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February 2, 2006

Heading: The Hum - The problem with the digital age by Bob Doran

The Mad Professor is coming to town. London's master of dub reggae has been creating minimalist, spaced-out excursions loosely based on the Jamaican sound for over 25 years under the auspices of his own indie label, Ariwa.

Last time he came to Humboldt was a few years back with Lee "Scratch" Perry and a band. This time it's just the Prof and a lover's rock-style vocalist, Aisha, who he identifies as "The High Priestess" while mentioning her new disc, There's More To Life (on Ariwa, of course).

His band, he says, is in his suitcase.

Now, you might guess that he's referring to a laptop loaded with tracks and sounds to manipulate. You'd be dead wrong.

"I don't use a laptop," he tells me. "Well, I use one, but just for sending e-mail. No, I'm still somewhat of an old-fashioned guy. I love to turn up. The whole process of dub is such an analogical thing. You cannot do dub with the same feel by clicking a mouse. You've got to turn knobs, which requires some coordination, and sometimes you hit it on the spot, sometimes you can make a mess. The whole creative/simulative elements of dub have to be analog. Digital is so it's so much of a rehearsed precision. The preciseness doesn't serve dub well, you know. I have to tell you, the mistakes you make sometimes end up starring. I'm pretty sure the first dub record was actually a mistake."

You think someone turned up the echo too far I asked.

"That's right," he continued, "and they said, `That sounds good. Give me more.' That's it. From mistakes, great things happen. Digital doesn't allow that."

I understand: Digital is too exacting. "Yes," he concludes, "That's the problem with the digital age."

Catch the Mad Professor in concert with Aisha Saturday, Feb. 4, at Mazzotti's. (And read more of my interview with the Prof at


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CenterArts brings a one/two punch of alt. rock to the Van Duzer starting Sunday with Violent Femmes (see Jeff DeMark's short piece in our calendar section) followed by a Monday, Feb. 6, show with Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy performing solo while the band is on tour hiatus. What do I need to say about Tweedy? That he was part of the seminal alt. country outfit Uncle Tupelo? That he writes almost all of the dark, brooding, beautiful songs for Wilco, who, by the way, I consider one of the best contemporary rock outfits in existence? While I know his solo work primarliy from bootleg MP3s copped from my son's collection, I can assure you he can deliver a song all on his own, both his own and a quirky collection of covers. Opening the show is Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, who has a couple of solo albums himself (and plays with Tweedy in the Loose Fur side project). He creates music with his drum kit augmented by gongs, bells and other assorted percussion instruments.

As mentioned last week, Bob Marley's birthday is coming up (Feb. 6) and with it the annual Groundation tour in tribute to Mr. Marley, which comes to the Indigo Lounge Thursday, Feb. 2. Sonoma's top reggae band is joined by special guest drummer Leroy "Horsemouth" Brown, who you may remember as the lead character in the reggae movie Rockers. And don't forget guest guitarist Will Bernard, of Motherbug etc. (not that Groundation guitarist/leader Harrison needs any help). Also, add to that list of upcoming reggae outings a pair of shows by The Wailers: at Blue Lake Casino Feb. 10 and at the Mateel Feb. 11.

Coming to the Indigo Sunday (after the Super Bowl) an underground hip hop blast: the Three's Company tour with Pigeon John, One Block Radius and Louis Logic.

Brogi's Boiler Room goes indie rock Thursday, Feb. 2, with The Monster Woman (as featured in Rural Rock) plus The Signals (saw part of the band Saturday making cool improv soundtrack music at the Humboldt Int. Film Fest bennie) plus Loan Elk (a new one on me, great name though).

Friday the Boiler Room brings on the metal with Entheogen and Cycle of Violence playing for Candyman's b-day party, another in his "Hell on Earth" series, leading up to an apocalyptic show planned for June 6, which Candyman points out is 6/6/06 -- an important date, not that he's a Satanist or anything. What better place for the show than a nightclub adorned with flames?

Humboldt Brews has the inimitable Melvin Seals (of Jerry Garcia Band fame) in for a Friday night jamfest with Ruben Diaz on guitar.

Mad electro-mando man Lief Sorbye and his band Tempest return to the Red Radish Saturday, Feb. 4, for an evening of high-energy "Celtic rock"/world music, including pirate-themed tunes from their latest, The Double-Cross. (It's not hard to imagine Lief as a pirate.)

Saturday night at the Alibi, it's The New Mexican Revolution, a "whiskey-tinged acoustic gypsy lounge jazz" act from Portland who say (poetically), "Our songs are the stories of drifters, wanderers and lost souls set against a kaleidoscope of gothic Americana." Accordion, clarinet, guitar, bass and percussion contribute to the stories. Then on Sunday, the Alibi becomes home to a resurrected Fathom, with dark industrial electronica spun by the likes of DJs Etheraum and Innit.

Legendary Chicago bluesman James Cotton plays his harp Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Blue Lake Casino's Sapphire Palace, joined by a band that includes Tom Holland on guitar, Slam Allen on vocals and guitar, and brothers Charles and Mark Mack on bass and drums respectively.

Also in a bluesy vein, a new band called Soul Express is playing Pearl Lounge Saturday, Feb. 4 (Arts Alive! night). Expect funk, soul and jazzy swingin' blues from a quintet stocked with local treasures: Madi Simmons (vocals), Mike Kapitan (keys), Dan Perez (guitar), Ken Lawrence (bass) and Bill Moehnke (drums).

Soul man Earl Thomas and company are back at the Riverwood Friday, Feb. 3. (Maria Muldaur and her band play there next Friday, Feb. 10.) Earl shifts into promoter mode, putting on a blues show Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Mazzotti's featuring his friend from San Diego, Candye Kane.

An e-mail from Ms. Kane showed up in my mailbox this morning. The ample bosomed blues-belter was a tad miffed to learn that the restaurant had censored the poster for her show, which includes a photo displaying her assets. "It's not the first time my breasts have been censored even when they weren't exposed," she writes. "They hung up the poster in front with a large bar across my cleavage, in an apparent attempt to cover up my 44 GG bounty." (See photo.) photo of Candye Kane

"Newspapers have refused to run the photo [from the] cover of my sixth CD, Whole Lotta Love, in a couple of narrow-minded cities. Some papers and magazines have even refused PAID ads by my record company if they used the cover photo.

"I am always amazed as to what constitutes obscenity in this country. Why is a fat girl's cleavage more offensive than a thin girl's cleavage? Cher, Madonna, Brittany Spears and countless others have all worn dresses cut so low that another inch would show their navel, pubic hair or lack thereof. They parade around on prime time awards programs and are never censored Why is [my] cleavage any more offensive?

"Yes, my boobs are huge and so is my ass. But that won't stop me from taking pictures and wearing the clothes that are made for me, even if they happen to offend someone else. Yes, I will continue to wear a bathing suit at the beach, low-cut dresses on stage and in photographs and no amount of scorn, censorship or `NO FAT CHICKS' stickers will make me shut up and disappear."

You go girl! And you out there: Go see Candye sing. As anyone who caught her act at Blues by the Bay last summer will attest, she's really good -- and she's a trip and a half.

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