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Nov. 18, 2004

 

The Hum

by BOB DORAN


Photo and headline -- The Mothers Anger band"SCREAM" -- THE SONG BEGINS WITH SLOW HEAVY GUITAR, and drums playing an almost military cadence, but soon shifts nto a rapid-fire sonic barrage with an intensity that makes it hard to imagine that it's just two guys playing. It's the first track on an eponymous album by an Israeli drums and guitar rock duo known as The Mothers Anger [photo at right].

Drummer Jimi Nostalgia and guitarist David Stitch are currently on the road on what Jimi refers to as "the endless tour," traveling around the Americas in a brown 1973 Chevy van with just enough room for their gear, a couple of beds and a sink. "We've been out for two and a half months this time out, did like 52 shows," said Jimi, calling from Arizona, where the guys had just gone to see the Grand Canyon. "It's unbelievably crazy, but it's cool. We like it. We love touring and traveling. We like driving, even like staying in the van.

"The American rock `n' roll culture is so integral to the society it's unbelievable, people from all walks of life get into the music so much. In Israel it's not like that. There's a lot of musicians, a lot of good bands, but not really much of a crowd for rock `n' roll. It's a small country, smaller than New Jersey, but with 6 million people: one million are Arabs and another million are really religious Jews, and none of them care for rock `n' roll."

How do Americans respond to a band from Israel? "We meet people here and they say, `You're from Israel, how's the political situation there?' They assume that a band coming from such a place has some sort of political message or agenda. We're not a political band -- we don't really get into it -- but we grew up there, so definitely the situation influenced us. It shows in the way we sound, the energy on stage and in the content of the lyrics."

That said, the band's sound tends toward dark and foreboding. "Even the happy songs sound dark," Jimi concedes. "All the songs were written in Tel Aviv in the context of the Israeli culture, the Israeli streets. South Tel Aviv, where we live, is a nice place, but it's also a harsh place: harsh reality, harsh living, you know."

Before stripping down to duo format, Jimi and David were part of The Jiggles, a five-piece rock combo in Israel. "We played '60s rock, sort of like Beatles and Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin -- in Hebrew, rock `n' roll in Hebrew. We put a record out, then things happened, people came and went.

"A few years later David and I were playing on our own in our rehearsal room. We wrote all these songs, just drums and guitar, with words in English; we didn't know what to do with it. We decided we had to start playing shows, just the two of us, so we did, in Israel, but as I said before, there really isn't much of a crowd interested in our type of music in Israel. We decided we had to go to America to play our music.

"So last year we came over with a couple of guitars, bought a van and drums and started setting up shows on the Internet. It just started rolling and rolling. We ended up doing 85 shows across America from New York, over to L.A. up to Seattle and back to L.A. then back to New York. We made a record in the middle of the tour; a demo rolled into the hands of Lee Joseph from Dionysus Records; he liked it and brought in Mike Davis from the MC5 to produce it. The whole experience was amazing, so much fun."

That tour was followed by a brief trip home, although they soon came back to the U.S.A. At this point, the guys are having so much fun in America, they are not in a hurry to get back home, in part because it's not easy living in a place where a suicide bomber could end your life at a moment's notice. "It's on your mind all the time, but you just suppress it," says Jimi. "It's insane feeling as if you could explode at any time. You can't really live that way, so you try not to think about it, or the mental strain would kill you. It makes you so edgy, and a lot of people in Israel are edgy, very competitive -- the temperature is hot and the characters are hot. It's intense over there."

As you might guess, The Mothers Anger's music tends to be kind of passionate. "We like to make intense music," says Jimi. "Especially in live performance. Come see us play. You will see."

Your opportunity to hear The Mothers Anger comes Friday, Nov. 19, when the duo plays at the Placebo in Manila as part of an international lineup that also includes The Bug Pedals, a new rock outfit from Arcata, and Lenka Dusilova, a singer from the Czech Republic who is traveling around the states with Czech guitarist Martin Ledvina. Apparently Lenka is a star back home, a past winner of the Angel Award (the Czech equivalent of a Grammy) for best female vocalist, a designation she earned four years running from readers of the Czech music magazine, Report. Taking her music global, she has worked with Jaz Coleman of the Brit band, Killing Joke. While here in California, Lenka and Martin have been recording a new album in San Francisco, working with producer Ben Yonas, Tori Amos' bassplayer, Jon Evans and drummer Scott Amendola.

There's another loud/intense guitar/drum duo coming to town: Steven Davis and Barry Anderson, aka Merrick Foundation, are here from Portland, Ore. Saturday, Nov. 20, for a gig at the Alibi along with a reunion of The Broken Order.

Vocalist Jocelyn Summers and guitarist Julius Moriarty started making dark, moody, literate music together a couple of years back and about a year ago brought on a rhythm section (currently bassist Jeromy Lord and drummer Johnny F) and became Walking Bicycles, crafting a group sound drawing on styles from '70s and '80s bands like The Ramones, The Smiths, The Residents, Joy Division, Devo and Black Sabbath. Catch them Friday, Nov. 19, at Mazzotti's.

Earlier that evening local old timey/bluegrass band Huckleberry Flint celebrates the release of their CD, A Brief and True Report Concerning Huckleberry Flint, with an instore performance Friday Nov. 19, at the Metro .

Also on Friday, at the Mateel, those legal draft-wielding activists from the Environmental Protection Information Center hold their annual membership meeting followed by a dinner party (Japanese food) with music by SoHum's favorite jazz band, Humboldt Time, then a conscious hip-hop/reggae dance party with music by Wisdom and the Wisdom Creation Band featuring RadioActive, beat boxer/rapper from the Spearhead band. And yes, you can skip the meeting and just come for the party.

For years organic jammers Clan Dyken have spent every Thanksgiving season traveling the western states on their annual "Beauty Way Tour" raising funds and gathering supplies for the elders of the Dineh Navajo and Hopi People of Big Mountain/Black Mesa, Ariz. who are resisting relocation imposed on them when the Peabody Coal Co. started operating mines in the area. Saturday evening, Nov. 20, the Beauty Way comes to the Bayside Grange where Clan Dyken is joined by Tina Malia and Elk Thunder Drum. They ask those who attend to bring donations of non-perishable food and warm clothing.

I hear Six Rivers Brewery was crammed last Friday when Tommy Castro came to town to play the blues, and I'm sure it will be again on Saturday night when young Corby Yates rips through tunes inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix. The night before at Six Rivers it's Humboldt's own tribute to Hendrix with Jimi Jeff and the Gypsy Band, a psychedelic blues power trio including "Jimi" Jeff Robinson, bassman (and football coach) Dale Cash and drummer Mike Yassemi. Jimi Jeff and Co. also play Saturday night at Rumours, opening for San Francisco-based psychedelic funk/blues band The Smoke Daddies.

There's still more blues Saturday night at Riverwood Inn with Jimi Hendrix's brother-in-law, the Texas-born David " Guitar Shorty " Kearney, who, when he was 16, spent a year playing behind the "Genius of Soul," Ray Charles.

The Hendrix references just keep rolling in: At HumCity.com I came across this description of The Dukes of Ted , a local duo playing at Humboldt Brews Saturday night: "Two young gentlemen playing classic folk and blues style tunes; influences include Charlie Patton, The Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, etc." (The Dukes of Ted also play Thursday, Nov. 18, at the 10th annual Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room along with Melody Walker and Nicoslavia .

Georgia storyteller/guitar player/newspaper columnist David Clark has spent much of the last year traveling to small towns across America in an old school bus, sharing his thoughts and songs, and gathering stories from the people who choose to live in small towns on what he calls his "Shaking Hands Tour." Shake his hand, hear his stories and tell him yours Saturday night at the Eureka Theater.

A reminder re: Thursday, Nov. 18 -- At the Van Duzer, Putumayo Presents Latinas: Women of Latin America with Mariana Montalvo from Chile (via Paris), Totó la Momposina from Colombia and Caetano's daughter Belo Vellôso from the Bahia region of Brazil. Then there are the dueling reggae shows: Brooklyn-born Rasta Rocker T and his More-Luv Band celebrate the release of Rocker's latest disc at Mazzotti's, while Marley bros associate Daddigon plays Six Rivers Brewery.

Is your group playing somewhere we should know about, or is your organization putting on some cool event? The Journal has a new system in place for announcements: a specific e-mail address for the Calendar: calendar@northcoastjournal.com, and an online fill-in-the-blanks form that you can get to via the Journal's Web site (you'll find a link on the Calendar page). As always, feel free to let me know about club appearances, musical events or anything else directly at thehum@northcoastjournal.com. See you in cyberspace!

Bob Doran


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