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Mr. LaFarge's Blues 

Plus: Lots of action at the Lil' Red and folk, folk, folk

After watching Robert Altman’s 1973 film The Long Goodbye for the upteenth time, Altman had commented that he and lead actor, Elliot Gould, had decided to reinvent the legendary Phillip Marlowe as if he was a Rip Van Winkle-like character who, after a long slumber, woke up in the middle of the early 1970s Los Angeles. He was, in other words, a “Man Out of Time.”

Singer/songwriter Pokey LaFarge, who originates from Louisville, Ky., is one of those folks: a young man, out of his time. His major influences come from the 1920s and the 1930s, many of whom could be heard on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Music, and from soul/country/blues singers from the 1940s and 1950s, including Reverend Gary Davis and Ray Charles. He is currently on the road to promote his new record, Beat, Move and Shake, and he will be making an appearance at the Jambalaya on Monday, July 28. He will be in town just before his gigs at Portland’s Pickathon, a fabulous indie/roots/American/bluegrass three-day festival, now in its 10th year. Along with LaFarge, this year’s lineup includes Jolie Holland, Kellie Joe Phelps, the Gourds, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sean Hayes, the Cave Singers, the Bad Livers and the Hackensaw Boys, with whom LaFarge still plays mandolin with on occasion. Check out the festival’s website for more details: www.pickathon.com.

From the age of 18, LaFarge has been on the road, with stints with a number of bands, including the Hackensaw Boys. Now in his mid-20s, he has toured the US extensively, with his guitar and voice. He’s a bit reminiscent of a younger Pete Molinari, the British singer/songwriter, whom I reviewed in this publication a few months ago. In other words, it’s beyond retro -- it’s part of this new wave of Americana music that blends both the contemporary energy and verve with old school American roots. It’s the new “d.i.y.” or “do-it-yourself” ethic, once held with pride in the initial punk movement of the 1970s and early 1980s.

For Monday’s show at the Jambalaya, LaFarge will be joined by an intriguing collection of Americana artists: Silver Darling, a electric alt. country band from Sacramento who’ve been receiving great buzz around the state capital region; Charlotte Thistle, a young singer/songwriter who not only has a great name but also has been gaining notice around the greater Northwest, playing a number of impressive festivals including Seattle’s Bumbershoot; and the Young/Lost Ones (formerly Los Olvidados), an indie band named after the Luis Buñuel film of impoverished children in the streets of Mexico City, who also play country and “regional Mexican” music. The Ventura County-based band is also part of the Keaton Collective, a revolving-door community of musicians from that area. One might hedge their bets that one or a number of these visiting artists may reach larger audiences and press attention in the near future. Catch them while you can.

On Thursday, there will be a bluegrass explosion in Humboldt County. At Dell’Arte’s Rooney Ampitheatre, the Humboldt Folklife Festival continues with “Backyard Bluegrass & Beyond,” featuring a star-studded cast of Clean Livin’, Old Dog, the Compost Mountain Boys and Huckleberry Flint. At Hum Brews, Head For the Hills, a contemporary bluegrass outfit from Ft. Collins, Colo., will be featured. Their 2007 release Robber’s Roost was produced by Sally Van Meter. While at the Jambalaya, Eric Morelli leads his road-weary indie band, The Study Band (they’ve zigzagged extensively throughout the U.S.), bringing their dark and moody tunes, promoting the self-produced record From A Limb. Joining them will be Nevada City’s folk rock band, Lasher Keen, and the local bluegrass beat of High Class Hobo Society.

Picnics on the Plaza continues its noontime series on Friday, with Jim Silva offering his eclectic acoustic guitar stylings for the event. The Humboldt Folklife Festival heads to the Bayside Grange for its “Old Time & Contra Dance,” featuring the Contra Band and the Striped Pig Stringband.

On Saturday, “Roll On the Mattole,” a benefit for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Department, will be in high throttle at the Mattole Grange with the Rubberneckers, NPK, Rooster McClintock, Uni and Her Ukelele, Elise and Johnny Walker, Blame the Factoryand more. Festivities start at noon. The Humboldt Folklife Festival features an all-day free festival, with extensive workshops (including ones for the kids) and performances. Workshops range from dulcimer playing to Irish kitchen dances, given by Mike McLaren and Brooks Otis (no, Mr. Otis will be giving fiddle and banjo workshops and will not be giving tips on Irish kitchen dances), among many others. Performances include Eileen Hemphill-Haley, the Sari Baker Trio and Ukesperience, among numerous others. Seek out the HFF website at www.humboldtfolklife.org. The Lil’ Red Lion will be screening Jon Olsen’s low-fi underground film Zombies of Eureka!, which features numerous local luminaries, including his mod sister Charlotte, the hypnotic Monster Women and the Invasions. The film’s director will be in the house, along with the Monster Women and the Invasions, who will also be playing respective sets following the screening. And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more rough-and-tumble, at the Redwood Acres’ Franceschi Hall, the Humboldt Roller Derby will be spinning their wheels on hard wood, with the Bad Axes going up against the Tree Sluggers. Bad babes on wheels -- Russ Meyer might have had a field day with that. [Ed. note -- As will we: The bout will be broadcast live on northcoastjournal.com.]

Punks on Sunday. That’s what the Ink People (1120 F St., Eureka) will be hosting, so to speak, with an all-ages Placebo event, featuring Scrapyard Swag (“folk metal” from Eugene), the Fistifucks (Santa Rosa punkers), the Crux (Santa Rosa folksters) and Eureka’s own punk pride, the Revocateurs.

On Monday, aside from the aforementioned Pokey LaFarge show at the Jambalaya, Round Mountain, an eclectic band from Santa Fe, featuring brothers Char and Robby Rothschild, whose background ranges from Balkan and West African styles to Appalachian and other American musical roots music, will be performing an assortment of instruments at Muddy’s Hot Cup. The show’s free, starting at 5 p.m. Hockey, a Portland-based quartet, will be holding court at The Lil’ Red Lion with singer/songwriter Chase Pagan (all the way from Wynn, Ark.), Eureka’s finest surf zombie band, the Invasions, and the Erns, an experimental trio who named their band after a mythical bird: “Bermuda Ern,” created by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in his novel Breakfast of Champions. Between the Erns and Hockey -- who named the 19th century English poet William Blake, U.S. poet Frank O’Hara and Sri Lanka/Brit rapper M.I.A. as their influences -- this could be a rather surreal and heady musical experience. At the Six River’s Brewery, Bitter:Sweet, an electronic/trip hop duo from fashionable West Hollywood, will be striding into McKinleyville, as part of their summer tour, promoting their latest release, Drama. Vocalist Shana Halligan and mastermind Kiran Shahani were recently featured on Nic Harcourt’s public radio show, KCRW-FM’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic.”

Local acclaimed musician Chris Wixson will be performing a solo performance at Muddy’s Hot Cup on Tuesday, from 5-7 p.m. Heavy headbanging will be the special of the day at the Lil’ Red Lion, who will be hosting to the hardcore metal band, Sourvein (pronounced, “sour-vein”), originally formed in Cape Fear, N.C. They describe their pounding music as Black Flag (My War-era) meets the Melvins. Bayside-based Machete, featuring Jed Watts, original drummer for Mr. Bungle, and former Buffy Swayze guitarist, John McManus, and Annihilation Time, punk/metal band from Oakland, will be providing the support bashing. For the time being, it appears that Eureka’s Lil’ Red Lion, located at 5th Street between N and S Streets, has been the new haven for Eureka’s music scene, for both touring and local bands, especially since the demise of the Vista, Synapsis and Eureka’s Vet Hall. It is encouraging. Sustain this recent musical venue with your support.

After the breakup of Thee Shams, three former members created the Buffalo Killers, a hard rockin’ trio from Cincinnati. They’ll be bringing their 1970s influenced, guitar-heavy garage sound, to Arcata’s Big Pete’s Pizza, promoting their new record, Let It Ride. They’re akin to 1970s bands like the James Gang (yeah, Joe Walsh’s early Midwest band) and Mountain (with literally heavy Leslie West), combining it with psychedelic sprinklings. And, in case you missed the Ravens rip the Alibi recently, you can have a second opportunity. Arcata’s premier rock band will be opening the show for the Buffalo Killers. Fasten your seatbelts for this show, it’ll be more than a bumpy ride. Or, order your pizza early.

Thanks again to Bob for allowing me to fill in for him while on hiatus. Hope his batteries are re-charged, so to speak. Cheers.

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Mark Shikuma

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