October 6, 2005
by BOB DORAN
I first met the Kouyate brothers, Assane and Ousseynou, five years ago at Reggae on the River. The twins, who came to the states from Africa as part of Le Ballet National du Senegal, were the opening act on a Sunday morning, dancing and singing with backing from a band they assembled in the Bay Area that included Joan Baez' son Gabriel on bass. As a surprise guest, Joan joined them onstage warbling along with the brothers on a couple of tunes. The twins have put together a series of typically ad hoc combos since then, most of them, understandably, dominated by strong rhythm sections, but the band that has been playing with them in Humboldt this year is the best yet.
After settling in Arcata, Assane brought together an all-star collection of local musicians forming Djialy Kunda Kouyate: Tim Randles on keys, making his synthesizer sound like a myriad of African instruments, Ken Lawrence anchoring things with solid bass lines that mesh with Pablo Rotter's drum kit. Malik adds ornaments with his hand drums and the kora-like ngoni. Jimmy Foot of Bongo Boy Studios has that ringing guitar sound down pat, probably because he's been playing African-style for decades starting with a band called the Rhyth-O-Matics. A recent addition is Tcherno Diabate, a balafon player newly arrived from Guinea.
Left: Assane and
Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Bayside Grange, Djialy Kunda Kouyate expands for African Night, an evening of food, music and dancing preceded by an afternoon workshop in West African dance, all presented by the local nonprofit, Consortium for Education and Technology. Among the guest drummers and dancers: Junior Kabba from Sierra Leone, Papys Sissoho from Senegal, Amadou Camara and Karamba Diabate from Guinea. The performance begins at 8 p.m., but you may want to come at 6 for a West African dinner prepared by Hermine and Guy-Alain Amoussou from Benin and Ivory Coast including chicken, rice and a peanut sauce called mafe served over plantains, washed down with bissap, a sweet Hibiscus tea redolent of anise. Altogether it adds up to a full dose of African culture and a whole lot of fun.
The flow of Americana music continues unabated. As mentioned last week, the Fall Harvest Festival runs through the week with Split Lip Rayfield at noon Thursday on the HSU Quad. SLR plays new old-timey music with some serious attitude and a sense of humor. The instrumentation is perhaps unique with banjo, mando and guitar augmented by a stand-up bass crafted from a gas tank. Among the tunes on their most recent Bloodshot disc, Should Have Seen It Coming, a mock sensitive tune called "Just Like A Gillian Welch Song."
Thursday night at the Red Radish, Humboldt Folklife presents Uncle Earl. How was it Jen from Folklife described this all-woman band? Did she call them "babes" or was it "hot chicks"? Since Jen's a woman, she can get away with it. Gender aside, Uncle Earl is a hot band playing what they call "old-time for our times." The band came together in 1999 when mandolinist/guitarist KC Groves and guitarist Jo Serrapere put out an old-timey CD and decided to go on tour. That went well and they've done a few more since, along with various solo side projects. The g'Earl's latest, She Waits For Night, was produced by Dirk Powell, who put on a truly fine Folklife show at the Radish not long ago. That one sold out. This one might already be full, but not to worry, Uncle Earl also plays for the Harvest Fest Friday at noon, and that show is free. Added bonus, our own Lila Nelson plays following U.E. starting around 1:30.
Later on Friday, Uncle Earl bassist Sharon Gilchrist will be on the Van Duzer stage playing mandolin as one-fourth of the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet. Deadheads are familiar with Rowan from his days alongside Garcia and Grisman in Old and In the Way, or from Rowan-penned songs like "Panama Red." Rice is a newgrass pioneer who played with Grisman in the early "dawg" days. Rowan and Rice recently recorded an album for Rounder, You Were There For Me, thus the road unit and a great opportunity to hear some high-grade, high and lonesome picking and singing.
Still to come at HSU, Gillian Welch's show at the Van Duzer Monday, Oct. 10. (See Calendar for more on that.) And a non-Americana show next Thursday in the Kate Buchanan Room with Pogues-ish Irish punks, Flogging Molly.
Back in the Americana vein, an old-time banjo/guitar duo called Deadwood Revival is down from the Olympic Peninsula for a series of local shows, including an early gig at Six Rivers Friday (before Buddy Reed plays blues), one on Saturday at Kelly O'Brian's (formerly known as Rumours) and yet another next Friday, Oct. 14, at Muddy Waters.
For bluesy Americana catch Delta bluesman Don Haupt, who is back in town after moving north, playing live in the KHUM studios Thursday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. before a gig that night at Muddy Waters with the Dirt Nap Band, then on his own Saturday, at Westhaven Center for the Arts.
The Westhaven Center kicks off its Jazz at the Woodside series Sunday Oct. 9, with Rhum Boogie Jazz Quartet that's Susie Laraine and sax-wielding friends playing jazz, classical tunes, rags and Bulgarian music.
Reggae? You've got it this week. First, at Mario's Restaurant way down in Shelter Cove, an evening with Jamaican rootsman Prezident Brown, which should pull some people out of the hills.
The next night, Friday, Oct. 7, at the Mateel, it's Easy Star All Stars playing their dub version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, plus John Brown's Body, a fine reggae band from upstate New York who recently signed with Easy Star Records. I caught the Dub Side of the Moon show at Reggae a couple of years back it was great. The show is a benefit for the Beginnings Volunteer Fire Department; show up early for a gourmet dinner and support the cause.
Then on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Humboldt Brewery it's FreeSound, a Hawaiian band mixing roots reggae with psychedelic rock. And next Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Mazzotti's, catch Pablo Moses, a politically conscious Jamaican singer who released his first album, Revolutionary Dreams, in 1975 yes-I, that's 30 years ago.
Playing Friday, Oct. 7, at Mazzotti's a "shamanic rock" band called Kan'Nal, utilizing "ancient instruments and futuristic technologies," whose concept, I'm told, "erupted in one abrupt, life-changing flash" in the Guatemalan jungle.
Saturday, Oct. 8, Mazzotti's goes alt.rock with a multifaceted bill including The Ian Fays, The Buffy Swayze and Los Banditos Muertos.
Also in the alt.something category, a couple of shows on Thursday, Oct. 6, courtesy of Michelle Cable of Panache fame: At the Accident Gallery in Old Town it's an all-ages thing with The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, a loud, fast, jazzy punk band whose screaming lead singer also plays saxophone, along with Eureka Garbage Co. and new-on-the-scene Do Not Resuscitate, aka DNR. Later that night at the Alibi, it's loud, crazy rock from Fatal Flying Guillotines, who typically perform in matching pink T-shirts, plus Canadian punk rock from Million Dollar Marxists, barnstorming the USA on their Black and Pink and Red All Over Tour.
My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra opens Thursday, Oct. 13, at Ferndale Rep, and plays weekends through the end of October, finishing its run just in time for the next edition of Lost Coast Live on Nov. 5. Heads up: I'm told LCL is a just few dozen seats short of sold-out status. What is it? Who's playing? I'll explain next week.
The semi-annual KHSU Music Sale takes place Saturday morning at the Jambalaya, opening at 10 a.m. for KHSU members and volunteers, then to the general, non-member public at 11. The sale includes thousands of CDs plus vinyl, cassettes, DVDs, T-shirts, posters, books, anything that the station doesn't need anymore. There are endless CDs from bands-you-never-heard-of (often for good reason) but also some great stuff that's simply duplicated in the station collection, and believe me, there are some real treasures to be unearthed. Tempting? Not a member? You can still get in on the first wave by buying a membership at the door. Support your local station. It's important.
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