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July 28, 2005

The Hum


Photo and headline -- Ponche!

HUMBOLDT'S HOTTEST AFROCUBAN SALSA BAND, PONCHE!, returns to Six Rivers Brewery Thursday, July 28, just a little more than a week before its Friday night performance on that big stage at Reggae on the River, where it is essentially the opening band. This Thursday's show promises to be extraordinary according to Ponche! conga player John Lewis. "We're having special guests sit in, instructors from Explorations in Afro-Cuban Dance and Drum."

The annual workshop at HSU, put together by local rhythmatician Howie Kaufman, brings an illustrious, international cast of teachers to Arcata.

Said Lewis, "We can't say for sure who's coming; they're all invited. We'll have dancers, singers, percussionists. I'll have an extra set of timbales set up and some extra percussion stuff. We'll open it up and have a blast."

The drum and dance teachers and their students also put on their own rhythm exploration show every year at the end of the session; the last few times it was the same time as Reggae, but this year it's on Saturday, July 30, so there's no excuse for missing it.

They call it the Mateel Community Jam, but the monthly event at the Mateel Community Center is not exactly a jam session. Thursday, July 28, the show starts with an open mike section for solo and duo acts, then transforms into a SoHum local band showcase, this week featuring a classic rock outfit, The Bad Intentions, multi-generational "punkadelic grind-hoppers," Subconscious Revolt and young punk/metal headbangers, Lethal Antidote. Come early for a Korean meal and stick around for the raffle, where prizes include two tickets to this year's sold-out Reggae on the River.

Also down in SoHum this weekend: the annual Roll on The Mattole, starting at noon Saturday at the Mattole Grange. The benefit for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Dept. includes stuff for kids, firefighter's games, a craft fair, food and drink and of course music: The Lost Coast Marimba Band (also playing at Reggae Sunday morning), Jimi Jeff and the Gypsy Band, Deltron 9, Bluethorn and Que La Chinga among others.

The Whigs is reassembling after a year-and-a-half hiatus to blast E&O Bowl on Friday, July 29, with its patented mix of "turbo rock, angry funk, soulful reggae, beach disco and other jet-fuel-enhanced sounds."

The Absynth Quintet plays Gypsy jazz-inflected jam-grass at Muddy Waters that night. I caught the quintet's set at the Folklife Fest and with Tofu Mike on drums, it definitely had the beat, and the crowd's undivided attention.

Meanwhile, Friday at Eureka Veterans Lounge, it's The Dean, who according to local scenester Evan Phillips, is "a whole lot of OK." Joining the under-aged rockers: Butch vs. Femme, a band I've not heard anything about, as of yet.

Earlier that evening at The Metro, you can catch an in-store performance by Humboldt's last remaining ska band, The Disappointments.

Looking for something completely different? Nepalese tabla master Homnath Upadhyaya and his students perform Indian classical music at the Redwood Peace and Justice Center Friday evening.

Get up early Saturday, July 30, to catch The Delta Nationals singing about favorite vegetables at the Arcata Farmer's Market.

Garage rockers Trash and Roll roll out their new record at the Ocean Grove Saturday night, sharing the bill with those Blue Lake outlaws The Rubberneckers. And that new record really is a record: a 7-inch on blue vinyl titled "High Hopes."

The Placebo kids have a different sort of benefit show Saturday at the D St. Community Center. No punk or indie rock, instead cool piano jazz by Darius Brotman and classic rock by Bob Billstrom's band, Sticky Lickens. No cover, beer for the grownups, hors d'oeuvres, a raffle, all to help Placebo find a new home.

That night at the Alibi Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame mixes rock with rhythm and blues.

And across the plaza at Mazzotti's, it's more reggae from that other Caribbean island with I Grade Records presenting the St. Croix Reggae Showcase with Army, Abja, NiyoRah, Ancient King and Aba Shaka, all backed by Blackfoot.

Could it really be a year since Sad Wings of Destiny staged its so-called "Final Tribute" to its metal mentor, Judas Priest? It could be and it is. To mark the occasion, SWoD is staging a reunion show, Sunday, July 31, once again at The Alibi, thus reneging on its previous promise to disband.

As mentioned here last week, the local casinos have been bringing in some big names in country this summer. Next up an act called Cowboy Crush, coming Tuesday, Aug. 2, to Cher-Ae Heights, a quintet of Nashville blondies who formed just two years ago. They are not that big yet, but they're supposed to be rising stars in country, perhaps the next Dixie Chicks (but without the that pesky political baggage).

Next week at Cher-Ae Heights Casino (Thursday, Aug. 4) it's Uncle Kracker, who might not qualify as a country act, although he does have his videos played on CMT and last year he toured with Kenny Chesney. Born Matt Shafer, Uncle Kracker got into music alongside his Detroit homeboy Kid Rock, initially serving as Kid's DJ before stepping out on his own with a solo album, Double Wide, on Kid Rock's label. His mix of hip hop, southern rock and country proved radio friendly and songs like "Follow Me" and his cover of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" were hits, landing him on MTV and yes, CMT. Thursday's Diamondback show also includes a mechanical bull, plus rappers Moonshine Bandits, Kenny Freestyle and Overdose.

Still to come in the bingo halls, some true country legends: Tanya Tucker at Blue Lake's Sapphire Palace on August 27 and The Bellamy Brothers August 30, at Cher-Ae Heights.

Raconteur Jeff DeMark offers a rare performance of his funny-as-hell monologue, Writing my Way Out of Adolescence, on Saturday, July 30, at Redwood Yogurt in Arcata. The "stories about growing up, going crazy and living to tell about it" involve drugs, rock 'n' roll and there's even some nudity, although not on stage, only in words. And hey, this one's free.

Luke Beckel from the Fairbanks, Alaska-based Sweating Honey wrote to say that the band will be here for a couple of shows next week, playing Wednesday, Aug. 3, at Humboldt Brews and Saturday, Aug. 5, at Six Rivers Brewery. According to Luke, Sweating Honey is "Alaska's premier jam-band, a six-piece high energy dance band that splices styles from at least 10 different styles including klezmer, Latin, hip hop, reggae, rock, blues, punk, rockabilly, bluegrass, ska and R&B."

As you may have heard, the planned Ani DiFranco show at HSU has been cancelled, and according to her booking agent, she will not be performing at Earthdance. The official word is that "the little folksinger" has tendonitis in her wrists and hands. She followed her doctor's advice and took a few months off earlier this year, but the condition did not improve.

According to, "If she were to continue to perform at this time, she would risk permanent nerve damage to her hands. Therefore, the decision was made to cancel upcoming tours, starting with the West Coast tour planned for late August and early September 2005, and provide Ani with a sufficient amount of time to make a full recovery."

We would also like to see a speedy recovery for Sean Bohannon, a cornerstone of the local music community and the ace mandolinist from the Compost Mountain Boys, who is in the hospital. Get well soon!


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