Considering the name of her just released album, Lucky Dogs, it's appropriate that when we called up Alice DiMicele in Oregon she said she was "hanging out in a friend's backyard, with my dog."
You might think of Alice as a folky who strums a guitar and sings about rivers and such. And she does play guitar and sing about rivers on the new record -- but she also rocks out, seriously.
Not that she wants to be a rock star; in fact, that's the subject of "Rock Star," one of the new songs. "The song is more along the line of not wanting to be the type of musician that's all about the glory," DiMicele said. "The whole point is to say that my point doing this music is to try and touch people, not to try and glorify myself. Even when I'm on stage, I really try to include everybody that's in the room -- all the musicians with me and everybody in the audience. The music, the event, is something we create together -- it's not all about me.
"I don't have the attitude like I only want green M&Ms in my dressing room. It's so funny, when you're on the road as much as I am, you see every kind of rider possible with all sorts of demands. Mine is like, clean water, a place for my dog to hang out, a nice meal and a place to sleep with some privacy."
She keeps it simple. "Simplicity is the way to peace," as she sings in another new song. "That seems to be the way it is in my private life, which is really where my music comes from more and more, from my life experience."
For this listener, the strength in her music is the directness, both in words and delivery. That, and the fact that she rocks, especially with her new band -- including ace guitarist Jeff Pevar, who plays with the best: David Crosby and David Lindley, for example, and most recently Rickie Lee Jones' band.
You have a couple of opportunities to hear the Alice DiMicele Band this weekend: Saturday night they're at the Arcata Playhouse in a benefit for arts programs at Trinidad School; Sunday they head for Benbow for a 5 p.m. set at the Mateel's Summer Arts and Music Festival.
Two Georgia-born songwriters, Caroline Aiken and Joanne Rand, sing songs of the southland, and everywhere else, trading places with Alice playing Sunday at the Arcata Playhouse and Saturday at SAMF.
The Redwood Jazz Alliance closed out its stellar fifth season in May with the amazing Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet, but for the first time they're trying a post-season one-off. The Sunday concert at the Morris Graves Museum features a quartet of top-flight New Yorkers fronted by bassist Michael Formanek who has backed artists ranging from Chet Baker to Elvis Costello. He's joined by longtime music partner Tim Berne on sax along with pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The same quartet was featured on Formanek's ECM debut last year, The Rub and Spare Change, garnering raves from Downbeat and elsewhere.
The show wasn't something RJA planned on, but the fact is, in the five years they've been booking shows they've developed a reputation with the jazz elite, particularly the New York crowd. So when Formanek booked a West Coast tour (including a gig at Yoshi's) he called the local jazz aficionados and asked if they'd do a show here. The musicians love the attentive Humboldt audience, and frankly RJA treats the players really well, like the jazz royalty they are. Fair warning: The last RJA show at the Graves was SRO. If you want a seat, show up early.
In other jazz news, CR jazz instructor Bill Allison is now handling booking for the Eureka Inn's Palm Lounge. Saturday they have a jam with some HSU students (and grads) who call themselves The Sugar Plum Larrys. Sunday Matthew Cook plays piano -- but first, on Friday, it's Bill Allison and Friends with Bill on piano (and probably vocals, since he's a good singer) with a bass player, drummer and whoever else he can rope in.
Still more jazz: pianist Easton Stuard is back in Humboldt playing at Persimmons Garden Gallery Friday night. Saturday the Redway biz closes since everyone will be at SAMF.
This week's hip hop connection: the Jambalaya with Aceyalone and Fresh Coast Connection laying down rhymes and beats on Thursday.
Same night over the Arcata Theatre Lounge has Jamaican reggae legend Delroy "Junior" Reid, a vocalist who, years ago, replaced Michael Rose fronting Black Uhuru. He's backed by One Blood Band, named for "One Blood," one of his hits. The band includes his sons, Andrew and Wada Blood, whose names also seem to relate to the song. Selecta Prime and DJ Rashane drop the one-drop to open.
Tuesday at the Red Fox catch the band that pretty much invented ska and thus paved the way for reggae: The Skatalites. Formed in 1964, the band had hits with "Guns of Navarone" and "Eastern Standard Time" and played on records by Bob Marley and other JA stars of the time. They drifted apart when rocksteady and reggae supplanted ska, only to reform in 1983 as the two-tone era revived interest in the hiccupping sound they'd pioneered. Sadly, most of the original members have passed on over the years (understandable since the band has been around for almost five decades). When drummer Lloyd Knibb died earlier this month, that left only saxophonist Lester Sterling from the original line-up. The younger players know the old tunes, however (and some new ones), so if you love ska, you'll be there. On the turntables that night, Gabe of Pressure Beat Soundsystem, who is stoked to be part of a show with a band he spins all the time. Expect lots of Skatalites music the night before when he's at the Jambalaya for Rocksteady Monday.
Wednesday at the Red Fox Bad Kitty presents The Creepshow, a dark, country-tinged, psycho-punk rock 'n' roll quartet from Toronto, on a seemingly endless tour. Our own Monster Women open.
Trinidad gets in on the arts night action Friday (and the first Friday of each month this summer) with the usual art openings, late hours for stores, etc, in the evening, followed by a dance at Trinidad Town Hall with The Rezonators and Sierra Rose.
Catch Sanctuary Stage's The Logger Project at Blue Ox Millworks Friday, Saturday or Sunday, a musical/play by Jackie Dandeneau (of Arcata Playhouse/Brendas fame) exploring the life and times of, you guessed it, loggers. Jackie conducted interviews with woodsmen and associates to gather material, then wrote the play and some music.
"I wrote three songs for The Bucky Walters to sing in it," said Jackie. "One's called 'When the Jobs Are All Gone,' and then there's 'The Loggers' and 'That Point in the Road.' And they also do some songs by Buzz Martin like, 'Sick of Settin' Chokers.'" She noted that The Bucky Walters "actually act" in the show, along with some regular actors and at least one actual logger, Dan Hill, who showed up for an early interview session.
"Dan was our liaison," said Jackie. "He's a logger, a faller, and he was a great community partner in the piece. He actually bucks a log in the show." (Hill said he could make his chainsaw spray the crowd with chips if they wanted. The producers did not think it would be a good idea.) The plan is to do the show outside at the Millworks, weather permitting. If it's too wet, they'll move indoors. "Rain or shine, away we go," said Jackie.
Away we go, indeed.