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June 8, 2006

Heading: From Humboldt to Chicago, The Hum by Bob Doran

As you may or may not have heard (depending on what radio station you listen to) Humboldt County's favorite bluesman Earl Thomas (photo below) is flying off to the Windy City this weekend for a Sunday performance at the 22-year-old Chicago Blues Festival.

Here's a bit of what Earl said about it in a recent e-mail: "My career started in Humboldt County at a little club called Garcia's next to the Jacoby Storehouse, on a Tuesday open mic night. I sang for years at the Jambalaya and my first band was called Wild Night. I left Humboldt County to try and make a name for myself and I succeeded. My music has taken me all around the world but I've never been able to break free of my orbit of Humboldt County.

photo of Earl Thomas"After 14 years, I came back to Humboldt to live and to find my team that will support me on the most important show of my life. I couldn't imagine taking anyone other than Andy Widman on guitar, Chris Wixson on bass, Rob Peterson on drums, and Mike Emerson on keyboards, the percussion team of Tofu Mike [Swartz] from Absynth Quintet, Dave Sandomeno from Kulica and Paul Sonnabend from Aphrodesia — plus Cliff [Berkowitz] from KHUM to broadcast live from our stage so that all the `folks back home' can be a part of this great event."

That's right, Cliff is taking the station's mobile unit to Chi-Town so that you can tune in on Sunday at noon and listen to Earl and company over the air, which of course is not quite the same as being there since you can't watch Earl work himself into a cold sweat, as he has pretty much every time I've seen him sing. However, you can see Earl Thomas and The Blues Ambassadors of Humboldt County live in person Friday, June 9, at the Eureka Veteran's Hall, in a benefit of sorts, raising funds to pay for taking all those people across the country and putting them up Saturday night.

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Sari Baker may not sweat much when she sings, but she can belt out a tune, or warble it sweetly when that's what the song calls for. Sari and her trio, Joel Sonenshein on guitar and Tami Pallingston, are finally throwing a CD release party for their folky album, Still Feel You, on Thursday, June 8, at Humboldt Artworks. Call ahead for reservations, it may be sold out. If it is, catch Sari next time she sings.

Thursday at Blue Lake Casino it's Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles, a cover band playing all those Cali-country hits I didn't care much for in the '70s and '80s. I realize a lot of people loved the Eagles, enough to keep these guys busy on the casino/county fair circuit all year-round.

Multi-instrumentalist David Isley has been gigging solo at Gallagher's Irish Pub every other Thursday for a while — he's there this Thursday, June 8. He's also at Rookery Books Friday for Arts Arcata. David notes, "At Gallagher's I play only Celtic fiddle, but at Rookery I pull out all the stops playing `heavy metal punk acid folk roots' on banjo, guitar and fiddle." David might know the chords for "Hotel California" but I doubt that he'll sing it.

Catch the blues/R&B combo ShinBone a couple doors down at Arcata Exchange that night. Kitty-corner from there in Jacoby's Storehouse it's Dogbone, with some of their patented feral jazz/rock. Circling the Plaza you have Devil's Dream picking old timey and bluegrass tunes at the Metro. While it's not exactly amid the main action, singer-songwriter/acoustic guitarist Lisa Sharry plays Friday night at Mosgos, a new coffee house on Alliance Road near the Westwood Shopping Center.

And Friday at Sacred Grounds it's The Tao Jonesers and Pants on Fire, along with touring songwriter Jeffrey Luck Lucas, a classically trained cellist (and guitarist) from S.F. with a whiskey-soaked voice, formerly of '80s garage punk band The Morlocks and '90s alt. Americana band The Heaveners, now composing and performing his own dark poetic tales of lost love on dusty windswept streets.

And later on Friday night (around 10 p.m.), we have the return of music to the Jambalaya (where Earl used to play) with Bump Foundation laying down a hefty hunk of steaming funk (to paraphrase James Taylor). I don't know how many times I've heard people bemoan the loss of the Jam as a venue — well, new owners Ricardo and Rose (who just happen to live right next door to me) are going to bring it back. (I'll have more on the new Jam in next week's paper.)

Looking for some hip hop? Fortuna's Dirty Rats invade Six Rivers Friday night with special guest Nac One.

One of my favorite folksingers, Joanne Rand, plays her songs — strong and steady like a river — on Saturday, June 10, at Westhaven Center for the Arts.

The Chris Amberger Trio, featuring Berklee-trained jazz bassist Chris, Michael Curran on drums and Francis Vanek on sax, lays down a live recording Saturday night at The Pearl. If you've ever wanted to be part of the glass-clinking, low-talking background sound of a club jazz record, that is the place to be. (No coughing, please.)

The same night at the Community Yoga Center above the Plaza in Arcata, enjoy an evening of classical Indian ragas by father and son sitarists/vocalists Pandit Shivnath and Deobrat Mishra, with Marco Zonka on tabla. The following afternoon the same cast returns to the same place for Kirtan singing and Bhajdan dancing.

Somewhere in the hills of SoHum Saturday it's a private all-nighter with local rockers Lokoyokol, allegedly followed by a set by Hank Williams III and Assjack. E-mail, check or call 223-3735 for tickets or more info. Or you could go see Lokoyokol play Thursday night at Kelly O'Brien's and ask them about it on break.

The Riverwood is biker central this weekend with The Nestburys playing Friday and Saturday nights for those who want a break from the Redwood Run, with the upstairs area converted into a combination tattoo and massage parlor. At the Run it's Dave Mason and Vince Neil on Friday, with Joe Bonamassa and Foreigner at the top of the bill Saturday. Watch the road for flocks of bikes on Sunday.

When I first saw Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, the band was billed as a "Greyboy All-Stars sidecar project," a spin-off, if you will. So what does that make Blu Sirkut, a live multimedia electonica spin-off from T.U. that includes most of Karl's band? Let's call it an alternate universe. Expect synthesizers, laptops, drum machines, video projectors and digital effects alongside guitar, bass, drums and trumpet — but no sax, Karl's off on some other sidecar. Blu Sirkut plays Monday at Humboldt Brews with San Diego country/blues/soul songstress Carra Barratt opening. Carra is in county for a three-night run, playing Tuesday at Kelly O'Brien's and Wednesday at Six Rivers.

They have to move the pool table to make room for bands, and of course there's no stage, but that doesn't mean The Alibi isn't one of the best places in town for up-close-and-personal rock `n' roll. The place celebrates three years of live music with a show Saturday night featuring two fine rockin' local bands: Que La Chinga (aka WTF) and Henpecker not Henpeckers (sorry) or The Henpecker — just plain Henpecker.

Wednesday, June 14, at the Alibi, HFR and Panache present rock from yet a different universe by Eureka's The Monster Women and the awesome Japanoise trio, Green Milk From the Planet Orange.

Got a call from Jennifer at Humboldt Brews this week telling me that this Sunday's Club Confessions, the weekly LGBT dance event, will be a Gay Pride Parade after-party, which kind of surprised me since we never got any p.r. about the Pride Parade. We have since checked in with sources and added the parade to our calendar — in the process I learned that Sunday's DJ night at The Alibi, with DJ Joe-E, is also considered a Pride after-party. Since the clubs are not so far apart, I suppose one could wander between them.

Forgive me if I step up on my soapbox (or bully pulpit) for a moment, but I have to say this is an important time to support Gay Pride for a couple of reasons. If you've been watching the news you know that this week marks 25 years, a quarter century, since health authorities first reported on the virus we now call HIV. Those who saw the excellent Frontline piece, "The Age of AIDS," know that our government failed to act on the problem at a crucial time because of misguided fear, and — let's face it — hatred, based on religious bigotry.

Parallel to news report on the silver anniversary of AIDS we get President Bush cynically announcing his support for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, and even nullify laws like we have in California that at least allow for civil unions. Sure it's a transparent attempt to divert attention for an increasingly bloody war, and to "energize his base," as they like to say — but it's also wrong, and more people should stand up and say so.

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