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Dec. 9, 2004

The Hum


photo of Blue Turtle Seduction

headline -- In the groove

OK. I'M BACK FROM VACATION -- not exactly in the old groove, but at least most of the way -- easing in, feeling rested and almost ready for the holidays. As always, the music rolls on. Here's some of what's on deck:

Remember Play Dead, that Grateful Dead cover band I mentioned a couple of weeks back? They're playing (Dead tunes) Thursday, Dec. 9, a benefit at the Arcata Masonic Lodge with all proceeds going to the Northcoast Environmental Center.

That night at Six Rivers Brewery it's Rootstand, a "rebel reggae and rootsgrass, swashbuckling folk" band from Michigan, with (at least according to Jambase) a jam band called the Jerry Hoffman Band opening the show.

After months of playing as Ruben Diaz and Friends, I convinced Ruben that his typically all-star combos, amorphous as they might be, needed a name. Groove 101 is what he came up with. When Passion Presents brings the outfit to Humboldt Brews Friday, Dec. 10, G-101 will include our own Ruben Diaz on guitar, with Melvin Seals of Jerry Garcia Band fame on organ, Bobby Vega from KVHW, Zero, Sly and the Family Stone, etc., on bass, and Jimmy Sanchez from the David Nelson Band and the Flying Other Brothers on drums -- all of them definitely in the groove.

And speaking of grooves: Kulica is at Six Rivers Brewery that night. Meanwhile, it's steel drum time at Mazzotti's, with the Humboldt Calypso Band getting all tropical despite the winter weather. Across the street, guitarist Wolf Navarro brings his rock band Bias to Sidelines. Noting that it's "the first band to play there" (is it?), Navarro says, "This should be a treat for those who want something [different] from our local sports bar."

When San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band The New Up played at Muddy Waters a couple of months ago they were called Sunfire Pleasure. They're coming back to the Mud Friday night and apparently all that's changed is their name. They also have a free one-hour show slated for HSU's Quad at noon that day, but unless the weather gets better, that's a bit uncertain.

There's also another of those CD release parties on Friday, this one at the Lost Coast Brewery celebrating a new disc by the raggedy old timey band Slewfoot String Band .

Saturday at Rumours, it's another of those infamous underground hip-hop shows assembled by Thanksgiving Brown of Culturama, Female Fun, etc., featuring The ShapeShifters: Akuma, AWOL One, Circus, Die, Existereo, Life Rexall, Radioinactive and LA Jae , recently signed to Cornerstone R.A.S., a division of Skunk Records (Sublime's label). Also on the bill, Pigeon John and, as always, TGBrown on the tables.

Jam fusion guitarist Will Bernard (who spent part of this week playing in a trio with jam giants Stanton Moore and Robert Walter), brings his band Motherbug to the Blue Lake Casino Saturday night, while across the sleepy little town at the Logger Bar, Que La Chinga plays country punk joined by a sultry new Eureka-based combo, Rita Lynn and the A.D.D. Boys playing city punk. At the Alibi, Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame lay down some rockin' blues.

Muddy Waters has something called the Horseheads Talent Show Saturday with jammin' madness featuring members of Nucleus and Ginger Brown , two bands from Horseheads, a small town in upstate New York. Says Nuke drummer Pete Ciotti, "Rock and roll is definitely on the menu!" Pete also notes that, "Thursday night, Dec. 9, is the LAST Electric Avenue show. We hope everyone can make it to [our] last show at Muddy Waters." Deep Groove Society starts things off at 8 p.m. Thursday.

At the Arcata Veteran's Hall Saturday evening, it's the Humboldt Folklife Holiday Dance Party featuring contra dancing with Bay Area caller Stuart Moody and the Contra Band, and "more," specifically, a potluck dinner and contra dance lessons for those who haven't done it before (I'm told it's easy -- and you don't need a partner). Also in the plans: local songwriters and bands offering their CDs for those in the shopping mood, among them Eileen Hemphill-Haley, who has two new releases: a semi-solo disc, Ordinary Life, and a band CD, Dog Tracks with the Eileen Hemphill-Haley Band, formerly known as Oregon Dogs. Song circler Joel Sonenshein promises to lead the crowd in a sing-along intermission, followed by more dancing. For more info on the dance, Joel's Song Circle (coming up next Thursday at the Arcata Community Center) and other HFS events, visit

Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Alibi, Humboldt Free Radio presents The Juanita Family, a traditional country band from Portland, Ore., featuring ex-members of Last of the Juanitas and Federation X, two bands that were a far cry from trad country, more like intense stoner rock. Opening the show: Colin , from Rasper (that's a band, not a town).

Next Thursday, Dec. 16, Dirty Rats, a hip-hop crew straight outta Fortuna hit Humboldt Brews, laying down fat beats and rhymes mostly about sex and drugs or drugs and sex.

Meanwhile at Muddy Waters, a band from Tahoe known as Blue Turtle Seduction plays "high-altitude bohemian tribal funk grass," celebrating the release of their first disc, UnderSierraGround.

Same night out at Six Rivers Brewery: The Abyssinians, one of the original roots reggae vocal trios. Led by two brothers, Donald and Linford Manning, the group was among the first to break away from the American soul harmonies prevalent in Jamaica in the '60s to create a new spiritually conscious sound. Their first single, "Satta Massagana," recorded at Studio One in 1969, set a standard for Rasta music. The words in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, home of Emperor Haile Selassie, give thanks to God.

Thirty-five years later, Donald Manning is still playing roots reggae. What does he sing about now? "I still sing about Rastafari," he explained. "I'm still going to carry the torch that Bob Marley used to carry and him leave it; Peter Tosh used to carry it and him leave it. Many more Rastaman used to carry the torch, some of them gone on, some get weak, and some drop out, but the struggle must go on.

"Every man in this world, black, blue, pink, yellow, any color you want to think about, their ancestors come from Africa. You ask what I sing about. I sing about that. And I sing about love is the answer to the world problems. Love is answer. The good must triumph over evil. That's what we sing about in `Satta Massagana.' Good must overcome evil."

Not sure what happened with the Ozomatli show that was supposed to take place earlier this week, but it's allegedly being rescheduled for some time in January after the students return from vacation. The Archie Hooker blues show planned for this weekend at Riverwood Inn is off too, but slide guitar master Roy Rogers and his Delta Rhythm Kings are still on for Dec. 18 -- tickets go on sale Dec. 11.

Those who like to plan ahead will want to know that DJ Logic and some special guests are due at The Depot at HSU Jan. 26 (yes, next year). Tickets are already on sale for one-man-jam-band Keller Williams at the Van Duzer Jan. 29 and for stellar Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra Feb. 22, also at the Van Duzer.

You can also get discount advance tix for the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, where the Saturday night headliners include Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks and The Hot Club of Cowtown, a tres cool trio who spent part of last summer on a dream tour mixing Western swing with Gypsy jazz as the opening act for Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Groovy, man! l

Bob Doran



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