Music

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mateel, High Times Create Partnership to Save Reggae on the River

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 10:46 AM

Last year's Reggae on the River. - FILE
  • File
  • Last year's Reggae on the River.
The Mateel Community Center’s board of directors voted last night to approve a partnership with High Times Productions to put on Reggae on the River.

The deal was announced in a press release this morning with few details, other than that the production company, the event-management arm of High Times Media, will “assume responsibility for the upcoming festival’s talent lineup, marketing and monetization efforts.” In the release, Mateel Board President Garth Epling says the partnership will give the Mateel “the resources to continue growing and developing the festival.”

A story on www.kymkemp.com that posted last night notes that the deal has been in negotiations for six months.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

One Billion Rising and Rising

Posted By on Sat, Feb 17, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Sunny Brae Middle School teacher Anne Youmans led a last minute review of her choreography coaching prior to the 1:45 p.m. performance on the Arcata Plaza. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Sunny Brae Middle School teacher Anne Youmans led a last minute review of her choreography coaching prior to the 1:45 p.m. performance on the Arcata Plaza.
More than 100 Arcata Elementary School and Sunny Brae Middle School students sang and danced to "Home We'll Go" at the sixth annual One Billion Rising event on the Arcata Plaza on Friday afternoon. "We're making a statement through dance to rise, resist and unite to make change happen so our homes and workplaces are safer for all of us," said event organizer Jessie Hobba. See a slideshow of photos from the event below.

Hobba and others from the local V-Day Humboldt movement started the local One Billion Rising dance event in 2012 as part of their activities on ending violence against women and girls. In her introduction, Hobba explained the origins of the "One Billion Rising" term by citing the United Nations statistic that one out of three women worldwide will be beaten or raped. That works out to about 1 billion women worldwide.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Poor Reggae on the River Attendance Leaves Mateel Community Center's Future in Question

Posted By on Sat, Sep 2, 2017 at 9:33 AM

This year's Reggae on the River. - FILE
  • File
  • This year's Reggae on the River.
Redway’s Mateel Community Center is in a state of crisis after its biggest annual fundraiser, Reggae on the River, not only failed to meet revenue projections but left the center with a “significant” debt.

“Very challenging times lie ahead, there are difficult decisions to make, and the future of both ROTR and the MCC is at stake,” Mateel General Manager Justin Crellin wrote in a letter to to the Southern Humboldt community, inviting it to a Sept. 19 meeting when he will share further detail of the Mateel’s financial state and what options are being considered.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Scenes from the Folklife Fest

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 11:55 AM

Jenny Scheinman's performance was a highlight of the 39th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Jenny Scheinman's performance was a highlight of the 39th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival.
The week-long Humboldt Folklife Festival in its 39th year drew large crowds to its events this year, according to Patrick Cleary, one of the many Humboldt Folklife Society members who organized the event. Cleary said this year's festival was dedicated to the memory of Susan Anderson, one of the original members of the Humboldt Folklife Society back in 1978 who died this past year.

Personal highlights for me included Thurday's Bluegrass and Beyond show that included Clean Livin', Jenny Scheinman and The Compost Mountain Boys at the Dell'Arte Amphitheatre. Scheinman's virtuoso skills on the fiddle and singing of her creative and sometimes very personal lyrics were outstanding.

Scheinman first played solo on tunes from her latest release Here On Earth (a tribute to fiddle tunes). John Wood then accompanied her on his keyboard for songs that she has written that were very personal, funny, sad and a few based on her memories of growing up in Petrolia behind the "redwood curtain."

The Folklife Festival came to a close on Saturday in Blue Lake with its All Day Free Fest of workshops and18 bands performing on two stages. Check out the full slideshow below.


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Saturday, December 17, 2016

UPDATED: One Time at Band Camp

Posted By on Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 2:05 PM

None of this for a while. - FILE
  • FILE
  • None of this for a while.

UPDATE:
The Humboldt State Lumberjack's only learned the allegations that led to the band's suspension through a university press release, according to a statement issued Friday.

The Lumberjacks claim university "representatives" have failed to respond to requests from band leadership for details regarding the allegations facing the band, which include boozing it up, graffiti and "inappropriate printed materials and photographs" in the on-campus band room.

"The band is growing increasingly frustrated with the university's lack of official communication," the Lumberjacks say in the statement. See the full release copied below.

PREVIOUSLY:
Cue a sad trombone sound. The rollicking, helmeted Marching Lumberjacks have been benched. Humboldt State University sent out notice that it's investigating policy violations regarding booze, graffiti and "inappropriate printed materials and photographs" at the band's on-campus digs. For now, the band kids are on suspension. HSU reps had no further comment beyond the statement below.

From Humboldt State University:

Humboldt State University has placed the Marching Lumberjacks Band on suspension while it investigates possible violations of University policies. The investigation may extend well into the spring semester.

During the suspension, the band will not be allowed to represent the University locally or outside the region, and it will not have access to campus services that are available for recognized student organizations.

The suspension follows the discovery in the band’s on-campus space of inappropriate printed materials and photographs, graffiti, open containers of alcohol, and numerous safety and building code violations. The space has been locked and secured, and the University has begun the process of returning personal belongings to club members.

In the California State University system, if student organizations or individual students are found responsible for policy violations, they face disciplinary action ranging from a warning to expulsion. In order to protect the rights and privacy of both students and employees, the University will only be able to provide general information on the investigation.
From the band:

The Marching Lumberjacks are aware of the press release from Humboldt State University
on December 14, 2016, regarding our organization’s suspension.
To date, University representatives have not responded to requests from the band’s student
leadership for details regarding the specifics of the alleged violations.
The band is growing increasingly frustrated with the University’s lack of official
communication.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Into and Out of the Theater Business

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 12:07 PM

FROM THE MING TREE WEBSITE
  • From the Ming Tree website

Looking to manage a marquee? Here's your chance. The Arcata Theatre Lounge is on the market for a cool $1.85 million via Ming Tree Realtors. The revamped Art Deco venue has been listed for a week and includes shops rented by Bluegrass Barber and Smug's pizza. 

Over the phone last week, Lara Cox, who owns the theater with her husband Brian, said, "We've done this, we've devoted 11 years of our lives to the theater and it's been awesome … but we're just ready to do something different at this point." That something else may be a project in Humboldt but Cox is tight-lipped about what. There's "nothing we love so much as a project," she said. 

And the ATL's renovation has been that. Cox said that, over the course of five years of working with the city, the pipes, electricity, sound, lighting and kitchen, among other things, have all been updated and brought to code and ADA standards. Given the investment, as well as the business, equipment and liquor license, Cox said with a deep breath, "We feel good about the price. The hardest part of this decision is that we have so many loyal customers and the community has been awesome … it's bittersweet."

Don't panic over where to get your B-movie and pizza fix just yet. Until a buyer steps up, Cox said, it's business as usual. 
McKinlay and Neff in the Minor lobby during renovations. - FILE
  • File
  • McKinlay and Neff in the Minor lobby during renovations.

Meanwhile, a crumpled popcorn bag's throw away, the Minor Theater is on the cusp of opening its doors again. Business partners Josh Neff and Merrick McKinlay have set the date for a Sept. 16 red carpet premiere. (See the Journal's cover story on the purchase and renovation here.) 

After going back and forth with the city over whether the business should be considered a theater or a lounge, like the ATL, Neff and McKinlay have managed to secure permission for their set-up, including an expanded concessions stand stocked with Slice of Humboldt Pie, Smug's, beer and wine. Add to that an ADA-compliant automatic door and an upgraded fire safety system that includes alarms for each theater. 

Neff and McKinlay are finalizing the schedule for opening night and weekend but, so far, it's set to play like a local film fest with short films from the likes of Steven Vander Meer and Violet Crabtree, with locally filmed 1970s schlock homage The Love Witch scheduled later in the fall. 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': Sizzla Speaks at Reggae on the River

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Sizzla Kalonji addresses the media at a press conference after his show. Prior to the press conference, Kalonji's manager warned reporters not to ask any "homophobic questions." - ERICA BOTKIN
  • Erica Botkin
  • Sizzla Kalonji addresses the media at a press conference after his show. Prior to the press conference, Kalonji's manager warned reporters not to ask any "homophobic questions."
Reggae dancehall artist Sizzla Kalonji has given few interviews in recent years. So it was sort of a big deal when Kalonji’s camp confirmed at the last minute that the artist would be talking to the press at Reggae on the River immediately after his headlining show Saturday night.

The interview appeared to be part of a repositioning effort intended to introduce Sizzla to new listeners and put his work back in the mainstream public eye after a seven-year hiatus from the United States due to work visa issues. In 2008, Kalonji was one of a number of Jamaican dancehall and reggae musicians whose visa applications were declined, reportedly due to their shared propensity for speech acts inciting violence against gay men.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

UPDATED: Reggae Ready to 'Pull the Plug' on Sizzla if Assurances not Met

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Sizzla Kalonji - FLICKR/ELISE
  • Flickr/Elise
  • Sizzla Kalonji
UPDATE: Humboldt Pride has called on Reggae on the River to cancel Sizzla’s performance and issue a public apology to the Humboldt queer community. If Reggae organizers do not comply, Pride will call for ticket holders to boycott the performance.

“It’s a slap in the face to the LGBT Community,” said Zakkary Zoah, Board Member of Humboldt Pride. “His anti-queer rhetoric is well-documented. Giving this man an opportunity to spew his hate isn’t the Humboldt way.”

Previously:

The Reggae on the River festival has received “assurances” from controversial headliner Sizzla Kalonji’s management that “no derogatory speech will occur” during his performance, and staff is prepared to pull the plug on the show if the dancehall star does not follow through.

In an email to the Journal and other media outlets this afternoon, Mateel Community Center General Manager and Talent Coordinator Justin Crellin responded to the controversy that has sparked up surrounding Sizzla’s headlining role at the four-day Southern Humboldt music festival and his history of lyrics targeting the LGBTQ community.

“Please note that Sizzla has been booked on the show since we first announced the line-up over 5 months ago — and we received no concerns about him being on the bill until very recently — despite a great deal of local publicity,” Crellin wrote in the email. “That said, we now recognize there are concerns within the community about his appearance on the show.”

Crellin then notes the assurances received from Sizzla’s management and staff’s having a protocol in place to “pull the plug on his performance should anything like this happen.” Crellin says the festival will also be posting a “values statement” at its merchandize booths and encouraging audience members to sign it in order to share it with Sizzla’s management “and send a message about where we stand as a community and to underscore what we expect from our artists — with the ultimate goal of fostering real dialogue on an issue that is sadly pervasive in Jamaican culture.”

As the Journal reported yesterday, Sizzla has been outspoken in his condemnation of gay people, both in song and in interviews, and is a figure of international controversy, having had shows canceled in multiple countries in the face of large-scale protests from groups that have deemed his work “murder music” because it incites violence against LGBTQ communities.

It should also be noted that Sizzla has a track record of making similar assurances to the one his management reportedly made Crellin, and then breaking them. In 2007, he signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, which asked artists to renounce homophobia and drop lyrics promoting violence against gay people from their music, only to continue playing and defending such songs. More recently, he took the stage at Sting — Jamaica’s largest reggae festival — in 2013, reportedly after promising promoters he would not sing any anti-gay songs, only to launch into a lengthy homophobic verse that culminated with his jumping up and down and screaming “battyman,” the Jamaican slang equivalent to “faggot.”

"Sizzla was warned repeatedly before going onstage about not promoting hate music and he went up there and did it repeatedly," Sting's promoter, Isaiah Laing, told Jamaica's The Gleaner newspaper.

Reggae on the River will be Sizzla’s first show in the United States since a tour in 2008, which saw a host of shows cancelled in the face of protests.

Crellin said the festival will donate funds from its 2016 Ambassador Program, which donates 10 percent of funds from the festival’s Ambassador Pass — an exclusive ticket for the event — sales to “charities related to reggae culture,” to a nonprofit working on gay rights issues in Jamaica.

Journal emails to Mateel board members inquiring about what went into the organization's initial decision to book Sizzla to headline its largest annual fundraiser and concerns from the local LGBTQ community have gone unreturned. Crellin has also not replied to a Journal follow up email asking if Mateel staff was aware of and discussed Sizzla's controversial lyrics prior to booking him and when staff received these "assurances" from the artist's management. 

For more on Sizzla’s history — including video from his controversial 2013 performance in Jamaica — and local reaction to his headlining role at this weekend’s festival, see past Journal coverage here.

Below, see Crellin’s email copied in its entirety:

Sorry for the delay in responding to your emails yesterday.  We were having some internet issues and obviously we are in full swing with the production of the event, so we have a lot going on right now.  Please note that Sizzla has been booked on the show since we first announced the line-up over 5 months ago- and we received no concerns about him being on the bill until very recently- despite a great deal of local publicity.  That said, we now recognize there are concerns within the community about his appearance on the show.  We have an assurance from management that no derogatory speech will occur and have protocol in place to pull the plug on his performance should anything like this happen.  We will also be posting a values statement at our artist merchandise booth and will be talking from the stage (and in our press tent) encouraging our audience to sign this document with the intent to share it with his management and send a message about where we stand as a community and to underscore what we expect from our artists- with the ultimate goal of fostering real dialogue on an issue that is sadly pervasive in Jamaican culture.  To this end, we will also be utilizing funds from our 2016 Ambassador Program- which funnels 10% of funds from our Ambassador ticket sales to global charities related to reggae culture- to directly support the work of an NPO in Jamaica that is working to combat this issue and foster tolerance and understanding regarding the LGBTQ community.  I hope this helps answer some of your questions...

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reggae Headliner Re-stokes Murder Music Outcry

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Sizzla Kalonji - FLICKR/ELISE
  • Flickr/Elise
  • Sizzla Kalonji
Reggae on the River kicks off this weekend but the festival’s choice of headliner has some local LGBTQ groups wondering if "Murder Music on the River" might be a more fitting moniker.

In its 32nd year, the four-day summer music festival put on by the Mateel Community Center has confirmed Jamaican reggae artist Sizzla Kalonji will headline Saturday’s lineup, marking his first performance in the United States in eight years. At first blush, the dancehall artist’s appearance is a coup for the festival, as he’s been nominated for Grammys, released more than 60 albums and landed on Billboard’s Top Reggae Album chart 28 times.

But Sizzla, born Miguel Orlando Collins, has also earned a reputation for his homophobic lyrics that some say incite violence against the LGBTQ community. Most recently, Sizzla grabbed headlines when he was banned from performing at Jamaica’s largest reggae festival in 2014 — Kingston’s Sting festival, which is broadcast live to an estimated audience of 315 million people on five continents — for including an extended homophobic verse in one of his songs on the festival’s stage the year before, an act that culminated with his jumping up and down and screaming “battyman,” the Jamaican slang equivalent to “faggot.”


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Monday, November 16, 2015

Gathering of Tribes

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 3:16 PM

A packed house at Redwood Acres watched the eagle and jaguar dance by Aztec Dance and Drum group. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • A packed house at Redwood Acres watched the eagle and jaguar dance by Aztec Dance and Drum group.
A large crowd gathered at Redwood Acres in Eureka on Saturday to attend the 35th annual Northwest Intertribal Gathering and Elders Dinner. Elders were served a free traditional dinner of salmon or turkey and later were honored with a gifting ceremony. Native and non-native veterans were invited to the front of the performance arena and audience members lined up to offer hugs, shake hands and say thanks to to those who'd served.

Native American singers, a drum group and brush, hoop, Tolowa, Aztec, Shake Head and Pow Wow dancers all took the stage before a rapt audience. Vendor booths were brimming with Native American arts and crafts.

The annual gathering event, held during National American Indian Heritage Month and open to all, honors all Elders and veterans, according to its sponsor, the Northern California Indian Development Council. Check out the slideshow below for some highlights.

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