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The Hum by Bob Doran

July 22, 2004

IT COMES EVERY SUMMER AROUND THIS TIME: THE glossy brochure for the next CenterArts season. For the serious music lover, it can seem like temptation incarnate, all these shows you want to see -- but most of them seem to be so far in the future. How can you even think about buying expensive tickets right now for some show next spring? Who plans that far ahead? Aren't there always tickets available at the door? Fact is, a fair number of the CenterArts hottest shows sell out far in advance. You want to see Los Lobos on March 1, 2005? Or Leo Kottke on Jan. 30? You'd do well to get a ticket now, or wait around and maybe find a seat way up in the balcony -- if you're lucky.

It might not seem fair, but if you want decent seats to any show, you are advised to become a season subscriber, which means buying tickets for six different shows right now. Need suggestions? How about rock `n' roll originator Bo Diddley, playing Sept. 5 with fellow rock pioneer Johnnie Johnson. Singer-songwriters? They have got some great ones: Greg Brown (Sept. 25) and John Prine (Sept. 29). November is full of world music with Angelique Kidjo laying down Afrofunk (Nov. 12), Aussie folk-rockers the Waifs (Nov. 16), and Putumayo's "Latinas: Women on South America" (Nov. 18). That's six already and we haven't touched on jazzman Branford Marsalis (Oct. 7), American bluesman Robert Cray (Jan. 19), African bluesman Habib Koite (March 5), Mr. Politically Incorrect Bill Maher (Oct. 3) or the many choices in dance and classical music.

Nor did I mention the so-called "special events," which for some reason are not included in the "pick six" choices. If you want prime seats for the opening show with proto-alt.rocker David Byrne backed by the Tosca Strings, you have to be a subscriber. Same for the Sept. 12 Gillian Welch show, the Sept. 21 Lyle Lovett show, Lily Tomlin's March 10 visit or Garrison Keillor's return engagement on Feb. 8.

Of course, considering the fact that no show is less than $25 (unless you're a student or a senior) and some cost as much as $65 (Lovett and Tomlin), we're talking about a serious advance outlay. Well, to make it a little bit easier, you can "buy now, pay later," stretching your payments out over three months, or if you're foolhardy, just put it on the plastic and pay what you can when you can (plus that usurious interest). Incidentally, for those who don't worry about money, there's a package that includes tickets to every single show (around three dozen events) for just $893.

You say you're flat broke? Well, I mentioned it last week and I'll mention it again: the Humboldt Folklife Festival concludes Saturday, July 24, with an all-day free show out in Blue Lake featuring an eclectic collection of folk and related music on three stages with workshops, dancing, food, drink, stuff for kids and so on. There are literally dozens of bands, too many to mention all of them here. (Go to for the complete schedule.) Among those I'm looking forward to: Darkrain (2:40 p.m.) the Calleaghn Kinnamon Band (3 p.m.), Sari Baker and Co. (4 p.m.), Eileen Hemphill-Haley and the Oregon Dogs at the same time as the Rubberneckers (6 p.m.), and that fine Gypsy jazz band, Cuckoo's Nest (7 p.m.).

BTW, if you did not buy advance tickets to this Thursday's Bluegrass Bash or Friday's Old Time Show, you might want to make sure they are not sold out. Just the friends and family of the various bands playing will almost fill the Carlo.

Also on Saturday, down in SoHum at the Mattole Grange near Honeydew, it's the annual benefit for the volunteer fire department, the Roll on the Mattole, with a wide range of music: funky grooves by Ruben Diaz and Groove 101 (his all-star combo), more funk from SoHum's own Pungent Funk, bluegrass by the overworked Compost Mountain Boys (also playing Thursday's Bash, and Friday at Larrupin'), plus reggae by Kala Kenyatte and the Sounds of Freedom and by Massagana, who, I'm told, stole the show from the Jamaican veterans at last weekend's Reggae of Reason.

The night before, Friday, July 23, at Beginnings Octagon, Madison Green from Michigan offers what they call "aggressive acoustic" tribal folk music.

Blues, blues and more blues: A serious blues fan I was chatting with at Blues by the Bay told me I have to see this hot new blues band that's been playing at the Red Lion and at the casino, whose name he could not recall. With some further inquiry I determined that he was talking about the Clint Warner Band, who are not exactly new. If, like me, you still haven't heard them, you have two chances this weekend; they play Friday and Saturday at the Red Lion. The equally hardworking Karen Dumont Electric Blues Band plays Friday out at the Blue Lake Casino and Saturday at Humboldt Brews. To make it a full blues weekend, Arcata's Summer Music and Arts Series continues Sunday, July 25, with Don Haupt playing his foot-stompin' Delta blues on the Plaza.

Then, coming up next Thursday, July 29, at the Eureka Concert Series on the boardwalk, it's swingin' boogie-woogie blues by Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s, who just returned from barnstorming Europe. Since he plays boogie-woogie, you might guess that Woods is a piano player. His band is named the Rocket 88s for the classic Oldsmobile, and for the 88 keys on a piano, which I must point out, he has been known to play with his feet.

Meanwhile in the world of alt. -- The Alibi plays host to a couple of rock bands Thursday, July 22: Blackball, with ex-members of Broken Order, and the Great Salvation, a truly fine new band that I heard opening for DMBQ at the 330, with harmonies and melodies that brought back memories of '60s rock, at least for me. (I'm sure I was one of the few in the crowd who was alive during the '60s.)

Coming up Friday, July 23, at the Placebo, Summer at Shatter Creek, an endlessly interesting, introspective one-man-band from SoCal, joined by Oscillation Inards and Pedestrian Deposit, two noise bands toning it down so as not to disturb the neighbors.

Coming Saturday night to the aforementioned 330, Kill Me Tomorrow, the Evening Episode and Shaking Hands.

Then on Monday, July 26, at the Alibi, Late Drop plays loud, unrepentant punk rock along with Gun Crazy, a band from Houston, Texas, offering "'70s-type punk rock/rock and roll -- somewhere in the neighborhood of the Stooges, New York Dolls, Saints, Dr. Feelgood, Dictators, Lazy Cowgirls, Humpers, etc."

Not to end on a sad note, but Arthur Kane, bass player for the highly influential New York Dolls, died last week from complications from leukemia. Rest in peace may not be the appropriate sentiment -- rock on seems better. Know any Dolls' songs? Sunday, July 25, at the Alibi, it's punkaraoke with the Undercover Girls.


Bob Doran



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