April 14, 2005
by BOB DORAN
W HILE THEY ARE TYPICALLY LUMPED in with jambands and share the same music-loving audience, Sound Tribe Sector 9 [photo at right], aka STS9, is not your typical jamband. After exploring the outer realms of electronica/improv, the boys from Georgia have refined the form to the nth degree with their latest studio release, ARTiFACT, a jewel of an album that has not left my boom box since I got it a few weeks ago.
When I caught up with STS9 keyboardist David Phipps on one of the band's rare off days, we started with talk of the band's evolution. "I guess the biggest change over the years has been more and more technology on stage -- more computers, as well as technology off the stage in our composition process," he told me.
As the synthesizer player, Phipps has always surfed the new tech wave, but he notes that his methods changed when his buddy DJ Genetic taught him to use drum machines and Prologic software. "Our guitar player picked it up as well and we both got into writing music on computers, enjoying all the freedoms you have doing that."
Programs like Propellerhead Reason and Ableton Live followed. "They let you write all the parts in a song, and that's what we started doing. Some kids play video games, we started playing with this software."
Of course, laying down tracks on a laptop is not the same thing as playing live electronic improv. "We're still in a band, unlike one person in their bedroom rocking out to his computer. We do that bedroom part, but bring it to the band. We'll have the bass player do the bass line live. The drum parts go live; and we trigger different tracks as we play. There's infinite nuance that you don't get from a pre-recorded song."
That nuance will be in evidence Tuesday, April 19, when Passion Presents brings the STS9 "ARTiFACT Tour" to Humboldt for a show at the Arcata Community Center, reproducing the 100-plus tracks used recording the album in a live setting. See you there.
Deep Groove Society plays for dancers at the North Coast Inn this Thursday, April 14. (Happy birthday, Mom!) Watch for DGS's massive "Spring Soul" fling at the end of April, an outdoor thing with a couple of dozen DJs and five live bands. Check www.deepgroovesociety.com for details.
A couple of bands are uncelebrating the fact that income taxes are due Friday, April 15. Fusiq presents "Tax Day Cometh," a multi-media event with music and video at The Logger Bar. Cycle of Violence and P.H.I.S.T. promise to "destroy tax day" with metal at the Clam Beach Inn.
You must choose your blues Friday night with Buddy Reed rippin' it up at Muddy Waters backed by former Hound Dogs: bassman Dale Cash and drummer Nate Kaplan. Mojo Daddy plays the blues at Rumours that night. You can also catch Mojo Daddy at the Blue Lake Casino Wednesday, April 20.
After groovin' at Six Rivers Brewery Friday night, Kulica heads south to play the Riverwood Inn Saturday, April 16.
Texas country bluesman Scott H. Biram returns to the Alibi Saturday, April 16. Biram is pleased to announce that, "I have sold my soul to Bloodshot Records," a label that just released a remastered version of his CD, The Dirty Old One Man Band. Scott is also at work on a new album for Bloodshot with more gritty country/blues/metal songs like "Plow You Under," "Graveyard Shift (Is The One I Like)," and "Bury My Heart (On The Side of The Road)." Local slewgrassers Slewfoot String Band open.
Saturday night at the Bayside Grange, the Humboldt Folklife Society presents The Stairwell Sisters, a string band from San Francisco hill country that lives by the motto, "good-time gals love old-time tunes." The Sisters plan on showing up early to lead workshops in intermediate and advanced banjo, fiddle and Dobro and in buckdancing and clogging.
At the Placebo Saturday it's "Prom of the Dead," a new take on last year's punk prom with participants in zombie costumes and music by zombie-surf band Los Banditos Muertos plus The Pasties and zombie-esque ELFS DJs. (BTW, ELFS also play yet another "last show in Arcata" at Humboldt Brews Friday night, joined by DJ Red.)
Neo-psychedelic garage rockers The Great Salvation play Rumours Saturday along with those buckdancing zombies The Rubberneckers.
Catch the out-of-the-garage debut of The Sardeenz at Humboldt Brews Saturday. According to bandmember Marlon (of the Club Thor crew), "We have been playing together for the last few years and we have finally solidified our set and we are ready to play shows. We play a rock, reggae, hip-hop style that grooves pretty hard. This show is going to be huge for us and tons of fun for anyone who goes, guaranteed."
How about some birdwatching music? The HSU Natural History Museum is throwing a Godwit Days associated benefit at the museum Saturday evening with everyone's favorite bird-associated Gypsy jazz band, Cuckoo's Nest, who play a few tunes by Charlie "Bird" Parker.
Vintage Soul, a band that I assume plays vintage soul, has a long day Saturday, starting with the Arcata Farmers' Market in the morning, then playing Sal's Off Broadway that night.
Got a CD in the mail the other day, Seismogenic, by a SoCal jam rock band, Seismic, in the Phish/Dead/Little Feat mold, coming to Six Rivers Brewery Saturday. The lyrics are a tad generic, but the music's good, especially the keyboard parts and when the bass player cuts loose as on the funky tune, "Slappin' It Down."
His slap bass style brings to mind the bass guitar seminar coming up Tuesday, April 19, at Two Street Music led by Chris Matheos, a new-in-town bassman who is the author of several bass instruction books for Mel Bay, including a couple on slap bass technique. Keyboardist Mike Kapitan and drummer Bill Moehnke join Matheos for demos.
Later that night at The Alibi, it's the return of the insanely fine Japanoise band DMBQ, who have crossed the United States playing pretty much every night since they were here in early March. Dragged by Horses opens the show, which I guarantee will be packed.
Wednesday is April 20, aka 4-20. (If you don't know what that means, forget about it.) The big show du jour is at the Mateel where Toots and the Maytals prove that "reggae got soul" with the excellent jamrockers Animal Liberation Orchestra, aka ALO, opening the show. Get a ticket in advance, this one will sell out.
Or if smoky underground hip-hop is more your style check 4-20@Rumours with 2Mex plus Circus and Life Rexall, both from The Shapeshifters, and Thanksgiving Brown, playing his second to last show in Humboldt before heading cross-country. (More on his big move next week.)
Coming next Thursday, April 21, to Six Rivers Brewery Zilla, an improv electronica trance band led by String Cheese Incident drummer Michael Travis that includes a hammered dulcimer player.
Bluesaholics might want to call now to reserve tickets for that jumpin' little band Little Charlie and the Nightcats, coming to the Riverwood next Saturday, April 22.
And looking further ahead: Tickets go on sale Monday, April 18, for an Aug. 24 show at the Van Duzer with stellar jazz/jam trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, and for a Sept. 11 visit by that "righteous babe," Ani DiFranco, whose show is in the revamped HSU Field House, now known as the Rec Center. Get `em while you can.
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