June 1, 2006
by BOB DORAN
It's that time again: The days are getting longer as summer approaches, and the mind turns to dancing in the sunshine. Humboldt's festival business seems to be thriving with bigger, more ambitious events each year — particularly in Southern Humboldt, where we begin our survey of upcoming offerings.
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Summer Arts and Music Festival. The Mateel Community Center's annual summer love fest turns 30 this weekend, and they've assembled a mammoth party to celebrate, one with the requisite arts and crafts, fun for kids, dancers, workshops and more music than you could possible absorb — over 70 acts on Saturday alone and 60+ more on Sunday, all spread over five stages on the green along the Eel at Benbow. Just about every SoHum band will be there (from Darryl Cherney to The NPK) and plenty from NoHum (Nucleus, Kulica, Absynthe Q., etc.), plus even more touring imports than ever before. Solesides hip hop legend Lyrics Born and St. Croix reggae stars Batch and Ras Attitude grace the main ("trees") stage on Saturday night. Sunday concludes with a taste of New Orleans: The soulful Marva Wright followed by costumed Mardi Gras Indians The Wild Magnolias. Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, starting at 10 a.m. at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area south of Garberville. (www.mateel.org or 923-3368)
Reggae on the River. It's the 23rd annual, but let's call this one Reggae 2.0. With the concert moving upriver to Dimmick Ranch, the old French's Camp concert bowl has become a campground, which means the folks who have been fine-tuning the festival for a couple of decades have the monumental task of rethinking the whole set-up from the ground up with an eye toward more room for all, easier access, fewer traffic jams and more attendees. The music continues the trend toward a younger demo with lots of hip hop-infused dancehall, including the extremely successful Sean Paul, whose latest single, "Temperature," hit No. 1 on Billboard's "Hot 100" earlier this year. Anthony B and Sizzla return for more dancehall. There are a few African acts, most notably the amazing Salif Keita and "The Dustyfoot Philosopher" K'naan. And there's a dash of roots for the "elders" among us: Waterhouse-style crooning by Don Carlos of Black Uhuru fame, and the "Mellow Canary" Barrington Levy. Fest faves Michael Franti and Spearhead return for the third time in a row. Same with Ozomatli, who are part of a package, the "Roots Rock Reggae Tour," with "Riddim Twins" Sly & Robbie backing Ziggy Marley and, from Bob's old band, Bunny Wailer. What else could you ask, short of a resurrection? Damian Marley is rumored but not confirmed — however, looking at his schedule, it's not impossible. Aug. 4-6 at Dimmick Ranch, Piercy. (www.reggaeontheriver.com)
Redwood Run 2006. The 29th annual "ultimate biker party" is perfect for fans of custom motorcycles and classic rock and blues. This year's lineup is as power-chord-packed as ever, with Foreigner headlining a Saturday show along with Joe Bonamassa and our own Clint Warner Band. Friday's music includes Dave Mason, former Mötley Cruë lead singer Vince Neil, the bluesy Joanna Connor Band and a Lynryd Skynyrd tribute band called Skynnyn Lynnyrd. All that plus biker games, a wet-T-shirt contest and a chance to win a chopper. June 9 and 10, Riverview Ranch, Piercy. (www.redwoodrun.com or 247-3424.)
Blues by the Bay Vol. 10. Yet another case of revision on the old formula, with a new guy, Glenn Maxon, at the helm. He decided to drop the second stage (and with it all of the local acts save for Joyce Hough) keeping the focus on the headliners, a mixed bag that includes returning artists like Shemekia Copeland, Tommy Castro (back for No. 5) and Roomful of Blues (headliners at BbtB Vol. 1), along with familiar names like the fiery guitarist Coco Montoya, sunny bluesman Eric Bibb and the ever-so-rootsy Rory Block. You may know of the soulful Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, but probably haven't heard of jazzy blues singer Ayanna Hobson and The Soul Mates (who unfortunately will not have her mentor, Little Buster, with her, since he died just a few weeks ago) nor of the Alameda All-Stars (unless you're Gregg Allman fan — they served as his backup band). If you love blues this is it. July 8 and 9, at Halverson Park near Eureka's Adorni Center. (www.bluesbythebay.org or 4453378)
Humboldt Folklife Festival. The Humboldt Folklife Society's annual shindig in Blue Lake continues in expanded mode with a full week of music starting with fiddling at Annie & Mary Day on Sunday, July 16, followed by a series of shows in Dell'Arte's Carlo Theater: Bluegrass Night on Monday, Northern Cali Native Traditions on Tuesday, a Singer Songwriter Showcase Wednesday, Flying Fingers picker's fest on Thursday and the increasingly popular Old Timey Show Friday (all in the evening) and the grand finale All Day Free Festival with all (very talented) local talent on Saturday, July 22. (www.humboldtfolklife.org)
The 2nd Annual Organic Planet Festival brings another day of eco-grooviness to Eureka's waterfront, "celebrating a natural and non-toxic world" with world music by Aphrodesia, hot pickin' by Joe Craven's Django Latino Quartet, reggae by Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band and the tropical steel sounds of Pan Dulce. Expect lots of workshops (including lessons in African drum/dance and biodiesel tech from Aphrodesia) and probably another big, big organic salad. Saturday, Aug. 26, Halvorson Park, Eureka. 445-5100 or www.organicplanetfestival.org.
Bummerfest 2006 (theplacebo.org) is a work-in-progress with an as-yet undetermined date and location, but with a team of determined next-generation Placebo high-schoolers eager to make it happen. Check www.placebo.org or follow The Hum for updates.
The 8th Annual Buddy Brown Blues Festival is scheduled for Aug. 19 at Perigot Park in Blue Lake, with a local blues line-up still pending. (www.bluelakeblues.com)
A few noteworthy festivals out of the county:
Wild Iris Folk Festival. This is the final time around for this camp-over fest, presented by what has apparently become a burnt-out core of volunteers. The Bills, Utah Phillips, Todd Snyder, The Green Cards, Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums and Devil Makes Three top the bill, offering an eclectic take on the term "folk." June 2-4, Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. (www.wildirisfolkfestival.org or 895-2825)
Harmony Festival: The former new age festival, now in its 28th year, shifts into high gear with an diverse lineup including Bob Weir and Ratdog, Sound Tribe Sector Nine, Jai Uttal, Ozomatli, Zero, Lyrics Born, Canibus, Michael Franti, & Spearhead, Cake, War and The Velvet Teen. June 9-11, Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. (www.harmonyfestival.com or 575-9355)
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has come down out of the mountains to land in Mendocino County, bringing along its famed roots reggae/world music vibe. Featured performers include Baaba Maal, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, Don Carlos, U Roy, Coco Tea, Jah Shaka, U-Roy, Mad Professor with The Robotics Band plus trombonist Rico Rodriguez, poet John Trudell and the African blues of Amadou and Mariam. June 23-25 at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. (www.snwmf.com or 916-777-5550)
Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival is elsewhere in Mendo the same weekend as SNWMF with, I'm told, the mellowest crowd around, and a fine folk lineup featuring Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, Greg Brown with the Campbell Brothers, Alison Brown (no relation), Arlo Guthrie and Family, Laurie Lewis, Dirk Powell, Tom Rozum and Christine Balfa, Tim O'Brien Band, The Roches, Buddy Miller, Utah Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels. June 23-25 at the Hog Farm's Black Oak Ranch, just north of Laytonville. (www.katewolf.com)
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