April 21, 2005
by BOB DORAN
WHEN I TRACKED DOWN BICASSO, ONE OF THE RAPPERS from the L.A.-based hip-hop crew Living Legends [photo at left], he was cruising cross-country in a pimped-out tour bus, a rolling party raging in the background as we chatted via cell. Turns out Bicasso was an HSU student in the early '90s and a member of the local hip-hop outfit, Critical Measures.
"That was me, Gabe [McDowell], a dude named Matt Robinson and Robert Herrera. It was live hip-hop: bass, drums, guitar, turntables and MC. It was born out of the band Lakota, Gabe played drums for them. They were the ultimate house party band doing shows all over town. I started rapping with them, then me and Gabe started the jam-hip-hop thing."
A turning point for Bicasso came when, "Mystik Journeymen came up to Arcata and played Brew `n' Beats, rode up in a U-Haul truck. It was PSC and Sunspot Jonz. Those two guys basically introduced me to a new style of West Coast hip-hop: do-it-yourself, independent, get to where you're going, do the show, sell your tapes (this was before CDs were prevalent), get your money and hit the next city. It was an eye-opener to what the West Cost had to offer as far as an alternative to East Coast hip-hop and gangsta hip-hop. It felt like a fit for me."
When Gabe finished school at HSU in 1996 he moved to East Oakland and rented a warehouse space; Bicasso followed and moved in, before long the Journeymen moved in too and the space became headquarters and home for a crew of eight that would evolve into the Living Legends.
Then around 1999, when the crew got past the "broke-ass and hella-broke" stage and were ready to get their own places, the Legends moved their headquarters to L.A. "We had gone beyond what the Bay Area had to offer as far as shows, record sales and inspiration," Bicasso recalled.
Fast-forward a few years, through 50 albums from the crew as a whole, with the DIY method resulting in sales of more than 200,000 discs, and the Living Legends are living large while promoting their latest, Classic, "our best work to date," as Bicasso put it. Watch for the bus next Thursday, April 28, as they return to the space once known as Brew `n' Beats, now called Mazzotti's, for a show presented by Bay 2 Bay Hip-hop, a new company run by Bicasso's old running partner Gabe McDowell.
Don't forget the Indigenous Culture Music Celebration Thursday, April 21, at HSU's Kate Buchanan Room with Blackfire from Black Mesa, Aztlan Underground bringing funky hip-hop from East L.A. and local indigenous soul band, 7th Generation Rise.
Little Charlie and the Nightcats are down at the Riverwood Friday night playing their jumpin' rhythm and blues. Meanwhile the SoHum rock band The N.P.K. is at the Eureka VFW Lounge for a CD release party with Rita Lynn and the A.D.D. Boys and Que La Chinga adding to the fun. Que La Chinga also plays Saturday night at the Alibi, opening for Juanita Family and Friends, an alt. country western band from Portland led by Lana Rebel from the math/metal band Last of the Juanitas.
Friday out at the Placebo, new local bands Frownland and Bella Dramatic open for Portland-based Kieskagato, an awesome band, at least judging from the self-titled EP they sent me, a lush, shimmering indie rock excursion with jazz overtones.
Saturday, April 23, it's the 10th Annual Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival at HSU, a full day of music and talk with the Humboldt Calypso Band kicking things off at noon with tropical steel followed by "insurgent bluegrass" band Victor Barnes, who mix Celtic and reggae flavors in with Appalachian mountain music. (Victor Barnes also plays after SLAM at Muddy Waters and Sunday at Six Rivers Brewery.) Marnie Atkins speaks on the clean-up of Indian Island at 2:15, then at 3 p.m. it's Bat Makumba, a hot, hot, hot Brazilian funk/samba trio working out of San Fran. Global Exchange founder Kevin Danaher speaks at 4:30, then you have a long set by jazz fusion jammers Garaj Mahal, a keynote speech by David Cobb from the Green Party, and beginning at 7:30, a closing set by Wisdom with conscious rap and lyrics set to a hip-hop/reggae beat.
Catch Ponche's AfroCuban salsa Saturday morning at the Arcata Farmer's Market. Saturday evening Huckleberry Flint plays for a contra dance at the Arcata Veterans' Hall raising funds for drought relief in Africa.
The indie rock station K-SLUG celebrates its first anniversary with a party at Six Rivers Brewery featuring local indie bands The Buffy Swayze and The Rubberneckers.
Flowmotion is down from Seattle Saturday for some jammin' rock at the Blue Lake Casino's Sapphire Palace. Humboldt Brews has soul/rockers the Saul Kaye Band. And at the infamous 330 Club, it's hard-as-a-rock music with Dirty Power from San Francisco, Murdock from Seattle and Humboldt's own The Hitch.
The Mateel rocks that night with three loud SoHum bands: Subconscious Revolt playing punk, the hard rockin' Chain of Kommand and headbangers Mass Destruction. All ages, no alcohol.
Monday, April 25, at Six Rivers it's Over the Rhine, an alt. folk/roots duo from Cincinnati, who are supposedly honorary members of The Cowboy Junkies, whatever that means.
The nation's first and only Hmong comedian/rapper, Tou Ger Xiong, performs Monday in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room as part of the Asian Pacific Heritage Celebration. Earlier that day, in the Goodwin Forum at 4:30, Tou speaks on campus activism.
San Francisco's Poet Laureate Devorah Major reads at the Morris Graves Museum Friday night in connection with National Poetry Month, and leads a poet's workshop the following day. In another poetic event, local free-lance journalist/slam poet John Dooley performs at Muddy Waters Wednesday evening, April 27, paired with comic rocker Brett Shuler in a show titled, Dooley vs. Shuler. "It's a music and poetry heavyweight tag-team event," explained Dooley. "I was on the Portland slam poet team for three years, went to national competitions. Slam poetry can be goofy, funny, satirical -- it's like stand-up comedy, but in poetic form. Brett will sing and play a song; I'll do some slam poetry, then Brett, then me. Brett's stuff is all intelligent, high energy, funny. My stuff is like that: autobiographical fiction, poetry with knuckles -- no daisies, no love poems."
Wednesday at Six Rivers Brewery, catch the 7th Annual KRFH Battle of the Bands with more than 10 bands in various genres scheduled to compete for big prizes. Coming up next Thursday, April 28, another "real reggae" night at Six Rivers Brewery, this time featuring the positive ska-tinged reggae of Pato Banton backed by the SoCal reggae band Sol Horizon.
That night at Rumours it's the first of a female-centric weekend long series called Ladyfest with three fine rock bands fronted by women: The Monster Women, Iron Rain and The Ravens. More on Ladyfest next week.
And at the Mateel Thursday, it's the first ever Mateel Community Jam Session, an open mike jam sort of thing. Show up at 6 to sign up for solo or duo slots. The fun starts at 6:30.
Ticket alert revised: CenterArts
notes that "due to circumstances beyond our control,"
the 9-11 Ani DiFranco show scheduled for the new, as-yet-unfinished
HSU Field House has been moved to the considerably smaller Van
Duzer Theatre. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday, April 25.
Snap `em up or miss out.
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