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LoCura at the Mateel, plus Front Country, Pimps of Joytime and The California Honeydrops

click to enlarge LoCura
  • LoCura

LoCura is a crazy cool multiculti band based in San Francisco's Mission District whose Spanish name has a dual meaning. "One way it means 'madness,' but 'lo cura' also means 'the cure,'" explains vocalist Kata Miletich (who is also Spanish). The band got its start when Kata and her guitarist partner Bob Sanders moved to Oakland. "We were starting to get into rhumba and flamenco and we met Rachael [Bouch], the original percussionist -- she'd studied drums in Cuba." They added new sounds like son to the mix. An electric bass player and a flamenco dancer came next. "It all fit so perfectly with the acoustic vibe," said Kata. "Before you knew it we had a trumpet and a drum kit." Rachael eventually moved on and others took her place.

"It's definitely grown," said Kata. "Every person who comes into the band adds their own thing, maybe ska or klezmer or funk. It all plays a part in creating the vibe and the sound." The sum of the parts sounds really good, totally vibrant -- perfect for dancing. That's the plan Saturday at the Mateel when LoCura plays a benefit for Heartwood Institute. Also on the bill: North Bay roots, rock, reggae stalwarts Sol Horizon and DJ Izzy Wise.

Despite the prominent "featuring Melody Walker" on the poster for Front Country's Saturday show at the Jambalaya, Melody wants it known that it's not really her band.

"It's a democratic deal, a collaboration," she said, calling from her home in Martinez. Front Country got its start in Spring 2011 when Melody's music partner Jacob Groopman assembled a pickup band, inviting the best pickers he knew in the Bay Area. All involved had some sort of bluegrass/newgrass roots. The band ended up with a once-a-month residency at the Atlas Café in San Francisco's Mission District.

"We have all the bluegrass instruments except Dobro," said Melody, who serves as primary vocalist. "And we play a few bluegrass standards, but we also do King Crimson and Joni Mitchell tunes. It's hard to define. I wouldn't call it jamgrass. Sometimes we call it new acoustic folk.

The band took its first real road trip last summer, to Colorado for the annual RockyGrass. Entering the band competition was almost an afterthought, but Front Country ended up winning first place. "That was kind of a mandate to keep it going," said Melody. It led to higher profile gigs like the recent Bluegrass Cruise out of Miami and a few choice festival dates this summer. Opening for Saturday's show at the Jam: The Blackberry Bushes, a really good alt. folk string trio out of Portland.

If you were at last year's Blues by the Bay, you remember the Laurie Morvan Band rockin' the blues -- hard -- with Laurie out front, shredding on guitar. She struts her stuff at the Riverwood Inn Friday night.

"Healing In Eureka" is another worthy music/auction benefit for a friend in need due to medical expenses (breast cancer this time). The eclectic lineup Saturday at the Eureka Women's Club includes Guilty Apples, The Compost Mountain Boys, The Bret Harte Breakers, The 51 Cards and Nashville garage rockers Useless Eaters.

With the start of the Kinetic season upon us, Matt 'n' Adam from Missing Link are back at Humboldt Brews Friday (with Mantease) for "Enchantment Under the Sea" a benefit record party for the Velo Crab Kinetic Sculpture Team. Saturday the Kinetic Madness moves to Tempus Fugitives' South G Thunderdome for a "Post-Apocalyptic Party" featuring metalheads Paranoid Android, the Va Va Voom Burlesque Vixens (in apocalyptic outfits) and the dark, dank DJs of Phantom Wave, plus an auction (and burritos etc. from the Que Grande! food truck).

On the alt. rock front: The Lost Luvs and Tweeners open for Seattle garage surf girl group La Luz Friday at the Shanty. La Luz are on a spring break tour with The Ballantynes, a seven-piece gospel-meets-garage outfit out of East Vancouver, BC.

Also on Friday, an Ink Annex/Placebo show featuring mellow Portland experimental rock trio The Mercury Tree, on tour with PDX "progressive/post-hardcore alt. math" rockers Red Forman with local support from electro-cabaret queercore trio Space Biscuit.

Catch Space Biscuit again next Wednesday (March 27) at the Jambalaya, for what's billed as a "punk night" mainly because of A.M. Beers. Neo-hip hop combo Body Academics is on the bill too, as well as Pressure Anya, who may spin some punky records. Space Biscuit drummer Tamaras Abrams also plays Monday at the Speakeasy with her other band, No Covers, a jazz duo with piano-man Justin Ross.

Bad Kitty takes over the Palm Lounge Tuesday hosting the return of Henchmen, a hard rockin' guitar/standup bass/drums trio out of Whittier. Opening is one-man punk The Bored Again, aka Dave-o.

Pimps of Joytime is one of those unrelentingly funky party bands. Founded in 2005 by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Brian J, the band spirals out of Brooklyn spreading a mix of funk, Afrobeat, reggae and Latin rhythms far and wide, particularly on the festival circuit (Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, High Sierra, the Mateel's Summer Arts Fest). A West Coast tour with San Diego electro-hip hop/funk combo Vocab Kompany brings the funk to Humboldt Brews on Tuesday.

The first time I heard The California Honeydrops' update on American roots music -- a primo mix of blues, soul and gospel with a heavy dose of second line New Orleans jazz -- I thought they'd be perfect for the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival. I suggested it to the then-director; sadly, he retired last year. Charismatic frontman Lech Wierzynski handles vocals and plays a mean trumpet and guitar -- little old ladies would swoon over him. Too bad the Honeydrops are not playing over the weekend. Instead, Lech and company jazz up the crowd at Humboldt Brews next Wednesday night. It's the start of the band's Like You Mean It CD Release tour, so come prepared to take home the latest tunes.

If you're looking for something more country-ish that Wednesday, Gunsafe is rocking the Mad River Brewery Taproom. Nuff said.

The Eureka Symphony celebrates the coming of spring with an afternoon chamber music benefit concert on Sunday at the Eureka Women's Club. The program has Terrie Baune on violin, John Chernoff on piano and E-Symphony Maestra Carol Jacobson on cello performing Bach's "Sonata in F minor for violin and clavier," Shostakovich's "Trio No. 2, Op 67" and Schubert's "Trio in Bb Major, Op 99." That's followed by a discussion about why those are some of their favorite works.

Jacobson is also on the eclectic program for the Humboldt Music Academy Faculty Concert later on Sunday (7:30 p.m.) in HSU's Fulkerson Recital Hall. The players are as varied as the academy curriculum. Among them, songwriter Joanne Rand, classical pianist Robin Miller, folk music masters Sam McNeill and Dan Chandler, violinist Holly McDonell, Katri and Larry Pitts doing showtunes, cellists Kira Weiss and Cassie Moulton, vocalist Gwen Post, pianist Jamie Howington, jazzman Bill Allison, and SquarPeg, a "strange chamber" combo that does not fit in round holes.

Ba-Dum-Chh Comedy has back-to back funniness this week: The troupe's "Liquor & Laughter" night Thursday at the Pearl Lounge is followed by "Ba-Dum-Chh Comedy Finds the Silver Lining" (at the Arcata/Eureka Humboldt/Redwoods Regional/Memorial Airport in McKinleyville) on Friday. Warning: It may be hard to find a seat what with the stick-it-in-your-Eye controversy swirling around Bad-Dum-Chh bad girl Sherae O'Shaughnessy.

Then it's another Savage Henry midweek laugh blast starting with the monthly "CU Last Tuesday" at the Jambalaya, this one featuring San Francisco comics Sean Keane, Kate Willett and Jules Posner joining several locals (including the Journal's own Kim Hodges). The Savages have figured out how to turn these visits into mini-tours by adding a pair of Wednesday shows with the visiting artists: early (6-ish) at The Works (all ages BTW), then later (9-ish) at the Angelina Inn. Yuck it up. 

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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