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The Hum by Bob Doran

Oct. 21, 2004

Photo and headline -- Joyce Hough Band

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, BEFORE I was officially old enough to drink, I somehow managed to convince those who ran a bar just off the Arcata Plaza that I was in fact 21. In retrospect it may not have been a good thing to do. I would advise anyone underage reading this that sneaking into bars can get you and the bar into a lot of trouble (same with drinking in general), but the truth is, I was happy to be a regular at Dan and Jerry's, because just about every Friday this great band called Freddy and the Starliners played there.

The Starliners were basically a cover band. "Freddy" wrote the occasional tune, but the important thing was the collection of songs the band chose to cover from the Chuck Berry oeuvre and other rock `n' roll standards were mixed with Hank Williams classics, Merle Haggard ballads, songs borrowed from Bonnie Raitt, old soul tunes and assorted hip selections of the day, although seldom anything from the Top 40.

"Freddy" aka Fred Neighbor was the titular head of the combo, but he alternated lead vocals with his partner, Joyce Hough, whose strong, clear voice was a major draw for the band's legion of fans. Fred and Joyce would go on to buy Dan and Jerry's and turn it into the Jambalaya, the hippest nightspot in Arcata -- it goes without saying that the Starliners were the house band.

Fred and Joyce also went on to front a number of bands after the Starliners, too many to list here (and too many for me to remember), and as the years went by and Joyce became more self-assured, she moved to the forefront. The latest iteration, the Joyce Hough Band [photo above], formed in 1999 -- the band plays its final gig Saturday, Oct. 23, out in Blue Lake.

Says Joyce, "thinking back, it was Debra Lazio who encouraged me to `front' a band, possibly with Danny [Montgomery]'s influence at the time." Hough notes that the band's second public performance was at Blues by the Bay, an event booked by Lazio, who coincidentally now operates the Jambalaya. Montgomery, the band's original drummer, eventually headed for the bright lights of Paris to be replaced by Tim Gray, who also plays in the Bayou Swamis and writes most of the music for all those amazing Dell'Arte shows. (Side note: The Joyce Hough Band was transformed into "the Little Sally Mulligan Band" for two productions of Dell'Arte's Wild Card.)

Montgomery's old rhythm partner Gary Davidson stuck around to play bass. As you might guess, Fred plays lead guitar. A fine keyboard player, Ric Nelson, signed on somewhere along the line; Nelson also plays in the rockin' blues outfit, the Clint Warner Band, who have been working a lot of late. (Ric will miss CWB's Saturday night gig at the Red Lion.)

Like the Starliners, the Hough Band plays covers, and good ones: They have worked up a songbook that slides smoothly between Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder and Peter Gabriel among others usually with an eye towards songs with a message.

Joyce mentions playing, "countless parties and at most of the major music venues," and it's telling that her history of the band emphasizes a long list of benefit performances. The band provided a soundtrack for community events including Pastels on the Plaza, the I Block Party and Gay Pride Day and "benefits for Arcata House, the Mobile Medical Office, EPIC, NEC, to name a few."

Between Tim's work at Dell'Arte and Ric's full plate with CWB, lining schedules up hasn't always been easy, which is one of the reasons why the band is calling it quits after their show Saturday at Dell'Arte's Carlo Theatre. They will be missed -- but rest assured, Fred and Joyce won't remain quiet for long.

Saturday will be a big night in Blue Lake. While the Hough Band is saying goodbye at Dell'Arte, two bands that call the sleepy town home will be rocking the Red Radish across the street. The eternally groovin' Kulica, who have been sounding better than ever with a new sax player, share the bill with whiskey-soaked bad boys, The Rubberneckers, who will undoubtedly spend a portion of the evening at their favorite haunt, the Logger Bar.

And meanwhile, down the road apiece at the E&O Bowl, the Arcata Eye celebrates its eighth anniversary with Eye Ball 2004, an invitation only party with bowling, pizza and good ol' rock `n' roll by The Delta Nationals.

Choices for Friday night? The David Nelson Band returns to their favorite Humboldt venue, Six Rivers Brewery, for an evening of country-tinged psychedelic rock.

At Rumours, Allegory presents a mix of roots reggae, rap and dub with a crew from L.A. including dub band Team Scrub, MC Dr. Oop and DJs Cut To The Chase, Puffesa Longhorn and Fat Albert Einstein. Catch Dr. Oop and Co. earlier at the Metro where he's doing an instore with Thanksgiving Brown.

AS Presents has two shows that night. First, Papa Mali and the Instagators play Louisiana swamp funk in the Kate Buchanan Room (for free). Later, down at Mazzotti's, it's "acoustic mayhem," a taping for KHUM's "Chicken Scratch" featuring The Waybacks, a quartet of veteran performers from the Bay Area swerving between jazz and chicken-picked country, Irish reels and Parisian swing, cowboy tunes, beat poetry and originals tunes. Opening the show, David Rovics, a political songwriter who tempers dead serious material with humor. "I try to be funny," says Rovics. "You can't just play one depressing song after another or you lose people. But the depressing songs can be effective in the right context."

Rovics also plays the following night for a quite different show in the Kate Buchanan Room, opening for Oakland's The Coup, a hyperpolitical hip hop outfit whose name is pronounced with a silent "P" -- coup as in coup d'état, the overthrow of the government.

Sunday evening, again in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room, it's a disaster relief benefit for hurricane-battered Grenada featuring an interesting array of bands: Cuckoo's Nest, the Bayou Swamis, Lila Nelson and Friends, Sambaphonic and Dun Dun Fare.

The name Martha Graham is synonymous with modern dance; a pioneer of 20th century choreography, Graham trained just about every major figure in the field. Graham died in 1991, but her dances live on. Monday, Oct. 25, the Martha Graham Dance Company performs some of them on the stage of the Van Duzer Theatre.

The "Future Sounds of Jazz" series continues Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Muddy Waters with Michel Navedo and friends joining forces with an all-star rhythm quartet called Sambata, with David Peñalosa, Eugene Novotney, Howie Kaufman and Rob Peterson.

That night at the Six Rivers Brewery, Mikey Dread lays down some serious reggae.

Election Day is just around the corner (Nov. 2, in case you forget) and the "Jam the Vote" concert series is winding things up with a big show Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the Arcata Community Center featuring Umphrey's McGee, a band based in Chicago that works the edges of the jam scene playing quirky music drawing on everything from Zappa to Phish for inspiration.

Coming next Thursday, Oct. 28, to Six Rivers Brewery, a simply amazing rock band called Stockholm Syndrome, a collaboration between former Arcata resident Jerry Joseph (of Jackmormons fame), Widespread Panic bassman Dave Schools, funk fusion guitarist Eric McFadden (leader of several bands), Danny Dziuk, a keyboard player from Berlin, and drummer Wally Ingram, a session master, seen here most recently with David Lindley. More on this one next week.


Bob Doran



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