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January 19, 2006

The Hum heading

Not just music...FUSIQ!


Fusiq is a made-up word that rhymes with music, but the fusion stretches beyond that jazz-rock merger with a lot of notes. "We do jazz and rock and lately a lot of bluegrass," says guitarist/keyboard player/sample master/videographer Dan Stockwell. There was also reference to electronica in the e-mail he sent me, but, says Dan, "It's mainly jazz and rock."

The combo is a longtime collaboration with saxophonist Zack Rouse, who attended HSU with Dan. "We had a band called The Bone Carpenters and before that a band called Joyride," he explained, noting that things shifted when both became dads. "We didn't have time for band rehearsals so we'd book gigs and just show up and play. From that I started creating samples and loops to fill out the sound, and now it's turned into a bigger production."

The "bigger production" is where the fusion gets even more interesting. You just might remember Zack and Dan's names from their days running a warehouse venue called JinRickshaw, an outgrowth of a lighting and sound company with the same name. For about nine months they put on shows in the industrial part of Valley West: Figuring they'd found a loophole in city regulations, they videotaped all performances and declared those in attendance to be something akin to movie extras. Unfortunately, the Arcata authorities didn't buy into the legal analysis and the place was shut down. "The city didn't like it," explained Dan, who also noted that he still does lighting and sound for various shows when he's not doing tech work for Dell'Arte. The video production aspect of JinRickshaw has been incorporated into Fusiq.

"We have a video projector, and I have some of the sounds and samples in my laptop, and we always have some sort of video going with it, which could just be a live camera showing the audience or the people on stage. Lately what we've been doing is making movies. For example one of our songs is `Astroturf Reindeer,' where we're trying to sell this goofy Christmas item with a commercial. We have people touting how good the Astroturf reindeer is. We play music for it; it's interactive."

Another piece, performed last year on the day income taxes were due, declared some sort of beer-related tax. It included bass player Tyler Olson (on video) calling from E&O Bowl. "In the video he gets in his car and we see him drive toward the Logger. We have sound effects in the song with squealing tires and stuff. Then he stops at the gas station for a doughnut. Eventually he arrives at the bar and we timed things so that he would, in real life, drive up to the bar and walk in, and into the next song."

In yet another interactive movie/song, the band covers "Big Joe and Phantom 309," the Red Sovine trucker ghost tale later covered by Tom Waits. "I did that when I was a master's student at HSU. I got a semi-truck and some guys with a camera. I start in front of the screen and the road is on the screen. The truck pulls up onscreen and I walk behind the screen and get into the truck." As the story progresses, with Dan singing/telling it, the movie/real life interaction continues. Thus the Fusiq fusion extends beyond music to film and theater.

In action, Fusiq has Dan jumping from laptop to keys to guitar while projecting whatever, while Zack plays sax and Tyler Olson adds bass lines. Tyler and Dan are both employed by Dell'Arte; Zack is a student there, which helps explain why Blue Lake's Logger Bar has become their regular venue. They try to play there once a month -- the next performance is this Friday, Jan. 20. Stop by for a multi-faceted multi-media experience.

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I'll admit it. When KRS-One was at his peak at the end of the '80s, I wasn't paying much attention to hip hop. In fact, I learned about him from the song the late great Bradley Nowell wrote for Sublime, which says, in part: "In school they never taught 'bout hamburgers or steak, Elijah Muhammad or the Welfare State. But I know. And I know because of KRS-One."

KRS-One, aka Kris Parker, was one of the first rappers to emerge from the underground laying down "conscious" lyrics, a fact that he proudly references in his song "Underground":

"What does it mean to be underground? It means you gotta be free to be underground. Yo, you got your own key when you're underground. If you're listening to me, yo, you underground."

KRS was a founding member of Boogie Down Productions (which BTW has little to do with what those in the older gen think of as "boogie" -- John Lee Hooker or ZZ Top for example). "The Teacher," as he came to be known, was a master at the edutainment game, who slipped a taste of knowledge between his beats. Ready for a lesson? Put down your books, set aside your backpack and get down to Mazzotti's Friday night when he hits town behind his latest, Keep Right. Show up early -- I'm guessing the place will fill up quickly.

Deep Groove Society begins what is planned as a monthly series of house music events at Six Rivers Brewing in McKinleyville with a show Saturday, Jan. 21, called "Mint," and don't ask me to explain what's minty about it, because I don't know. "On the keys," as they put it, is famed house music producer Sen-Sei from San Fran, whose work is heard on Thump Radio (out of SF) and on XM Radio's "The Move." While you may think of house music as basically DJ territory, Sen-Sei takes it to another level, with customized Yahama DX7 and Roland XP-50 synthesizers programmed with preset sounds so he can add his input to what the DJs spin. "On the decks," which I suppose includes turntables and various other players for recorded music: DJ Fingers from Buttabeats and Humboldt's own Deep Groove Society.

Django Reinhardt's birthday is next Monday, Jan. 23 (if he were alive, which he isn't, he'd be 91), but the folks from Cuckoo's Nest are throwing their third annual Django Birthday Party a little early, on Saturday Jan. 21, and this time it's at the bigger and acoustically richer Trinidad Town Hall. Expect a big cake, Belgian ale to toast the memory of the Gypsy guitarist and, of course, plenty of great music. You might want to bring along some extra cash to buy yourself a present: a copy of the album C. Nest recorded at a previous B-day party.

I called up Courtney Jaxon, manager of Ramone's in Old Town, this morning, checking in to see who might be playing music there this Saturday. You might not have noticed, but they've been doing shows there most every Saturday of late and, especially since they started serving beer and wine, Courtney has been trying to turn it into a happening scene. She told me she had a band for the following weekend (Buddy Reed and the Rip It Ups), but nothing yet for this week. My suggestion: Why not book her band, The Monster Women? She was hesitant. I told her she had until noon to get a listing in the club grid. She called back at 11:50 to tell me, yes, it's The Monster Women. So head for Old Town Saturday night and party with one of the many fine "underground" rock bands featured in Rural Rock & Roll.

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