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September 28, 2006

Heading: The Hum by Bob Doran, Yer Music, photo of Yer Dog

Pete Ciotti is a busy man. When he's not behind the counter at his Northtown pizza place, Big Pete's, he's playing in one band or another -- Nucelus, Yer Dog, Trash & Roll or Subliminal Sabotage. As if he doesn't have enough to do, now he's starting up a record label, Hellatite Records. What started as a vehicle for the release of records by his jamrock band, Nucleus, is ready to expand into new terrain. "It was always planned as something more than Nucleus," said Pete over lunch at Big Pete's. "I think a lot of people in the music world dream of starting a record label or doing something beyond their own band. That was my dream, anyway.

"I realized that there were all these bands on the scene needing help. I said, `Let's try to do this, get a label together.' I found like-minded people in Brain Swizlo and Therese Fitzmaurice (who is the wife of Tommy from Bump Foundation) and Chris Noonan from Bump, all hungry to change things going on in the music scene. We started brainstorming to see how we could make it evolve. Nucleus put out one record on that label name and now we have Yer Dog.

"We're hoping to do something with Trash & Roll and The Bucky Walters and Bump, maybe even WoMama and other bands we've been talking with. They're all into working with us, and in turn they're helping out on this benefit show Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Jambalaya. All the proceeds go to towards bankrolling the label."

The Hellatite Jam, featuring musicians from all of the above, takes a different approach. "There's no bands," Pete explained. "It's just a jam scene. All the players from potential Hellatite bands will come out. We'll put together a roster of players set up like a baseball team. We'll rotate drummers, bass players, guitar players, etc. with the idea of getting players to jam together who normally wouldn't. In fact they won't be able to play with just their bandmates. No more than two players from one band will be allowed at one time. Basically, it will be a free-for-all improv scene -- we'll see what comes out of it."

That's this Thursday. Saturday, Pete and his buddies from Yer Dog release the eponymous Yer Dog (the second Hellatite album) at the Alibi. In that band, Pete switches from drums to guitar, playing songs he wrote. The drummer is Freel, guitarist from Trash & Roll (where Pete plays drums). What kind of music? "We first started describing it as alt. country, but Ian from the Alibi says were turning into a rock band -- and I agree with him. It's just real truthful rock `n' roll, really simple. People figure anything I do is supposed to be jammy because I play with Nucleus, but this in not like that. It's more songwriting. The band came together because I had all these songs I'd been writing on guitar for fun. I grabbed Pat Kennedy, who I've known since I lived in New York, and Pat Quinn, one of the first people I met in Arcata, and we rocked out. We had a great time, recorded a demo right away and then just kept it going."

Freel came in later, replacing a departed drummer, and the demo evolved into a full album with most of the songs by Pete. He says that will change. "Everyone in the band is a songwriter, so we'll see what happens. We've been showcasing our influences. You'll hear equal parts Wilco, Kiss, early Bowie, Neil Young, some My Morning Jacket, contemporary and old school influences, but all rock `n' roll."

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Jamaican dancehall star Buju Banton hits the Mateel Friday with his "Too Bad Tour." What's "Too Bad"? Well, it's the title of his latest disc, on which "unadulterated dancehall" is promised. Then there are those in the gay community who think Buju is too bad to be allowed to perform. They have not forgiven him for his early hit, "Boom Bye Bye," a song about shooting gay men, nor do they like the fact that the vocalist was arrested behind allegations that he was part of a Kingston gang that beat six gays a couple of years ago. (He was acquitted when the case came to trial.) I haven't heard his latest, but by all accounts he has left his gay-bashing ways behind, musically. Nevertheless, his critics lobbied a club down in L.A. and had a planned Too Bad Tour show scheduled for next week canceled.

The same night Buju is down in SoHum, local reggae/rock/jammers Mobile Chiefing Unit play at Humboldt Brews, where they have more local reggae Saturday from Juce. Wednesday, San Diego reggae/tribal roots band Vegitation is at the same place, playing tunes from their new disc, Family Strong.

Friday night at Cecil's, the Cajun café in Garberville, it's a taste of New Orleans-style "dirty South funk" by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, a horny band straight outta N'Arlins. For those in NoHum, the band plays (for free) Saturday at the Blue Lake Casino's Steelhead Lounge.

This week's Saturday Old Town Concert moves into folkier territory with old timey band Huckleberry Flint, songwriter Don DaVinci and Don's Neighbors. (I'm guessing that's DaVinci and friends.)

Muddy's Hot Cup has instantly become a happening spot, and with Lila Nelson handling the booking it will probably just get better. Saturday night they have the Flim Flam Band and UKExperience, a new combo featuring little plugged-in ukes that includes members from the open mic house band at Curley's, from the Flim Flam Band (more stringy action) and from Kulica. (Did Julie have her baby? I haven't heard.) I caught the tail-end of the UKExperience set at the North Country Fair (where there was much great music, despite any problems) and dug their jammy Hawaiian sound.

Got kids? New Muddy owner Corey (who, as I mentioned in the past, is a puppeteer) is promising free shows for kids every Saturday afternoon.

Coming up Monday at Muddy's, a relocated Wandering Menstruals' "Ladylike Open Mic." Melody Walker, who seems to be the W.M. ringleader, sent me a little Menstruals manifesto explaining the intent, to "create a safe, open and inspiring space for local women to share their form of no-holds-barred EXPRESSION! Poetry, comedy, music, food, song, dance, art, film -- all are welcome!" There was more to the manifesto, lots of ovulation puns and so forth, but you get the idea. Men can watch, but the stage belongs to the ladies. BTW, Melody is striking off on her own Saturday night, playing a show at the Jambalaya with a band she's assembled, and I don't think it's all women.

Returning to Muddy action, Tuesday, Oct. 3, violinist Enion Pelta-Tiller from Taarka and ThaMuseMeant plays there with guitarist songwriter Jamie Stillway -- aka the Jamie Stillway Duo. Expect Gypsy-ish jamming on "original compositions, informed by classic European, Latin and American string jazz and ragtime, but run through with modern and world-influenced rhythms and harmonies." Did I mention that all shows at Muddy's are all ages?

More on the women's music front: The Yellow Umbrella Tour comes to Mazzotti's Friday with good music for a worthy cause. The tour, named for the yellow umbrella carried by Maude in the film Harold And Maude, is an annual thing created by Boston songwriter Christine Baze to raise awareness about cervical cancer and HPV, the virus that causes it. (She's a survivor.) The year's edition includes Christine, Sarah Bittens and headliner Kaki King, who has a new album out titled ...Until We Felt Red. I've heard a little from it and like the ethereal settings for Kaki's sensual breathy vocals.

The following Wednesday at Mazzotti's (Oct. 4) it's something quite different, the return of Peter "Thanksgiving Brown" Agoston with a Female Fun hip hop blast, featuring Sadat X and Lord Jamar from Brand Nubians throwing down raw rhymes about street life, plus up-and-coming openers Panacea and Mr. Brown on the wheels of steel. Sadat X is touring behind his just released Black October, which takes its name from the title track, an autobiographical tale about his upcoming incarceration on weapons charges. It's true: He heads for the slammer when he finishes the tour.

That same Wednesday night at the Van Duzer, catch rootsy, political singer/songwriter Steve Earle, who is also a novelist, a playwright and an all-around kick-ass guitarist. According to the press release sent out by CenterArts' Michael Moore (also a KHUM deejay), "This is an artist you must listen to... Steve pulls no punches and gives me much hope... If I were a rock star, I would be Steve Earle." You might find it odd, but Moore is quoting himself. Are you allowed to do that? Why not. Bob says, "Earle's politics and songs are right on. Give him a listen." Last I heard, there were still tickets available. Maybe I'll see you there.

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