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Feb. 3, 2005


The Hum


Photo and headline -- Harrison Stafford of GroundationSUNDAY, FEB. 6, IS THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF Bob Marley, and for the sixth year in a row the Sonoma-based reggae band Groundation is hitting the road to play music by Bob and his band, the Wailers.

"From a musical standpoint, it's about learning from the greatest musicians of all time," said Groundation founder, Harrison Stafford [photo at right]. "It's a chance for Groundation as a unit to learn Bob Marley's music, learn the Wailers' approach. We don't do the same songs year after year, and we always learn 25 or 30 tunes, so over the last six years we've learned maybe 150 Bob Marley songs. Musically speaking it broadens your vocabulary, learning the rhythms they play, the harmonic structures, the chord progressions."

Of course the lyrics are just as important as the music. "Bob had a dedication to the struggle, based on things he saw, whether in Jamaica or all over the world. There's this fanatical thing that puts us in our place, that causes the gap between the rich and the poor, causes these power struggles. I think Bob saw that and he was able to reason, to journey in his own mind, to create a simple poetic way of saying these things. It doesn't matter if it's 100 years from now, as long as the system is in place, the fight goes on, the struggle for equality and justice goes on. That's the basis for Groundation's music as well. That's the tie that links us to Bob Marley and what he has done. It's an honor to sing his songs."

Groundation's "Tribute to Bob Marley" comes to Six Rivers Brewery Saturday, Feb. 5. And for those who plan in advance, the Mateel's annual Marley celebration is on Friday, Feb. 25, with reggae masters Steel Pulse and Israel Vibration. Coming up the night before, Feb. 24, Passion Presents Jimmy Cliff at Mazzotti's.

Elsewhere Saturday, Feb. 5, eco-activist Darryl Cherney and the Chernobles play a rare club date at Muddy Waters in connection with their hot new disc, Real American. My advice: arrive early since the tiny place will surely be packed.

Out in Blue Lake that night at the Red Radish, mad mandolinist Lief Sorbye and his band Tempest play their electric Celtic/Northern Euro rock.

Saturday night at Humboldt Brews it's an evening of wild and crazy dub/ska/rock/funk straight-outta-Long Beach with Bargain Music (a cool band that I saw for the first time opening for Lee "Scratch" Perry) and the Long Beach Expendables (about whom I know nothing, although I can guess where they come from).

Catch the 4th Annual Wiyot Sacred Site Fund Benefit Concert that night at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium. The music is a cross-section on the modern indigenous tip: politically conscious bluesy folk from Keith Secola, who was also featured at last year's Sacred Site show, hard-edged rap from Litefoot, good old fashioned rock `n' roll by the Merv George Band, led by the keeper of regalia for the Hupa Tribe, and last but not least Ulali, a trio that sold out their last local performance at HSU. As they explain on their Web site (, "We are a First Nations women a cappella trio that sing music in the many styles and languages of our ancestors in the Western Hemisphere. We do not call ourselves `Native American' because our blood and people were here long before this land was called the Americas. We are older than America can ever be and do not know the borders. Our brothers and sisters run from North to South and into and under the waters for miles and years back."

Also in the First Nations vein, a show Friday, Feb. 4 at the Mateel with indigenous spoken word artist John Trudell and Bad Dog plus Quinto Sol, a band out of East L.A. along the lines of Ozomatli, with special guest Fidel. This one's a benefit for KMUD and the SoHum theater troupe, Recycled Youth -- good cause, great music.

Yet another benefit Friday, Feb. 4: a gathering at Six Rivers Brewery called "Ya Basta!," which I'm told is a slogan for the Zapatistas translating to something like "enough already!" There's hip-hop by Optimystic Populists, Latin-tinged reggae by Vidagua, conscious reggae spun by One Wise Sound System and a capoeira performance by the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center, all benefiting Chiapas Peace House Project. Added bonus: free maté all night, since it's sponsored by Mendo Mate.

Austin-based singer/songwriter Patrice Pike has been on the road playing her songs, making her way as a musician for 15 years now. She comes to Arcata for the first time Monday, Feb. 7, playing with her band The Blackbox Rebellion at Muddy Waters.

Pike called from a stop on the road to talk about why she does what she does. "The core thing that inspires me around making music is a dialogue around intent -- about what people's intentions are. I think a lot of my songs, whether it might be about a couple and their relationship, or my own experience in intimacy, or about the government, whether it's a story about a character that I made up, or whatever -- it's usually about intention and how it's manifest. That's what I'm most interested in, that people pay attention to what they are doing and why."

What is her intent is taking these songs to the world? "What I've figured out in my life is that when I really work hard at making my intentions clear and remembering what my goals are, life opens up for me and I experience more joy and happiness, then I give that to even more people."

I know that fans of the public radio show A Prairie Home Companion are legion -- it's routinely listed as a favorite by KHSU listeners -- so it's likely that P.H.C. host Garrison Keillor will perform for a full house at the Van Duzer Tuesday, Feb, 8. I have to admit, I once found his tales of mythical Lake Wobegon kind of clever, but I tired of them a long time ago and lately Keillor's languid, banal shtick just makes me want to nod off, so if by chance I tune him in on my car radio, for safety's sake, I change the station. He does have some interesting musical guests on occasion -- too bad none of them is coming with him.

An alternative suggestion: Stop by the Plaza Grill's View Room that night where the Humboldt Folklife Society presents Portland's hip old timey combo, Foghorn Stringband, with multi-instrumentalist David Isley opening.

There's more neo-old timey music Wednesday, Feb. 9: the Shiftless Rounders, who have come all the way from the great state of Maine to play for you at Muddy Waters.

Bluesman Buddy Reed returns to Humboldt Brews Wednesday for a set or two of acoustic blues. I'm told Mr. Reed has decided to make his home here for a while. Make him feel welcome.

Wednesday at the Blue Lake Casino, the 11-piece world-beat outfit Aphrodesia is up from San Francisco to arouse your dance urges with a mix of African, Brazilian and Cuban rhythms. Catch a ride out on the magic bus and dance the night away.



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