The Hum: Down in the Basement


The Basement is a relatively new nightclub in the “basement” of Jacoby’s Storehouse (below the Union office). While they started out with music only on Fridays, they’ve booked combos Thursday through Saturday, mostly on the jazzy side. 

I used to go there when it was called Brett Harte’s, then Bergie’s, I saw Robert Cray Band there more than once, and Taj Mahal, and many others. The low ceilings with acoustic tile facilitate conversation. It’s a nice place to have a drink and hear good music.

RLATrio On Valentine’s Day, (the 14th) the real <3 holiday in The Basement, Tim Randles leads RLA Trio, with Mike LaBolle on drums and Ken Lawrence on electric bass. You might think, hmmm, that name doesn’t quite make sense, well, the trio (shown above) once included Bobby Amirkhanian on bass, but he’s since sailed away to work on cruise ships. Ken took over the bass chair. So far they’ve stuck with old initial name explaining LA is kind of short for Lawrence, but I think they should come up with a real name. In fact, one has occured to me The TiMiKen Trio. What do you think?

On Friday, Feb. 15, it’s the Julie Froblom Trio (Julie on sax, with Blake Brown on guitar and Danny Gaon on bass. On Saturday, Feb. 16, when I first wrote this item for the Union, they had a band listed, they’ve since changed their minds.

The Friday, Feb. 22, band was listed as the Tavola Quartet, who described themselves as “old souls.” They have since become “Front Ear (formally Tavola”). Saturday, Feb. 23, they shift gears a bit with multi-instrumentalist Seabury Gould and Mark Jenny, who plays, well I wasn’t sure what, since Seabury in a very eclectic guy bouncing from Indian kirtan to Celtic jigs and occasionally jazz tunes. That night he tells me he’ll be playing, “mostly blues and some jazz. Mark is an accomplished veteran guitarist. His slide guitar chops are mighty fine. And I’ll be playing guitar & piano (keyboard).”

Ending the month of February on Thursday, the 28th, Claire Bent shows off her jazzy side, leaving her Citizen Funk band at home, at least part of it anyway. As far as I can tell, Claire was listed as that band playing Saturday.

RJA presents Charles McPherson 2/28 @ Fulkerson Hall, HSU

Charles McPherson

Sometime around 1953, a young Charles McPherson heard Charlie Parker’s “Tico Tico” on a Detroit jukebox and his life was forever changed. “I was completely floored,” he says, “and from that point on, it was like, ‘that’s it.’”

Before the end of the decade, Charles was playing alto sax with Parker’s contemporaries and forging a career that’s continued for over six decades. During that span, he’s collaborated with the likes of Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Pepper Adams, Kenny Drew, George Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Lionel Hampton, and Charles Mingus, in whose band McPherson played for twelve years.

“His ardent, chirruping attack became a defining component of the ensemble,” says Giovanni Russonello in the New York Times. The list of famous collaborators goes on: Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Billy Eckstine, Tommy Flanagan, Tom Harrell, Billy Higgins, Sam Jones, Cedar Walton…and on: Adderley, Brecker, Marsalis, Byard….

As a leader, McPherson has released over 25 albums and fronted dozens of bands, often exploring new approaches and configurations, but always rooted in the sound that enchanted him as a kid. A master of the bebop idiom, McPherson even played the saxophone voice of Charlie Parker for Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic, Bird

For lovers of bebop, then, you won’t get any closer to the real thing than seeing this legend in person.  As The New Yorker put it recently: “to witness an authentic master of the art, like the altoist McPherson, can still elicit a genuine spinal chill.”

As a composer, McPherson has worked most recently in collaboration with San Diego Ballet, who in 2015 premiered his Sweet Synergy Suite, a large-scale piece for jazz ensemble with choreography by Javier Velasco.

This May, the Ballet will premiere his newest work, Song of Songs. McPherson has also received a slew of awards for his historic contributions to jazz, including an honorary CSU doctorate in 2015. This April, Jazz at Lincoln Center will help him celebrate his 80th birthday, together with McCoy Tyner’s, by premiering new arrangements of some of the two men’s most iconic compositions.

Backing up McPherson for this RJA appearance, which is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, via the Western Jazz Presenters Network, is a trio of top-notch accompanists.  Pianist, composer, and arranger Jeb Patton is a regular with acts like the Heath Brothers, The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars, George Coleman, and Jon Faddis, as well as his own trio.

L. A. bassist Jeff Littleton has worked with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Nancy Wilson, Freddie Hubbard, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Higgins, and Charles Lloyd.  Billy Drummond, who got his start playing drums for greats including Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson, has lent his versatile style to hundreds of records and released a handful of acclaim-winning albums as a leader.

 Show Thursday, February 28, 2019, 8 p.m., Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU. Advance tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) to the concert by the Charles McPherson Quartet are available online at and locally at Wildberries, Wildwood Music, People’s Records, and The Works.

With support from HSU’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the trio will also present an informal pre-concert workshop, free and open to the public, on the afternoon of February 28th in the HSU Music Department (exact time location TBA).  For additional details and up-to-date information, please visit  


The Redwood Jazz Alliance is a 401(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to jazz performance and education by touring artists of national and international renown.  Since 2006, with the aid of local businesses, professionals, and individual members, and in partnership with HSU’s Department of Music and College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, as well as the Humboldt Arts Council, the Humboldt Folklife Society, the Arcata Playhouse, and Center Arts, it has presented dozens of concerts and educational workshops. 

Its 2018-19 season will conclude in April with the return of bassist Shao-Way Wu, in a new trio with Randy and Gabe Porter.

The Hum: Grivo @ the Miniplex (and/or The Goat) plus…

Tonight, Friday, Feb. 8 at the Miniplex (in the Goat) Austin-based alt. power trio Grivo mashes together doom metal and shoegaze (if that’s possible).


“Call it rock, or call it shoegaze… whichever, this one kicks. Hard.” -TinyMixTapes

Austin-based power trio GRIVO unleashed their ominously trudging sound with the debut full length ‘Elude’ in November on the HOLODECK label (of  STRANGER THINGS soundtrack fame) . Combining slow, methodical hooks and warm tube amplifiers, Grivo’s massive tones artfully re-establish the link between heavy guitars and downtempo pop to yield a potently encompassing experience. Utilizing effects as an active compositional element, Elude’s infectious riffs are brilliantly crafted and paced to allow the saturated guitars and bruising low-end to fully bloom. Within the tidal sound waves and bleak timbre, Grivo forges a distinctive personal connection that challenges the modern definitions of doom metal and shoegaze.

“Leaning into the heavier end of the shoegaze spectrum, Austin’s Grivo take inspiration from the dark, drug-induced beauty that lies just beneath the brutality.” -REVOLVER





Grivo on Bandcamp
Again that’s Friday, February 8 / 9 pm / $10 / $7 advance / with local openers,  Ensemble Economique (globe-trotting, cinematic avant-ambient aka Jacob Sweden) and CV, a local goth-rock supergroup feat. Robert Tripp, Tavan Anderson, Aimee Hennessy, etc. (members of White Manna, The Hard Ride, Nipplepotamus, & Blood Gnome) / 21 & up.

Humming along after Breakfast…

As you may or may not know, the Breakfast All Day Collective‘s “safer space,” Outer Space, is celebrating turning two years of operation on Friday, Feb. 1.

Sarah Torres

The 2nd birthday party features Arcata High hip hop collective 4 The Masses, local garage punks Wet Spot, indigenous activist/singer/songwriter Sarah Torres with cousin Adam, and the spoken word artists of Word Humboldt, who typically hold down the word fort Tuesdays at Northtown Coffee.

Interview by Bob Doran, podcast mix by John Hardin

If you’ve been reading the Hum for awhile, you know that the BAD Collective followed in the footsteps of something called The Placebo, a loosely knit group of kids that came together to create a space where they could hang out and have occasional shows with local and touring bands.

As Placebo founder Abe Ray explained, “We decided that Arcata needed a more permanent music venue, one that catered to all ages and brought bands into the area.” This was way back in 1999, when Ray and a bandmate took out a loan from their parents to pay rent for a warehouse space on South G Street in Arcata (somewhere near what is now Redwood Curtain). The name Placebo was chosen to indicate the drug-free environment they insisted on at the venue.

“We didn’t really know what we were doing; we just did it,” said Ray. “Up ’til then, I was basically just a kid who went to shows. We hooked up with some people who knew how to put on shows…” The rest is history, at this point ancient history.

The Placebo crew poses in front of their space in Manila – photo by Bob Doran

The Placebo put on a bunch of shows until the City got wind of their unpermitted venue. The kids were for the most part teenagers, and they didn’t know what hoops they were supposed to go through to go legit. Their venue was shut down. They tried again a couple of times, first in Manila, in an old classroom in the community center, where neighbors complained about the noisy shows, then later on in Eureka, where they shared a building on West Third Street with a couple of artist collectives: Empire Squared, and Synapsis, the baby of trapeze artist Leslie Castellano. Again, there were permit troubles and neighbors who complained about noise.

While Leslie, persevered and eventually moved Synapsis to another space in Old Town (and was elected to the Eureka City Council), the members Empire Squared mostly graduated and moved on. The Placebo’s founders did the same, leaving behind a ghost that still exists, but only as a dysfunctional Facebook page.

The founders of the Breakfast All Day Collective and its safer space Outer Space did not have to suffer the same “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that took down Placebo, but they still need our support. (For more history, read Lauraine’s piece for the Union.) Outer Space’s space on 11th St. was once home to Copeland Lumber, which was replaced by Nilsen Feed’s short-lived store hiding ‘round the corner. Now that Nilsen has thrown in the towel (for whatever reason), the BAD folks are not totally sure what will happen next, but they’re been good tenants, so they hope they’ll get to stay. We’ll see. If it looks like they need more help, say yes. And go check out a show.

Wednesday, Feb. 6. look for folky fare with Buck Meek from Austin, Texas (getting for a tour in support for Jeff Tweedy)…

Buck is currently on tour with his Keeled Scales label-mate Twain from Virginia

and local support from Hollan and Emelia Grace

The shows just keep coming. Friday, Feb. 15, 7-10 p.m. It’s two new young groups from Arcata, Petty Education (also playing at Redwood Yogurt Friday, Feb. 8) and mash yellow bird

As February stumbles to a close Wednesday, Feb. 27, Outer Space hosts the appropriately named, awakebutstillinbed (San Jose screamo)

plus Sundressed (AZ folk punk), Sunsleeper (SLC sad rock) and Alien Boy, who is a punker from PDX, not from outer space.

Remember, all Outer Space shows start and end early (7-ish-10 p.m.) so the kids (and seniors like me) can get to bed early. Also, remember when you were younger and needed a safe place to play. That’s all they ask…

The Hum is back (in print)

Yes, it’s true. The Hum is back. Back in print in the Mad River Union anyway. It never totally disappeared online (here at, but I needed a break. I had more pressing things to do — like lay my friend to rest, then, my mom. The print Hum will be different. Watch for it semimonthly.

I explained all this when I ran into a couple of friends other day on Bar Row. One of them was in the Raging Grannies with my dear old mother. After sincere condolences and some talk about what a fine lady she was, I mentioned that I was bringing the Hum back. 

Her friend is a local musician, so of course he was glad to hear about the return. ‘What should I mention?’ I wondered. “Well, definitely the Nels Cline show,” said the local musician, Gary Davidson, who has been playing bass in various local combos for decades. 

Gary Davidson at the Folklife Festival – photo by Bob Doran

Needless to say, that show Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Arcata Playhouse is hopelessly sold out. (Miracle tickets required. Ask around.) Nels Cline 4 is led by Mr. Cline, the awesome Wilco guitarist…

It also features the 20-something Julian Lage, who played here with his band recently, and, memorably, with David Grisman a few years ago. In a JazzTimes interview, Lage says he’d “found his people” playing with Cline. “At last I found a scenario where you could be free and adventurous, you could utilize sound and be extremely melodic and evocative.” I’m ready for an adventure.

Gary also figured he had to mention a benefit at the Bayside Community Hall (formerly known as the Grange) since he plays in both bands on the two-fer bill: Home Cookin’ and The Handshakers.

Cover from Freddy and the Starliner album by Martin Wong

It gives away my age, but I can’t help but think of Home Cookin’ as the latest incarnation of Freddy and the Starliners, a band with Jambalaya founders Fred Neighbor and Joyce Hough from before Gary moved here. 

The Handshakers were once known as Rogues’ Gallery. A pair of Georgia-born guitarist/songwriters, Mike Bynum and luthier Michael Walker, are out front, with Aleister Paige on pedal steel.

The Delta Nationals in front of the B.C. Hall – photo by Bob Doran

They changed names when Gary joined with rhythm partner Paul DeMark on drums. BTW, Paul officially announced the end of the venerable Delta Nationals after 18 years. Just to keep busy, Paul started another band, a jazz trio PD 3, with Fred on guitar and Bruce “Junior” Johnson on standup bass. (Fred and Junior also play as a duo known as Fred & Junior.) 

This “Double the Money Hallabaloo” promises an “evening of dinner and music” with an early start, beginning with a home-cooked meal at 5:30 p.m. Handshakers at 7, with Home Cookin’ closing. All money raised for the B.C. Hall renovation will be matched by an anonymous donor. “This will be a fun evening for a good cause,” says Joyce. “I have many, many fond memories of playing in this building!! You probably do too.” Indeed I do. 

Illustration from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Before we parted on Bar Row, Gary had another gig to mention. Yet another outfit he plays with, Rosewater: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, is at the Clam Beach Tavern (in McKinleyville) on Friday, Feb. 15.

Along the same lines, The Miracle Show offers “top shelf Grateful Dead,” at the Jam on the same night (2/15) declaring, “The music plays the band.”

There’s also a “Grateful Dead Dance Party” at Humbrews this Saturday (2/2) with Dead vids augmented by a light show by Marmalade Sky. Also, you just missed Dead On, a local trio “exploring the acoustic side of The Grateful Dead.”

Gary had a simple explanation about the plethora of Dead cover bands locally. “There’s all these great songs and we love playing them, and the people keep coming out to hear them.”

Speaking of tribute bands, Piet Dalmolen and the Pink Floyd cover band Money play that song and others from that catalog at Humbrews Friday, Feb. 1. They promise “lights and projections by Shawn Lei and a few new tricks up our sleeve.” (Remember the old days when light shows were listed along with the bands?)

More covers etc. coming up at The Jam, with a month of Sunday kid-friendly afternoon shows labeled “Fam Jam,” all from 1-4 p.m. Youngins get in free (with adults). First up, Feb. 10, Silver Hammer: A Beatles Tribute, then the following Sunday, Feb. 17, reggae tunes by Irie Rockers, and, rounding things out Feb. 24, All Things Must Pass—a Birthday Tribute to George Harrison. (His b-day is actually the next day, but it’s close enough.  

There’s more of this column in the paper and you can pick it up at your neighborhood news stand (Northtown Books for example) or you can wait until later, when I get around to posting some more, including some stuff that’s not in the paper.

The magazine rack at Northtown Books, curated by Jay Aubrey-Herzog – photo by Bob Doran shot for the NC Journal when we declared it “Best Magazine Rack” around in 2010.

The Inner Eye

Got an email the other day from Dell’Artisan Joan Schirle titled “Bird of the Inner Eye.”


It began simply, “Here’s a press release about the Morris Graves reading coming up… the what and the why… Please share! Thanks, Joan”


I thought I’d do my part and “share,” but realized this morning I was already late in doing so. Last night (Thursday) they had the first of three readings of the work-in-progress, but you have a couple more chances to catch the pre-show show: at the Black Faun Gallery in Eureka Saturday, Nov. 17, and next weekend on Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Arcata Playhouse, with both shows starting at 7 p.m. Call Dell’Arte at (707) 668-5663 or email for details.

Before I get around to “the what and the why,” a little about why I have more than a passing interest in Joan’s reading. 

It was a long, long time ago when I actually spoke with Morris Graves on the phone. (To be more precise, it was late in the year 2000.) The museum that bears his name was about to have a retrospective of his work and as the arts and culture writer for the North Coast Journal, I wanted to write something about the show, and about Morris. Someone gave me his phone number and boldly, I called it. To my surprise, the man who everyone told me was a hermit and would not speak with anyone, answered his phone.

We didn’t talk long, he said his health was not good and he just wasn’t feeling up to it, and asked if I could talk to his assistant, Robert, instead. He assured me that Robert knew him well and would be able to answer all my questions about the show.


Perhaps I should have been more persistent, but I let him go, and missed my chance to talk more with him about art and get to know him better. Robert Yarber was a good guide to Graves’ work and the piece that came out of our talk, “The Nature of Beauty,” essentially a guided tour of the show, was satisfactory. But I never got to talk with Morris again — he died in May 2001, not long after the retrospective.


Fast forward to 2013. A package came to the Journal offices containing a new book, Morris Graves: Selected Letters, and it gave me another opportunity to discuss Humboldt’s most famous artist. The letters cover much of his life, and the piece, “On the Lake,” is a biography with a focus on how he ended up living in seclusion outside of Loleta, and his life here. 

The masterful theatre artiste Joan Schirle is drawing on the Selected Letters to tell a different story, from a different part of Morris’ life, when he was a conscientious objector, and a painter of birds and much more. I’ll let the folks at Dell’Arte explain… 



Dell’Arte International (DAI) presents Bird of the Inner Eye, a series of readings from the letters of painter Morris Graves (1910 – 2001). The three readings are at Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre (Nov. 15), Eureka’s Black Faun Gallery (Nov. 17), and the Arcata Playhouse (Nov. 25). All performances are at 7 PM, with admission by donation.

Dell’Arte’s Joan Schirle conducts the readings, sourced from Graves’ letters and archives, with a cast of Dell’Arte Company members and local actors.  This “theatre of place” event includes dance improvisations by choreographer and DAI faculty member Laura Muñoz.

 “I became fascinated by Graves as a resistor,” said Schirle. “During WWII he spent 11 months in the stockade at Camp Roberts, California, for refusing to join the Army. He resisted not only war, he resisted the degradation of our planet and the deadening of our senses to beauty. Through painting he communicated his anguish over the loss of our humanity as we plunder the earth.  He inspires me to ask myself as an artist, how I can best take part in resistance using the gifts I have?”


Some of Graves’ most powerful paintings came out of his experience as a conscientious objector. Many works of that early 40’s period use birds as symbols, including Bird of the Inner Eye, Falcon of the Inner Eye, and Little-Known Bird of the Inner Eye (1941) in NY’s Museum of Modern Art. Though symbolic, his paintings were nonetheless based on intensive observation and love of the natural world.

I want to say with paint that the creation is infinitely, infinitely more than meets the eye, that a bird is vastly more than a miracle of life and form—that an eagle is not an eagle but a God-gesture and a power, and that he is not detached and in the sky but in our souls. And I want to say with paint that my tranquil night-lake here is not a lake but a reflection of a great tranquil backpool within the human soul—and that we see the outer reflection, and by it can bring the inner eye into focus within our soul…”– Morris Graves, writing in 1943, three months after the army discharged him as ‘unfit.’

Graves spent the last 36 years of his life in Humboldt County, at the home he designed and had built near Loleta, known as “The Lake.” Earlier this year the Morris Graves Foundation awarded Schirle a 3-week residency at The Lake,  where she had access to his studio, his gardens, his papers, books, and many of the objects he had collected over a lifetime.  During the coming year she will be developing a chamber opera on Graves with composer Gina Leishman.  “He was a such a dramatic character… His writings reveal ongoing struggles balancing fame with his need for privacy, between his desire to live simply and a love of creating gorgeous, luxurious surroundings,” said Schirle. “His writings are passionate, as well as full of humor– he was something of a trickster. There is lively correspondence not just with his male lovers but with some amazing women who supported his work and his vision.  His writing cries out to be set to music.”

Though Graves’ paintings– mostly of birds, animals, and nature– are famous throughout the world, his writing is lesser known. The letters in Bird of the Inner Eye are taken from “Selected Letters of Morris Graves,” edited by Vicki Halper and Lawrence Fong (2013). Schirle has also taken material from interviews with Graves’ contemporaries.

“. . . these letters are gems – conveying verve and passion and trains of thought possibly more complex than we tweeting twits of the 21st century can ever hope to express or even comprehend.” — Bellingham Herald

A page-turner, capturing the rich and raw inner life of a sensitive, deeply serious artist who lacked a layer of skin and yet had a toughness to forge a life in art.” –City Living

To learn about Graves’ challenges in building his Humboldt home, see writer Bob Doran’s 2013 article in the Northcoast Journal, “On The Lake.”


Bird of the Inner Eye runs Thursday Nov. 15 at Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre, Saturday Nov. 17 at Eureka’s Black Faun Gallery and Sunday Nov. 25 at the Arcata Playhouse. All performances are at 7 PM.
Admission is pay what you can: $5 – $10

Tickets for Carlo Theatre at or (707) 668-5663

For further information on tickets for Black Faun Gallery and The Playhouse, email

Jean Mortensen Doran ~ 1920-2018 ~ R.I.P.

As the seasons changed and summer turned to fall, Jean Harriet Mortensen Doran died Sept. 24, 2018 in McKinleyville, Calif. after leading a very long and full life. She was 98 years old, but forever young.

Jean was born April 14, 1920 in Fairfield, California. Her father, Harry Mortensen, ran a grocery store in Fairfield and her mother, Leslie, was a former school teacher active in community social life, while raising Jean and her younger brother, Jack. They spent summers in a cabin her father built on Cobb Mt. and she always loved the pine forests and mountains of her childhood. Jean graduated from Armijo High School at age 16 because she’d skipped two grades in school. She went to University of California at Davis two years as an English major, but discovered her love of science. Her brother, Jack, died of kidney disease when she was in college, and she continued to tell stories and grieve for him throughout her life.

In her junior year, she transferred to the UC Berkeley. That was where she met John Denby Doran, her future husband. They both lived in the student co-op dorms, he caught her eye when he was leading a singalong of “On Top of Old Smokey”. Soon after, they had a not-so-blind date and they were a couple from then on: Den and Mort.

Jean earned a her teachers credential and graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1940. Her first job was teaching science in a junior high school in Vallejo, Calif. Meanwhile, Denby was finishing up a degree in Landscape Architecture. Pearl Harbor changed things dramatically. After grading papers in a closet during a blackout, she sent Denby a telegram that said, “To hell with my folks! Let’s get married!” They did, January 21, 1942.

They lived in Berkeley where she became a substitute teacher until Den finished his degree. For a time, they worked in the shipyards in Richmond. While he was a crane operator, she was “Rosie the Chemist,” inspecting asphalt, asbestos, and other materials. As the only woman in her department she suffered much harassment and resentment.

Denby enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and Jean followed him to Nebraska where he was in training. She got a job in the food service so she could at least see him when he came through the line for meals. (They must have been able to meet elsewhere because that was where their first child was conceived!) She wasn’t always able to join him as he moved around from station to station. He wasn’t there for the birth of their first child, Michael Lynn (Micki), but they were together as a family in Merced, and in Victorville, when the war ended.

After some post-war limbo, Denby was finally mustered out of the Army Air Corps and got a job as a draftsman at Shell Development in Emeryville. The family lived in Codornices Village, in west Berkeley, an integrated housing development originally built for Kaiser shipyard workers.  While living there, Jean organized a co-op nursery school, and her second child, Kathleen (Kathy or Dorio) was born.

Facing a housing shortage after the war, in 1948, four families, friends from their days in Berkeley co-ops, bought land in the Berkeley hills and joined forces to build their own houses in a cul-de-sac they called Rochdale Way after the founder of the co-op movement. They hired contractors, but did most of the work themselves. There was a community playground and a co-op nursery school. The family’s third child Robert (Bob) was born while they lived in on Rochdale Way, but in 1951, seeking more sunshine, they moved to Walnut Creek in the Diablo Valley, where Jonathon (Jon)  was born in 1953.

Following the birth of her sons, Jean suffered what was then called a “nervous breakdown.” It was more than just postpartum depression, and she was later diagnosed with manic-depression, which is now labeled bipolar disorder. She did have periodic manic episodes and some depression throughout the time her kids were growing up, but most of the time she lived the life of a typical stay at home mom of the era, with a group preschool, volunteer work in PTA, Girl (and Boy) Scouts, the neighborhood Walnut Knolls Association, the Weavers Guild, and Democratic politics to fill up her time and utilize her talents. She was a weaver and a stitcher, played piano, and gave her family a love of music and the arts. She loved camping and being in nature, and knew the botanical names of most plants.

She lived a relatively normal life in spite of her mental illness, but in 1966 things got worse and she was committed to Napa State Hospital. At some point she was given the drug Lithium, which was a “miracle drug” for her and other bipolar people. She said it gave her back her life. After being released from Napa in 1970, she went on to live a full life without manic episodes except when she briefly went off her meds.

Denby retired around the same time she got out of the hospital, as Shell Development moved their operation to Texas. After a hot year in Houston, the couple shifted gears to become semi-professional volunteers with the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Association. Jean used her teaching skills as a docent for the Bedford Art Gallery for over 20 years, while Den served on the organization’s board and also installed shows at art galleries around the Diablo Valley and Oakland. They attended local theatre productions and were judges for the “Shellies,” the local equivalent of the Oscars. They camped and backpacked all over California, traveled to see their kids who were all over the country, and also traveled to England, Scotland, and even Japan. They hosted Japanese students, teachers and visiting artists in their home. They still made time for their hobbies of gardening, weaving and jewelry and mobile making, and also explored pottery, stained glass, leatherwork , papermaking and bookmaking. When she was in her 70s, Jean self-published a book “Off Went Fuzzy Wuzzy,” the evolution of a story she had made up for her children years earlier ago as a preschool teacher. She had it translated into several languages and gave proceeds to UNICEF.

As Denby developed health issues in his later years, Jean became his caregiver. She once again took up driving so she could chauffeur him around. He outlived his prognosis by 8 years. After 60 years of marriage, he died in 2002 following a stroke, and she began a new chapter in her life.

She moved to Humboldt County and shared a house in Arcata with her son Bob and his wife Amy. Jean loved the “granny flat” attached to their house, and enrolled in arts courses at Humbodlt State University. She walked all over town and her student pass rode the buses for free. She was able to go to many cultural events with Bob, who was culture editor of the weekly paper and went to many things happening in the arts. She entered art shows, became a Raging Granny and stood in Friday vigils with the Women in Black protesting the Iraq War.

Still craving adventure, and with boundless curiosity and her camera in hand, she continued to travel. She toured France and Italy with Bob and Amy. She made three additional trips to Mexico with Kathy, twice to Baja and a tour of the Copper Canyon. Her last international trip was to Guatemala with a foray into Honduras.

After suffering her first broken bones at age 90, she moved to Timber Ridge Assisted Living Facility in McKinleyville. She regretted curtailing her independence, but adjusted and made good friends there, especially her best friend, Millie, and she still kept as active as possible in the community. She acted in a Dell’Arte play, Exit 101, wrote songs for the Raging Grannies and went on many outings with Bob and her other children when they visited.

As Jean’s health and mobility declined, so did her quality of life, and she finally left us to go on to new adventures. As it says in Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Jean “Mort” Doran lived a long, full and purposeful life and touched so many people in her 98 years on this earth. She will never be forgotten by those who knew and loved her.

Jean was preceded in death by her brother Jack Mortensen, her mother-in law Vera Alsen, her parents Harry and Leslie Mortensen, her great-grandson Siva Kilpatrick, and her son-in-law John Perry. She is survived by her daughters Micki Perry (Kennewick , WA), and Kathleen Kilpatrick and her partner Woody Rehanek (Watsonville, CA), and her sons Bob Doran and his wife Amy (Arcata, CA) and Jonathon Doran (Wilmington, DE) and ten grandchildren: Beth, Becki, Jeannette, Jessie, Spencer, Tree, Tai, Andy, Jessica, Heather, and eleven great grandchildren: Natalie, Madeline, Timber, Fallon, Joelle, Landon, Oliver, Essine, Mirren, Talisen and Ariana, and numerous nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by her family and her extended family of friends and fans.

All who remember Jean are invited to join her family in a celebration of her life Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. at the D Street Neighborhood Center, 1301 D StArcata, CA. There will be stories, songs, and joy. 

It’s CenterArts time again…

I received an official P.R. email and got a Facebook post announcing the  CenterArts season 2018-2019. Maybe you already got one of their slick brochures in the mail. The post and the email offered scant info beyond a list of artists and dates. Some tickets go on sale tomorrow, most later, so it’s time to start thinking about what you want to see.

There’s a key at the bottom of the email with venues (JVD = John Van Duzer Theatre, ACC = Arcata Community Center, ACPA = Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, FRH = Fulkerson Recital Hall) but I had to check the website to try to figure out who’s playing where. (More on that later.) Be forewarned: the Theatre Arts Building will be undergoing an earthquake retrofit for most of the season, so most of the shows are at the Arkley, although some are doing two shows in Fulkerson Hall. It’s complicated, but a few shows are in the Van Duzer, including the first of the season featuring Ziggy Marley.

More details later, but first some music and the P.R. email so you can “pick six” or whatever:

June 11, 2018


For more information contact 826-3928


CENTERARTS proudly announces another astounding performing arts season, running from August through May.

Season highlights include performances by Ziggy Marley, Lyle Lovett & his Large Band, The Head and the Heart, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Stephen Stills & Judy Collins, Iron & Wine, Anoushka Shankar, Los Lobos, Black Violin, Tarana Burke (#metoo), and many more.

For more information, or to receive a brochure with a complete listing of the 2018/2019 season, call CenterArts at 707-826-3928. Information is also available online by visiting the CenterArts website at or on Facebook at

Date Event

8/15/2018 Ziggy Marley

8/24/2018 Las Cafeteras

9/4/2018 Rodrigo Y Gabriela

9/13/2018 Lyle Lovett & his Large Band

9/21/2018 The Head and the Heart

9/22/2018 Julian Lage Trio 

9/26/2018 Iron & Wine

9/30/2018 Stephen Stills & Judy Collins

10/5/2018 DahkaBrakha

10/21/2018 Steven Wright 

10/24/2018 Cirque Mechanics 42FT-Mechanical Marvels

11/2/2018 Leo Kottke

11/8/2018 Joan Baez Fare Thee Well Tour A

11/5/2018 Pilobolus Dance Company

11/27/2018 Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox 

12/4/2018 Tomaseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas

1/10/2019 Los Lobos

1/17/2019 The Temptations

1/25/2019 Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal

1/29/2019 Black Violin

2/1/2019 Bin Huang, violin

2/3/2019 Tarana Burke – Lecture

2/5/2019 Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats

2/9/2019 Russian National Ballet Swan Lake

2/15/2019 Joan Osborn Sings Bob Dylan

2/22/2019 A Way With Words

2/26/2019 Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy

3/3 2019 Masters of Hawaiian Music

3/8/2019 Beatrice Rana, piano FRH

3/17/2019 Mariachi Herencia de Mexico

3/30/2019 Dustbowl Revival & Hot Club of Cowtown

4/2/2019 The Tallis Scholars

4/7/2019 Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra

4/14/2018 The Havana Cuba All-Stars

4/22/2019 Anoushka Shankar

5/4/2019 Che Malambo Dance and Drumming of Argentina

Venue Key:

ACC = Arcata Community Center

ACPA = Arkley Center for the Performing Arts

JVD = John Van Duzer Theatre

FRH = Fulkerson Recital Hall



The Poem Store is back…

The poet Jacqueline Suskin is back in town. You may know her from a few years ago when she was a regular part of the Arcata Farmers’ Market selling poems from her makeshift “Poem Store,” sitting on a folding chair with a typewriter in her lap.  She’s been away — her poems have taken her all over the world — but she’ll be in Humboldt for the rest of May.

First, Friday, May 25 @ 7 p.m., she’ll read from (and sign) her brand new book of poems, The Edge of the Continent, at Northtown Books.


Then the next day (May 26, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.), she has a Poem Store session at the Arcata Farmers’ Market. (Note: it’s not on the Plaza, since Saturday the Kinetic Grand Champion launches at noon.)

sanctuary poemstore

Later May 26 @ 6 p.m. she’s @fancyland.queerland. Last but not least, Wednesday, May 30, 5-7 p.m. she’ll teach a writing workshop at The Sanctuary.


portrait by Shelby Duncan

My first experience with the Poem Store was in the summer of ’09. The proprietor, Jacqueline, was sitting on a chair in the shade of some trees in a grassy area just outside the main Portland Farmers’ Market. Wearing a vintage dress that seemed to suit her, she was typing away on a vintage typewriter — clickity click. A handmade sign announced, “Poem Store, Your Subject, Your Price!”

Intrigued, I bought a custom typed poem, an improvised bit of free verse dedicated to my son and his (then) girlfriend. She read it aloud, I gave her a few bucks and took my gift away. I liked it, they liked it. Successful sale.

A couple of months later, to my surprise, I ran across her again, this time clickity clicking on the Arcata Plaza. She’d moved to Humboldt and she’d set up shop at our own Farmers’ Market.   

When I bought my next poem, I asked some questions. Jacqueline told me about how she got in the Poem Store business. “My friend in Oakland, Zach Houston, does it for a living,” she explained. “He told me I should try. I went with him one day and it was amazing. I’ve been doing it ever since.” 

She traveled with her Poem Store rig — everything fits on a bicycle — “all the way up the coast to Seattle,” typing verses on all sorts of subjects for all sorts of people. When she wasn’t busy writing custom poems, she typed letters to friends to keep the clickity clicking going (and attract customers).

After calling Humboldt home for a few years, in 2013, she packed up the Store, pulled up stakes and headed for the bright lights of Hollywood (and the general vicinity). She published a couple of books, The Collected, which she describes as “a compendium of narrative poems describing found photographs,” and Go Ahead & Like It, “about the power of making lists of things you like.”

Along the way, she was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama, flew to Abu Dhabi for some sort of Culture Summit. Of course the poetry never stopped.

“As I poet, I am always writing, and so about two years ago I started to pull from my hoards of verse and I saw a theme: California. This got me really excited: a three volume book about California!”

The Edge of the Continent, Volume One: The Forest is “a book that has been in the making ever since I lived in Humboldt. It’s a collection of poems about my time up there, how important that place is for me.

Arcata - Jaqueline Suskind

“The next book will be about ‘The City’ — my time here in Los Angeles — and the third is ‘The Desert’ about living in Joshua Tree.”

These are not a bunch of poems written for her store. “I wrote all of the poems over a long period of time,” she explained, “the period of time I’ve lived in CA, since 2009.” As she noted, she’s always writing, but she mostly says good-bye to the work she writes for “your subject, your price.”

“Sometimes I take a photo, but there are thousands of Poem Store poems out there that I’ll never see again. I like that about this practice, the writing doesn’t have to be about me or what I will do with a poem someday, it’s for the customer.”

This weekend’s farmers’ market session is something of a return for her. Lately she’s held off on doing poetry at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.

“I’ve been typing poems at private events in L.A. and doing residencies at bookstores and shops there. After 8 years of typing at the market, it’s been a good thing for me to have a break. I don’t always feel safe in public markets, such crazy energy surrounding me, no one to hold space for me, and I’m a sitting duck.

“It’s been an interesting transition and I’ve taken to creating large poetry installations, speaking at colleges, and traveling to perform.

“Last month I was selected as one of 50 artists from around the world to go to Abu Dhabi for a Culture Summit: a big think tank of artists and culture makers in conversation for a week. It was incredible.”


“When I performed, I wrote a poem about the always-changing cultural voice of humanity and it felt good to translate a week’s worth of musing. When the panel discussions were happening, the folks who held their ground the most, who dug the deepest, spoke the most poetically.

“I learned that the function of art as a cultural guide is endlessly expansive, it reaches every part of society, it gives us purpose and can shift political power. Poetry is at the root of everything.”

It is indeed. And at the root of culture…

Casey Neill and the Norway Rats @ The Eagle House (tonight)

I haven’t written the Hum for a bit, but today seemed like a good a time as any to get back to it. Casey Neill and the Norway Rats are playing in Eureka tonight and I bought advance tickets.

Depending on where you find out about music, you may not have heard about the show. For some reason the North Coast Journal didn’t mention it at all and there aren’t many other places to read about shows outside of the imperfect, but massively powerful Facebook.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Casey. As an introduction I’ll quote Wikipedia, where they note,

“Casey Neill is an American musician. He leads Portland, Oregon-based band Casey Neill & The Norway Rats, singing with a raspy vocal quality and playing electric and acoustic guitars. Neill’s style, folk-punk, mixes influences from punk, Celtic and folk music, and has been compared to R.E.M. and The Pogues.”

(Aside from the “raspy” part I’d agree.) Or there’s this short interview and song he did with a tv station in Portland…

I first met Casey in the ’90s when he was touring up and down the coast in support of Earth First!, usually fighting the good fight in support of our forests or something like that. He had a cassette release (I may have one somewhere) with songs like the hopeful “Dancing on The Ruins of Multinational Corporations.”

I’ve seen him play every chance I could, like at this gig in PDX where he played a tribute for Joe Strummer of the Clash. It may or may not have been with the Pogues cover band he’s in called KMRIA.
“It stands for Kiss My Royal Irish Ass,” Neill explained when I asked, “It’s originally a reference from James Joyce’s Ulysses, but then was used in a Pogues song. That band has definitely influenced my writing — there’s a lot of Pogues in there, along with Joe Strummer and others in and around that world.”

There’s a lot of politics in his songs, some personal, some the other kind. “If you’re singing about the real world at all, it’s political,” he told me. “It’s more that my standards for what makes a good political song have gotten much higher. There’s definitely less of the anthemic political cheerleading. I’m trying to focus more on storytelling, where the narrative draws people into the story, which has inherent politics to it. I want to let the listeners come to their own conclusions without being a bully about it. Of course we still play some of the old songs because, well, people won’t let us stop.”

As noted in that tv interview, The Norway Rats have a new album out. I assume this song is on it.

Years ago, before a show in Blue Lake at the dearly departed Red Radish, I asked him what is it he’s trying to do with his songs and music. “I am simply trying to move people,” he said. “I think it’s what anyone who isn’t in music for fame and glory is trying to do. If I can draw a listener into a song and have it resonate for them personally, that’s a victory.”

The Rats’ short album release tour includes just one date in California, tonight in the Grand Theatre Ballroom at the Historic Eagle House, Old Town, Eureka. If you don’t have other plans (like perhaps the Forest Prom is Arcata) you should go.

Burning Leaf tells us, “The music of Casey Neill and The Norway Rats combines high energy indie rock rave-ups and haunting lush acoustic reveries built around melodic narrative songwriting. Neill has been touring extensively through the USA, Japan, and Europe for more than a decade, performing his songs at venues such as Town Hall in New York, San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, and the Newport Folk Festival. He is often a member of the Northwest power pop collective The Minus 5 (with members of R.E.M.) as well as Japanese/American cross cultural band Big Bridges. ALL AGES, Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm. Tickets are available at the door for $12 Entrance on 2nd street. Phatsy Kline’s Parlor Lounge will be serving up the finest local libations! See you tonight!”