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Jan. 6, 2005

 

The Hum

by BOB DORAN


Photo and headline -- Two GallantsSAN FRANCISCO'S COOL FOLK/PUNK/blues duo, Two Gallants [photo at right], grabbed my attention a couple of years back with a rootsy oeuvre that included a plaintive cover of bluesman Blind Willie McTell's "Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues." While they're still youngsters, Gallants singer-guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel have improved with age. A more recent neo-blues tune, "The Train That Stole My Man," eases in with Adam's bottleneck guitar wailing like a far away train; the drummer entering after a few bars to provide a chugging drive. There's passion to spare as iconic images from a thousand old country/blues songs -- a lamp trimmed and low, a greasy skillet, a lonesome whistle -- are gathered like thrift store treasures to be reassembled into something current and vibrant, yet classically tragic. The band's latest CD, The Throes, has been getting some well-deserved attention with reviews in the S.F. alt. press and Rolling Stone. On this tour they're also selling a brand new 7-inch, "I'm Her Man," that would be perfect for a roadhouse jukebox -- if only all the jukeboxes hadn't switched over to CDs.

Two Gallants stop off in Arcata for a gig Sunday, Jan. 9, at the Alibi on their way home from a jaunt around the Northwest. The local folk/punk bluegrass outfit Que La Chinga opens.

Long before the 20-something Gallants were born, guitarist/road warrior Buddy Reed was making a name for himself in the Los Angeles blues scene, starting at the end of the '60s as part of the house band at a place called Smalls (officially The Small Paradise). With Rod Piazza and the late, great George "Harmonica" Smith, the band backed touring bluesmen like J.B. Hutto and Lightnin' Hopkins and toured with Big Mama Thornton. Then with Reed out front on guitar and vocals, the band took the name Bacon Fat and put out a few records of their own on a British blues label. Reed went on to tour as part of Little Richard's back-up band in the '70s, which explains the name of his band, the Rip It Ups, as in "gonna rock it up, gonna rip it up, and ball tonight." Reed has been doing just that for 30-some-odd years now. Watch him rip it up at Humboldt Brews on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Speaking of the blues, slide guitar and the like, Tony Furtado, who is no slouch with a slide, returns to Six Rivers Brewery on Tuesday, Jan. 11, for an evening of songs accompanied by guitar, banjo and a bass/drums rhythm section. When I first got wind of Furtado he was leading what he called "one of those crazy Boulder bands," barnstorming the jamband circuit with mutant banjo tunes. Since then he moved from Colorado to Oregon, and added slip-sliding blues guitar to his repertoire, only to relocate again in Los Angeles where he has reinvented himself as a bluesy singer-songwriter, one who plays killer breaks behind well-crafted songs.

That same night at 535 Nightclub it's Fishbone, the awesome ska/punk/funk out of L.A., still going strong after 25 plus years. I recall seeing them in the early '80s at the Old Town Bar and Grill (with then-local Mr. Bungle opening). The F-bone portion of the show got underway with the band blasting out a funky ska tune, then lead singer Angelo Moore came onstage looking dapper in a three-piece suit with a bowler hat. Before the song was over, he had stripped off his coat, his vest and his shirt, leaving his pants, suspenders and hat, then as it ended, he doffed his hat, revealing a Mohawk do. That set the tone for one of many wild nights I've spent partying to Fishbone music. Latest news from the band is the fact that they have recently signed with Silverback Artist Management, a spin-off from Sublime's Skunk Records that also handles The Long Beach Dub All-stars, Slightly Stoopid and various related projects. On the road with Fishbone, New Blood Revival, a band out of New Jersey with a three-piece sax section, who came west to record a record for Atlantic produced by David Kahne, who has also produced for Fishbone and Sublime. Opening at the 535, local rockers, Bias.

Coming to the Alibi Saturday, Jan. 8, Irene, a band out of Houston consisting of three brothers: Dan, Hector and Oscar Oviedo; and named in honor of their late grandmother, Irene Gonzalez. It's not exactly a sentiment or a name you'd expect from a trio chosen by the Houston Press as among the best metal/industrial bands in that industrial city, but, who knows, maybe Grandma Irene was a headbanger. The guys are here in support of their first full-fledged CD, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Deconstruction. Opening the show, Socko, a new local outfit that is probably not named for anyone's grandma.

On Sunday, Jan. 9, Westhaven Center for the Arts kicks off something they call "At the Woodside," a run of four jazz shows "focusing on a variety of local jazz artists, hoping to inspire creative ventures, to invigorate the scene and encourage new listeners."

The series includes a second Cuckoo's Nest birthday bash for Django Reinhardt (Jan. 23), plus appearances by the Susie Laraine Jazz Trio (Feb. 6), and a combo fronted by guitarist Blake Brown (March 8). But first up is a program of cool West Coast-style jazz by the College of the Redwoods Jazz Sextet with John Raczka on keys, Max Beck on trumpet, Alan Macy on trombone, Susie Laraine on tenor sax, Julie Froblom on baritone sax and Roger Brown on drums.

Speaking of jazz, I got a call over the weekend from electro-trumpeter Michel Navedo who ran the Future Sounds of Jazz series at Muddy Waters last year. He's putting together another set of Muddy jazz shows, this time around titled Jazz@Muddy Waters, focusing more on straight-ahead, and switching to Thursdays. It all starts next Thursday, Jan. 13, with a combo assembled by pianist Matthew Dowd (who, BTW, is part of Susie Laraine's At the Woodside trio). Jan. 20, it's bassist Shao Way Wu (the third member in Susie's trio), then Navedo and friends play Jan. 27.

Sunday afternoon, Jan. 9, at Muddy Waters, a new combo known as Kin People with Dan Perez on guitar, Nate Kaplan drums, Tim Claasen bass and soulful vocalist Earl Thomas, who I'm told has found a place to live in Trinidad, returning to the Humboldt fold at least for the time being.

Coming next Thursday, Jan. 13, to Humboldt Brews: "The Poor Man's Alphabet Tour," an A to Z underground hip-hop extravaganza that will visit nine states within 18 days. Featured performers: Awol One (from The Shapeshifters), Brycon (formerly of Granola Funk Express), DJ Thanksgiving Brown and Z Man .

Got a New Year's e-mail from reggae/bluesman Madi Simmons noting that it "looks like there is going to be a lot of good shows coming And I have some good news of my own: My CD, Get U Some, was picked up this week by a major distributor who is putting them in stores coast to coast. I know it's for real `cause I got an advance in the mail -- anyway, if you like, let the community know."

OK, consider it done. Got some of your own music news to share? Drop me a line at thehum@northcoastjournal.com.

Bob Doran


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