The core members of local reggae band Woven Roots live way out in the hills above Willow Creek on a pair of homesteads where there is no cell phone reception. Connecting meant scheduling a time when the band's guitarist, Gueren, could get to a hotspot on Friday Ridge.
Gueren discovered this remote area when he was attending HSU and working summers on trail crews in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. "I fell in love with the mountains out here and saved up money to buy property. I dreamed of living on the South Fork of the Trinity. Now I've found my place. Alex, the keyboard player, lives with me. Travis, the singer, lives just down the road. We live off the grid; we get all our power from a hydro-generator set in a creek. We get enough power to do band practice and even record out here."
Guerin and Travis had gone to high school together in Carmel; when Travis moved to the Humboldt Hills they started jamming together in a reggae stylee, with Travis supplying lyrics.
"People seemed to like it, so we kept at it," said Gueren. "At first it was just this dream. We didn't know other musicians, or if we did they were involved in other projects. Then Travis went to a Soul Majestic show at Simon Legree's [in Burnt Ranch]. Alex was filling in on keyboards; we got him to come out and practice with us. He had come out to Humboldt after going to Berklee School of Music in Boston on a scholarship to play marimba. I invited him to live at my place. Then all we needed was bass and drums."
That involved some false starts, but judging from the music they laid down for their first album, the band has the reggae vibe down pat. Songs titles like "Be Mindful" and "End Racism" speak for themselves; they're all about the living irie way. "We're really passionate about the lifestyle we live," said Guerin, "so that's a big part of it. 'Respect the Earth' is one of our new songs. That pretty much sums it all up."
More songs are in the works. "We have enough new ones for two or three more albums. All we need is the money and time to put another one together. We're in the process of building a recording studio at my place, doing it all on our own."
In the meantime, the EastHum band is playing all over the county. Friday they launch Arcata Mainstreet's Picnics on the Plaza concert series with a show starting at 11:30 (in the morning). Saturday night they play for the first time at the Wave Lounge at Blue Lake Casino. Then next Saturday, July 18, they have their biggest gig to date, playing the 25th Anniversary Reggae on the River, where they share the bill with The Mighty Diamonds, Tanya Stephens, The Abyssinians, Etana, Majek Fashek, Queen Omega and Soul Majestic.
More reggae? The Itals, a trio of roots reggae pioneers who started playing in Jamaica before the Woven Roots crew was born, bring the irie vibes to the Red Fox Tavern Tuesday, July 14, along with special guest Joseph Israel.
Nocturnum kicks off a series of serious blues shows Friday with The Tommy Castro Band. Black-teed guitar-slinger Castro is a local fave, having headlined Blues by the Bay many times. Bonus: Former-local Mike Emerson is playing keys in the band. (Speaking of Blues by the Bay, July 15 is the deadline for early bird tickets.) Coming up at Nocturnum, two killer harp players: Charlie Musselwhite on July 24 and Mark Hummel on July 31, with the amazing Rusty Zinn on guitar.
More blues? Candye Kane is back at the Riverwood Saturday bringing along a new CD, Superhero.
Chicago might be the home of the blues, but it's also the home of a fine Afrofunk combo, Chicago Afrobeat Project. They play the Oregon Country Fair this weekend then head south, stopping Sunday, July 12, at Red Fox Tavern.
Mad River SummerFest takes place Saturday afternoon at Pump Station No. 1 out West End Rd. They'll have beer of many kinds and music galore, including The Fickle Hillbillies, The Bad Lilas, Kindred Spirits and Moo-Got-2. It's free, but it's also a fundraiser for the Annie and Mary Rail/Trail.
Heart of the Redwoods Community Hospice presents its Fifth annual Brew and Barbecue fundraiser Saturday afternoon at the Garberville Rodeo Grounds, with local beer, The Flaming Chefs manning the bbqs and twangy music by SoHum faves Way Out West and NoHum post-bluegrass band The Bucky Walters. Later on at the Mateel (7 p.m.), there's a memorial service for Helen Murrish, who was instrumental in SoHum's hospice world.
Also in the post-bluegrass vein: Head for the Hills, a four-piece stringband originally from Golden, Colo., plays Friday at Humboldt Brews. (Isn't Golden where Coors comes from?)
Self-proclaimed "singers of songs of murder and misery" The Pine Box Boys have become regulars at Six Rivers. They're back Saturday.
Same night at the Blue Lake Casino (and hotel), Aussie-born country star, Jamie O'Neal performs in the Sapphire Palace. Ms. O'Neal stated out as a back-up singer for Kylie Minogue, became a Nashville song writer/pitcher, then broke out in 2000 with a pair of No. 1 "hot country" hits: "There Is No Arizona," and "When I Think About Angels." A couple of record labels later she's almost done with her third album and has a new single, "Soldier Comin' Home."
Looking for yet another sort of country music? Reno's infamous "scumbag country" band Hellbound Glory plays raw, gritty music with a twang. They're in town all weekend playing Friday at the Wave, Saturday at the Jambalaya and Sunday at Six Rivers.
"White Nipples in Summer" is the slightly twisted name the Summers in Kuwait guys came up with for their triple psyche bash at the Jambalaya Friday with White Manna and Nipplepotmaus.
Heads up from Lou of Dirty Waffle Productions on a show Saturday at the Li'l Red Lion featuring Santa Rosa crust/thrash metal monsters Blod Rott and two "rip-roaring opening bands": The Revocateurs and The Bored Again (which is just one guy, Dave from Smashed Glass and Social Ills).
The Headless Cross Tour hits the Arcata Theatre Lounge Saturday featuring The Tony Martin Band. Mr. Martin served as vocalist for Black Sabbath from 1987-1997, while Ozzy was on hiatus. Tour P.R. says that they are "commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Black Sabbath's album Headless Cross." It does not note that U.S. audiences were cold on Sabbath at the time and the Headless Cross tour of 1989 was cut short due to poor ticket sales. Magnum frontman T-McN reports that his band was offered an opening slot: "The promoter for Headless Cross said we could have the honor of sharing the Arcata Theatre stage with HC -- if we pre-sold 40 of the $30 (!) tix. I said: No way, no how." There are other openers however: Siva Addiction, "a hard rock band out of Oklahoma City," and "dark-edged power group" Curse Icon from Powell, Ohio.
Around the time Tony joined Sabbath, a band of brothers called the Voodoo Glow Skulls started playing ska-punk tunes in SoCal backyards. As they put it succinctly on the website bio: "We are the Voodoo Glow Skulls from Riverside, Calif., traveling all around the world and bringing our sound of West Coast ska-core since 1988. We play fast. We play hard. We play the voodoo sound like no other." Catch them on Tuesday, July 14, at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. The Social Ills open.
Mad cellist Rushad Eggleston is back in town with his band, Tornado Rider, playing at Humboldt Brews Wednesday, July 15. He's been known to strip naked mid-song. Need I say more?