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Paying Tribute 

Petty Theft, Play Dead, American Beauty and Bump does Brown, plus René Marie, Candye and comedy

 

While a press release describes Petty Theft as "San Francisco's Ultimate Tribute to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers," I'm pretty sure it's more a North Bay Area band. Ultimate? Maybe. Keyboardist Mike Emerson, a former local who now lives in the North Bay, was slightly more modest, saying merely that the band is "really good." Plenty of people agree. Readers of a Marin County alt. weekly, the North Bay Bohemian, voted Petty Theft "Best Band" three years in a row (2011, '12 and '13). And that's not "Best Tribute Band," mind you, it's best overall. See if Full Moon Fever's "Refugee" matches up Saturday at Humboldt Brews.

As noted, Mike Emerson was once a Humboldter; he still plays pretty regularly with the local Grateful Dead tribute, Play Dead, and as it turns out, he's coming north in time to play Dead tunes with that band on Friday, also at Humboldt Brews, starting promptly at 9:30 p.m. with a rendition of "St. Stephen."

Saturday, while Petty Theft pays tribute to the Heartbreakers, the Arkley Center has a tour called, "American Beauty: The Grateful Dead Concert Experience." It's presented by West Coast Performing Arts, the same folks who offer Beatles tribute shows, Beach Boys tributes and more nostalgia. The pitch this time: "Experience the sights and sounds of one of the most successful and celebrated bands in show-business history," which probably means psychedelic lights and tie-dye outfits. I searched for details on who's in the band, but, despite the fact that Deadheads love to talk about this sort of thing, all I found was repeated PR verbiage promising "the best and most knowledgeable players and singers from the Grateful Dead tribute world," and a bunch of song titles – the "great hits" as the promoter put it, not that the Dead ever had an actual "hit." Who knows, it might be good.

Ready for another? Saturday night at the Jambalaya, an augmented version of the local funk band Bump Foundation pays tribute to the late, great "Godfather of Soul" James Brown with Madi Simmons handling Mr. Brown's parts; Leah Crenshaw on female lead. Guitarist Greg Camphuis heads the all-star congregation expanding the Bump horn section and adding guests including Berel Alexander, Pete Ciotti and Piet Dalmolen (from Full Moon Fever) and Chris Wixson from Speakeasy Saints (his band plays Friday at Cher-Ae Heights).

The Redwood Jazz Alliance closes its season Thursday with a different sort of show. Instead of cutting-edge players from New York and San Francisco, the show features a jazz vocalist, René Marie, with a classic sort of voice and an attitude reminiscent of Nina Simone, backed by a trio, Experiment in Truth, pianist Kevin Bales, bassist Elias Bailey and drummer/arranger Quentin Baxter. Marie is a songwriter who seems unafraid of the truth; she became a singer late in life and ended up escaping from an abusive relationship in the process (and writing songs about it). Take a look at her website and you'll find an offer for singing lessons she calls SLAM!, an acronym for "sing like a motherfucker!" The pitch says a lot about her approach. The goal "is to reconnect you with your voice and learn how to listen to what your voice is telling you, listen to where it wants to go and what it wants to do. ... Let the fresh air in and shine some light on the negative messages you may have received about your voice in the past -- and the ones you continue to give yourself today. ... Use your fears and so-called flaws to sing like a motherfucker!" Believe me, the woman can sing.

DJ Red and friends present an old school hip hop night Thursday at the Jambalaya. Says Red, "Joining me on the wheels of steel this month is Gabriel Groom and the one and only DJM. DJM is a recent transplant from Austin, and is the winner of Red Bull's Thre3 Styles DJ Battle, so I'm really excited to see what this guy can do." What's fresh? Well, it's at least partially digitized. As Red notes, "This will not be a vinyl snob night, as DJM's records are still in Texas."

Friday's "Rump Shakers" at the Red Fox is, in fact, a "vinyl snob" type thing with the ubiquitous Pressure Anya team joined by Soul Night refugees King Maxwell and JMorg.

If you love vinyl, or music delivered in any format, you might want to check out "Swap It!" a benefit for North Star Quest Camp for Girls coming up Sunday in HSU's Goodwin Forum. KHSU deejay Julie Unruly came up with the basic concept: "Get a bunch of music lovers gathered in one space to buy/sell/trade LPs, CDs, DVDs, posters and more." ("More" could be 45s.) Playing records to entertain you while you shop and/or swap: Pressure Anya, Zephyr, Rickshaw, JMorg and Adam. (Where's Matt?)

EDM show of the week: the World Famous bash Friday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge with Stephan Jacobs (just booked for this summer's Warped Tour) and Gladkill, both from the Headtron collective out of Los Angeles, plus two more L.A. producers, Sugarpill and ChrisB. Be ready for some heavy bass.

Friday at the Jambalaya, Children of the Sun open for a band called Cribshitter, with the above-mentioned Pete and Piet playing with them. A little googling tells me that "Cribshitter is Madison, Wisconsin's premier fog-machine-oriented band," at least so says the band Tumblr. The perhaps rhetorical question is raised, "What do we sound like?" The answer: "Smack a snake in its head with a wooden spoon while it is eating garbage. That is what we sound like." Bandcamp tags describe the Madison mad men as an "alternative country western dubstep tech electronic twang poop" outfit. A listen to the songs posted shows that the dudes are conversant in many styles and do not really take themselves seriously. An educated guess says they're fans of Cake (the band, not the foodstuff).

Loreen Ellison from the Riverwood Inn sends a reminder that blues survivor Candye Kane is in Phillipsville Saturday night. "Her cover will be $20; she has cancer and it all goes to her," says Loreen. "Musicians don't get health insurance." Ms. Kane has in fact fought her cancer into remission only to have it crawl back. I think Loreen can relate -- she's in the Bay Area in the midst of her own fight with the Big C. "I'd be there to see her but I'm here fixing my cancer!" she writes. "Doing well, tolerating well and am excited about getting treatment -- I want this crap out of me!  I've named my cancer Bill. Every time I'm getting treatment, I say, 'KILL BILL!'" I'm betting on Loreen to win her fight; like Candye, she's tough.

Have you noticed the pattern yet? The last week in any given month means a spike in stand-up. This time it starts with Ba-Dum-Chh Comedy making you snork your drinks Thursday at The Ritz. ("Snork" is when you laugh uncontrollably and what you're sipping comes out your nose. When you were a kid it was milk; now it's cheap beer or pricy liquor.) Jump ahead to Tuesday for Savage Henry's "CU Last Tuesday" at the Jambalaya. As is now the norm, the Savages have invited some out-of-towners to drop some jokes or whatever; this time it's Portland comics Danny Felts, Jeff Oliver and Marcia Belsky along with Greag Brown from Oakland, plus locals Dutch Savage and Ivy Vasquez. And once again, the visitors are doing double duty on Wednesday with an early all-ages gig at the Works, then another at the Angelina Inn, but with Sherae O'Shaughnessy and Kim Hodges replacing Greag and Ivy.  

One more thing: the scintillating pan band Steel Standing provides the soundtrack for Saturday's Farmers' Market on the Arcata Plaza. Give 'em a listen. And buy some vegetables.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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