In October 2001, Humboldt native Mario Matteoli and his friend and bandmate Brian Salvi left Eureka for the bright lights of Austin, Texas. They'd played locally in a rock 'n' roll band known variously as The Jacksons and The Jackson Brothers.
"We decided to move somewhere and form a country band," said Mario, calling from his folks' place in Eureka. "I didn't know much about Austin -- we were thinking Nashville at first, but we'd heard good things about Austin. It turned out to be pretty sweet."
The band they called The Weary Boys quickly found a prominent place in Austin's fertile music scene playing amped up string music. Mario was the front man and principal songwriter as the Boys put out a series of records and toured relentlessly. Then, at the beginning of 2007, a weary Mario quit the band.
"I was burning out from the road," he said. "We worked ourselves hard and it took its toll. I was just creatively and physically burned out. At some point we were not really getting along so I thought I'd part ways before it got worse."
He'd already recorded a solo album while still with the Boys. He followed that with another record with his new wife, Cayce, providing harmonies. They hit the road working as a duo, but he missed playing in a band. "I had a band in Austin, but when it's under your name, it's different," he said. "It was too much to handle booking all the tours, writing all the songs. I didn't like it."
Cayce and Mario teamed up with keyboardist Andy Bianculli to form The Preservation. "He'd just moved to Austin and was looking to play music," explained Mario. "With Cayce and me, that makes three songwriters and three lead singers. It seemed like we could put a sound behind that, back each other up and make one cohesive thing."
The name is a reference to a 1968 Kinks record: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. "We were into The Kinks, but we weren't limiting ourselves to that. It was a direction, rock 'n' roll that could go anywhere with harmonies and stuff like that. And we expanded from there." A couple of LPs in, the band is going strong. "We're putting out an EP right now. It's being mixed while we're on the road," said Mario. "I think we're coming into our own sound." They are -- and it sounds good. Catch them at Humboldt Brews Thursday night and see for yourself. Added bonus: Huckleberry Flint opens, and that's a pretty rare thing.
You may know S.F.-based stringband Poor Man's Whiskey for its modern take on old time music. As noted on its online "Whiskey Chronicles" bio, "Early in this band's history, we accepted the fact that most of us were bred on rock music. We are not from the Ozarks or from Tennessee, we are a quasi-bluegrass band from California," one whose members were raised on music by the Dead, Pink Floyd, etc. So a stringy tribute to one of the great psychedelic rock albums seemed appropriate. The current "Darkside of the Moonshine" tour marks the 40th anniversary of P-Floyd's sonic masterpiece. Performances begin with a normal Poor Man set followed by a Whiskey-soaked Moon tribute. The tour hits Humboldt Brews Friday. Expect Wizard of Oz costumes on the band (I shouldn't need to explain why). The audience is encouraged to follow suit.
Sunday night, Portland's Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside rock Humboldt Brews, hard. Ford totally killed it with her sexy thrift store take on garage rock when I saw her open for Wanda Jackson not too long ago. She has a brand new album out, Untamed Beast, a title that speaks volumes. My colleague (and KHSU's music director) Mark Shikuma raves about the record in a review elsewhere in this paper (see In Review, page 34). Read it, and don't miss her show. The Lonesome Roses open.
Grease up those handlebars: Blue Lake's Logger Bar hosts Humboldt's first ever Mustache Contest Thursday night (at least the first I've heard about). Kate promises multiple categories and includes "outfit and attitude" among the judging criteria. I think I know the mustache attitude, but what outfit is most appropriate? The mustachioed barber shop quartet Mirth First! sings a few songs before the judging.
The EDM action rolls on, by the numbers. Thursday's Sound Culture 002 at Jambalaya has Hypha, Rhizae, Tanasa Ras and Jmorg v. AK.
The Red Fox Tavern has Zombie Dance Party 2.0 on Friday with Mikey Datablend, Masta Shredda, Kimba v. DJ iWon (aka Touch) plus undead art by Julia F. Zombie makeover artists available. The zombie dance is easy. Who needs life? Same Friday, Guerrilla Takeover takes over the Pearl for another Uptown First Friday.
DJ Knutz is back from Ojai for Phat Party 03 Saturday at the Far North Climbing Gym (in Arcata) with Olde Toby, Dr. Foxmeat and MXMSTR KRSHN2N. (Yes, his name is supposed to be ALL CAPS.) At Nocturnum Saturday, it's 1UP with Razle Dazle (aka Itchie Fingaz), Masta Shredda, Touch and DJ Trey.
Tuesday at Nocturnum, Colorado dubstep trio OG Status hits town on its High Rollers tour with Boss Levelz (as in Shredda and Itchie) opening.
On the funk/soul/vinyl front you have DJ Red with Matt 'n' Adam for Garage Au-Go-Go Saturday at the Alibi, and Knutz, Rickshaw, Mantease and Jaymorg spinning Monday at Jambalaya for March Fourth and Celebrate. Pressure Anya? They're everywhere.
If you're more interested in guitars etc., Free Rain is jamming at the Jambalaya Saturday with Helekinetic opening. At the Red Fox that night, alt. rockers Saint Maybe from Tucson offer what they call "anthroposophic hypnotic Western trance -- with a dash of poetry."
The Delta Nationals rock out for dancers Saturday at Five Eleven, the new restaurant that took over Hurricane Kate's former space. And The Trouble plays a post-Arts Alive! set at the Eureka Inn following a couple of hours of comedy by the Ba-Dum-Chh crew with special guest Matt Gubser from S.F. (The Trouble is also doing a (free) Friday show at Blue Lake Casino.)
The African Children's Choir is one part beautiful music experience, one part humanitarian NGO. Founded in 1984 by Ray Barnett, the choir brings together kids ages 7 to 12 from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana -- some have lost their parents to AIDS, all come from Africa-grade poverty. Of course the experience of traveling the world singing is uplifting. Bonus: The money the choir raises goes back to Africa to support schools, orphanages and what they call "Music for Life" centers and camps. Music for life, what a concept. The Choir comes to the Van Duzer Tuesday.
Saturday's Gathering of Healing and Love to Benefit Jan Perrone at Redwood Acres will bring together the local midwife/doulas community and many friends in support of a woman who seems to be the godmother of midwifery in Humboldt: not just a midwife but a teacher and a powerful advocate for bringing home birth into the mainstream. As Jan battles cancer, her support network is raising money to help pay medical bills with an elaborate auction, dinner and party. They'll have music all day by Kenny Ray and the Mighty Rovers (country swing), Likwefi (psychedelic surf jams), Blue Rhythm Review (the name says it) and DJs Starry and Communicakes. Live art by Matt Beard. Babies welcome.
Tickets for Reggae on the River's return to French's Camp (Aug. 1-4) are available at local record stores and at the Mateel office starting March 1. That's the same day tickets go on sale for the Primus show May 10 at Eureka Muni, again at local record stores. And while you're there, buy a record, or a CD -- just buy something.