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The Hum by Bob Doran

Feb. 26, 2004

photo of Restiform Bodies

A LOT OF 21ST-CENTURY MUSICIANS HAVE EXPANDED on the sampling technology used in hip hop music, pushing the envelope in new directions, often creating music where the hip hop tag no longer fits nor does any other genre label for that matter. New Hampshire natives Restiform Bodies [pictured at left] -- Matt aka the Bomarr Monk, David aka Passage and George aka Telephone Jim Jesus (or tel.jim.jesus) -- started out playing punk rock but got sidetracked making new music on machines like the MPC-2000 XL effects processor.

"We have two of them," said Passage, when I called him in North Oakland, where the Bodies have relocated. "MPC stands for Midi-Production-Center, so basically it's a big-brained sequencer with a lot of memory." Of course it has no sounds of its own; it's up to the user to input them. "We sample anything and everything," he explained, "found sounds, stolen sounds, sounds from records, from VHS tapes, sounds around the house; we'll sample the radio switching through stations finding whatever little snapshot of static is there, and tons of shit comes from that. We sample the sampler sampling itself."

The result? Surprisingly coherent music that does not sound like anything they've sampled or like any other music you've heard, for that matter.

The Bodies are on tour with Books on Tape, aka Todd Drooten. "He's a little Jewish guy from East L.A." says David. "He's a one-man-MPC-2000 XL performance; really entertaining a one-man techno band." Also on the bill when they hit the Saffire Rose Sunday, Feb. 29, Arcata's one-man-noise-band Stereoprimer, and turntable maestro DJ Thanksgiving Brown spinning unusual sides.

We think of Cassandra Wilson as a jazz vocalist, and her singing is definitely jazzy, but she did not necessarily sing jazz when she was growing up in Jackson, Miss. "Down South, musicians have to be able to play in many different circumstances and in many contexts," says Wilson. "They have to play jazz, they have to integrate the blues, rhythm and blues, and they have to know a little country. And the lines are blurred sometimes, because that's what everybody wants to hear." So on her latest release for Blue Note, Glamoured, she serves up a bit of each, covering tunes by Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Sting, Abbey Lincoln and Willie Nelson, and writing about half the songs herself. The title? "It's a Gaelic word meaning `to be whisked away,'" she explains. "It's like being in a daydream, those split seconds when you're transfixed and your eyes don't move and you have to shake yourself out of it." Kind of like the way I feel when I hear her sing. Wilson plays at the Van Duzer Monday, March 1, and I'm told there are still tickets available.

More on that Eire-Japan show Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Red Radish. The Irish/Japanese trio includes two legendary Irish musicians, Paddy Keenan from the Bothy Band, on pipes, and fiddler Frankie Gavin from De Dannan, joined by guitarist Junji Shirota, a guy who was a top bluegrass banjo picker in Japan until he came to the states and fell in love with the Celtic sound.

At Six Rivers McKinleyville that night, Nuns With Guns and Late Drop blast old school punk rock. And at Ijah's Kitchen, the Jamaican restaurant in Eureka, Madi Simmons and Zion offer acoustic reggae.

This may be a music column, but you can't escape the election coming next week. Friday night, there are two political bashes: at Sacred Grounds it's benefit for the Friends of Paul Gallegos with a potpourri of younger bands: The Rubberneckers, Old Man Clemins, Brother Dog, Que La Chinga and Vegetable Stew plus a couple of DJs, all laying down sounds for the cause. It's all ages, no cover, donations accepted for dinner and a raffle. "We're trying to raise awareness and get more people voting," says Clay, from the Rubberneckers.

Meanwhile at Placebo it's a benefit called "Bands Against Bush" with Shaking Hands, Comrade, Paris McClusky, DJ Thanksgiving Brown and Winston Smith, who take their name from the hero of Orwell's 1984, which as you may or may not recall begins with Winston harangued by preparations for Hate Week. Big Brother? Double-speak? Orwell saw what was coming.

The Friday night comedy show at Mazzotti's this week includes Indian comic Tapan Trivedi (that's India-Indian, not Native American) offering what he calls "thinking man's comedy from an immigrant's perspective." Tapan is opening for comedy vet Mark G. "He's the headliner, I'm the feature," Tapan explained. "He is very good. He is black, so he talks about a lot of racial stuff, of course so do I, although I am more brown than black."

Friday at Muddy Waters, the Schwillbillies. Who? "We are a five-piece string band here to keep people conscious of our American heritage, singing songs from faces buried in the ground and creating songs of our own through our various travels around this great land," explains guitarist Geeter.

Catch SoHum rockers N*P*K that night at Six Rivers McKinleyville; or hear some blues by John Lee Hooker Jr. at Six Rivers Old Town.

It's jazz time Friday night at the Red Lion with trumpeter Sam Maez, Jerry Moors and Ryan Bridwell sharing keys chores, Craig Whipps on bass, Rob Anderson drums, all backing vocalist Barbara Romero. Bridwell and Anderson return Saturday this time playing blues as part of Dale Cash and friends with Dale on bass, Bob Long, guitar and Madi Simmons handling vocals.

Saturday night at 6-Rivs OT, it's Marin's Latin/funk/ska masters Vinyl. Down the street at the Saffire Rose John Raczka and Karen Dumont play jazz early, before Que La Chinga and the Hitch rock the joint.

Meanwhile, Muddy Waters has organic techno by Lux Nova, then less-organic house muzik with Deep Groove Society.

I'm writing this column on Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, and I imagine somewhere in New Orleans girls have gone wild, exposing themselves for beads. I don't think that will happen at the Blue Lake Casino Friday night where Humboldt's favorite Cajun band, the Bayou Swamis, celebrate Mardi Gras a bit late. The Swamis are also on tap for a Mardi Gras Ball at the Mateel Saturday night, a benefit for Friends of the Eel River.

One more reminder, Tuesday, March 2 is Election Day. That evening you can catch apolitical jam-jazz at HSU's the Depot by New Yorkers, organist Marco Benevento and drummer Joe Russo, aka Benevento/Russo Duo. Cool music, no cover.

George and Ann Rodden may be dearly departed, but their All Seasons Orchestra is still going strong. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and 29, the group presents a special concert for children and the young at heart featuring that piece that introduced so many of us to the sounds of an orchestra and classical music, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf; that's at the D Street Neighborhood Center in Arcata.

Redwood Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival is coming March 26-28; as usual the biggest show is not jazz at all, it's a blues review Saturday night at the Muni with blueswomen Angela Strehli and Tracy Nelson, plus rising stars the Shane Dwight Blues Band.

Other really big shows coming up: Keller Williams, Wednesday, March 24, at the Kate Buchanan; Ziggy Marley and Spearhead at the Muni March 31; and neo-jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood April 19, at the Arcata Community Center.

Bob Doran



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