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The Hum by Bob Doran

July 1, 2004

Ryder's Dad [photo of Chris Robinson playing guitar]

YOU MIGHT NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH A BAND CALLED New Earth Mud, but if you've paid attention to the rock `n' roll scene for the last 15 years or so, you've probably heard New Earth Mud's lead singer, Chris Robinson -- he was also lead singer for the very successful band the Black Crowes, a neo-southern rock outfit founded in Georgia by Chris and his guitarist brother Rich back in 1984.

Twenty years after bands like the Stones appropriated rootsy southern blues and soul and sold it to a new white audience, the Crowes came along, essentially offering a re-Americanized version of the sort of music British blues musicians favored, with Chris Robinson in something like a Rod Stewart role. The Crowes scored a hit in 1990 with a cover of Otis Redding's classic "Hard to Handle" and went on to reach multi-platinum heights in a series of albums throughout the '90s. The Brit/Southern merger was cemented in 2000 with the Crowes collaborating with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page on the double-disc Live at the Greek, mixing Zeppelin covers with classic blues.

The following year's "Tour of Brotherly Love" with Oasis was the last time Chris played with the Crowes; he split from the band for a solo project titled New Earth Mud, thus the name of the new band, Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud.

This week they released a new album, The Magnificent Distance, so they're hitting the road in support, including two nights at the High Sierra Festival this weekend, then a Fourth of July show at the far more intimate Mazzotti's, on the Arcata Plaza.

In 2000, Robinson married actress Kate Hudson, just after she played a "band aide" in love with a rock star in Almost Famous. I don't imagine she'll be along on tour, however; she'll probably be at home with 6-month-old Ryder Russell Robinson, their first child.

There's actually music all day on the plaza, along with booths selling this and that, and perhaps more stars and stripes than you might want to see. Multi-instrumentalist and certified genius David Isley starts things off at 10:30 a.m. SoHum's freedom-loving Non Prophets rock at 11:50, then it's Bias, whom I erroneously described as a blues band more than once -- they are a funky rock band. (Bias also plays Friday, July 2, at Mazzotti's.) Eureka old timey band Slackjaw takes the stage at 2:30 p.m. (Catch them at Old Town Coffee during Arts Alive! Saturday.) Then it's the Karen Dumont Electric Blues Band at 3:50 followed by more blues, etc., from Deltron 9 at 5:10 p.m.

Eureka typically has an even bigger Fourth of July celebration; unfortunately, all I know about who's playing is what I learned from Vintage Soul (now featuring vocalists Tiffany Toste and Melody Thrash) kick things off with some vintage soul (of course) on the Gazebo stage at 10 a.m. (They also play Saturday night at the Blue Lake Casino.) And the Clint Warner Band plays blues at 1 p.m. on one of the Old Town stages. (They usually have three.) Clint and company have a busy weekend: They're at the Blue Lake Casino Friday night and at Sal's Myrtlewood Lounge Saturday.

Blue Lake's country punks the Rubberneckers celebrate the release of a new album Thursday, July 1, at the Alibi. I'd tell you more about it but they did not give me a copy. Opening the show: Que La Chinga, who already have their album in the Alibi jukebox.

At Six Rivers Brewing McKinleyville that night, two bands from Sacramento: 2ME playing acoustic funk band, and a Sublime-ish ska punk band called AbandonTheory. The whole Sacto road show moves to Rumours Friday, July 2.

Be sure to catch Gypsy jazzers Cuckoo's Nest Saturday morning at the Arcata Farmers' Market. Too early for ya? They also play that evening at Café Mokka.

It's a good night for string bands: Muddy Waters has Blue Turtle Seduction coming from the Tahoe area Saturday offering what they call "high-altitude Bohemian tribal funk grass." At Humboldt Brews it's the return of Cletus and the Burners with some old timey jams. Rumours has Victor Barns' "insurgent bluegrass," a variation that includes a drummer. Meanwhile Six Rivers McKinleyville rocks to the blues of Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame.

Saturday night out past Trinidad, Larrupin' shifts into summer mode, resurrecting the weekend patio nights with the very cool jazz duo, Francis Vanek and Geoff Daugherty. Dixie explained, "We'll be doing the patio a little different this summer, in that we will offer our regular dinners along with the appetizer menu. And the bands will play two nights instead of just one." When I called, cement sculptor John King was doing more work on the patio space, which should be worth a trip in itself. BTW, King is aka 1/3 Dogbone, when he plays his feral jazz guitar at Casa Blanca most Thursdays.

As I mentioned in passing, Saturday is Arts Alive! night in Eureka, and as usual, along with the art, there's lots of music. At the Morris Graves Museum you can get a preview of the Humboldt Folklife Festival (coming up July 18-24) with songwriting duo Sari Baker and Mike Craghead, Wild Iris and Slim Pickens with special guest, David Isley. (Plus you can see some great art and the "one ring that rules them all" from Lord of the Rings, or a replica from New Zealand, anyway.) Stop next door at the Eureka Theater to hear the Checkered Demons play rockin' blues. BTW, the Empire Squared crew has two openings that night, one at their own studio and another way across town at Humboldt Carpet.

Coming up Wednesday, July 7, the Motet, a truly fine band from Colorado led by drummer Dave Watts, a jazzy guy who throws African, AfroCuban, funk and more into the mix. By the time they get here, the band should have its new album, Music for Life, in hand. I'm listening to a teaser they sent me and it's the best they've done yet, cram-packed with funky jungle beats, scratchy guitar and stellar horn and keyboard runs with a Fela, Afrofunk feel. Opening the show, Fuzz and Carrie from Deep Banana Blackout.

Coming to Rumours next Thursday, July 8, Norton Buffalo and friends. (More on that next week.) And at Mazzotti's next Thursday, Wisdom and the Wisdom Creations Band; join DJ Gideon for some hip hop-tinged dancehall and reggae. You might remember Wisdom from Reggae on the River, where he sells his clothing line and pops up on stage for occasional guest MC blasts.

Incidentally, I was going to report that tickets for Reggae are just about gone -- I got an e-mail to that effect a few days ago. Just as I was finishing this week's column, a follow-up came from People Productions saying that the show is actually sold out, at least as far as mail order and online sales go. There are a few tickets left at local record stores, but not for long. If you don't have one yet, you'd better act fast.


Bob Doran



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