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May 18, 2006

The Hum by Bob Doran - Release Me

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There was once a time when making a record was a complicated, costly affair, one that invariably required expensive studio time, which almost mandated having the support of a label, or at least very generous parents. But times have changed and with the advent of digital home studios all that's required is a little bit of money, some patience — and hopefully a few good songs — and you're suddenly a recording artist.

Next step: the requisite CD Release Party, an affair you plan with the hope that the pressing factory where you sent your precious master will come through in time so that you don't have to frantically burn copies of your masterpiece the night before.

Due to some unknown factor, there are four such events this Saturday, May 20. The first: The long-awaited release of Almost Home, a collection of original songs (except for one) by Humboldt County's venerable country band The Roadmasters. Now, I'll admit, I don't go out to hear country music very often (I don't have the proper hat) and the last time I saw The Roadmasters was at the county fair, where I was kind of distracted by the horse races, but as I understand it they are the best country cover band around, bar none. The band has been at it for 30 years — in fact, the show at Sapphire Palace Saturday is also their 30th anniversary. Of course, only one guy, guitarist Glenn Vickers, remains from the 1976 lineup. Second guitarist Doug Eastteam, son of founding member Johnnie Eastteam, joined in 1980, so he's only been a Roadmaster for what, 26 years? By the turn of the century, the rhythm section was in place with Mike Smith and Jerry Lowitz, and Mike and Doug discovered that they could write songs together.

"We finally had the songs, so we started practicing over at Glenn's, and when we had the arrangements down we went into the studio," said Doug. "It took a lot longer than I was expecting, but I couldn't be happier with the results." (Tim Gray did the honors as producer at his Myrtletown Records home studio.)

The sound? It's big as outdoors and, as you would expect, kinda twangy, but more in a Southern rock fashion. Some tracks brought to mind the Marshall Tucker Band (which is what a lot of modern country reminds me of), others Dwight Yoakum, but there's also a healthy dose of good ol' fashioned rock in there, Chuck Berry guitar licks and all. My favorite cut would have to be "The Riverwood Inn," a story about overzealous ABC agents showing up at Loreen's roadhouse in Phillipsville.

I finally met Larry Rust a few months back when I found myself sitting next to him at one of those Lost Coast Live events down in Ferndale. I'd been hearing about him for some time before that: "The keyboard player from Iron Butterfly just moved to Humboldt" was the usual refrain. Larry is a big bear of a guy who looks like a hippie/biker Kris Kristofferson. He did in fact move here after a six-year stint with I.B., although he was not part of the original '60s lineup (that would be Doug Ingle). But his new CD, Obsession, contains just a hint of classic rock, a Rust update of "Inna Gadda Da Vida." Instead his sound, produced all on his own at his home studio, has the sheen of modern soul/R&B, which may have to do with Rust's Southern roots: Born in Virginia, he still has a Southern twang. "It's very funky," says Rust of the record. "I guess they term it `blue-eyed soul' since it's a white guy singing it." Then again Rust's eyes are hazel, not blue. "So I guess it's hazel-eyed soul," he says between laughs.

His CD release show at Indigo will feature the Larry Rust Experience, which is just Rust playing to backing tracks on his key-tar, a midi-controller that looks like across between a guitar and a Casio. The experience part is the full-on multi-media show with custom videos projected on a big screen behind him. Sounds cool.

Second-generation Humboldt native Adam Dias recently returned to the area after living in Austin, then in Corvallis, Oregon. He brought with him an eclectic collection of songs — from blues/rock to reggae/rock to rock/rock — and put the polish on them at the Loleta home studio of his friend Brad Holman. "I love music — I have always loved music — it's the one thing in life people can't live without," he tells me, and that passion shows in his record. I can't imagine him playing the songs on it all on his own, and he won't have to. When he has his CD release party at Bear River Casino Saturday, he'll be backed by his friends The Clint Warner Band, who will back him before performing rockin' blues on their own.

Last but certainly not least, we have the CD release party for Zed, the brand new album by Trash and Roll, recorded by T&R founder Freel Freine and Jon Pyle, who have since recruited a rhythm section for a new and improved version of the band. When I saw Freel last week he was still waiting for the CDs to come in the mail, and as a result, I have not heard the finished product yet, but I did hear the band play Friday night and they sounded great, maintaining the garagey rawness of the prior T&R, but adding new more refined elements. Good stuff.

(BTW, all of the shows above are free.)

As you may recall from last week's column, Freel and T&R drummer Pete also play in Yer Dog, a band I caught in rehearsal last week (IMHO they're grrreat.) Decide for yourself at Humboldt Brews Friday, May 19, where they're headliners at a show with The Signals and the palindromical A Car A Man A Maraca.

Friday night at the Bayside Grange, they're "Groovin' Out the Vote with Paul Gallegos" at a benefit supporting the re-election of the D.A. that includes a performance by bluesman Earl Thomas and the ever funky Bump Foundation, plus food, beer, wine, the proverbial silent auction, and undoubtedly a speech by Paul. There's also a Gallegos benefit Sunday evening at Cecil's, where the $99 a plate dinner is the centerpiece. They'll have music too, but did not say by whom (my educated guess says it's jazz by SoHum's usual suspects).

The next night, Saturday, at that same Bayside Grange mentioned above, it's the magical Rutabaga Ball with dance music by the swingin' rockers Magnolia (also playing Friday night at The Pearl), but the Ball is not really about dancing and music. The big fun is the competition for the coveted Kinetic title: Rutabaga Queen, and seeing outgoing Queen Shaye, "The Flame-buoyant Femme Fatale," crown her glorious successor. (See Kinetic insert for pix and more details.)

Big underground hip hop show at Mazzotti's Thursday, May 18, with Writer's Block, featuring Danu and Lord Zen from The Visionaries. Saturday the club on the plaza hosts Sonny Wong and Fortuna's Dirty Rat Records' homegrown rappers for a show called Wake the Dead, offering "live undead" hip hop. The crew is also doing an all ages show Friday night (7-10 p.m.) in Fortuna at Out of the Sun. (Sorry I can't tell you where it is — I've never heard of it.)

Looking for something more gentile? The Eureka Symphony performs Friday and Saturday evenings at the Assembly of God Church in Eureka under the baton of Maestra Carol Jacobson. The spring concert features Dimitri Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 1," and Antonin Dvorak's "Carnival Overture," plus guest soloist David Filner on viola, from the Charlotte Symphony performing Karl Stamitz' "Viola Concerto #1 in D," all classics.

Six Rivers has a few fine shows this weekend: First up, Djialy Kunda Kouyate with some dynamic African music and dancing, in their last show before the twins head for their Senegalese homeland on tour.

Friday at Six Rivers it's Power of County, a raw "outlaw country bluegrass" band from Portland, sharing the bill with locals: the punky quasi-Irish band Smashed Glass, and the mando-maniacal Que La Chinga.

Then on Saturday The Delta Nationals (who seldom play in bars) bring on their classic mix of roots rock, deep country, rockabilly and soul.

There's more rockabilly Sunday, although much wilder: a band called Mad Sin, who, at least according to Norm, a cat from Chico who's bringing them here, are "the godfathers of German psychobilly," and "something like the Stray Cats meets the Dead Kennedys." Norm's Chico-based rockabilly band Moonshine opens the show.

Drummer/Mideastern DJ Karim Nagi Mohammed returns for the tongue-twisting Turbo Tabla Tuesday II, an Arabic techno dance party at Common Ground Community Center in Arcata's Westwood Shopping Center. You don't have to shake your belly to dance to Karim's music, but some in attendance undoubtedly will.


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