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The Hum by Bob Doran

Aug. 19, 2004

Photo and headline -- Buddy Brown Tribute Band

AS SUMMER ROLLS ON TOWARD ITS CONCLUSION, IT seems like there's at least one festival every weekend here in Humboldt. Sometimes there are several -- this weekend for example. Too many choices? Naw. Fact is, the various events draw on very different demographics: The sunburned young men in baggy shorts and girls in bikinis who will attend the 5th annual Summerfest wouldn't dream of showing up at the Buddy Brown Blues Festival, where the crowd will tend more toward baby boomers.

Diamondback Entertainment's Summerfest has moved from one part of the Hoopa Rez to another, settling in Tish Tang, where the tribe is considering creating a more permanent facility (if all goes well this weekend). Saturday's all day and into the night musical line-up leans toward the heavy side, including bands like Kottonmouth Kings and Moonshine Bandits playing hip hop and/or metal, and singing about smokin', drinkin' and chasing women. Hawaiian reggae rappers Pepper and gangsta rapper Spice 1 cover similar territory. And there are locals like P.H.I.S.T., Force of Nature, Esoteric, L.C.A. and Potluck, over two dozen acts in all. In addition, they offer rides on speedboats, a mechanical bull, and the "infamous" Wet and Wild Bikini Contest.

The Buddy Brown Blues Festival, also on Saturday, in Blue Lake at Perigot Park, features blues, blues and more blues. There's foot-stompin' Delta-style blues by Don Haupt, Don's friend Mike Selfridge, down from Crescent City with his collection of ukes and National steels, greasy organic blues by Tofu and Chittlins, folk blues by Eric Park, blues and soul from the Sari Baker Band, electric blues/rock from Checkered Demons, and Blue Lake-style blues from the all-star Buddy Brown Tribute Band [ photo above], playing tunes associated with the late great Richard Duggins.

Meanwhile out Highway 36, it's the 8th annual Bridgefest on the bridge in the recently purchased town of Bridgeville (not purchased on eBay, BTW). This one's more of a street fair, with arts and crafts, a barbeque served up by the local firemen, and music by local bands including Mélange, the Wild River Band and the Highway 36 Summer Music Review. The fun and games are strictly family-friendly with a kite flying contest, and the centerpiece of the event, the famed Flying Saucer Contest, with "cosmic vehicles" (essentially decorated variations on the Frisbee), launched off the bridge, with prizes for distance, accuracy and coolest design. While the event itself is free, you might want to bring some cash for the raffle benefiting the Bridgeville Community Center, where the prizes include $300 worth of tofu.

At Mazzotti's Thursday, Aug. 19, it's the first local eruption by Volcano, a new band featuring Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh, former Meat Puppets guitarist/vocalist Curt Kirkwood, bassist Jon Poutney from the Ziggens, and Sublime/Long Beach Dub Allstars associate Miguel, mixing the Long Beach dub/ska/funk sound with Puppets-esque rock. (Those who follow this sort of thing may note that this is a slight variation on Eyes Adrift, a trio where Bud and Curt worked with Nirvana bassman Krist Novoselic.) Joining Volcano on tour and at Mazzotti's is Bargain Music, another Long Beach band exploring the post-Sublime intersection of reggae, hip hop, funk, punk, metal and rock.

The Marin-based instrumental combo Vinyl is another band drawing on a variety of styles -- in this case funk, reggae, ska, rock, salsa and R&B, with an emphasis on the almighty groove. Catch them Friday, August 20, at Six Rivers Brewery, and bring along some extra cash for their long-awaited, brand new disc, All the Way Live.

Friday night at Muddy Waters, it's Animal Liberation Orchestra, aka ALO, a band out of Santa Barbara working the (non-noodling) jam band tip. I caught them when they came to town in March, and dug their approach, kind of an update on '60s rock along the lines of the Allman Brothers, but with a Cali-beach vibe.

At the Alibi that night it's the return of Virgil Shaw, a former local, once a member of the cool alt. country combo Dieselhed. Last time he came to town for a show at the Vista, he gave me a burned CD with songs that would eventually become the Future Farmers album, Quad City. I loved the song settings, ranging from twangy to dark and mysterious, and this guy can turn a phrase: In "Back to Eureka" (which incidentally offers an idealized vision of a town where, "I'd be thinking that I could leave my keys in the ignition"), he writes of "waves that roll in the night like knives hit by the light." In another tune, "Volvo," about an old girlfriend returning to town, he paints a dead-on picture of her just by describing her "primer-grey" vehicle, whose "dashboard looked like the tide had gone out." Joining him on tour, Sonny Smith, another alt. singer/songwriter type, a San Francisco native whose songs suggest a beat poet who has spent some time in the Ozarks.

Saturday night at Muddy Waters, it's a Zazou, a quintet from Seattle playing music "inspired by the sophisticated melodies of French swing, Parisian musette, Latin-American popular songs and American jazz," according to guitarist Ryan Hoffman, a Kansas City native. Hoffman sent me the band's album, Djangolotry, a fine disc, with a title that explains the meaning of his term "French swing" -- yes, it's another Gypsy jazz combo a la Hot Club of Paris, although Zazou takes the music in new directions writing original songs with lots of accordion (thus the "musette" reference). Fans of Cuckoo's Nest and Hot Club Sandwich should check this band out.

Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Placebo, it's an evening of woman-fronted alt. folk-rock with Dear Norah (aka Katy Davidson), who I'm told, is from Oregon and a friend of Mirah, plus Cynthia Nelson (aka the Sophie Drinker Music Project) and, last but by no means least, Arcata's own indie girl group, The Ian Fays (aka the twins).

Looking for that weekly reggae fix? Catch Keith Porter from the Itals at Mazzotti's Wednesday, Aug. 25, for a taste of roots, rock reggae, playing tunes from his latest, Mi Livity, along with Itals classics like "Ina Dis Ya Time."

Next Thursday, Aug. 26, up on campus, HSU Associated Students welcome in the new school year with a punk rock show at the Depot featuring Home Grown, Name Taken, Denver Harbor and Adelphi.

That night at Mazzotti's, it's reggae-tinged hip hop by the Wisdom Band, fresh from rocking the house at Reggae on the River, while across town at Hum Brews, it's another one of those Thanksgiving Brown, Culturama underground hip hop reviews with TaJai from Hieroglyphics and Souls of Mischief, Prozack Turner and Marc Stretch from Foreign Legion, Z-Man, and of course the globe-trotting Mr. Brown on the tables. What more could you ask?

Bob Doran



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