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Dancing for Independence 

Fourth of July festivities, drummer wanted, and The Kids of Widney High

What do you think of, musically, when the Fourth of July rolls around? Brass bands and military drumlines maybe? “The Star Spangled Banner”? For me the old X song “Fourth of July” comes to mind: “On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone. Mexican kids are shootin’ fireworks below...” and that great chorus, “Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July. Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July. Hey baby, baby take a walk outside.”

My plan for the Fourth: Take a walk outside and on down to the Arcata Plaza, where Independence Day festivities kick off with a decidedly non-military drumline as Bloco Firmeza pounds out a Brazilian batucada (at 11:15 a.m.) and the Samba de Chuva dancers shake things up. There’s an international array of dancers as the day rolls on: step-dancing by the Emerald Coast Irish Dancers (at 1), bellydancing by Shoshanna and friends (2:45), all-American breakdancing by Humboldt Rockers (4:30). In between you can expect some noodle dancing when the Dead tribute band The Miracle Show plays at noon. Since we’re in Humboldt, homegrown reggae is a must: Jah Sun and High Voltageplay at 1; Ishi Dube and Massagana take the stage around 5 (assuming things run on schedule, which they seldom do). Later on, come nighttime, Ishi and Jah Sun team up as Lion’s Camp for a show at Humboldt Brews. (They’re also part of a Thursday, July 3, showcase at the Red Fox with Messenjah Selah.) Back on the Plaza, Arcata’s No. 1 jamband The Nucleus plays in between the reggae. (You’ll also find them at the Red Fox that night as part of Sub/Sab.) Closing things off on the Plaza, we have the Brazilian drum and dance ensemble that always plays at the North Country Fair, Quente Samba Amore, who will lead a samba line from the Plaza to the ballpark, where the Crabs will be heading into the second game in a double header. Fireworks follow.

Elsewhere in Arcata, specifically at the D St. Neighborhood Center, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom hostsan“Interdependence Day” Brunch(and book sale) with music by Marianne and Maria and The Raging Grannies.Since my mom is one of the Grannies (she’s actually a great-granny) I’ll have to stop by.

There was a time when Blue Lake’s finest groove-rock band Kulica played every Thursday night at Six Rivers Brewing. They return to their roots Friday playing for a Six Rivers all-day Fourth-o-July bash that includes St. John and the Sinners and four other bands.

There’s also the usual food, art, etc. all along Second Street in Eureka’s Old Town on the Fourth with music on several stages, although I can’t tell you exactly who.

And for those looking for something more traditional and patriotic, Ferndale has its annual parade down Main and a Celebrate America! musical extravaganza at the Ferndale Rep.

Don’t miss the return of worldly rockers WoMama, fresh from their first tour and ready to “Afrock” the Arcata Farmers’ Market Saturday morning. Later they play at Six Rivers as part of a Warriors Walking for Wellness Benefit (I believe connected to Relay for Life) along with the above-mentioned Quente Samba Amore.

Saturday at the Alibi it’s Humboldt honky tonk and all-American Americana with Rooster McClintock. The music may be country-flavored, but they rock.

Saturday night at the Jambalaya it’s acoustic music on the folky side with Andrew Herringer and Boomsauii. Most of the time it’s easy to figure out who musicians are, since they typically leave a trail on the Web. Not so Andrew, who, clues tell me, might be from the Sacramento area. Boomsauii was new to me also; they appear to be local (they have a gig later this month at Mosgo’s and play two days at the Humboldt County Fair in August). They have a MySpace, which offers more details (although it only says they’re from California and Tennessee, so the localness is a guess). It shows that guitarist Mark, percussionist Dan and bassist Joe share the last name Hays, so we’ll assume they’re brothers. They use the “about” section of MySpace for an essay explaining the meaning of their name — sort of. After offering a capsule history of man’s evolution and civilization in general, they get to a point where, “somewhere in the woods on the side of a hill, three crazy ass-holes are beating on a trampoline and chanting a word that is the product of an anomaly of evolution and society. The product of history and a trillion crossing paths — BOOMSAUII!” As the essay ends you are supposed the give “a slow clap.” Don’t ask me why. Ask them.

The Li’l Red Lion rocks on this week with that Thursday Fire Demons/Tarrakian show mentioned last week, then a Saturday night blast with local loudness from The Zygoats and Tucson indie rockers Mostly Bears, who tell us, “We are a lifeguard, a librarian and a beekeeper’s assistant. Our combined age is 67. Our family tree has a John Dillinger branch. We run for the health of it. We did acid for a month last night. We write our letters in octopus ink. Hablamos espanyol, pues, probamos. We always draw a big yellow sun in the top right corner. We are very pleased to meet you. We are Mostly Bears.”

The Red Fox continues its role as reggae-central: Saturday they have Chico’s Mystic Roots Band (the guys who have been backing Pato Banton) plus Rude Lion Sound with DJ Jimmy Jonz, the sound-system that plays there most Thursdays. Tuesday, July 8, Bonus brings in Rootz Underground, a hot young six-piece out of Jamaica. Next Thursday, July 10, Proper presents two legendary Jamaican veterans: singer Cornell Campbell and “your ace from outer space” U-Roy, one of the godfathers of dancehall music, with the usual Rude Lion Sound crew.

When I asked Steve Watts of Passion Presents to send me the line-up for Arcata’s Fourth bash (Passion is running the music) he added a note: “Steel Toed Slippers were scheduled, but broke up and cancelled last minute.” News to me. I investigated. Apparently the bass player departed suddenly and the Slippers are re-grouping. “It’s all good,” says band dad Mossman. “Matt [son of Mossman] and Will are moving to LA and they will keep the name Steel Toed Slippers since they are the two original members.” So, bass player wanted notices will go out and we’ll hear from them again in the future.

The other day I happened to catch the first out-of-the-garage performanceofa fine new country-rock band, Cadillac Ranch. They were drummer-less (maybe they still are) and were looking for the right person. I suggested posting something on Craigslist. Wondering if they had, I was looking at the musician listings there this morning and came across this hilarious bit of testosterone: “Seeking Hot Mini Skirt Babe to Front Band: We have a bitchin band with smokin players, doing balls-out hard rock ac/dc sabbath slayer priest etc. Want a hot babe to get up in front scream and dance your ass off in short short tight clothes. Entertain the crowd and the guys playing behind you, it will take a special gal to rock these go-go boots. If you cant sing or hit the high notes, would love to teach you how. Serious pro, drink, no parents either. We got a nice shed for playing in too.” OK, I can guess why they don’t want a teetotaler, but why the insistence on her being an orphan?

Coming up next week after all the Independence hoopla has faded, a special visit from a band out of L.A. called, The Kids of Widney High. The Kids are students at J. P. Widney High School, a special education school, where, about 20 years ago, one of the teachers led a songwriting class, then thought it would be cool to have a school rock band. A rotating group of Kids has kept the tradition going since. Teachers and music pros play behind them as the Kids handle vocals on songs about Elvis (“E-L-V-I-S”) and my favorite, “Insects.” (“You better watch out or the insects will get you!”)

The Kids gig regularly in the greater L.A. area at clubs like the Knitting Factory, The Smell and (one of their faves) Mr. T’s (a bowling alley). They’ve opened for numerous bands including The Melvins and Mr. Bungle, count Marilyn Manson and Adam from the Beasties among their fans, and once played a Warped Tour show.

This summer, for the first time, they’re going on tour. After a stop in S.F., where they play at Amoeba and City Lights Bookstore, they hit Eureka for a couple of days. Tuesday, July 8, they play at the Eureka Library at 6 p.m. then head over to Accident Gallery for an 8 p.m. show. Wednesday, July 9, they’re at Old Town Coffee and Chocolates in the afternoon, showtime 2:30 p.m.

Give 'em a listen, and show them some respect, which is all they ask when they update the Otis Redding classic (included on their latest disc, Let’s Get Busy). “Don’t ignore me when you walk by, I’m not that different, and that’s no lie... You stop and stare, and that’s not cool. We have feelings, just like you. All we’re asking for is a little respect.”

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About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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