t was one of those phone calls. The caller ID on my phone said St. Joe's. Not a good sign. It was my good buddy Gregg calling from a hospital room where he was visiting our mutual friend Coco Hogan, a longtime Humboldt resident, someone I've known since I started going to Reggae many years ago. Coco was a SoHummer back then, one of the guys who helped build the Mateel. He's been living in Eureka for a few years, for reasons I needn't go into here, but he's always been a constant at Reggae, one of many hardworking volunteers who do what's needed: haul garbage, recycling, whatever, always with a warm smile. I just talked with Coco for a little while - it was a difficult thing for him to do. He's been diagnosed with throat cancer, a serious bummer and, no, he doesn't have health insurance. What he wanted me to know was that he has a way to bring together the dueling forces down SoHum way: The Coco Benefit.
"I get along with everyone," he told me, "and they'll all be there." Friends arranged the event, which takes place this Saturday, April 28, all day (1-11 p.m.) with free organic food, auctions, both silent and live, music by The Non-Prophets, Black Sand, Skunk Train, Something Different, Quantum, Corry Hanna, Anna Banana, Chris McCurdy and Peter Childs, Darryl Cherney, Andy Barnett, Andravy Mayes, Kim Sirean, and others, plus a dessert potluck and a healing circle. Admission is whatever you can afford - you know the drill. This is why you have a community center, a place to gather to help out a friend in need.
While it may bring the community together for a day, the party won't end the deep rift that's developed in SoHum over Reggae. That's a different healing circle. Coco's benefit brought me to the Mateel website this morning, where I found a just-posted file containing a series of offers and counteroffers between lawyers from both sides laying out possible scenarios for financial resolution. It's complicated business, and that's really what it boils down to - a business deal that will likely result in Tom Dimmick buying or renting the Reggae on the River trademark and doing the show with People Productions. That said, there's still way too much bad blood; you can read it between the lines. My opinion? It's time to heal, make a deal and move forward, forget the past and get the party going.
The item in Punmaster's MusicWire,an industry e-mail newsletter, noted that the Rev. Al Sharpton has decided to cancel plans to honor Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid because Al "didn't want to look like a hypocrite" after his protests over ousted talk jock Don Imus' use of the word "ho" (numerous Def Jam artists routinely use that word in their raps). Then on Monday, Associated Press reported that Def Jam founder Russell Simmons has declared via his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network that "ho," along with the "n" word and "bitch," should be considered "extreme curse words," and thus should be omitted from so-called "clean" versions of rap songs aired on radio. (He stopped short of saying don't use 'em.)
What we're talking about once again is so-called "culturally insensitive language," which brings us to a hip hop party coming up Saturday, April 28, at Portuguese Hall in Arcata. Morninoonanight Productions presents Naughty and Nice: The 5th annual Pimp and Ho Ball. An explanation may be in order for the uninitiated. A "Pimp and Ho" party is one where attendees dress up: the guys in outrageous '70s retro duds and silly hats, the ladies in, well, sleazy prostitute attire. Does this play to the stereotypes decried by Imus' critics, who have since shifted their focus to insensitive gangsta rappers? Maybe.
Ironically, Saturday's show is headlined by a crew of underground hip hop artists who are not at all the sort you'd expect to rap about anything culturally insensitive. Haiku d'Etatis Aceyalone and Mikah 9 of the Freestyle Fellowship and Abstract Rude of Abstract Tribe Unique, and as indicated by the group name, they're revolutionary sorts, poets whose intelligent wordplay is the opposite of gangta rap. Also on the bill: Acey and Ab's Project Blowed cohort, DJ Drez, the "sound ambassador," locals Subliminal Sabotage and DJ Boogie and JSun, and, "special guests," among them former local Thanksgiving Brown,returning to Humboldt from Brooklyn.
As to the Pimp and Ho concept, Pete C. from Sub/Sab says he doesn't have any problem with it. "What the fuck?" he opines, inadvertently referencing the allegedly insensitive Que La. "Last year I was a pimp, maybe this year I'll dress as a ho. I think I'd make a pretty hot ho." Now that's scary.
Peter "Thanksgiving Brown" Agoston will be in town for a few days. When we talked about his West Coast visit, he mentioned that he's spinning at the Pearl Friday night with DJ Danny, Zanapod, and Seedling Escape from Glitch Mob, a crew from south of here (visuals by VJ Ishan). Peter also noted a gig that did not ultimately happen, a co-bill with a rap group he described as "Chris Durant's thing."
By chance, I had just read the Times-Standard reporter's recent story on a new tattoo parlor. Reporter/Fat Guy Durant described the latest addition to his skin art collection: a new "Gonzo" tattoo. He omitted a crucial detail on another newly acquired tat, noting that, "The initials RDH are on my arm. Done in three minutes, freehand, by an artist I can't remember and who paid for my shot at the bar next door afterward. I can't get into what the RDH stands for, but it has to do with ninjas and covert operations."
And now, the covert meaning of RDH can be revealed: It's an acronym for Republican Duck Hunters, multimedia maven Durant's hip hop outfit, the name of which shows up regularly on the Boiler Room's showbill. Delighted with my investigative skills, I mentioned what I'd learned to James Faulk (the other T-S Fat Guy) when I ran into him at Guv S's all-too-brief "press availability." Not long after, I got an e-mail from a worried Durant who was not exactly ready to be outed as a rapper. In a follow-up, the crime scribe answered a few interrogatory questions.
Who are you?
There are two of us in the band, myself (aka Farmer John) and the Absinthe Minded Professor.
What do you do?
I write rhymes and make beats.
What are you working on?
Our first record and getting shows.
Finishing the record (tentatively called either White Man Bourbonor The Decoy).
When will you be performing next? With whom?
April 27 [at the] Red Fox with Wepeel, Mr. P Chill from Sacramento and Conscious Army.
Anything else you want to add? (duck recipes, whatever)
Sorry it's fast, I have to go pickup my son from Day Care, if you really want to hear more I'll send along more info/details etc. later... (He didn't.)
Checking in on MySpace allowed me to listen to a few RDH songs, which are not bad at all. I especially dig "Sasquatch," a humorous fantasy that recasts Big Foot as a hairy hippie met at a Kulica show, and I appreciate the political stance and speech samples in "RabbleRouser." I bounced from there to Durant's Farmer John MySpace, where I learned some disturbing news: He's running for President. He declares his 2008 candidacy in a rap titled "Hat in the Ring." Yikes.
(BTW,the Weezer tribute,Wepeel,is also part of a double-bill Saturday at the Alibi with Attack Formation, an experimental rock band from Austin.)
A few other shows worth checking into: Bad Kitty pours a triple shot of psychobilly this Thursday at Six Rivers with The Chop Tops from Santa Cruz, The Sick Shooters and Slick City Sickos. (Try saying that three times real fast.) Same Thursday Texan Scott H. Biram plays gritty blues at Muddy's. Bluesman Joe Louis Walker of Bosstalkers fame hits the Riverwood, SoHum's home of the blues, Saturday night. The very funky Bobby Lee Rodgers and The Codetalkersrock Humboldt Brews Monday, April 30.Americana duo Deadwood Revivalswings through, stopping Monday at Curley's and Wednesday, May 2, at Humboldt Brews. Also on Wednesday, Red Fox has Great American Taxi, led by Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon.
On the classical front you have Borealis String Quartet down from Canada for a Friday gig at Calvary Lutheran Church, part of the Eureka Chamber Music Series. CenterArts brings The Eroica Trio to the Van Duzer for a Sunday show. And there's the annual Rhododendron Festival Concert at Christ Church in Eureka with "Six Centuries of Enchanting Music" including choral works and pieces featuring the church's amazing pipe organ.
That Christ Church organ will be put to different use Tuesday, May 1, when two jazz musicians from Sweden come to Eureka performing "Music Against Violence." Someone dropped off a couple of CDs by saxophonist Hakan Lewin and pipe organist Johannes Landgren performing Ellington spirituals and other ethereal jazz, with the sax and organ forming a breathtaking partnership. The concert is one of just a few benefits they're doing in the U.S., in this case for Humboldt Domestic Violence Services. (The organ brought them here.)
More benefits? The Manila Community Center presents Melvin Seals and JGB at the MCC Thursday, April 26, an all-ages benefit for their upcoming Dancin' In the Dunes, which I believe is also a benefit.
The GreenHouse Boardshop presents an evening of surf art and music Saturday, April 28, at the Accident Gallery, with art on surfboards and such by local surfer types and music by Quatro, with members of surf-jamband Likwefi and Absynth Quintet. All proceeds go to the Anderson family.
And last but not least, Mosgo's skips the usual Sunday open mic this week to raise money for the beautiful dancing Wodaabe People of Niger. Chinua Ford starts at 6 p.m. African drum troupe Dun Dun Fare follows at 7, space guitarist Todd Krider plays at 8 and those jammin' bluegrass boys The Bucky Walters close things out.
Take your pick. Help somebody out. It'll make you feel good.