotions through song and story. We raise our voices together and hopefully we leave the show feeling a little lighter or unencumbered.
“I like to think of concerts as a place to deposit unwanted stress, fear, anxiety, and negativity. A place to gather energy with kindred spirits. Kind of like being in the forest. Music has that same kind of negative ion effect on people. And my greatest wish is to send folks home with some inspiration to wake up the next day and make the world a better place by being a little happier and a little more compassionate, to appreciate the little things a little more and to relish in the wonders of the natural world.”
The Hum is the digital home of Bob Doran. @bobdoran