December 22, 2005
by BOB DORAN
Most local jazz aficionados have heard young Anthony Diamond play his alto saxophone one time or another. If you didn't hear him with the North Coast Preparatory Academy jazz group that played at the Jazz Festival, or jamming with some small combo at a local club, you may have seen him sit in with the Mingus Big Band when they were here a few years ago, or when he joined Branford Marsalis on the Van Duzer stage in 2004.
After graduating from North Coast Prep in the spring, Diamond headed for Palo Alto where he's in his first year at Stanford, and no, he's not a music major. "I'm playing jazz in a combo called False Cognate, but I'm majoring in mechanical engineering. I'm still keeping my music up, of course," said Diamond when I called him last week. The classic query -- "What do you want to be when you grow up?" -- seemed appropriate. His response: "Obviously I want to keep on playing music, but I see mechanical engineering as a means to better the world in some way technologically -- there's the fact that 1.2 billion people don't have access to clean drinking water, then there are the energy problems here and around the world. Those are things I'm concerned about. The engineering program at Stanford is one of the best in the country; I was fortunate to get in. I guess I could be somewhere where the music [program] is stronger, but I think I made the right decision. I think I can continue my music education by playing music in clubs and [other] places more removed from an academic setting."
While he's home in Humboldt for the holidays, he's trying to do his part in connection with another pressing problem: Housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, specifically for New Orleans musicians, many of whom lost everything they own in the storm. Anthony says his involvement in the effort came from his friendship with Marsalis, a Louisiana native. Even before Diamond played with Branford at the CenterArts show, he studied with him at a summer jazz residency program at Stanford. "We kept in touch via e-mail. Through him I learned of this Musicians' Village project. It's part of Habitat for Humanity; basically it's an attempt to help restore the culture of New Orleans, which was displaced along with all its people."
According to a story in the music industry trade magazine Pollstar, Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. are central to the project dubbed "Operation Home Delivery." It calls for establishment of a musicians' compound -- with the musicians owning the homes -- to be established near the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a combination performance facility and music school named for Branford and Winton's dad. Habitat for Humanity is already putting up homes in the N. O. area and plans on building as many as 500 houses in the four parishes struck most severely by Katrina. There's already $2 million in the Musicians' Village fund including proceeds from "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy," a pair of concerts held in New York City in September.
Diamond's contribution will come from a show on Friday, Dec. 23, at Pearl Lounge where he will be joined by bassist Shao Way Wu and pianist Matthew Dowd. "We'll probably end up playing two sets, maybe some Christmas songs in the first set, and I've written some new things, so we'll have some originals," said Diamond. "Then the second set will be more like standards. It should be fun, and I'm hoping we will raise some funds. The fact that the Pearl Lounge was willing to have the door go to the effort is reflective of how beneficent the owners are. I think the Pearl is going to be really good for Humboldt County."
A bit of advice: Judging from the crowd at the grand opening last Friday, it's best to show up at the Pearl early. The place was seriously packed the entire night. Among those in attendance: piano man John Raczka, home for the holidays from Branson, MO. He'll be playing earlier in the evening this Friday at Avalon with his old music partner Sam Maez, who brought his trumpet last Friday to sit in with Michael Curran and Co.
I was not sure what to think when I saw the words "Class of 63" on the calendar for the Bear River Casino for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 23 and 24. Two-day class reunion maybe? No, it's a band, who, according to Art at Bear River, are all former locals from the Fortuna area who graduated that year. I'm assuming they play good ol' rock `n' roll from the time before The Beatles invaded.
Speaking of rockin' casinos, Cher Ae Heights features Elvis impersonator Travis LeDoyt next Tuesday, Dec. 27. LeDoyt, who sort of resembles a young Elvis, focuses his show on my favorite portion of Presley's career, the early years, 1954-'59, when Elvis recorded all those great hits for Sun Records.
It will likely be a pretty quiet week ahead, especially since Saturday night is also Christmas Eve, but there will be a few creatures stirring here and there between now and the New Year.
Humboldt Brews has Ripple Effect Thursday, Dec. 22, with Tie-dye Steve and friends paying tribute to the Dead. Friday it's the ubiquitous Jimi Jeff, then Hum Brews closes until Tuesday when Humboldt Hip Hop Community does its usual Tuesday thing, but with less students in the crowd.
Then next Wednesday, Dec. 28, relatively new SoHum residents Nick and Anna Marie Montoya, a husband and wife duo aka The Volt per Octaves play analog electronica on the Moog. Joining them, Vryl Society, a local self-described "space noise psych rock" band, and "special guest" DJ Flembo Jonez.
Coming up Tuesday, Dec. 27, at Six Rivers Brewery it's Jonah Gabriel "J Wail" Lipsky, a former Phish follower with a synth guitar who deems himself an "eclectic one man band spacefunk conglomeration."
Far as I can tell The Alibi is quiet this weekend, maybe because they're gearing up for a big show next Thursday, Dec. 29, with heaviness from The Hitch plus Night Wounds, an "art gunk" band from Los Angeles that includes Placebo founding member Ryan Carlile, who has been down in the City of Angels learning more about the music biz.
One place that will not have any music this weekend, or any time soon for that matter, is Muddy Waters. I got a note last week from Mike Kapitan letting me know that his Miles Ahead show (mentioned here last week) was cancelled along with all future shows. According to Kapitan, the Bump Foundation's funk jam the Saturday before drew the ire of neighbors and the police were called. As you may recall, the coffeehouse had troubles with its dance permit earlier this year due to noise complaints. It's common knowledge that Muddy's owner, Damon Woudenberg, has moved on to other ventures out of the area, and has had the place on the market. Apparently his worries about losing the beer and wine permit, and thus reducing the value of the business, led to the music shut-off. The good news: There's a potential buyer waiting in the wings, one who prefers to remain anonymous until the deal progresses further. I can tell you it's someone involved in the entertainment business, so chances are, if everything goes as planned, Muddy will not remain quiet forever.
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