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The Hum by Bob Doran

April 22, 2004


THE HUM: IT'S A LOW CONTINUOUS SOUND, THE sound of activity. In this case it's the activity in the entertainment world of Humboldt County: music, art, drama, film, all the things that help us escape from the day-to-day grind and keep us sane in an increasingly insane world.

That was the lede for this column when it premiered on April 21, 1994 in the Arcata Union, a now defunct weekly some of you will remember. Back then I was a freelancer writing entertainment stories for a number of now-defunct papers, including the Union. The paper's "B Section" editor, Jack Durham (now the publisher/editor of the McKinleyville Press), wanted some sort of catchall A&E column; I was happy to oblige.

What was going on a decade ago? Jeff DeMark was performing his first solo theater piece, Writing My Way Out of Adolescence, at a now-defunct restaurant. Vocalist/bandleader Bishop Mayfield's band had moved from funk to reggae. (He has since moved on to blues and, quite recently, moved from SoHum down to Monterey.) Bishop was playing at Arcata's No. 1 hot spot, the Jambalaya, as were Small Fish and Durango 95 (bands that have come and gone), and soul singer Earl Thomas (who, incidentally, will be back for Blues by the Bay in July). Trumpeter Sam Maez was leading a weekly jazz jam session at the Jam; he was also part of the lineup for an event called "Redwood Jazz Review," a benefit for KHSU that also featured combos led by Darius Brotman, Gil Cline and Jerry Moore.

Of course Maez is still eternally busy (even post-Eureka Inn closure), usually paired with piano/organ whiz John Raczka. Darius Brotman is still playing bebop piano; he's at the Graves for Arts Alive! next Saturday, May 1, with "Jazz in the Redwoods" featuring Susie Laraine, Shao Way Wu and Ed Campbell. The group returns to the museum Sunday afternoon for another show, sans Susie.

Jerry Moore, a retired professor emeritus from CR, returns to town this weekend with his flute and keyboard, hooking up with a local rhythm section (Blake Brown, guitar, Baron Wolfe, bass and Michael LaBolle, drums) and bringing along a friend from the Bay Area, Doug Arrington, a noted jazz singer, originally from New York. The group plays Friday night at the Saffire Rose (after the Tritones) then again on Saturday at Avalon.

Cline, too, is busy as ever. He leads Brass Ensemble von Humboldt playing Saturday, April 24, at Christ Episcopal Church, part of "Music in Bloom" in connection with the Rhodie Fest. Cline's sextet plays classical repertoire on trumpets and trombones. "We're doing a shake-down-the-walls piece by Marcel Dupre. You can literally feel the floorboards move," he told me. The show also includes Christ Church's resident organist Douglas Moorehead pumping out some organ pieces and playing along with the trumpets and a choir, including an appropriate piece called "Flowers."

The following weekend, April 30 and May 1, Cline is a guest with the Eureka Symphony at First Assembly of God Church featured on "Concerto in E Flat" by Haydn, which he says he will play on a very old German trumpet with rotary valves.

Also in a classical vein: Daedalus String Quartet plays this Friday night at Calvary Lutheran Church, part of the Eureka Chamber Concert Series. The young ensemble from New York offers works by Haydn, Beethoven and Bartok.

Friday is "Punk Prom" night at the Placebo, a conceptual thing where the word punk relates to something other than the music. I watched Willoughby invite the Ian Fayes to play. "You know we don't play punk," one of the twins reminded him. (I'm not sure which one.) "That's OK," was his response. Other music will be provided by E.L.F.S. aka Electronic Legion of Feminist Sounds (not punks), a crew with DJ Keros, Kid Icarus and more.

Friday at Sacred Grounds it's agro-folk by Tamaras and the kinder/gentler Cemetery Love Club, who, BTW, are heading for Portland in May.

Looking for some blues? Choose between the Clint Warner Band at the Red Lion (Saturday as well) or the Checkered Demons, who are at the Clam Beach Inn.

And there's more blues Saturday night at Six Rivers McKinleyville, a CD release party for Guitar Shorty, who has a new disc on Alligator, Watch Your Back.

Saturday afternoon and into the evening at HSU, it's the Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival, aka SLAM Fest. This is the "ninth annual" although it was called something different last year, and to my mind it's really just an eco-groovy version of the infamous old Lumberjack Days. This year it's on the Special Events Field (the former location of Lumberjack Days).

You could listen to speakers all day, among them activist Derrick Jensen, author of the new Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution, as well as A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe, a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, which cited the book as "a passionate and provocative meditation on the nexus of racism, genocide, environmental destruction and corporate malfeasance, where civilization meets its discontents."

You can also learn a lot about bio-diesel or hydrogen energy, solar and lots more eco-groovy stuff. (I'm sure you can pedal that thing that powers the stage if you're into it.)

Or you can listen to music all day, starting at noon with the tropical sounds of the HSU Calypso Band; moving on to fine bluegrass from Colorado by Open Road (1:45 p.m.) then Albino! with some super hot Afrobeat from Africa via the Bay Area (2:45). Peter Tosh's son, Andrew Tosh, closes the show backed by the Reggae Angels (starting at 6). And for those with still more energy (or who just want a dose of Afrobeat), Albino! hits the stage at Mazzotti's that night for a SLAM after-party into the wee hours.

Saturday night at Café Mokka it's Musaic, a new world folk outfit (with a great name) assembled by Dan Chandler. I'm told they play mostly Balkan music. (Dan is the host of "In the Tradition," Sunday nights at 9 on KHSU.)

Over at Sacred Grounds that night, Seabury Gould leads Scatter the Mud, an Irish ensemble with Seabury on vocals, guitar, bouzouki and flute, Mike Pearce on fiddle and Uillean pipes, Erica Carlson on accordion, Alan Morden on guitar, mandolin and bodhran, and Suzanne Friend on vocals and whistle.

Our resident reggae kings, Massagana, play Rumours Saturday. And Tall Dogs play "" at the Clam Beach Inn.

Does that humming sound ever stop? Not really. There's a tintinitis-inducing show Tuesday, April 27, at the Placebo with Winston Smith, the Cinema Eye and Canadian avant hardcore band, Raking Bombs.

Raking Bombs hang around `til Wednesday, April 28, for more loudness at the Alibi, along with Me Infecto. Also on Wednesday, slightly mellower indie rock at the Saffire Rose with the Cushion Theory and Ned up from the city. And at Muddy Waters, it's a double shot of high energy acoustic sounds with local neo-old timers, the Slew Foot String Band, plus Hillstomp, a duo from Portland, Ore., playing what they call "hill country punk blues," leaning heavily towards the slide, judging by their new disc, One Word.

One last thing before I go: I received a tear-stained e-mail a few days ago from Loreen at the Riverwood Inn. It seems that Canadian rockabilly hero Ray Condo, who played there just last month, passed away some time last week. Ray Condo was a true roadhouse warrior, a master of what he called "futuristic vintage." Raise your glass in his memory and hum a few bars of some sad song. We'll miss you, Ray.


Bob Doran



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