Dec. 16, 2004
by BOB DORAN
READY OR NOT, THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US, HANUKKAH has come and gone; the Winter Solstice is next week (4:42 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, to be exact), and several species of geese are getting fat in preparation for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Finals are over at HSU this week, which means a migration for the student population, and a slow down in parts of the music scene -- but hey, the music never stops -- does it?
Take this Saturday, Dec. 18, for example. That night at the Riverwood Inn, slide guitar master Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings [photo above] lay down some of their serious blues. Rogers plays guitar in a manner that brings to mind the flow of a river, sometimes smooth and easy, but when the weather turns wild, fast, loose and tearing at the banks. He says when he's onstage, he shifts into what one might call "turn off your mind, relax and float downstream" mode.
"Some people ask me, `What are you thinking about when you play?' I say, `The point is I'm not thinking about anything. If I have to think about it, then I'm not doing it right.' That might seem trite, but it's true," he told me, adding, "The great thing about roots music and the blues in particular is that it just hits you -- you don't have to think about it, you don't need to intellectualize it to appreciate it. It hits you and that's it. It doesn't matter what language you're singing in, it could be Tagalog, Danish, Russian, if you understand the emotion, the music will move you."
Since the Riverwood isn't that big, I would advise calling Loreen to make sure there are still tickets left before making the drive to Phillipsville. Those who can't make it (and also those who can) might want to pick up Roy's latest disc, Live! at the Sierra Nevada Brewery Big Room, released on Chops Not Chaps Records, named to differentiate him from the other guitar-strumming Roy Rogers, the singing cowboy.
Saturday evening at the Bayside Grange, Arcata Music, the store in Sunny Brae, presents a " Customer Appreciation Christmas Party " with music by former local soul man Earl Thomas , joined by his friend (and mine) Karen Dumont , who was born in Arcata about 100 yards from where I'm sitting as I type this, on the exact same day I was born. (We decided we're "soul siblings.")
When Karen called on our birthday last week to tell me about the show (and to exchange best wishes) she mentioned that she's been working on some new original songs with keyboard wiz Mike Kapitan, "kind of in a bebop vein," and "maybe" they will have one of them ready for Saturday's show. Earl and Karen will be backed by some version of Karen's blues band, including Kapitan, and, not coincidentally, Dan Perez from Arcata Music.
Another store employee, Wolf Navarro, will be on hand, but not with Bias, instead with Eskidyoto , which he describes as "Humboldt County's answer to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, just mad, math rock basically: a lot of alternate time signatures, dissonant guitar riffs, fusion rock." Then there's the Arcata Music All Star Band, "basically everybody we can fit onstage at once," including members from the other bands and "anyone from the store who wants to play."
Extra bonus: As you know if you've been to Blues by the Bay in the last couple of years, the Arcata Music folks love to give away guitars. They're planning a drawing that night for a Roland MicroCube battery-powered amp and some cool electric guitar. Their Sunny Brae neighbors, Fiesta Café, will be serving dinner; beverages are BYOB.
Saturday night at the 330 Club, it's the return of Pleaseeasaur , aka J.P. Hasson, performing his very theatrical one man show, something he calls, "an entertainment package." Wearing a series of costumes ranging from superhero to Abominable Snowman, he sings/raps while his assistant projects images on a makeshift set that serves as a background/changing room.
"It's like stand-up comedy set to prerecorded music," he explains. The music tends toward cheesy pop, accentuating his often-ironic dissection of American pop culture.
Opening Saturday's show, Daytime Minutes , a wild band playing music I'd describe as double-chaos, since they often utilize two Kaaos Pads, twisting and looping sounds on the fly. The members draw from several local bands with guitarist Stevo from The Routine, Charlotte , the keys player, formerly from Automatic Pink, vocalist Ryan from High School, and drummer Spencer from Brutally Handsome Gentlemen. (Nepotism alert: Yes, he is my son.) Also on the 330 bill, DJ Thanksgiving Brown , who also joins Hasson Sunday night at the Alibi, where he has a totally different show planned performing sans set as the country rapper American Sheriff .
This just in: The Weary Boys are back in town for a show Saturday night at Six Rivers Brewery (originally scheduled for Mazzotti's). It's a CD release party for the Austin band's new disc: Holy Ghost Power.
The Abyssinians roots reggae show at Six Rivers Brewery Thursday, Dec. 16, is followed on Friday by more roots reggae from a group out of Oregon called Mabrak , led by Leroy Mabrak, a Jamaican who founded the band in Kingston in the mid-'70s. They're in town for a couple of days, also playing Saturday night at Humboldt Brews.
Friday at Redwood Yogurt, Tamaras and drummer Laura Herbert play music that "erases the boundaries between grunge, funk and jazz," with Jennifer Savage opening the show with a touch of spoken word.
Down the street at Muddy Waters, it's "Santa's Workshop" with the ELFS : kEros , Blancatron , Marika and Brooklyn , laying down festive "electro-retro beats" and joining in reindeer games with holiday-type prizes.
More beats the next night at the Mud: Deep Groove Society with DJs Raj, Moksa and Nikki joined by special guest Gabriel Black up from San Jose. Note: That will be the last Muddy Waters show until the students return next year.
On Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Humboldt Brews, you can knock back a few brews with Arcata's former mayor Bad Bob Ornelas , who is celebrating "retirement" now that he is once again an ex-city councilman. The soundtrack for the event will be provided by Russian soul man Sergei and the proverbial "Friends," who include Roberto Quintana from Spearhead and Larry Rust from Iron Butterfly. Also on hand: "local acoustic artists" (now that's nonspecific) and members of Bias (which might just mean Wolf Navarro).
Coming up in 2005: that rescheduled Ozomatli gig at Mazzotti's, now confirmed for Jan. 26 plus a second show, the following night, Jan. 27. If you were one of many who bought (and still hold) tickets for the canceled show, your ticket will be honored on the first night, Wednesday, Jan. 26; tix for Thursday go on sale this week.
Also in January, a slew of fine shows at Six Rivers Brewing booked by Lincoln Wachtel of Café Tomo fame: wild banjo/slide guitar bluesman Tony Furtado with his band on Tuesday, Jan. 11; the amazing blues guitarist Duke Robillard with his band Sunday, Jan. 16; and on Wednesday, Jan. 26, former Blaster Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men , plus Los Straitjackets , the infamous alt. surf band who always wear Mexican wrestling masks when they play. And don't forget the night before New Year's Eve show (that would be Dec. 30) with Steve Kimock Band, also at Six Rivers.
What are you doing New Year's Eve? We'll talk about it next week.
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