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December 15, 2005

The Hum heading


IN THE BEGINNING, growing up in South Central Los Angeles, before his days with The Pharcyde, Tre "Slimkid" Hardson was a dancer, more specifically a breakdancer. "Being a dancer pretty much transformed into getting into hip hop and becoming part of the culture," he recalled when I caught up with him on a break from his tour with Lyrics Born and others.

"Back in the day" he was dancing in the GTI crew, "then we formed 242, which was Imani [Wilcox] and myself" and a couple of others. Their dancing was good enough to land them on TV on In Living Color. As 242 evolved into a four-member rap and dance crew, the name was changed to The Pharcyde.

A modicum of success came to them as the '80s turned into the '90s: They landed a major label record deal, although the label proved less major than planned, ultimately leading to Tre cutting a solo record.

"It wasn't about me leaving the group," said Tre, "it was like with Wu Tang, where everyone went and did albums but they were still Wu Tang." Unfortunately his bandmates didn't see it that way -- "egos got in the way," Tre concedes -- and the solo thing became permanent, with Imani and Bootie Brown continuing as The Pharcyde.

A couple of albums down the road (one just about to hit), and Tre is fine with being a solo artist. "It's pretty much a continuum of the same thing, except with a live band and more color dynamic musically," he said. He describes the new album, Slim Kid 3's Café, as "a nice batch of hip hop soul, bringing to life my mixtures of music, fruit for the ears."

Simultaneously he is developing a film career. "I was in this movie, Six Niggaz in a Cadillac; it's due out sometime soon." The story sounds slightly autobiographical: "We're six brothers going to battle other crews in the neighborhood, we're on our way to this showcase. Before I step out, my mom, the lady that plays my mom, she's like tired of hearing us use the `N' word, and I'm tired of hearing it too, 'cause I'm supposed to be this intellectual that doesn't take that word lightly, so I'm trying to teach my crew about not utilizing it and how it affects our community."

While you're waiting for the album and the movie to come to town, you can catch Tre Hardson and his band, Fuqawi, at the Humboldt Holiday Ball at the Mateel Friday, Dec. 16 -- a whole mess of conscious hip hop including an appearance by Lyrics Born, from Solesides/Quannum Projects (featured at Reggae this summer) and locals Pedragn, J the Sarge and DJ Itchie Fingaz from Opti Pop. As always with Mateel shows, advance tickets are suggested before the long drive.

Walking through Old Town last Thursday night I noticed an open door at Pearl, the new cocktail lounge occupying the space that was once home to Le Palais -- what was it, 25 years ago? Venturing inside I found a trio of workmen laboring after hours. The place looked great, with a very cool retro meets high-tech design. There was still work to be done -- the bar top had not been installed at that late date -- but they assured me everything would be ready for this weekend's grand opening. According to Jasmin Moore, who owns the place along with her husband, Alex, the plan is to have music -- mostly, but not exclusively, jazz -- Thursdays through Saturdays, starting with the premier show Friday, Dec. 16, featuring some premier SoHum and NoHum jazz players. The Michael Curran Quintet includes Curran on drums and his cohort from Humboldt Time, Jimmy Durchslag, on trombone, plus Susie Laraine from the Rhumboogie Quartet on sax, Blake Brown on guitar and Baron Wolfe on bass. On Saturday, Dec. 17, it's more jazz with Orjazzmic Sextet (they're also at Six Rivers Friday night). Then on the night before the night before Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 23, it's a show at Pearl benefiting displaced New Orleans musicians featuring saxophonist Anthony Diamond, the former prodigy, who has been off at college somewhere, undoubtedly improving his already well-developed chops. He'll be joined by bassman Shao Way Wu and pianist Matthew Dowd, and Shao Way tells me, maybe a drummer, "but we haven't found one yet." He plans on stopping by the opening Friday night after his set next door at Hurricane Kate's, where he's been playing most weekends with sax man Lukas Hein.

It's actually a good weekend for jazz in general, if Thursday counts as part of the weekend. Thursday, Dec. 15, Muddy Waters welcomes the return of Miles Ahead, the tribute to the music of Mr. Davis with, among others, Mike Kapitan on keys and Michel Navedo on trumpet. I've attended two of these shows and both were just great.

Another business that's new to the music game is the Lost Whale Inn, a bed and breakfast place north of Trinidad. They will be offering music in an intimate setting Mondays and Tuesdays: Coming up next week, Dec. 19 and 20, it's guitarist Ruben Diaz and friends spinning out jazzy jams with a Latin tinge. The Lost Whale actually kicked off their music thing earlier this week with a couple of shows by New York-based songwriter Kaydi Johnson that I somehow neglected to mention last week. (Sorry.) Fans of Kaydi (and she has many locally) can catch her when she comes back for a house concert in Eureka Friday, Dec. 16. Space is limited; call 442-6492 to reserve a seat.

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, Sacred Grounds hosts their last shows until January bringing in Ferndale's master of "folktronica," Jess Pillmore, who plays a sort of alt.Americana that to my ear at least, leans more toward tronic than folk.

They're celebrating Dez's birthday at the Schooner Saturday night with a "Death Metal Nightmare Before Christmas" featuring Locust Furnace, Mourning Stiffness from Red Bluff and a new local band called Sadistic Hallucinations.

Also in the celebratory vein: a party Friday, Dec. 16, at Kelly O'Brien's marking the birthday of the late "comedian, philosopher, dreamer, reader, musician, dark poet" Bill Hicks, who died in 1994, but whose dark comic legacy lives on. The multi-faceted show includes a band performing Hicks' entire Marblehead Johnson album, bellydancing by Shoshanna and the Ya Habibi Dance Company and a set by the new retro-rock/blues band Haunted Heart, with Bob Billstrom, Bob Smith, Les Melton, Rod Schweitzer and that king of the open mike, Kingbee.

Looking for Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hanukah/Xmas gift ideas? Tickets are on sale for two back-to-back CenterArts indie rock shows coming to the Van Duzer early next year: The Violent Femmes on Feb. 5 and a solo show with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco on Feb. 6.

Or maybe the brand new Rural Rock soundtrack album is more in your price range. It precedes the Jan. 14 opening of Jensen Rufe's documentary about Humboldt rockers. (I'm in it, but since I did not get paid I don't think I have to recuse myself from commentating on it.) The 14 tracks offer a snapshot of at least one part of the local music scene, with appearances by most (but not all) of the top alt. bands -- among them, the drunken semi-Irish The Smashed Glass, who play Saturday at Six Rivers with Dragged By Horses and Stereochromatic.

Also on the album, the lounge punk act The Blue Dot, who are from Mendo, not Humboldt, but somehow got in the movie anyway. Joining them, a new "avant rock" band called Lone Elk, with members of Trash and Roll (they supply the opening track on Rural Rock) and the sadly disbanded Shaking Hands.

Those who are searching for some holiday music this weekend might want to stop by Café Mokka Saturday evening where the venerable Stan Mott plays tunes to make your season bright, be it solstice, Christmas or whatever.


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