Yes, John Craigie is back! And the Hum is back, for what it’s worth…
John p.r. people tell me, “Modern-day troubadour/singer-songwriter John Craigie will be performing at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on November 10th & 11th in a long-awaited celebration of his latest album, Asterisk The Universe which was released back in 2020. For ticket information go here. Known for his engaging live shows, Craigie is finally back out on the road combining his signature wry wit and clever observations with an earthy mix of soul, folk and rock…as well as a few laughs in between.
Craigie will be performing songs from his album, Asterisk The Universe, a record that showcased his storytelling prowess by exploring what it all means to live in the 21st century. The 10-track journey of organic instrumentation and articulate lyrics was a collaborative effort that involved a host of musician friends such as The Rainbow Girls, The California Honeydrops and many more.
You can watch John Craigie’s 2018 Woods Stage performance here from last year’s Pickathon for more insight into Craigie’s incredible stage presence and ingenious lyrics. Or you can watch his Paste Studio on the Road: Nashville session here. Craigie had been touring continuously for most of the past decade (until the pandemic hit), steadily gaining fans with candid stories, vibrant jokes and life musings from the road. Through this time, he has garnered the admiration of venerated artists such as Todd Snider, Trampled By Turtles, Jack Johnson (who he opened for in 2017) and more.”
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.