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September 8, 2005

The Hum

by BOB DORAN


photo of MofroThere's something more than the drawl in J.J. Grey's voice and Daryl Hance's slip-sliding guitar licks that tell you Mofro comes from somewhere deep in the South.

Grey explains that the band's bluesy swamp funk has its roots in Florida, where he grew up. "These old chicken farmers who helped raise me have given me so much more than a place to hang my hat. They've given me a home, they've given me roots and honestly that has as much or more to do with who I am musically as any of the songs I've listened to growing up -- the heartbreaking southern ballad or the festive juke house romp.

Right: Mofro

"The joy to watch the butterflies' beautiful dance in the summer sun by day, or the mysterious fireflies by night, and then the hole it leaves in your heart; the sorrow, when they're seemingly gone forever. The pain of walking this hard earth, and then the thrill of feeling your bare feet on the ground. The greatest inspiration of all: These men and women who sing, whose voices move me, whose songs tell me the stories of living, loving, hating, hurting, healing and dieing -- Lord, I hope I do them proud."

Mofro plays tunes from their latest, Lochloosa, Thursday, Sept. 8, at Mazzotti's.

Don't say I didn't warn you: Thursday's Dirk Powell Band/David Ross MacDonald show at the Red Radish is sold out. If you're interested in fiddle and banjo workshops with Dirk and other members of his band on Friday morning, Sept. 9, call the Folklife folks at 822-5394 or e-mail folk@humboldtfolklife.org right now.

Friday is a big night for reggae. At the Mateel, it's Sizzla and the Firehouse Crew. The devout Bobo Ashanti Rastafarian, considered one of the top roots-oriented dancehall performers in Jamaica, is still facing the ire of gay activists who decry fiery patois lyrics by Sizzla and others. Protests earlier this year resulted in the cancellation of six Sizzla concerts in France, and House of Blues abandoned plans for a show set for this coming Monday in West Hollywood. It's not likely that the furor will affect the local show, which is expected to sell out.

While Sizzla heats up the Mateel Friday, the St. Croix-based reggae outfit Midnite returns to Humboldt for a show at Mazzotti's. Led by brothers Vaughn and Ron Benjamin, the band came into its own while working the club circuit around Washington D.C. After cutting a couple of records, they returned to the Virgin Islands to establish Afrikan Roots Lab. Ten more albums and more touring helped pave the way for other St. Croix reggae artists who made the leap to the U.S. market.

There's still more reggae next Thursday, Sept. 15, at Mazzotti's: Pato Banton's Reggae Revolution is back in town bringing, as Pato puts it, "peace and love, no badness, intelligent lyrics with no slackness. I bring N. I. C. E. N. E. double S -- niceness."

Nucleus warms up for their upcoming CD release party (Sept. 24) with an instore Friday, Sept. 9, at the Metro.

I don't recall any band playing the Arcata Farmers' Market getting the kind of reception given to the African band Djialy Kunda Kouyate, who mesmerized the Plaza crowd this spring. The dancing Senegalese twins Assane and Ousseynou Kouyate leapt into the air when they weren't singing, while a stellar Humboldt band fleshed out the intricate rhythms. The band returns to the market Saturday, Sept. 10; that evening the boys bring the show to Six Rivers Brewery.

At the Bayside Grange, it's a benefit for Six Rivers Planned Parenthood with The Delta Nationals playing rock for swingers. Need help swingin'? Bruce and Carrie Hart offer lessons.

Meanwhile down in Ferndale, the second edition of LostCoastLive seems to be sold out, despite the fact that the identity of the undiscovered musicians playing is not announced until they hit the stage. Watch for another such mystery show in November.

Saturday at the Alibi, catch The Waxfire, a cool combo from Olympia with a sound described as "modern-day chamber music," I suppose because the quartet is fronted by Jen Grady, who accompanies her shimmering songs with a cello. Their debut disc, Brown Paper Envelopes, is a fine piece of work. Highly recommended. Joining them: The Blue Dot, a Mendocino-based four-piece with roots in Washington's grunge scene.

In the blues vein, you've got ShinBone returning to Jambalaya's Saturday night Chill Zone, while the Clint Warner Band is down in Loleta at Bear River Casino. Then on Sunday, Sept. 11, the Arcata Plaza Summer Series rolls on with soul man Earl Thomas.

Sunday night at The Alibi, it's alaska!, last seen in these parts as part of a memorable show with indie rock icon Lou Barlow. As noted in p.r. for their new album, Rescue Through Tomahawk, "The name alaska! has nothing to do with the state. Rather, it's about the state of mind. It is always written in lowercase letters..." And perhaps coincidentally, the band's singer/songwriter/guitarist Imaad Wasif was in a band called lowercase before alaska! Opening the show, gritty local garage rockers The Ravens.

On Monday, Sept. 12, Placebo and Empire Squared present an evening of wild and crazy hip hop at the E2 Gallery featuring "the Kermit and Fozzy of underground hip hop," Lord Grunge (aka Jarrod Weeks) and Grape-A-Don (aka Jackson O'Connell-Barlow), a seriously funny rapping duo from Pittsburg, PA. known collectively as Grand Buffet. The guys are on the road hyping their career-spanning compilation, Five Years Of Fireworks, with a friend from San Antonio, DJ Jester, the Filipino Fist, on the turntables. Also on the bill, The Old Haunts, one of many rockin' bands from Olympia who record for Kill Rock Stars, and DJ Casey of Empire Squared with some "freaky turntable action."

Not sure why they don't just call it a quartet, but the Pat Metheny Trio Plus One show Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the Van Duzer promises to be an evening of great jazz. Guitarist Metheny is a fusion pioneer; Antonio Sanchez has been his regular drummer for years. The amazing bass player Christian McBride (seen before at the Duzer with Josh Redman) fills out the trio. The plus one is Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sánchez (no relation to Antonio), who may shift things in a Latin direction.

Roots music fans should not miss The Tarbox Ramblers, playing Wednesday at Six Rivers. Led by gravel-voiced slide guitar player Michael Tarbox, the Boston-based band takes old time blues, country and gospel into the garage, emerging with utterly original, raw, dark rock 'n' roll.

The slew of end-of-summer music festivals continues unabated. This weekend, Sept. 9-11, the 12th annual Trinity Tribal Stomp fills the Trinity County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 3 near Hayfork. The musical offerings include Oteil Burbridge and the Peacemakers, led by former Allman Bros. bassist Oteil on Saturday, with reggae from Midnite and blues by Corby Yates. Sunday's headliner Jorge Santana, Carlos' brother and the founder of Malo, is joined by Wisdom, Clan Dyken, Sasha Butterfly and some locals: Joanne Rand and the Rhythm of the Open Hearts, Darryl Cherney and the Chernobles and Lost Coast Marimbas. Added bonuses after dark: a classic hippie-style light show by Cosmic Goo and a Boom Boom fireworks display.

Coming next weekend: The North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza, and Earthdance 2005: The Global Festival for Peace down at Black Oak Ranch, where they have added a few new acts since Ani cancelled, including Ozomatli, Culture, Steve Kimock and Les Claypool's latest project, Electric Apricot. Lots more on both events next week. And speaking of parties for peace, Earthdance headliner Michael Franti has his free 911 Festival Power to the Peaceful Sept. 10, at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park. Peace out.


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