You may remember the psychedelic blues power trio Radio Moscow from the time they spent living in Humboldt. They relocated here from Iowa, where the band first came together. The fiery center of the band is guitarist Parker Griggs. In fact in the beginning, when he was still a 17-year-old, Radio Moscow was just him. Alive Naturalsound recently released 3 & 3 Quarters, a collection of previously unreleased tracks from his garage rock period, songs he recorded on his own, overdubbing drums, bass and guitar.
"I was into the Nuggets box sets and that mid-'60s sound," he said, calling from his new home, a "rancho" in the woods near Red Bluff. "I grew up with the whole grunge rock punk thing, then started getting into '60s music and blues, looking into older styles different from the more depressing stuff I was into. The instrumental parts were more complex and more fun to play."
When he moved from garage rock into wilder blues a la Hendrix and Cream, he started drawing more attention with his wailing guitar sound full of wild abandon. People wanted to hear him play live, so he put together a rhythm section and hit the road, eventually playing all over the United States and in Europe.
At the beginning of 2012, he had a new record, The Great Escape Of Leslie Magnafuzz, and a string of gigs to go with it. But at the start of the tour back home in Iowa, his bandmates rebelled and said they did not want to continue. Tempers flared. On day two of the tour the disagreement erupted onstage. "Some stuff got thrown around on the last song," said Griggs, who ended up getting his head cut open by a flying guitar. After he got stitched up, he fired his rhythm section, hired a new one and continued the tour.
Now it's summer and he's about to hit the road again with his new sidemen, playing in two dozen states and in Canada between now and early August. This time, day two is a Monday show at the Jambalaya with Dirty Streets, a like-minded psyche/soul band out of Memphis. You can expect fireworks, but only in the music, not between the musicians.
Crow Quill Night Owls return to the Riverwood Inn Friday night playing what owner Loreen describes as "jug band music with a toss of crusty metal and Swedish punk." Port Townsend-based guitarist Kit "Stymee" Stovepipe and tenor banjoist Windy City Alex are the core duo, with Baylin Adahere thumping washtub bass, and on some tours more friends who play jazzy, good-timey stringband music from the '20s and '30s.
New Wave punks The Skabbs were exploring new territory in the late '70s when the band folded, sidetracked by the death of lead singer/songwriter Steve Salazar. Now, decades later, surviving members have reunited to tour in support of Idle Threat, an LP/CD of archival recordings released this spring by Portland's Jackpot Records. Saturday The Skabbs hit Arcata for the first time, sharing a bill at the Alibi with Splinter Cell.
Local drum/dance troupe SambAmore expanded with a horn section and headed out a week ago on a mission dubbed Operation Water Dragon, a Northwest tour with good time reggae/pop/world music band Yogoman Burning Band. After playing festivals and clubs up north (to rave reviews), the tour hits Arcata Saturday for two shows at Humboldt Brews: all ages family show in the daytime; adults only at night.
You may not be familiar with songwriter Steve Young, but there's a good chance you've heard his songs. Known as "Father of Americana," the Georgia-born singer/guitar picker has a long storied career including a stint in the ‘60s psychedelic country band Stone Country with Van Dyke Parks. I know his song "Seven Bridges Road" from Bonnie Raitt's version -- Joan Baez, Rita Coolidge, The Eagles and Dolly Parton all recorded it too. His tunes are on records by Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. among many others. Young is currently on the road with his son Jubal; their "Stories Round the Horseshoe Bend" tour sets down at the Arcata Playhouse Sunday evening.
Benbow Hotel kicks off another session of Jazz in June Thursday with Eureka-born keyboardist Easton Stuart playing jazz organ. Friday trumpeter Sam Maez leads a quartet with his longtime bassist Geoff Daugherty. Saturday's it's The Classic Quartet with the usual SoHum jazz suspects, guitarist Jim Wilde and drummer Michael Curran joining Maez and Daugherty with Stuart making it five on some songs. Sunday sax man Francis Vanek leads a quintet. More to come next weekend. All shows are on the hotel terrace under the stars, a great place for jazz on a summer night.
Blues rock bar band NightHawk has been on hiatus of late while bassist player Eric Naslund had foot surgery; now he's back, rocking a cast, and the band is putting him to work playing a bunch of shows this weekend. Friday and Saturday nights the band is at Cher-Ae Heights; Saturday during the day it's two sets at Redwood Acres for the Made in Humboldt Fair -- "made in Humboldt just like us," says NightHawk vocalist Marcia Mendels.
Of course there's music throughout the fair: Thursday you can see Thundercloud, 707 Band, Kendra Cook, Blues Vendetta, teen heart throbs 51 Cards and bluesman/songwriter Rick Park. Friday catch uke princess Lyndsey Battle, The Bayside Grange Music Project, Sybrina and The Daves Band, Reverbination, guitar wizard Todd Krider (side note: Krider is also featured at Monday's Organic Open Mic at Couple Cups) and the legendary Humboldt Harmonaires. Sybrina and Dave are back Saturday along with guitarist JD Jeffries "jam'n your faves," some sort of samba thing, the two sets by NightHawk, and don't miss Playhouse Arts' mystical after dark fire/silk/lantern show, Elemental. Sunday's music includes Arcata folky Caitlin Jemma, rock by Don's Neighbors, 707 Band (again) and a West African drum/dance group.
Summer has officially arrived (as of the solstice on June 20). To celebrate, your favorite vinyl DJs are throwing a "Soulstice" party at the Ocean Grove Saturday night, promising "funky music and dancing!" to discs spun by DJ Knutz, King Maxwell, Mantease, Jaymorg and Missing Men Matt N' Adam.
Summer! OK. Let the sun shine and let the official summer festival season begin.
Local reggae and world music fans will be heading to Booneville this weekend for the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, a star-studded gathering featuring reggae greats Third World (headlining Friday) Jimmy Cliff (Saturday) and Luciano (Sunday) along with many, many others including locals Jah Sun and AfroMassive.
Further south there's the High Times 2012 Medical Cannabis Cup running Saturday and Sunday at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. It's mostly ganja-related panels and workshops and displays from med-pot shops (legal smokers should bring a 215 card), but there's also the "Official High Times Medical Cannabis Cup Party" Saturday night with Del The Funky Homosapein among the musical acts.
Wanna go? The Journal has a bunch of tickets to give away so we're having a little contest.
You know cannabis will eventually get past the current quasi-legal medical marijuana stage. Humboldt needs a plan for the future. Branding will be über-important. With that in mind, we're looking for a catchy (new) brand name for Humboldt-grown marijuana. Got one? The grand prize winner gets two tickets to an opening weekend performance of Dell'Arte's Mary Jane: The Musical (details on the show elsewhere in this paper), plus a stylish Mary Jane T-shirt. Second and third prize winners, and runners up, get tickets to the Cannabis Cup. We are assembling a panel of celebrity experts to judge the contest. All they need is something to judge: Post your original brand name on the Journal blog or our Facebook page before noon Friday. Winners announced soon thereafter.