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April 7, 2005

The Hum


Photo and headline -- Why?

ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON YONI WOLF, AKA WHY?, IS practicing at his brother's place in Berkeley. Originally from Cincinnati, Yoni is the leader of a band also known as Why? [photo above] with a new EP on the anticon label titled Sanddollars. He explains that Why? was originally his graffiti name, the tag he spray-painted here and there. "Then it became my rap name. Then I started making rock `n' roll. It's a silly story, but it's the truth."

His brother Josiah is part of the current band. "I do vocals mostly," says Yoni, "and we have guitars, drums, bass, Rhodes synthesizers, that sort of thing. It's more organic with less electronic stuff than we did before."

I'll admit, having heard a bit of anticon's slightly twisted underground hip-hop, I was surprised by Why?'s indie rock sound. "You weren't expecting straight Fleetwood Mac," says Yoni when I tell him as much. "The veneer is rock `n' roll, but it's just a shell," he continues. "Underneath it all is a heavy dose of hip-hop that you'll never hear in the actual music, but there are subliminal messages going on under there: `Put your hands in the air' and that sort of thing."

Joining Why? for a show on Thursday, April 14, at the Placebo are back-alley rockers Eureka Garbage Company and Placebo's noisy house band, Pubic Zirconium.

Rastafarian roots rocker Prezident Brown and the Solid Foundation Band return to Humboldt Friday, April 8, for an all-ages show at the D Street Neighborhood Center. Prez will also be one of the performers at the upcoming Reggae on the River, and yes, tickets are on sale now.

In addition to the endless stream of reggae bands playing locally, there now seems to be a continuous flow of old timey music. This week's touring outfit, The Shiftless Rounders, plays at The Red Radish Friday night and offers a teaser at The Metro Friday afternoon. They are an excellent banjo/guitar duo mixing traditional numbers with self-penned neo-old time songs like "Pirate FM Stations," a sorrowful little ditty about strippers, drunks and preachers.

The Eureka Chamber Music Series continues at Calvary Lutheran Friday with a concert by the Raphael Piano Trio with pianist Daniel Epstein joined by violinist Andy Simionescu and cellist Susan Salm performing compositions by Schubert and Mendelssohn.

That same night at HSU's Fulkerson Recital Hall, the HSU Jazz Orchestra plays classics of a different sort: tunes by Basie, Ellington, Coltrane, Mingus and Piazolla among others. Note: they play two sets, separate admission for each.

Friday night at Placebo it's a rare all-ages appearance by local garage rockers Trash and Roll with politi-punks Winston Smith opening the show. Trash and Roll also plays the Alibi Sunday, April 10, sharing the bill with Dameon Lee of The Lowlights. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't at least one member of T&R once a Lowlight?) And Dameon also plays Saturday evening at Sacred Grounds on an alt. folk/indie rock bill that includes Mike Conway, Dylan Johnson and The Ian Fays.

Saturday morning sees the first Farmers' Market of the season on the Arcata Plaza with hot Cajun music to wake you up provided by the Bayou Swamis, who also play that night at the Blue Lake Casino.

Saturday night at the Arcata Community Center it's "Firehouse Rock," a "five-alarm '50s fund-raiser" for Arcata's new firehall featuring music by The Delta Nationals, who are on the verge of releasing their first CD, Get Out!

Arcata's loopy power-rock trio Nucleus launches a 15-date tour Saturday night with a gig at Humboldt Brews, looping out from there to points north, south and east.

And at the E&O Bowl Saturday, it's another night of crashing pins and metal music, with Locust Furnace returning, plus the infamous Skitzo, whose lead singer is renowned for his show-stopping projectile vomiting. (Honest, I'm not making it up.)

Rumours is figuring there will be a few diehard jamband fans who want to keep the party going after moe.'s show Sunday evening, so they have booked local jammers Mobile Chiefing Unit for an after-party.

Still want more jams? Tuesday and Wednesday catch Robert Walter's 20th Congress at Six Rivers Brewery. Jazz/funk organist Walter got his start in San Diego in the early '90s with The Greyboy Allstars then formed his own band in '98, continuing his explorations beyond boogaloo. The short residency in McKinleyville should give him room to stretch out.

As you may have heard, April is National Poetry Month. (It's also National Backpack Awareness Month, National STD Awareness Month, National Organ Donation Month and National Humor Month.) At any rate, the poets are out in force this week: Friday at 321 Coffee, Christa Laririt, Rosemary Loftis, April Cooper and Jennifer Savage read their work to raise funds for Camp Betty Campout, the women's music festival coming in July, which seems to have changed locations from Klamath to Black Oak Ranch, aka The Hog Farm.

Meanwhile in Arcata, young slam poets from Six Rivers Charter High School join forces with drama kids and the funky Bump Foundation at Jacoby's Storehouse, raising funds for a student trip to the National Youth Poetry Slam in San Francisco. Monday at Jacoby's Storehouse it's the monthly poets' open mike: Poets on the Plaza.

And there are more rhymes Thursday, April 14, at Six Rivers Brewery: The awesome Rasta dub poet Mutabaruka, touring sans band, reads his work and signs his new book, Mutabaruka, The Next Poems. "My poems are to show you the problems that face us in the world and then motivate you to find solutions to these problems," he says. "I don't think I could show people how to get out of their problems with poems, but at least I could motivate actions." The reading is early; Dub Cowboy spins dub sides later.

Down in SoHum next Thursday at the Mateel, it's the local premiere of a film about another sort of poet. Trudell is a profile of Native American poet-activist-bluesman John Trudell. "This film will open eyes and challenge belief systems," says the film's director, Heather Rae. "John's truly an original, with an inspiring life story... In many ways, his message has never been more relevant than it is now." Come early for an organic Mexican dinner benefiting KMUD-FM.


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