Feb. 17, 2005
by BOB DORAN
FRIDAY, FEB. 18, IS ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS WITH TOO MANY options. Where to start? How about Six River Brewing, where you can hear Fulanis Afrobeat Ensemble, a band that is inaccurately described elsewhere as "formerly Albino." To set the record straight, Bay Area-based Albino, an Afrobeat band patterned after Fela Kuti's Africa 70, is still performing, but the two Nigerian percussionists in the band, Geoffrey Omadhebo and Friday Jumbo (who was actually in Africa 70), have split off to form a new band, Fulanis Afrobeat Ensemble.
Veterans from the Nigerian music scene Omadhebo and Jumbo came to the Bay Area with O.J. Ekemode's Nigerian All-Stars in 1985 when world beat was booming. They stayed, and since then have taught one generation after another the funky rhythms of Afrobeat, music that will surely make you get up and dance.
"The Fulani people are the gypsies of North Africa," said Jumbo, explaining the band's name. "They are nomads of the wind. They can walk 10,000 miles and they do not get tired."
"Fulanis are found all over Africa, especially in Nigeria," said Omadhebo. "I am not from the Fulani tribe, but I lived among them for many years. Why the name? Friday and I have been traveling for many years since leaving Africa, and like the Fulani we never grow tired."
Those who are ready to rock must choose: There's the Rubberneckers show Friday at Rumours with Dragged by Horses, Rita Lyn and the A.D.D. Boys and Kerosene Condors, here from Mendocino. Clay promises, "It's gonna be a rager." At the same time in Eureka Vet's Hall basement lounge, it's high-flying lo-fi rock by Trash and Roll (who jumped ship from the `Neckers show) plus alt. lounge by The Buffy Swayze and Jensen Rufe's band, The Natural Lights on a mini-tour from L.A.
You may recall that Rufe was once Humboldt Film Commish; he was also bass player for The Sin Men, and is the guy behind The Sin Men Are Dead, a posthumous collection of tunes by that dear departed local rock combo, lovingly resurrected from five-year-old tapes and released as a 12-inch vinyl LP that will instantly take you back to good times in the Pin Room back in the 20th century. The Natural Lights also play Saturday at The Alibi with The Ravens, whose bass player Mike D. is in the middle of the crowd shot on the back of The Sin Men LP.
Elsewhere Friday: Kulica plays the Blue Lake Casino, leaving them with an easy cruise home. Nucleus is out of the woodshed again getting all maniacal in two sets at Mazzotti's, a show that will be streamed live on RadioHumboldt.com.
Then we have the Oxfam tsunami benefit "From Humboldt With Love" at the Bayside Grange. The music ranges far and wide: from Ponche's AfroCuban salsa to funk from Old Man Clemins and vintage soul by Vintage Soul, old timey by Huckleberry Flint and Wrangletown, with guitarists Bill Billstrom and J. J. Cady for good measure. Add a couple of dance troupes, a silent auction from many fine local artists, beer, wine, food, for a full night of fun, and for a good cause, to buy tents made by Arcata World Shelters.
Homegrown rapper JPG and the Jake Brakes rock Muddy Waters, and at Humboldt Brews it's Dukes of Ted, who I incorrectly described as a duo recently. Seems they have expanded. And, the fine fingerstyle guitarist Dorian Michael plays Old Town Coffee, all this on Friday.
Still got energy? On Saturday, Feb.19, choose between Texan ex-Humboldters The Weary Boys playing alt. Americana at Six Rivers, Bump Foundation and Electric Avenue laying down funky jams at Humboldt Brews, Space Mtn. and The Ian Fays indie rockin' the Placebo, and foot-stompin' Delta bluesman Don Haupt, who is at the new improved Old Town Coffee And Chocolates, where they punched through a wall, expanding it into a cool new venue.
Down in SoHum at the Riverwood, Maria Muldaur and the Bluesiana Band play her hit "Midnight at the Oasis" and many other tunes from her four-decade career.
At the Coffee Break, Jeff DeMark offers his work-in-progress, They Ate Everything But Their Boots, a frightening tale with cannibal overtones about buying and renovating an old house. David Isley picks on various stringed instruments before and during the action.
At the Kate Buchanan Room Saturday get an earful from former Dead Kennedy vocalist Jello Biafra, who has become something like a punk rock Noam Chomsky, offering his considered opinions on current events in provocative, scintillating rants.
It's jazz time Sunday afternoon at the Graves Museum, where pianist Darius Brotman performs straight-ahead jazz with guitarist Duncan Burgess, Shao Way Wu on bass, and drummer Pablo Rotter, followed by a short lecture on a classic era, the Middle `60s Blue Note School. Saxophonist Susie Laraine leads an open jam session after, so bring your axe.
Catch two bands from Olympia at the Placebo Monday, Feb. 21, gentle alt. folkies Liarbird and The Strangers, who could be described as alt. country rock, although that doesn't do them justice. I caught Liarbird on their last visit here with Mirah, and liked them a lot, but The Strangers are even better, with a driving sound that combines viola, lap steel, accordion, occasional horns and, of course, your basic guitar, bass and drums, playing music that draws inspiration from Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks and good old rockin' country.
The Eureka Chamber Music Series continues at Calvary Lutheran with Pacifica String Quartet, who are celebrating their 10th season, performing Beethoven's "Opus 131" plus music by Smetana and Roslavetz.
Or if you prefer a different sort of classical music, that night at HSU Dark Star Orchestra performs works by Garcia, Hunter, Weir, Lesh, Hart, Kreutzman and who-knows-who else at the elegant Van Duzer Theatre. While there are Dead tribute/cover bands all over the country (Play Dead and Ripple Effect carry the flame in Humboldt), DSO is different. Formed from the best players in Midwestern Dead circles, the Chicago-based "orchestra" recreates a specific Dead show every night. The disc I received by mail recently is a board recording from June 28, 2003, the night DSO channeled the Dead's March 29, 1990 performance from "Eyes of the World" to "Promised Land." I'm no expert, but it sounds exactly like the Dead, so much so that it's uncanny, and a Deadhead friend assures me, DSO live shows are "totally amazing." I don't really understand why someone would want a recording of a band recreating a board tape from another band, but the tape-traders are all over DSO.
DJ Thanksgiving Brown is back from his tour offering another of those killer underground hip-hop shows on Wednesday, Feb 23, at Rumours, this time with Tame One of The Artifacts from New Jersey backed by a live hip-hop band, The Dusted Dons (also from Jersey), plus Brycon from Granola Funk Express, and other "special guests."
Book-ending all these shows are two high end reggae concerts: the veteran Jamaican vocal group, The Itals, at Six Rivers Brewery this Thursday, Feb. 17, and next Thursday, Feb. 24, at Mazzotti's in an intimate atmosphere, the legendary Jimmy Cliff. This is the man who introduced me to reggae in the '70s via the classic film The Harder They Come. Cliff has a new disc out, Black Magic, one of those star-studded collaborations with Sting, Wyclef Jean, Kool and the Gang, the late great Joe Strummer, Annie Lennox and (the album's producer) Dave Stewart, plus dancehall stars like Tony Rebel and Bounty Killer. It's all cool and modern, not bad at all, but frankly I prefer the stuff Jimmy did way back when, and having seen him perform a few times, I'm sure he'll be singing the old songs we love.
This just in: This week's "Little Feat Radio Hour" on KHUM (Thursday at 7 p.m.) will be the board mix of the Sunday L.F. show in Blue Lake. Get those cassette tapes ready.
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