North Coast Journal banner


The Hum by Bob Doran

June 10, 2004

photo headline of the Michael Moore Trio

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, my friend Matt Pico and I would play a memory game as we walked home from school balancing on seldom used railroad tracks. One of us would recite a line from a song by Bob Dylan, the other had to deliver the next line, then name the song it came from.

Perhaps you'd like to give it a go. Ready? "Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule"

I bring this up because Jewels and Binoculars is the pseudonym for a jazz combo, the Michael Moore Trio [photo at right], featuring Arcata native Michael Moore on reeds and such, plus another former local, Michael Vatcher, on percussion, with Lindsey Horner (not a local) on double bass.

Some will remember back in the '70s when Michael was a teenager, raised on jazz by his music prof dad, Jerry Moore, blowing straight-ahead and jazz-funk sax with Vatcher in a band called Joint Session at clubs like the Jambalaya.

After learning what he could at CR and HSU, Moore headed east to the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with giants of modern jazz, including Jaki Byard. From there it was on to New York, then to Holland, where he settled permanently and became a major player in the wild Dutch jazz scene. Of course his family is still here, so he returns periodically; the last time he played locally he was with another of his combos, the Clusone Trio, with the absolutely ferocious Dutch drummer, Han Bennink.

Jewels and Binoculars formed a few years ago in the Netherlands to play jazz variations on tunes by Bob Dylan, thus the group's name. Why Dylan? I shot an e-mail to Holland to ask Moore.

"We are great fans of his poetry and songwriting skills," he replied, "of his synthesis of many strands of traditional music, such as folk from the Bristish Isles, country and western, blues, ballads, skiffle -- the list goes on and on. The simplicity of the songs makes them a joy to play and leaves lots of room for improvisation."

That next line -- " but these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel" -- comes from "Visions of Johanna," one of the Dylan tunes covered on the first J&B album on Moore's label, Ramboy. The trio recently released a second set of Dylan tunes titled Floater (after a song from Love and Theft), and I suppose that's reason enough for a tour of the states. They hit Humboldt County next week, playing three shows: first on Monday, June 14, at the Mateel, then on Wednesday at Avalon, where they'll play during dinner and after, and again on Thursday, June 17, in the rotunda of the Morris Graves Museum.

Incidentally the SoHum show is presented by the Backwoods Jazz Association (with help from People Productions). You may recall BJA as the folks who used to do Jazz on the Lake. After skipping a year, they've decided to try some smaller shows like this one. (They also have Charlie Hunter coming in August and might do something in July, too.) Opening the Mateel show, Sarah and Jesse, a SoHum jazz duo with Jesse Peterson on strings backing vocalist Sarah Scher, whose dad, Les, is a jazz sax player, a deejay for KMUD (Sundays at 7 p.m.) and one of the founders of BJA.

Orleans-based songwriter Joanne Rand makes one of her rare local appearances with her band, the Rhythm of the Open Hearts, on Friday, June 11, at Beginnings Octagon in Briceland. SoHum songstress Pam Dougherty with her daughter Zoe open (after a gourmet veggie dinner) with all proceeds going to support the work of eco-activist Richard Gienger.

Jeff DeMark performs his baseball show, Hard as a Diamond, Soft as the Dirt, Saturday, June 12, at Westhaven Center for the Arts. And for the first time (for this particular play anyway) he's flying solo, that is sans the Delta Nationals, who will be replaced by a virtual version of the band, well, a CD of the songs for the show, anyway.

At Mazzotti's Saturday it's another hip hop "Mixtape" event; this time they kick off "the first official Humboldt County M.C. Battle," although what makes it "official" is kind of unclear. At any rate, Manifest is host for the preliminary round in a competition for "the coveted title of Best M.C. in the Emerald Triangle," which leaves me wondering if he is eligible for the prize. DJ State of Mind provides beats on the tables.

It's Caribbean reggae time again Saturday night at Six Rivers McKinleyville with rising stars from "the other island," St. Croix. Dezarie first came to the states to open for St. Croix reggae pioneer Midnite (who is on the bill for this year's Reggae on the River). Dezarie is joined by another St. C. singer, Ikahba; both are purveyors of a slick, heavy-on-synths, neo-roots sound.

Speaking of reggae, a warning: More than 80 percent of available tickets for Reggae on the River are sold. This year you can skip the complex mail order process and buy them over the counter at the Works, the Metro or Wildhorse Records, which makes it a bit easier for locals.

Placebo presents four bands playing loud political music Saturday night: a couple of touring anarchist combos, Submission Hold from Vancouver, B.C., and 1905 from Washington, D.C., plus locals Subconscious Revolt, who play what they describe as "political folk punk glam-rock jam-hop," and Placebo's own Winston Smith.

Maniacal neo-jazz-rockers Nucleus hit Humboldt Brews Saturday, keeping the jam thing alive. Along the same general jammish lines: Muddy Waters has the funky Bump Foundation on Friday.

Then Sunday night it's the re-formed The MuseMeant stopping at Muddy as they begin a western tour. Next Thursday, June 17, Seattle's infamous world funk jam quintet Flowmotion crams into the coffeehouse as they head south. Honestly, these bands both have followings too big for a space where a couple of dozen people are a crowd, but I suppose there's not a lot of other places for them to play.

Humboldt Pride promises music all day Sunday on the Arcata Plaza. Wondering who's playing? A fine singer from SoHum, Calleaghn Kinnamon, starts things off at 11 a.m., with Magnolia at 11:45 a.m., which should cover the time until the parade arrives from Stewart Park (up the hill by the freeway at 14th St.). The Kimberly Trip plays at 1:30 p.m., then it's Blues Per Square Inch at 2:35, followed by a speech by activist Denis Peron, then Middle Eastern dancers backed by Evergreen at 3:05, and songwriter Robert Rather at 3:25, with Irina Rivkin and Lisa Sanders from Rose Street closing things out at 4:10. (Irina and company also play a Pride coffeehouse concert at Downtown Express Saturday evening.) The organizers note that "times and schedule are subject to change," and that's OK, because after all, isn't that what Pride weekend is all about: changing times and changing attitudes.


Bob Doran



North Coast Journal banner

© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.