The Hum ~ 5/31 ~ Lonely Hearts

“Hello, hello, I like your smile. Hello, hello, shall we talk awhile? Would you like some of my tangerine? I know I'll never treat you mean.”

~ from “Hello, Hello” by Sopwith Camel

Fifty years ago, when the short-lived one-hit-wonders called Sopwith Camel had a hit on the radio, I would hang around downtown Walnut Creek with tangerines in the pockets of the pee-coat I’d bought at the Army-Navy Surplus store trying to use the cute fruit as part of an opening line to meet girls.

That’s when I met Stephanie, a girl from Danville who attended the Athenian School, a private high school in the next town over. We talked awhile, as teenagers do, and I tried my best to impress her discussing books and music. She taught me how to use my tongue when kissing and once we had to untangle our braces when we were momentarily lost somewhere in teen passion.

When she asked if I could get her some pot, I did. She got caught smoking a joint with another guy and turned me in to the police when they told her she would go to the juvenile hall if she didn’t tell tell them where she got it. Of course I would never rat out my sister’s boyfriend who was my connection. I ended up taking a memorable ride to Martinez, where Contra Costa’s juvie was located. I did my time, if only one sleepless night.

Collage created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake (click for details)

I don’t remember if that before of after I tried impressing her by shoplifting a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Woolworths Five and Dime Store. She was not impressed by my bravado, but she liked the album. She agreed it was a masterpiece. Before long her life story borrowed a page from the Beatles songbook and she ran away from home, “quietly turning the backdoor key, stepping outside” and she was “free.”

I like to think she was free from her parents and freed from a life she didn’t really want, and she wasn’t leaving me. I never saw her again. I heard she was living in the Haight Asbury, where freedom was “just another word for nothin' left to lose.”

Humboldt Pepper collage by Glen Nagy

I’ll be thinking of Stephanie on Thursday, June 1, when The Yokels “Do Pepper” at the Sanctuary, recreating that “record that changed the musical universe” in its entirety, not by replicating the songs (and with no full orchestra), but by giving them the Yokel treatment. They call it “soul strutting rockabilly,” which means Steve Irwin laying down tasty guitar licks on top of a solid rhythm laid out by Glen Nagy on bass and Bill Kerker on drums. Steve tells me June 1 was the official release day in 1967.

They’ll have a little help from their friends to warm the SRO crowd up: combos fronted by Rick Levin, Jim Lahman, Joel Sonenshein and Zach Zwerdling, all of them playing songs you know by the Beatles. Sounds great. The only trouble is, it’s sold out. I tried and failed buying my Brown Paper Tickets with my iPhone and when I went online on my computer later, well, it was too late. I have a scratchy copy of the record, I thought I’d have to be satisfied giving it a spin for old times sake, but The Yokels promised to squeeze me in somewhere. By the way, if you miss out on the 50th anniversary event, The Yokels are also playing at the Mad River Brewery Saturday evening, and it’s possible they might throw in a song or two by the Fab Four. As those who were at last week’s Bob D. Birthday Bash at the M.R. Brewery will testify, they also do a killer version of Dylan’s “Highway 61.”

Is it summer yet?

As noted last week, summer doesn’t start ’til June 21. Never-the-less, Mateel kicks off the festival season early with the 41st annual Summer Arts & Music Festival, Saturday and Sunday (June 3-4) at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area (below Garberville).

You know the drill: more than 70 local and regional bands, dance troupes and children’s entertainers on four stages, more than 150 craft, food, and non-profit booths, stuff for kids, EDM in the SummerTronica Tent, eco-grooviness in the Generation Green Dome.

Headliners include Easy Star All Stars, known for reggae/dub style covers on albums like Dub Side of the Moon (P-Floyd), Radiodread (OK Computer) Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band (yes, more Beatles)

Locos For Juana (a bilingual Latin jamband from Miami),

The Brothers Comatose (Americana from SF),

Jah9 & The Dub Treatment (yes, more Reggae).

And there are locals such as Joanne Rand, Ghost Train, Farmhouse Odyssey, Chubritza, The Sturgeons and Motherlode.

Fair warning: the price is higher, $40 in advance for a weekend pass, more at the gate or for single. Also they note, “event is rain or shine,” but it probably won’t rain, although, it’s still springtime and you never know.

Reggae and more reggae

It’s always reggae time in Humboldt (for obvious reasons). This week the one drop starts Thursday with Passafire at Humboldt Brews. Formed in 2003 by students attending Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, the band’s latest release, Longshot, is their third with Easy Star Records (see above). “Making it as a musician is a long-shot,” says the band. Label founder Lem Oppenheimer notes they “bring a harder rock edge while still grounding their music in a progressive reggae base.” Maybe that’s the formula. Who knows? They’re on the road at the start of a smokin’ "Longshot" tour, along with Perfect by Tomorrow, a reggae/rock outfit from the Washington coast.

Next up in reggae world, a big show Friday in the Sapphire Palace (in Blue Lake Casino) with Alborosie and The Shengen Clan Band. Born in Sicily, Alberto D’Ascola joined a band called Reggae National Tickets when he was still a teenager and started growing his dreads.

Before long he went solo, moved to Kingston, and changed his name to Alborosie, taking a patois insult, “borosie,” meaning a rude person, and adding “Al” (short for Albert). The Ital reggae star made his way playing every instrument and producing his own tracks. Lately he’s backed by his house band from his Shengen Studios. Expect to hear “His Majesty Riddim” in praise of H.I.M. (I’ll explain “riddims" some other day.)

Also international

There was something about the International Katarzyna Mycka Marimba Academy in the Union last week, but mostly just a schedule for the concert in conjunction with the local company Marimba One, makers of the instruments. People are coming here from all over the world to hear the music and/or take classes. Katarzyna, who was born in Poland and now lives in Germany, has been holding her academy since 2003, always in Europe until now. With the exception of one marimbist who is from Columbia, all of the teachers/performers are European. I’m curious as to why this is so, since the sound seems tropical to me. A cursory look at the history of the marimba shows that it originally came from Zimbabwe spread through Africa and jumped the Pacific to catch on Central America with the use in modern classical music fairly recent. (I’ll have to ask Marimba One founder Ron Samuels.)

This week’s concerts are in two venues with the festival opener on Saturday (June 3) at the Arcata Playhouse with Katarzyna, Andreas Boettger (from Germany), Jean Geoffroy (France), Conrado Moya b Filip Mercep (Croatia) and Juan David Forero (Colombia) performing music by Bach, Mussorgsky, Leibowitz and Wirtz.

Sunday the series moves to HSU’s Van Duzer Theater with solo and chamber works by faculty and workshop participants. More of the same Monday through Thursday at the Duzer (with an emphasis on electronics Monday). Friday there’s free school kids concert at the JVD featuring Katarzyna and academy participants playing Saint-Saens' "Carnival of Animals.” The grand finale is next Saturday (June 10) at the Arcata Playhouse with participants showing off a wide range of styles as they strut their stuff.

His name is Hiroya Tsukamoto, but he goes by simply Hiroya (not to be confused with the kick boxer or the anime artist by the same name). He’s a  guitarist/composer/singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan, playing Saturday evening at the Crib. Hiroya started out on five-string banjo when he was thirteen, switched to guitar shortly after, then in 2000, got a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston and did not go home. The Cribmaster describes his playing as “cinematic guitar poetry” and after hearing some YouTubage, I concur. As usual, come at 7 p.m. for soup, bread, those little green balls I call jum-jills with fine wines. Music at 8. More info at    

Chez Vets

Usually, when I hear about a metal/hardcore show at the Vet’s Hall, I assume it’s in the basement of the Eureka Veteran’s Hall, which conveniently has a bar across the hall. For years it’s been the home of Bummerfest and the local metal crowd puts on loud parties there too.

This week, it’s the Arcata Vet’s Hall that gets the hardcore treatment. They have a couple of bands from Apple Valley (down in Berdoo County): POSTNOTHING leaning toward the punk side of hardcore, and In*Decline more in the metal zone. A local stoner rock band, Ultramafic, will hopefully bring in their fans and get people out on a Monday night. “All ages welcome. Beer with ID. Music at 7 p.m. No cover, but bring money for touring bands,” and buy some merch. PostNothing and In*Decline just released a split 7-inch so you can start there.

“Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.” Support music you like, one way or another.