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September 29, 2005

The Hum


Mandolin master David Grisman is basically a genre unto himself. He dubbed his amalgam of folk, jazz and bluegrass "dawg music" and whatever that might mean, it's what you hear when you see the David Grisman Quartet. But this weekend, Grisman is coming up from his Marin headquarters with a different group: The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience headlines the Mateel's ambitious Humboldt Hills Hoedown at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area on Saturday, Oct. 1. Grisman's bluegrass roots go way back, as evidenced by a recent release on his Acoustic Disc label. The album Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Live at Mechanics Hall is a recording Grisman made in 1963 when he was a student at NYU. A few years on, in 1966, bluegrass legend Red Allen invited Grisman to join his band, the Kentuckians, and David learned mountain music first hand. Years later Grisman would form Old and In the Way with his friend Jerry Garcia on guitar and expose another generation to the bluegrass sound.

Also on the bill, another fine mandolinist, Mike Marshall with his Brazilian jazz/newgrass combo Choro Famoso, a bluegrass outfit from Hollister called Sidesaddle & Co., plus the best of NoHum's old-timey bands: Wrangletown, Huckleberry Flint and Slewfoot String Band, jazzy newgrassers Absynth Quintet and, for variation, Global Funk. The all-day fest also includes workshops, jam sessions, stuff for kids and everything you need for a day in the sun.

The first week in October is a big one for local old-timey fans. In addition to the Hoedown, we have the HSU Associated Students' Fall Harvest Festival Music beginning at noon Wednesday, Oct. 5, on the Quad and running through Friday, with free performances by playing various string band styles. Wednesday's show includes the South Austin Jug Band with Susan Gibson, The Waybacks, a hot band from San Francisco, and The Jazz Mandolin Project featuring Jamie Masefield, whose latest album, The Deep Forbidden Lake, includes tunes by Neil Young, Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt and Radiohead. Thursday's Harvest has raw, raucous old-timey from Kansas by Split Lip Rayfield, then, on Friday, the all-woman band of pickers, Uncle Earl.

Note: The Waybacks share a bill with Absynth Quintet at Muddy Waters Wednesday evening and Uncle Earl plays a Humboldt Folklife show out at the Red Radish Thursday, Oct. 6. (Get tickets for that one in advance.) The Waybacks and Split Lip Rayfield are also part of the massive Americana line-up for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 5, a free concert in Golden Gate Park this weekend put on by zillionaire financier Warren Hellman. Also playing that two-day multi-stage show: Doc Watson, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Del McCoury, Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and far too many others to mention.

Organizers of last weekend's Humboldt Sends Relief hurricane benefit inform me that the event resulted in a $17,500 check to the Red Cross. But the local love hasn't stopped flowing.

Thursday, September 29th, Six Rivers Brewery hosts a Hurricane Relief Benefit featuring local alt.rock bands Laden Swallow, Stereo Chromatic, Somewhere North and DJ Aera with proceeds going to the ASPCA to help feed pets left homeless by the storm. This one starts early, 6 p.m. and it's all ages until 10.

Then on Saturday, Oct. 1, we have two benefits. Many Bands, One Cause, No Cover is a mostly folky benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims at Old Town Coffee starting at 2 in the afternoon with dark melodic folk/rock by Morgan Corviday and Andrea Zvaleko, followed by Native American flautist Eric Stitt, fingerstyle guitarist Todd Krider, guitarist/ singer/songwriter Mike Craghead, eclectic acoustic songwriter John Ludington, Celtic tunes by Seabury Gould and Scatter The Mud, more folk from Devin Farren and traditional West African music by Dun Dun Fare. Folks from the Red Cross will be there to take your donations.

Mazzotti's starts their Red Cross Relief Fund Benefit at 8 p.m. bringing together bands playing styles ranging from soul to country to funk with Vintage Soul, Ridgeline, Falling Rocks, The Generators and Moo-Got-2. (Can you guess who plays what?)

I will spend a portion of my day Saturday on the Arcata Plaza faking it alongside some real artists drawing for Pastels on the Plaza. For the last few years the Joyce Hough Band has supplied the soundtrack for the event, but since they are on hiatus, this Saturday The Delta Nationals take their place. As you may recall, when the Nats played on the Plaza for the Farmers' Market earlier this summer, their guitarist, Steve Irwin suffered a mild heart attack. Nats drummer Paul DeMark notes that the band's set will include a song by Irwin, "I'm Alive," written before the heart attack. "It has a lot of meaning for all of us," says DeMark, noting further, "Since the last Farmers' Market we've been prolific in writing original songs. For Steve it's `If not now, when?' One song we'll debut this weekend is based on his experience at the Farmers' Market; it's called `My Last Song.' It comes right from the heart."

Back in March I attended a show at Muddy Waters called Miles Ahead featuring music by jazz master Miles Davis, organized by electric piano man Mike Kapitan with Michel Navedo on trumpet. What can I say other than it was way cool, even better than I imagined it might be. This Friday. Sept. 30, the guys are back for more. I will be there.

Also on Friday, at the Riverwood Inn, it's Glen Earl Brown Jr. and the Dickens Band. Led by Texas native Glen Earl, the band plays what they refer to as "genuine" honky tonk music, country-tinged with a taste of rock-a-billy. Loreen figures fans of the late great Ray Condo will love these guys.

Meanwhile in Blue Lake it's Fusiq, playing a fusion of this and that, plus The Jade Stems, who tell me they "play songs about UFOs and Chinese medicine."

Looking for something wild and crazy? Stop by The Metro Tuesday, Oct. 4, and hear Seattle-based accordionist Jason Webley, a guy who sings kind of like Tom Waits, jumps up on counters and encourages the worship of tomatoes.

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 5, head out to Six Rivers to hear The Dead Kenny Gs, who get this week's clever band name award. The trio includes Brian Hass from Jacob Fred Odyssey on keys, Mike Dillon from Hairy Apes BMX, etc. on drums, and Skerik on saxes (but not soprano). "The Dead Kenny Gs is what happens when people are influenced by Art Ensemble of Chicago and Bad Brains, and are also sick of the greed and lies of the commercial music world," explains Skerik.

In a classical vein we have the Heimholtz Trio on Saturday night at HSU's Fulkerson Recital Hall with violinist Terrie Baune, cellist Carol Jacobson and pianist Deborah Clasquin performing piano trios by Felix Mendelssohn and Antonin Dvorak.

That night at Café Mokka it's Gypsy jazz by Cuckoo's Nest, with fiddlers Rob Diggins and Jolianne von Einem out front. You may not be aware that Diggins and von Einem are also accomplished classical players. Sunday, Oct. 2, at Westhaven Center for the Arts the pair offers Les Conversations Galantes: Intimate Dialogues For Two Violins: Part I, featuring romantic Baroque music.

And coming up Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Van Duzer the acclaimed Julliard String Quartet performs, among other things, the world premiere of Argentinean composer Ezequiel Viñao's Quartet No. 2, "The Loss and the Silence." According to Juilliard Quartet cellist Joel Krosnick, Viñao's music expresses "a very personal idiom, orchestrated in a complex and brilliant way." Complex and brilliant? Sounds good to me.


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