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March 10, 2005

The Hum


Photo and headline -- The Velcro Sticks

EVER WONDER HOW A ROCK BAND IS BORN? IN THE CASE OF A trio known as The Velcro Sticks [photo at right], it began on long distance runs. Bassist Kile Taylor explained, "We all met through Humboldt's cross-country and track program. We got the idea that it would be cool to start a band, even though only one of us played an instrument at the time."

While lead guitarist Jason Smyser had some experience, Taylor had only experimented with acoustic guitar. "I thought I could take up the bass pretty easily. I assumed wrong."

Drummer/lead singer Matt DeShazo also played a little guitar. "We were basically three guitars trying to pull off a band. For the longest time we had a three-song set list that we could jam on for 45 minutes, and we thought it was great because we were playing music. But with the new line-up we have our singer playing drums, and for someone who's only been drumming for six months it takes a lot to drum and sing at the same time."

The initial concept was "kind of whatever happens happens," said Taylor. "I wouldn't call it `experimental' but we were intimidated by the idea of having to write our own music, and Jason was the only one who was into practicing. Matt and I never practiced. Then about a year ago we started getting more serious working on our own material. It was only then that you could even try to put us into any kind of genre."

While the guys call their style "pigeonhole music" as in unclassifiable, they did not mind the fact that The Alibi referred to them as a "psychedelic pop" band when they played there recently. "I don't know what that means, but I think being labeled as pop is a compliment if it means popular," said Taylor. "And psychedelic is a great word. A lot of times it's misinterpreted. I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers are psychedelic and so are the Grateful Dead. At times we are, but, whatever."

I don't know that I would describe the music on four song demo Kile dropped off at my house this week as psychedelic -- it's more or less straightforward rock with occasional hints of Southern rock, as in the instrumental "Chicken Song." Well-crafted lyrics and clear strong vocals on the others tunes show that Matt actually can sing and drum at the same time. See for yourself when The Velcro Sticks play at Six Rivers this Saturday, March 12.

Kids For Sale, another relatively new local rock outfit play that same night at Rumours. Band founder/bassist John Hee, a former member of Acts of Aggression, explained that despite his AoA history, this is not a metal band.

"We have two guys from Wonderland Avenue, Joe and Dan Barney, Joe on drums, Dan on vocals. We also have Ryan, the youngest of the crew, on guitar. Then Stevo from Ellipsis plays bass -- yes, two bass players. It's highly funky, kind of Chili-Pepper-esque at times. We have some bluegrass influence, some reggae, some punk rock, funk of course. Whatever fits. It's just fun, a big mix of everything. It's different from what I'm hearing locally, it's in its own little genre."

KFS shares the bill with Section 8, a Crescent City band that John has not heard before. "I'm told they're a bit hard, Bad Religion style," he concluded.

Saturday at Muddy Waters, a local outfit, Standing in the Middle, plays something they call "crawz music." What, you might ask, is that? Well, as explained on the band's Web site, "Crawz music could be a joke (and is!). Crawz music could be a complete package. Crawz music could be nonsense. Crawz music could mean everything or nothing or something in between." Confused? They go on to explain that crawz includes blues music, folk music, Irish music, jazz music, rock music, alternative music, country music and classical music. OK, I'm still confused.

That night at the Alibi, it's McKinleyville's No. 1 punk combo, Shay's Rebellion, along with The Cops, a band from Seattle storming down the coast playing some fine punkish rock with dub elements reminiscent of bands like The Clash or The Police.

What about Friday night? Catch four bands March 11 at the Eureka VFW Lounge in an all-local indie rock fest with The Ravens, The Buffy Swayze, The Ian Fays and Monster Women demonstrating the level of talent Humboldt has to offer.

Friday night at the Placebo it's an eclectic evening of alt. with two Canadian bands, the darkly experimental Raking Bombs and the louder The WPP, both on their way to SXSW, plus Floridian funksters, Future Funk Collective, local politi-punks Winston Smith and something (or someone) called Sterling.

This Friday is another Arts Arcata night with some of the usual suspects playing music in the usual places: Darkrain folkin' around at Moonrise Herbs, David Isley pickin' at Rookery Books, Shinbone playing blues from the last six decades amid the furniture at Arcata Exchange.

Then you've got Second Hand Band picking bluegrass tunes at Bubbles and Ryjee on the baby grand at Raymond James (tucked away past the sculpture garden on 9th). Tamaras plays her funky folk at Grandma B's Fudge, and I'm guessing she's solo since a drum set would fill the place. (She also has a show at Six Rivers Wednesday, March 16.)

At Simply Macintosh it's Cory Stevens strumming ukulele and putting on shows with his Shoebox Puppet Theatre.

That night at the Metro it's Likely Story, a group of "family-friendly" storytellers including Paul Woodland, Steve Russin, Seabury Gould and Carpathian with "wisdom tales" and songs. "We tell folk tales that approach life a little different," said Woodland explaining that folk stories from many cultures involve retribution and the group feels it is important to avoid vengeance tales.

One man theater troupe Jeff DeMark presents his under construction piece, They Ate Everything But Their Boots at Redwood Yogurt Saturday, March 12, with multi-instrumentalist David Isley providing music before and during the show.

Meanwhile at the Dancenter Rudi Galindo and friends from all over the globe clown around, raising funds for another Clowns Without Borders trip into the wilds of Chiapas, Mexico. Among the friends: Walter Beals, Jane Chen, Jackie Dandeneau, David Ferney, Roger Fountain, Joe and Stephanie Krinkie, Summer Morgan, Tanya Perry, Cory Stephenson and George Wood.

Next Thursday, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day and as usual there's a wee bit of Irish music available so you have something to listen to while drinking green beer. Muddy Waters starts the party Wednesday with an St. Paddy's Eve show by Scatter the Mud, who, in a stripped-down duo version, are also part of the "Irish Gold Peace Benefit and Brews" at the Mateel Thursday, along with The Non Prophets who (as far as I know) do not play Irish music.

There's lots more Celtic tunes next weekend, with several appearances by the very fine Celtic quartet Good Company who start by playing on St. Pat's Day at Gallagher's Irish Pub in the corner spot at the Eagle House. We'll have more on the rest of their itinerary next week.

The Concerts-at-the-Fellowship series resumes Sunday, March 13, at the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall in Bayside, with an evening of classical guitar music from Spain, Cuba and South America played by Klondike Steadman who, coincidentally, is the grandson of C-a-t-F coordinator Leon Wagner.

Later that night at the Alibi it's a musical love fest with DJ Pony spinning tunes alongside her lover, Thanksgiving Brown. Added bonus, a set of '80s love songs selected by DJ Red. Yes, let's hear it for love sweet love.


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