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June 1, 2006

Heading: Dance, Rock, Reminisce and go Crazy, The Hum by Bob Doran, photo of Kiss Her for the Kid.

A note came in last week from Hannah Roberts, a Humboldt native, Hoopa born, raised in Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale and Redway, who is coming back this way as part of Kiss Her For The Kid, a four-piece band from Seattle, Wash.

Admitting that I did not remember her name, I wrote back with a few questions:

Did you have a musical life when you lived here in Humboldt County? "Yes," she replied, "if you count singing in my Grandma's church in Hoopa. Those were some great memories. I still remember one of the songs like I sang it yesterday. Sweet memories. [But] I did not play in any local bands."

What did you do in between living in Hoopa and moving to Seattle? "Well to sum it up, I lived a life. Then I ended up in Santa Cruz, where I met one of my best friends, musician Kelli Hanson ( and started playing music at the ripe ol' age of 18. When I was 23 I decided to move to Seattle to pursue music in the bigger city (which isn't that big, after all) and ever since then I have made a mark on my own life — you know, coming from a small city/town, seeing what is possible."

The band? We are Kiss Her For The Kid! We've been a band for 2 1/2 years, and just released our first E.P. named Gee a few weeks ago on Bee Gow Records. We started in our basement and from there have moved out to playing shows throughout Seattle and surrounding areas; now we are doing our first tour ... playing down the West Coast."

What do you do? And why? "We write pop/rock/fizz tunes that make us want to dance, rock, reminisce and go crazy. We play music because it gives us a voice for expression and it makes us feel really good."

I've been listening to some KHFTK tunes and I'd have to say they made me rock, and would be good for dancing and perhaps going crazy, although I'm sure the effects should be stronger when heard live. That opportunity will arise this Sunday, June 4, when KHFTK joins forces with three other bands: Romanteek, a fun, rockin' electro-pop duo from Olympia that I heard (and enjoyed) at Bummerfest a couple of times, plus locals Dance!!Attack!! (a DJ, I believe) and those "mermaids from Mars," The Monster Women. "We can't wait to play with The Monster Women," said Hannah, "They rock! It is going to be a great show, so we hope to see you out there!"

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I hit Don's Donuts in the wee hours of Sunday morning after seeing the wild Watusi Zombie/Buffy Swayze show at the Alibi (pix at Walking home I ran into Melissa Medina, lead singer for that fine garage rock combo The Ravens, who was at the same show. She wanted me to know her band was playing the Alibi this Friday, June 2, with "a really good band" called The Bug Nasties. I checked out the requisite MySpace page and found that I agree. The Nasties are excellent purveyors of "garage/powerpop/punk" displaying their love for the Mods of the '60s (enemies of the Rockers, as I recall) and a fondness for old soul (which I share).

E.L.F.S. DJs return to the Alibi Saturday, June 3, joined by Nicky Click, a one-girl-band (just Nicky and a synth/drum machine) here from Olympia bringing "fun electro pop merged with songs about queer femme identity, feminism and heartbreak ... to prove that you can do anything you want if you believe in yourself." BTW, "click" is the sound a guy hears when he calls Nicky on the phone.

Putting together the club calendar after the Memorial Day holiday was slightly confusing, as it often can be the first week in a new month. This time I found that a band called Surrounded By Ninjas was listed twice on the same night. To sort things out I called SBN keyboard player Asher, who confirmed that the band is playing Friday at Humboldt Brews, sharing a bill with Nucleus before that band heads to SoHum to play the Mateel's Summer Art and Music Festival.

Who are Surrounded By Ninjas? "It's a live electronic duo," said Asher, one pairing him with turntablist DJ Joel. "It's a laptop and keyboards vs. laptop and turntable," Asher continued. "He uses his to drop vocal clips and other samples into the grooves. It's what's called `live p.a.': creating electronic music on the fly. [The term] comes from the rave scene, where DJs sometimes use the sound system and various gear to create music on the spot. That's essentially what we do, but with less stuff." The ninja connection? "It's a situation. When you're surrounded by ninjas you have to figure out how to protect yourself and respond on the fly. It's about improvisation."

Are you ready for some (alt.) country and old timey music? Head on up to Six Rivers Brewery Thursday, June 4, to hear two bands from Portland, Clampitt, Gaddis and Buck and The Mighty Ghosts of Heaven, along with local boys Yer Dog. Now, it might sound like GC&B should be a trio, and it once was, when the Clampitt/Gaddis duo — guitarist/harmonicat Erik Clampitt and vocalist Marley Gaddis — joined forces with Sean "Buck" Burke, who switches between upright bass, mandolin, banjo and fiddle, and harmonizes with Gaddis. That was three year ago. Since then they've expanded into a quintet, with Matthew Stark from Power of County adding banjo, mandolin and vocals and Lucas Jones handling the bass chores, so Buck can focus elsewhere. The results are downright mesmerizing.

Equally mesmerizing in the same alt. old timey sort of way, The Mighty Ghosts of Heaven, where the mountain-style harmonies range higher since the band is split: two men, two women. Yer Dog should provide a bit of contrast at this show, since their type of country is more rock-oriented, along the lines of Neil Young, Wilco and the like — rockin' and just as good as yer old dog.

Also in the old time/bluegrass vein: The Compost Mountain Boys, who were in fine form at the Farmer's Market the other day. The Boys play bluegrass tunes in the rotunda of the Morris Graves Museum during Arts Alive!, providing a contrast to Bob Bralove's psychedelic ambient sound/video installation in one of the galleries. (More on Bralove and his work next week.)

Same Saturday night in Freshwater, at the Grange, Judy Hageman from Wild Iris leads a bluegrass pickin' party combined with a dessert potluck. Then on Sunday out at the Westhaven Center for the Arts, champion fiddler Tashina Clarridge returns to the area with banjo man Wes Corbett and Simon Chrisman, who plays hammered dulcimer, for a taste of bluegrass, Celtic and jazz.

Gregg Moore promises "something out of the ordinary," to wit: O Quartetto de Gregg Moore (aka the Gregg Moore Quartet) apresenta Se O Jazz Tivesse Nascido em Setubal (a program of `jazz' based on Portuguese folk melody), featuring Moore on trombone and tuba, Matthew Dowd on piano, bassist Eric Hann and Mike Myers on drums.

The quartet "imagines what jazz music might sound like born of an exciting musical culture of a Portuguese port city in the same way that it did in New Orleans," Moore explains. "Creative license is taken with the folk melodies to create an improvised music deliciously spiced with Portuguese musical sensibilities." The group plays Friday, June 2, at the Pearl Lounge, then again on Saturday evening during Arts Alive! in a tent outside the Arkley Center in the would-be port city of Eureka.

The CD release parties keep coming. This time it's Saturday night at Six Rivers, where they're celebrating the debut of Mad River, the latest disc from a Chico-based blues band called Nicoll Bros. Band, which, as you might guess, includes a couple of brothers, Leigh and Larry Nicoll, on guitar and bass, respectively. Harmonica player Bob Littell joins them on the CD and at the gig, playing hard-rocking blues, at least judging from the band's first CD, which is what they sent me, since (I presume) the new one was not yet back from the factory. Let's hope it's done in time.

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