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Humboldt Culture 

UKEsperience's Lost Coast Sessions, pledge drives, Zoe Boekbinder, Skerdio

Ukesperience, live at KEET. Photo by Bob Doran.
  • Ukesperience, live at KEET. Photo by Bob Doran.

I wasn't thinking about what goes into Humboldt culture when I sat down on the couch last night for a bit of channel surfing. Mondays my wife typically watches Antiques Roadshow on the local PBS outlet, KEET, and I'll join her sometimes. Before the Roadshow we found KEET's outreach queen, Claire Reynolds, introducing segments of A Taste of North Coast Cuisine, the locally produced series on Humboldt chefs, restaurants and food producers as she helped pitch for the station's pledge drive.

Claire also mentioned another KEET production, the first in the Lost Coast Sessions series, which premieres Saturday, March 20, at 8:05 p.m. I was at the KEET studios on Humboldt Hill shooting photos when they recorded UKEsperience, my favorite all-uke band -- a splendid time was had by all. My friend Ange's brother, J.D. Lobue, flew up from L.A. to direct -- he's a Hollywood vet with credits that include Dharma & Greg, Soap, and, back in the day, Soul Train. Mike Dronkers was there as emcee and helped out on postproduction with his KHUM compatriot Larry Trask.

"The band played well. Everything worked out well," said Mike. "Sam Greene edited the visuals. We spent a lot of time in the studio making it sound good; we took the recording and pimped it out."

Mike hasn't seen the end product, nor have I, but as he said, the music was great -- I can't wait to see how it turned out. The 8:05 start time is because the pledge drive will still be on. If you haven't pledged yet, please do -- it's what makes public broadcasting work.

Speaking of pledge drives, it must be the season since KHSU starts theirs on Friday. Their pitch: "As the state budget tightens, so do state funds for KHSU's license holder, Humboldt State University, so each year, KHSU is responsible for raising an increasing amount of its own operating budget through underwriting and membership."

"We're expecting to lose $20,000 a year in state funding for the next three years," says new KHSU General Manager Ed Subkis. "We need to increase our local fundraising to make up for these cuts and sustain our services."

They're jazzing up the drive this time, including live music here and there: Folklife Woodshed (Sunday 5-7 p.m.) will run two hours with music by Humboldt Folklifers including, Sally Goodin' and The Spindrifters. Brooks Otis' show, Keys to the Highway (Monday 2-4 p.m.) will include Brooks playing with a few of his friends: Errol Previde, Ken and Maria Jorgenson, Joyce Hough and Fred Neighbor. Dub Cowboy's Reggae Jamdown (next Friday, March 26, 2-4) becomes the Reggae Pledgedown, with the possibility of live reggae. I help out with Vinnie DeVaney's eclectic show Fogou (Wednesday, 2-4), and we're pulling together some live stuff. So far songwriter Josephine Johnson has agreed to show up (you can also hear her play Tuesday morning, March 23 at Has Beans). Again, if you're a KHSU listener, it's time to pony up and help keep Humboldt culture going.

If you've heard Zoe Boekbinder before, chances are it was as half of Vermillion Lies, a colorful neo-vaudeville trunk show that paired her with her big sister, Kim. Calling from Oakland, her current home base, Zoe laughed when I asked if they've had a falling out. What happened? "I was feeling like the project was more my sister's than mine. Near the end I was writing new songs that were more personal to me and less theatrical and silly. I would bring them to my sister and she'd say, 'That's not really a Vermillion Lies song.' And she was probably right. When we tried to play more serious songs it didn't work that well because we were this kitschy band."

Eventually the need to play her own songs made her realize she had to go her own way. "I made an album on my own and that was it," she said. The album, Artichoke Perfume, is indeed more personal, effectively detailing failed relationships and lost love in what Zoe calls "geek-glam" style. New York producer Cesar Alvarez fleshed out the music with touches of brass band and complex rhythms.

Touring solo, Zoe uses a looping device in addition to her guitar and Casio. "I can do a lot of the background vocals and percussive stuff with my loop pedal, but it's definitely stripped down. But I don't feel like it's lacking anything. I always like watching solo performers -- so much more is demanded when there's no one else on stage. I feel the responsibility to exude so much more and give much more, to be more expressive. The pressure is on when you're by yourself."

You can see how she does on her own Sunday evening when Zoe returns to the Westhaven Center for the Arts on a tour with her friend, Annah Anti-Palindrome, another looping solo artist, also from Oakland.        

Coming up on Thursday at the Red Fox Tavern, Skerdio, a new duo pairing mad saxophonist Skerik and Radioactive, best known for his work with Spearhead. How does it work? According to their PR blast, "Skerik provides on the fly samples in addition to his mysterious saxophone and keyboard sounds. Radioactive turns it into a party with his own personal style of beatboxing, mic rocking, and freestyling." Local DJ Psy Fi opens.

Friday out at Beginnings Octagon it's the annual Pisces Party benefiting the ongoing work of eco-activist Richard Gienger with dinner and music by Del McCain and Ken Jorgeson's band, Falling Rocks, plus what they describe as "silent & noisy auctions."

Rock out Saturday at the Alibi with Watch it Sparkle, a garage punk band from Seattle, plus locals Splinter Cell featuring former members of The Buffy Swayze, Iron Rain, The Hitch and Henpecker.

Masta Shredda, Mike D and Itchie Fingaz take turns at Nocturnum Thursday, March 18, for Aftershock. Friday all three are at The Old Creamery in Arcata for a Mountain Coast Energy party that also includes D-Rock and MC Franco. Saturday the party moves to Arcata Theatre Lounge for a benefit for New World Ballet. For The Love of Dance has DJ Marlon B, DJ Red and (once again) Itchie Fingaz spinning for your dancing pleasure.

Meanwhile Saturday at the Red Fox, Earth Pulse Productions presents the Black Clover Records' Blood in the Heartland Tour with Mac Lethal, DJ Sku, Soulcrate Music, Prof and Akream, plus locals The Dirty Ratz. Mac Lethal is a Kansas City-based rapper/hip hop producer and co-founder of Black Clover.

In the midst of a killer Winterfest set by The Fickle Hillbillies, as the band was playing Bill Withers' soul classic "Use Me," Mihael Kavanaugh joined in, reeling out a couple of cool flute solos. Some will remember Mihael from his days with proto-reggae band Graffiti. He's also been writing songs and playing them here and there: "coffee houses, sometimes at HumBrews open mic," he told me in a chat last night.  He's done the Benbow Summer Arts and Music Fest and played the last Earthdance. Saturday night he'll bring his songs to the Arcata Playhouse with Matt Myers on tabla, a benefit for Coastal Grove Charter School (his youngest goes there). The True Gospel Singers share the bill -- they're a spin-off from the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir and have been backing Earl Thomas of late. Note: All of this was relayed in a last-minute Facebook chat, so it's not in our calendar. The show runs 8 until midnight; sliding scale admission, $5-20. Proceeds help CGCS kids see the Grand Canyon, Zion and Mono Lake.

Finally, a reminder that the 20th Annual Redwood Coast Jazz Festival starts next Thursday, March 25, with A Taste of Main Street and the Big Band Dance at the Adorni featuring Swing Set with Donna Landry. The rest of the fest is next weekend -- details next week.

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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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