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The Hum by Bob Doran

March 25, 2004


photo w/heading Michael Franti

AMONG THE MANY SIGNS AT SATURDAY'S EUREKA Peace March was one reading, "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace." It's a quote from "Bomb the World," a tune found on Everyone Deserves Music, the new album by Michael Franti [photo at left] and Spearhead.

"It's a song I wrote just after 9-11 when I saw the U.S. was gearing up to go into Afghanistan," explained Franti. "I knew from the rhetoric that they wouldn't stop there. People like Bush and Cheney were already making speeches saying the war on terror would be long and hard. The song was my response.

"When I write I take something I'm feeling in my life and find a metaphor, a poetic way to put it into song. And there are so many things happening in the world today that you don't have to dig that deep to find those metaphors. I've never been shy about trying to increase the dialogue on social issues in my songs.

"Today I came into the hotel room and saw that Israel fired a missile and assassinated the founder of Hamas [Sheikh Ahmed Yassin]. I'm imagining how that's going to escalate the violence. You see those things and get so frustrated, thinking this world is just insane. What kind of world are we living in where an assassination is lauded on the front page like it's a good thing? When I see something like that it makes me want to pick up my guitar and write a song; when we get off the phone that's probably what I'll do."

We spoke on Monday afternoon; Franti and his band had a day off from their long tour opening for Ziggy Marley and his band, a tour that brings both groups to the Eureka Municipal Auditorium Wednesday, March 31. Relaxing in Utah, Franti's tour manager, Pretty, was cooking a Jamaican-style meal, "rice and peas and ital stew, some kind of fish" that the crew and both bands shared.

Ziggy said he's enjoying the tour. "It's a good combination, good vibes. It's just bliss, people enjoying themselves. It's positive music, positive love."

How does he stay positive in the face of world events that seem so negative? "Somebody has to stay positive," he replied. "If we lose that positive vibe, life is even worse. We can't give up, and anything is possible. Just as it is possible for them to blow up the world, it's possible for the world to find peace. We still have hope, you know."

(Is it worth noting that the address for the Marley family compound in Kingston is 56 Hope Road?)

"You know, I'm somebody who doesn't believe in hope," said Franti. "I believe in making plans. If we sit around hoping things will change, they'll never change. We have to plan for change and set a destination for where we want our world to be in the future. Like do we want America to be seen as this Goliath for every David with a pipe bomb to go after? Or do we want to be viewed as a benevolent nation, one to be looked at as a brother or a sister in the dialogue? We have to start somewhere. This weekend we had millions of people all around the world speaking out for peace. And peace is one thing that's worth fighting for."

Yes, it's another Jazz Festival weekend. BTW, did you notice that the word "Dixieland" has been dropped from the fest title? It's now the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, which is not to say that you won't hear Dixieland if you want to, just that there are plenty of other choices, everything from zydeco and bluegrass to ragtime and swing (western and otherwise), plus a full evening of blues and whatever you want to call Tracy Nelson's music.

With no disrespect to the many bands playing in Eureka, the best jazz you will find this week will be at the Van Duzer Thursday, March 25, where the San Francisco Modern Jazz Collective makes its first ever public appearance. Saxophonist Joshua Redman and SF Jazz Fest Executive Director Randall Kline put together an awesome combo that includes vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and drummer Brian Blade among others. Don't miss it.

Big changes afoot in the local brew biz. Humboldt Brewery has reopened, now known as Humboldt Brews; the workers are sidestepping the workers' comp blues by taking over as an owners' collective. This weekend the music kicks in with John Grizzly playing reggae on Thursday; the ever funky Old Man Clemins on Friday. As mentioned before, Six Rivers McKinleyville is under new management, the inimitable Ruben Diaz plays there Saturday with "friends." Ruben just got back from SF, where he played the Rite of Spring at the Avalon with Bobby Vega, Melvin Seals, Alan Hertz and two other guitarists, Ray White and Will Bernard. For this Saturday's show his friends include Bobby Vega on bass and Eric Levy from Garaj Mahal on keys.

Friday night at the Alibi, it's the long-awaited return of Petey and Associates, a truly rockin' combo (including Mike and Thad from the Cutters) focusing on old rock classics, and not your typical classic rock, I'm talkin' way old stuff.

Friday at Placebo, alt. rock from out-of-town with the Culottes from Portland and Judith and the Holofernes from SF, plus locals the Rubberneckers and those ubiquitous alt. folk twins, the Ian Fays.

Inner Turmoil Productions has back-to-back shows at Saffire Rose this weekend: Saturday, March 27, it's post-psychedelia from two Bay Areas bands, the Appreciation and Six Organs of Admittance plus JPG featuring CDC (whatever that means). Sunday, March 28, Nate brings in electroclash duo I Am the World Trade Center, featuring Dan Geller, the founder of Kindercore Records, plus vocalist Amy Dykes. Joining them: Paper Lions (who record for Kindercore), Capitol Years and once again, the Ian Fays.

The Ian Fays also top the lineup Sunday night at Kate Buchanan Hall, a folk/angst benefit for Youth Educational Services, also including Cemetery Love Club, Mike Conway and Craig Peters.

Sunday evening at Folie Douce: poets Amanda Raymond and Celia Holmsley. (Celia is the redhead in black on this week's cover.)

Monday, March 29, Gypsy hypno-jazz band Taarka returns for a two-night run at Muddy Waters.

Wednesday, March 31, at the Alibi Brit punks the Restarts play music that initially reminded me of the Clash. The Crooks open. Meanwhile at the Blue Lake Casino it's another jam night with jazzy guitarist Will Bernard and the latest incarnation of Motherbug.

How about some relevant musical comedy? Human Nature, the family eco-comedy troupe from Petrolia, presents What's So Funny About Climate Change? at Trinidad Town Hall Saturday, March 27.

Also on Saturday, your favorite clown Rudi Galindo is raising cash for another Clowns Without Borders trip to Chiapas, first with a kid-oriented matinee, Just Passing Thru, with his Teatro Pachuco plus Show Box Puppet Theater and other special guests. In the evening it's comedy and dance with Teatro Pachuco and Shoe Box plus Four On the Floor, the Juggernauts, Apparitions Dance Company and Summer Morgan Dance Company from New York. Both shows are at the Dancenter in Arcata. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Bob Doran



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