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Out in Front 

Gillian Welch sideman Dave Rawlings takes center stage

The recent release of A Friend of a Friend, under the banner of The Dave Rawlings Machine, marks the first studio release from Nashville-based musical duo of Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch since 2006 (with the release of Gillian Welch's Soul Journey). "For this record and this tour," Rawlings said in a phone interview with The Hum, "we swapped it up." Indeed, for the guitarist, producer and vocalist, this is the first recording with Rawlings stepping up to take the lead vocals chores.

"When we tried to start recording some songs with me as a lead vocalist," said Rawlings, "it suited the songs better to fill out things a little more -- to have some more people, some more instruments." For the recording, Rawlings and Welch brought in a number of stellar musicians, including Tom Petty's longtime keyboardist Benmont Tench, Bright Eyes instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott and a trio of musicians from Old Crow Medicine Show: fiddler Ketch Secor, guitarist Willie Watson and bassist Morgan Jahnig. The OCMS members fill out the current touring band, along with Welch and Rawlings. The Dave Rawlings Machine will be performing at HSU's Van Duzer Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

It was Rawlings' attraction to early musical duos such The Everly Brothers and The Louvin Brothers that brought him together with Welch. "Gillian and I, when we first started playing together, thought, 'Well, we like playing as a duet, we like the sound of two parts, a sort of angular harmony, and we like the sound of two instruments." A Friend of a Friend doesn't initially sound like a radical departure from the Gillian Welch releases. "From our world, it feels different," Rawlings noted. "I don't have the beautiful voice that Gillian does. This music tends to be more rollicking, a more up-tempo show." Expect that, plus killer harmonies and Rawlings' fluid guitar work at this distinguished duo's upcoming Arcata show. Rawlings also mentioned that there will be a new Gillian Welch release slated for later this year, with a possibility that they will be performing a song or two from that record as well.

It seems that this week's musical plate will be filled with country, Americana, rockabilly and bluegrass, in heaping portions. Following in the footsteps of musical eccentrics such as Hasil Adkins, Bloodshot recording artist Scott H. Biram -- a one-man psychobilly, blues, country and rock band -- will be stomping (literally) and bashing away just across HSU's campus from Rawling/Welch at The Depot on Wednesday night. No Depression magazine noted that "... his barbarous exorcism of Depression-era blues -- with a bedrock of frantic flatpicking, foot stomps into a floor mic, and gutteral growls through a distortion mic -- has made Biram a rising star in Austin."

Earlier in the week, fellow Austin singer/songwriter (and Bloodshot Records artist) Wayne "The Train" Hancock will be bringing his mixture of smooth Western Swing, rockabilly and Hank Williams, Sr.'s honky tonk influences to Nocturnum on Thursday, Feb. 4, with Rooster McClintock opening. In fact, Hank Williams III has recorded a number of Hancock's compositions. For pure country enthusiasts, Hancock is the real deal. And if that isn't a hootenanny enough for you, Cash'd Out, a San Diego-based Johnny Cash tribute band, will be performing on the same evening at The Red Fox Tavern.

The talented bluegrass outfit (and former Ferndale residents) Huckleberry Flint will be making a homecoming appearance at Humboldt Brews on Saturday, Feb. 6. It may be a good excuse to check out the venue's new performance space and sound system. The San Louis Obispo-based Red Eye Junction, a country outfit that leans towards the classic Bakersfield sound (think Buck Owens or Merle Haggard), will be playing at The Jambalaya on Monday, Feb. 8 ("Budget Rock Night," with a $2 cover). Hope the Jam's stage has enough room for the multipiece band.

The local musical community will be coming together on two occasions this week for needed, good causes. The Bayside Grange will be hosting "From Humboldt to Haiti," a benefit for the people of Haiti (who give us all a proper perspective on our own earthquake) on Friday, Feb. 5. The benefit will be featuring Gregg Moore, Kulica, UkeSperience, Greg Lojko, Mon Petit Chou, Lorna Brown and Lila Nelson (who seems to be performing in the Humboldt area more these days, now that she has moved to the Bay Area), with catering provided by Blackberry Bramble BBQ. On Saturday, Feb. 6, during Eureka's Arts Alive!, Mantova's Two Street Music will be hosting a Courtney Weaver Benefit, featuring Saint John and the Sinners, among other musical guests, starting at 8 p.m. (the Eureka Brass will be performing there from 6-8 p.m.) As you have read in Bob's earlier column, Weaver is recovering from gunshot wounds, and this benefit is intended to assist with medical costs. There will also be a silent auction, featuring new and used instruments, starting at 5 p.m.

Also on Saturday evening, there will be a battle of the strings, so to speak. The annual Eureka Symphony 2010 Youth Concert, featuring this year's winners of the Eureka Young Musicians' Competition, will be performing at the Arkley Center for Performing Arts, at 8 p.m. However, at the same time -- string accompaniment please -- one of Canada's premiere string quartets, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, will be playing at HSU's Van Duzer. If you are classical aficionado and you feel torn by allegiances, set your anxiety at ease -- there will be an additional Eureka Symphony Youth concert on Sunday, Feb. 7, at the Arkley Center, at 2 p.m.

Blue Lotus Jazz, featuring Shao Way Wu, Dave Wilson and Nalini Cogswell, will be warming up the cold marble walls of The Morris Graves Museum, on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Local indie rock luminaries also abound. Splinter Cell, featuring The Hitch's Jeff Langdon (on drums!), will be joined on the bill with Eugene's The Underlings, for a Meth Bog record release show (a new Underlings ep, "Vice Squad"), at The Alibi, on Saturday, Feb. 6. At Li'l Red Lion, The Monster Women's Aimee Taylor will be entertaining a side project, Jeeze Louise, with Chamber Fable 54 and the Mister Moonbeam Show filling the roster. Eureka's Scotch Wiggly will be joined by assorted (or sordid) friends, including "fusion belly dancing" at the Jambalaya on Friday, Feb. 5.

However, for those folk who like the volume at 11, with high-fueled rockabilly in the same vein as the early Rev. Horton Heat and the latter-day Social Distortion, The Chop Tops, from Santa Cruz, will be bringing their hot rod rock to the Jambalaya, along with Eureka's Austin Alley and the Rustlers, on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Nocturnum will be featuring Humboldt Metal, with "Bash on the Bay," on Friday, Feb. 5., with five ear-splitting, devil-horns-raised bands: 4 Star Bravado, Locust Furnace, Transient Messiah, Decayed Existence and OHM_S Law to flip your wig to.

Hailing from St. Croix, the reggae group Midnite will be chilling the same venue, Nocturnum, with his cross of roots and dub, with Woven Roots opening, on Saturday, Feb. 6.

I thank the opportunity to sit in for Bob this week, and hopefully, if all goes copacetic, he'll be back in the driver's seat shortly.

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Mark Shikuma

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