“Them summer days, those summer days, that’s when I have most of my fun. High, high, high, high there, them summer days, those summer days. I cloud nine when I want to; out of school, yeah; County Fair in the country sun and everything is cool, ooh, yeah. Hot fun in the summertime, hot fun in the summertime… (repeat ad infinitum)”
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” was a single by Sly and the Family Stone that came out in 1969, intended to capitalize on band's appearance at the massive music festival Woodstock, and around the time I moved to Humboldt to go to college. It wasn’t really hot in Arcata, but that was fine with me. I could “cloud nine” when I wanted, and everything was cool.
Humboldt has a long history of partying in the sunshine, and we should note, it can get way hotter inland. For decades the first weekend in August has been set aside for Reggae on the River, or as it’s known hereabouts, simply Reggae. The party on a bend in the Eel River runs Thursday, Aug. 3 to Sunday, Aug. 6 at French’s Camp just north of the county line and south of Richardson’s Grove State Park.
Who’s playing? Friday’s headliners include Assassin aka Agent Sasco, a dancehall star that I’ve never heard of...
and the dubbish outfit Stick Figure, which is basically former one-man band Scott Woodruff with a band. (Local faves Yogoman Burning Band play that day too.)
Saturday the main stage closes out with the SoCal punk/dub/rock band Slightly Stoopid, preceded by J Boog from Hawaii, who just happens to be guest on the latest Slightly Stoopid album. (There’s DJ music really late on South Beach.)
Sunday’s biggie is the ultimate drum and bass duo Sly & Robbie, aka the Riddim Twins, plus Bob Marley’s back-up singers the I-Threes: Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt (originals) and Cherine Anderson (next gen, taking Rita’s place) who will undoubtedly close with some of Bob’s iconic hits. (“One Love”?)
Thursday is an extra day aimed at locals and others who come early, with mostly local bands: Altar Tones, Irie Rockers, and Woven Roots who will backup a collection of Caribbean vocalists: Army, JahDan Blakkamoore, Messenjah Selah, Luv Fyah, Winstrong and “more.”
Of course there are tons more bands, mostly demonstrating how little I know about the current reggae scene. Did I mention it’s a benefit for the Mateel Community Center? They want you to know that the fest is also about “camping, community, and irie vibes.” And they hope to raise some money since it’s their main fundraiser.
Keeping the blues alive
Not into reggae? Want a one day fest that’s a bit less immersive? We have several options closer by.
The 17th annual Buddy Brown Blues Festival is Saturday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) at Perigot Park in sunny Blue Lake. First, let’s clear up some possible confusion (or perhaps create more). Once upon a time, the annual local blues show in Blue Lake was called the Blue Lake Blues Festival. A bluesman buddy of mine who called himself Buddy Brown was the headliner the first year, 2001. (His real name was Richard Duggins.) Buddy had a heart attack and died later that year and the next year (and from then on), the blues fest took on his name.
A few year later, another bluesman called Buddy relocated to Humboldt from the San Bernardino area. His birth certificate identified him Ivan Elmo Reed, but his big sister called him “little buddy,” and, as he told me, "Buddy Reed just happens to be a great blues name. I guess it means I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.”
Back in the day, Mr. Reed worked backing blues/rock legends like Big Mama Thornton, George "Harmonica" Smith and Little Richard (that’s why Buddy’s back-up band is called The Rip It Ups). He’s been ripping up blues solos on one beat-up guitar or another for 50 some odd years. The Humboldt blues scene is not that big, so he’s headlined the BBBF more than once. One year they used one of my photos of him on the t-shirt for the festival. This year he’s on their poster again, “kicking off his ‘road to Nashville’ tour,” which will lead to another recording session. Yes, the blues is still alive.
The year’s lineup: Mad River Rounders (11 a.m.), Blues Through the Years (12:15), Jenni and David and the Sweet Soul Band (1:30), Blues Rollers with “Good Rockin’” Derral Campbell (2:45), Buddy Reed and The Rip It Ups (4 p.m.) with Uptown Kings closing the show with a set starting at 5:15, ending, well, when it’s over. There’s bbq, stuff to drink etc. Proceeds support the Humboldt Folklife Society Folk School (for kids).
The gospel truth
That same Saturday in Halvorsen Park on the Eureka waterfront, starting around the same time (11 a.m.) it’s a “Music Extravaganza” with the music on the black gospel side.
Lineup: True Gospel Singers, Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, Gospel Outreach Choir, Redwood Teen Challenge Choir, plus the Paula Jones Band, Movers and the Shakers, and Pat Holland and “special guest” Father Amde Hamilton from the legendary Watts Prophets. They also promise “much more” like a skate ramp, a car show, food and other vendors, you know, festive stuff, and things to think about.
“All proceeds/donations go directly to Redwood Teen Challenge, where they help rescue young adults from destructive lifestyles and help rebuild them emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, which allows them return to their families happy and healthy.” Sounds like a good cause.
A “revival” without a tent
Meanwhile in another part of Humboldt, and again that same Saturday, it’s Shinerfest: The Revival, a camp-out fest at Redwood Acres. There’s a double entendre in the name: It’s the kind of wild party where you might get a black eye (one poster suggests, “Arrive. Raise hell. Leave.”), but also the big draw is Moonshine Bandits, a “country rap” duo with Dusty "Tex" Dahlgren and Brett "Bird" Brooks, who come from somewhere near Merced.
In an interview posted on the Bandits’ website they talk about “Shiner” living and all that involves. They explain, “The Shiner lifestyle is all about God-loving blue collar workers that work their asses off to support their families, but enjoy their time off and celebrate life. It’s a lifestyle for all people that believe in their country, and believe in family…” and whiskey and other less god-fearing stuff. (Their latest album is titled, Baptized in Bourbon.)
Also on the Shinerfest showbill: Crucifix from Atlanta “infusing fast-fire rap and smooth rock vocals with a Southern edge,” (also a guest on that Bandits album), Struggle Jennings, grandson of outlaw country icon Waylon Jennings, the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow (thinks tats and nails pounded up noses), Boondox, another deep South rapper who looks like he stepped out of a slasher flick, “and more.”
There’s comedy from the Smash Brothers, the Shiner Olympics (medals double as beer openers), and other stuff for the Shiner Family to do. Ole of Summerfest fame (or infamy) is putting the whole thing together, which is conceived as a destination event where people will arrive with their RVs of whatever and party all night. Guaranteed, it will be quite different from the other fests.
When I was in rehab after my stroke a few years ago, my wife put the word out that music might help with my recovery. It really did. A bunch of my friends stopped by to play a few tunes for me when I was relearning walking and talking, among them sweet Lyndsey Battle and Stella from Gunsafe, who brought along Norm and his stand-up bass. They share a bill at Outer Space Friday evening (7-10 p.m.) with songwriter John Ludington (of Absynth Q fame).
I first met Stella somewhere busking, and she’s a pro. She showed up at rehab at lunchtime, so she played for everyone there, which was mainly folks older that me, so she focused on classics they’d know by Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. (I think “Walking After Midnight” helped me walk again.)
I’m not sure who’s with Stella on her return to Humboldt, part of the “Gunsafe Summer Tour,” since she has a rotating cast of side musicians. Gunsafe also plays Thursday at the Forks Lounge out in Willow Creek, and for Saturday’s Arts Alive! at the Siren’s Song Tavern with at the fine bluesy ragtime combo Belles of the Levee, and Electro Saloon, a new duo with Colin Begell (from Strix Vega) and Alanna Jane Powell, (of Humboldt Made “and more”). As Colin notes, you can expect “a lot of female vocals and a bunch of kick ass songwriting.”
Also Saturday night in Eureka post-AA!, there’s a show billed as “The Vista's Alive!” at the resurrected Vista Del Mar featuring the return of The Buffy Swayze. Want a flash-from-the-past? Google your way to the Youtubage for Rural Rock & Roll, a documentary by Jensen Rufe about the Humboldt DIY indie rock scene circa 2005. It starts out with The Buffy Swayze’s lead singer Jesse Pearson singing “Rock Star” at an underground venue known as Club 330. I show up as a talking head explaining how the local DIY world works and so on. It still works the same way.
The local scene works because people make it work by doing it themselves. “Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.” Jesse also invited “local heroes and weirdos” Leone and The Tweeners along for the ride. “Doors open at 9, bands at 10. This event is absolutely FREE!!!”
Another talking head in the Rural Rock & Roll doc was Michelle Cable of Panache, then her zine, now she's head of an important booking agency in L.A. by the same name. She’ll be in town for a Thursday show at the Miniplex headlined by her clients Ex-Cult, punks out of Memphis.
Ex-Cult warns us, "In the year of the snitch, there are forces beyond your control that keep you up at night. Ghost notions that swirl around your room while you sleep. Your own pillow laughing right in your face while you fight for an hour of rest. There are voices that whisper from the corner, telling you everything you never wanted to hear.” Scary.
Filling out the bill: Enemy (L.A. hardcore punks), and locals The Sturgeons and Drown in Piss, who have a band name that’s about as unpleasant as any I’ve heard. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too old for this shit, or maybe I just don’t get it, or perhaps my cloud nine ain’t what it used to be. Whatever.
Dead or Alive
Back-to-back shows coming up for Deadheads and friends: Sunday it's An Acoustic Celebration of Jerry Garcia...
Rosewater Acoustic (7:30-8:00) - (Rosewater also plays a set at Friday's Trinidad Art Night.)
Jeff Kelley & Rosalind Parducci (7:00-7:20)
Norman Bradford (6:35-6:55) - (Norm is also in The Miracle Show, playing Friday at Blue Lake Casino.)
Morgan Corviday (6:10-6:30)
Rich LaPreziosa (5:45-6:05)
That Buckin' String Band (5:20-5:40)
Jesse Jonathan (4:50-5:10)
Doug Shernock (4:25-4:45)
Don Marr (4:00-4:20)
This is one of those things Chris Parreira does so well, although he isn't playing anything.
Then on Monday, the week long celebration of Jerry continues with Live Dead '69 at Humboldt Brews. That band is a bunch of Dead associates that play the music on the record by that name (a live album) and a few other tunes. It's guys who have played in Rat Dog, The Other Ones, Jefferson Starship and the Grateful Dead, although I can't really tell who's coming up on tour. It's not any core members, but the hard core Deadheads will know who's who. They will be there with their tie-dye or Jerry ties, or whatever. Jerry's guitar licks live on one way or another. I'll leave you with some that I heard when he played Electric on the Eel years ago. Enjoy...