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September 14, 2006

The Hum, Everyone out there Dancing, by Bob Doran

I was strolling around the Plaza on the Fourth of July as The Generatorz pumped out one hard rock classic after another, thinking to myself, this is real American music. I overheard a mom with a stroller remark to a friend, "Why did they book a band like this for a family festival?" It was a bit too hard for her. The Sad Wings of Destiny came up in another conversation as the band lit into a Judas Priest cover. The conclusion was that The Generatorz lacked the irony injected into SWoD's iron-hard, tongue-in-cheek J.P. tribute.

Talking recently with Dan Perez I learned a bit about the genesis of the band. While there was a slight shift in personnel, it's directly descended from blues/jazz/gospel singer Karen Dumont's old band, which had Perez on guitar, drummer Bill Moehnke, Mike Kapitan on keys and Kenny Lawrence on bass. When Karen left town, the guys recruited vocalist Madi Simmons and formed Soul Express, playing some of the blues and soul they'd done with her and adding new material.

Then at the beginning of this year, Perez decided he wanted to try something harder. "I always loved rock `n' roll. In order to be a better rock player I'd switched to blues, now I want to get back to rock," he told me.

While the Express still plays, Kapitan and Lawrence did not join the new outfit. Instead they recruited John Murdock from Bump Foundation for the Genz' bass slot. The style they chose seemed perfect for the casino crowds and they've landed quite a few gigs.

"We play some heavy stuff," said Perez. "It's an interesting blend: Judas Priest, Montrose and Mountain, but also rock stuff like ZZ Top, Rolling Stones, Cream and Rare Earth, and some of our own originals. Nobody plays the same kind of rock we do, not live."

The band has a couple of gigs this weekend. Friday night they're at Blue Lake Casino. "The casinos are fun, but it's a different audience than the clubs in town," said Perez. "It's a bit older crowd, which is fine. They like to dance." He seemed much more excited about their first show at the Jambalaya, Saturday night after the North Country Fair. "The Jam was the hub of Humboldt music," said Perez. "We all played there, so it's like a homecoming for us. We want all of our fans to come."

The band was actually booked for the North Country Fair this weekend, but opted out when they learned they had a morning slot. "We told them, `No way, forget it,' Simmons explained. This is not music for people just waking up.

"We like to kick butt," Perez added. "If we're not sweating we're doing something wrong. We want everyone out there dancing, forgetting their trouble and having fun."

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You can read about the many bands that are playing the fair elsewhere in this paper, but I should mention the post-NCF action -- a coordinated barhopping experience where you pay 10 bucks and get into three different clubs on Saturday night: Humboldt Brews has the reggae band Keys of Creation and Jimi Bridges Experience (sorry don't know them); Six Rivers has a string blast with Devil's Dream String Band and Wrangletown plus Ukexperience, who I'm told play Hawaiian music. Then there's Muddy Waters, which reopened this week as Muddy's Hot Cup, with an expanded music area. They're starting their grand opening weekend Friday with Absynthe Quintet and The Bucky Walters. Saturday for the NCF thing they have Yer Dog followed by The Rubberneckers, who at least according to KHUM, will have Lila Nelson as a special guest. Should be a rager. (Also a definite rager: The return of Devil Make Three, playing the 330 on Friday.)

CenterArts has a coupla big shows back-to-back: Ani on Friday (before she heads down to Earthdance) then Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame (how'd that one get past the prez?), who's bringing along a few Latino comedians. He'll also be performing some of his smoky C&C classic songs backed by an all-Humboldt band: Tofu Mike Schwarz on drums, Chris Wixson on bass, Brian Swizlo on keys and (as I learned from soundman Tofu at the amazing Brett Dennen show Monday night) a last minute change to Greg Camphuis from Bump Foundation as guitarist.

Saturday night at the Alibi, it's a benefit for the Humboldt County Council for the Blind featuring Strix Vega, The Buffy Swayze and Brett the Truck, with HCCB chapter prez Peggy Martinez on drums. Sunday at the Alibi it's Meru, another one of those indie bands from Olympia, plus the duo Maystar from San Diego. Vocalist May Jacob tells me, "I know all bands say this, but we're really serious: We don't really fit into any genre. It makes describing our music a chore and booking shows with similar sounding bands impossible. It's not like we are that different, but in a way we are. We're like shoegaze with out all the instruments, indie rockers without the rock, gothic without all the black, alternative, but we just don't sound like Alanis Morrisette." (For more from May check

The ambitious young Ben Herman, aka DJ MusiqLement, has been spinning retro and hip hop on "Wild Wednesdays" at the Blue Lake Casino and on Saturdays at Sidelines. This Friday, his Accurate Sounds Productions kicks off the first TGIF Party downstairs at the Eureka Vet's Hall, where he says he'll be "spinning the best in hip hop, R&B, reggaeton, crunk and bass slaps, which is this Bay Area type of hip hop that follows the Hyphy Movement. We'll have Jamez Boy and Tommy Mac, performing, both of them have done stuff with Potluck." Adds Ben. "My objective is to make a place for 18-year-olds to go. Myself being 19 kind of drove me to do that. And for those who are 21, there's a bar across the hall."

Saturday is launch day for the Old Town Concert Series on the Clark Plaza: four weeks of afternoon shows put on by the guys from As Eldin Green from Dr. Squid explained, he got the idea while talking with Kevin Held, owner of Opera Alley Bistro. "I wanted to see if my jazz band might be able to play there. We were standing outside in the Clark Plaza and I said, `Wouldn't it be cool to have an outdoor concert?'" Kevin told him he'd already had bands play in the plaza. About then Charlotte McDonald of Eureka Main Street happened to walk by. "She thought it was a great idea," Eldin recalled. Once sponsorship was lined up (KHUM and the Arkley Center for the Arts) things moved forward. Dr. Squid and Eldin's partner, Mike Craighead, kick things off Saturday. "That was an easy one to book," said Eldin. "We were all in the room."

Others shows you should attend? How about the jammers moe. at the Mateel next Wednesday, Sept. 20? Or if you like reggae, there's Pato Banton, playing two shows, (an early one for all ages, later for adults) that same Wednesday at Six Rivers. Blues? John Lee Hooker Jr. is at the Riverwood Inn Friday. Also on Friday, Deadwood Revival is back in town, playing at the Red Fox. Same night, Bernie Steinberg from RBS Syndrome leads a classical trio at Old Town Coffee.

Looking for something really different? Try the "evening of musical happenings" Saturday, Sept. 16, at Synapsis Gallery with Zaika, a drone duo featuring guitarists Tom Carter of Charalambides and Marsha Bassett of Double Leopards, plus two bands from Portland, Silver Creme and Haiku Ambulance, and Humboldt's own Starving Weirdoes.

Thanks to Brian from the Weirdoes for alerting me to the fact that my buddy Jeff Jordan, a local artist of some renown, had one of his surrealistic paintings, "Area 51," chosen as artwork for the new Mars Volta disc that hits stores worldwide this week in a major way. (It was reviewed in Monday's T-S.) As Jeff pointed out in an e-mail when I asked about it, "They're marketing the SHIT out of it." Not that he's actually part of the marketing blitz, but Jeff will be at The Works in Eureka on Saturday from noon until 2 p.m., signing covers as "kind of a goof," as he put it. "Today, holding the booklet in my hand, listening to the finished disc, it really hit me. Yeah, it should be in every record store in the country and lots of other countries. They linked their website to mine a couple months ago and now I'm getting something like 20,000 hits or so a day -- 600,000 in July. Pretty crazy, huh?"

Speaking of instores: Humboldt's smokin' hip hop duo Potluck drops its latest Suburban Noize release, Straight Outta Humboldt, next week, and celebrates with a CD signing party at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Sam Goody outlet at the Bayshore Mall.

The album is full of hip hoppin' ruminations on life, liberty, women and weed (not necessarily in that order) with guest spots by a number of big timers: E-40, the Oakland rapper who basically founded the above-mentioned Hyphy Movement, Kottonmouth Kings, Twiztid and Tech N9ne.

And if none of the above suits you, or if you just want to get out of town and dance for peace, this is Earthdance weekend, with India.Irie, Ani DiFranco, etc., plus lots of other cool stuff including the annual "Prayer for Peace" at 4 p.m. on Saturday. I won't be down there, but I'll take a moment to think about peace, something we truly need more of in this world.

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