The HUM: Continuous, and as eclectic as possible

The Hum — it’s a low, continuous sound, the sound of activity. In this case it’s the activity in the entertainment world of Humboldt County: music, art, drama, film — all the things that help us escape from the day to day grind and keep us sane in an increasingly insane world. 

If you’re among the few who read this column until the end, you might have caught my mention of the 25th anniversary of The Hum. I thought it started in September of 1994, but the truth is, I missed that date. The beginning was actually April 21, 1994. I was already writing for the Arcata Union, a now-defunct newspaper that in many ways became the Mad River Union. (We’ll skip the entire history of local publishing for now.) 

Back then the current Union publisher Jack Durham was the “B-Section” editor for the Arcata paper, dealing with entertainment and the like. I was freelancing for anyone that would print my work and actually had another Union column, “On TV,” (on television of course) and also covered the local music scene. Jack’s idea was for me to simplify his life by taking a bunch of “culture”-type press releases off his desk for some sort of grab bag. I was willing, as long as I could cover whatever I wanted to. He agreed. 

The name I chose, “The Hum,” was to make it all-inclusive, covering the music scene “and more,” much more. For the debut, after the intro above, I started with a scene in front of the Jambalaya. There was a sandwich board advertising a new band, Mixed Tribe, featuring a friend of mine, Bishop Mayfield. Barb Robie, the owner of the Jam (at the time) had described the band as “funky reggae,” and Bishop was erasing the word “funky,” because, he explained, “We play straight reggae, not funk.”

By chance, Bishop is in town Friday, Sept. 27, playing at the Blue Lake Casino as Bishop Mayfield and Friends, a band he leads in Southern Oregon (currently his home). The music is definitely not reggae, instead it’s a mix of blues, rock, funk and soul. Bishop played a reunion show not long ago, bringing together players he knew from Humboldt back in the day. This is different.

WELL PRESERVED The Hum’s historic origins are preserved on microfilm at the Mad River Union office. Bob Doran photo

“I will be bringing my band this time,” he explained. “We have Dave Storie on guitar, David Towe on drums, Michael-Scott Bowman on bass and Dean Angermeier on keys.” While the casino’s ad says “blues/rock,” expect more than that. “We’ll be bringing a lot of soul,” he noted. “It’s also going to be a record release party. We have a new EP that’s just arrived, and we weren’t sure if it was going to make it in time for the gig.” Just in time for the merch table.

The inaugural Hum touched on all sorts of things, from the local club world, to film happenings, to a jazz benefit for KHSU “and more.” By design, the content was as eclectic as possible. That’s been my plan from the start. Let’s keep it going.

Wednesday, Sept. 25, March Fourth is at Humbrews. I met the band a few years ago in Portland, their homebase, where they marched into a party at an alt. newspaper conference. They offered an alt. circusy mix of funky, jazzy rock, played by a brass-heavy band with some of them on stilts. Got it? Expect a party, PDX-style. 

Coming Thursday, Sept. 26, to the Arcata Playhouse, we have the ensemble Windborne, a group of “vocal chameleons” specializing in tight harmony singing with a multi-cultural range and a touch of edutainment. “They educate as they entertain, telling stories about the music and explaining the characteristics and stylistic elements of the traditions in which they sing.”

Same night (Sept. 26), RampArt Skatepark has an evening of very heavy, very dark metal with headliners Ails from Oakland on the “melancholy melodic” side of death metal, Oneiric Eclipse, a black metal outfit from Santa Rosa, and locals, Miasmic a black/death metal band “inspired by the hoary mists and ancient redwoods of our surroundings” and Ghoulhand making “ritual soundscapes and music from sounds and devices.” The all ages show starts at 8 p.m. 

At Siren’s Song, that Thursday, they have another Vinyl Tap, a “listening party for vinyl enthusiasts. Bring your records from home to play a 20 minute set. Show up to sign up.” Yes, it’s a DIY record party.

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And on Thursday, (Sept. 26) in Ferndale at the Old Steeple, guitarist Chris Thomas King offers some classic folk blues. Originally from Louisiana  Mr. King started his recording career with Arhoolie Records, which is now part of the Smithsonian Institute. You may have heard him in the Coen brothers’ movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, where he played the itinerant  bluesman Tommy Johnson alongside George Clooney (among others). “I’ve never shied away from being called a ‘blues artist,’” said King. “Unfortunately, the public has, over the past 100 years, forgotten its true meaning, how revolutionary [the blues] was at the turn of the 20th Century. The blues planted the seeds for America’s counterculture — it’s quintessentially American music. I am proud to be its ambassador.”  

If you haven’t caught Eureka’s Friday Night Market, you have one more chance, Sept. 27, and they’re going out with a blast. Music is by Huckleberry Flint, who hardly ever play out since they’re too busy with their day job, Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. Also DJ Kyle Stasse will be spinning who-knows-what. The combination farmers market, craft fair and food festival is put together by Humboldt Made, the Visitors Bureau and the City of Eureka, this time in connection with Sensi Magazine covering our cannabis culture. As they put it, “Come and join us as we build bridges into the new normal!” More bridges, less walls, I can dig it.

It’s also midway for the Eureka Fringe Festival, with theatrical happenings all over town from Wednesday to Sunday, too many to list here. See last week’s MRU for details or go to for a full schedule.

At HSU’s Van Duzer Theatre Friday, standup comic Tig Notaro talks about her life, tells jokes, and makes you think. (Showtime 8 p.m.) Last time I checked there were nosebleed tickets available.  

At the Logger Friday, grab some funk and soul from local “stalwarts” Bump Foundation affectionately known as The BUMP. (9-ish) Free,

At the Miniplex, also on Friday, they welcome Kendra Morris and Julia Haltigan, who, among many impressive accomplishments, are both members of the “fizzy pop” band The Singles, alongside Holly Miranda and Scarlett Johansson. (Yes, that Scarlett, no, she probably won’t be here.) Local support comes from the lovely Belles of the Levee.

Across town at Humbrews Friday, San Francisco’s “ambassadors of gypsy rock” Diego’s Umbrella are back after a hiatus during which drummer Jake Wood was working in the SF production of Hamilton. They promise some new songs and new merch, so be prepared. 

The Handshakers return to Wrangletown Cider Friday with special guest Georgia Ruth Hellum-Willits followed by a second performance at Westhaven Center for the Arts on Saturday, Sept. 28. Georgia released her debut album Life Worth Living last year. She’s working on another. Friday’s show runs from 5 to 8 p.m. No cover, including for the outdoor venue. Westhaven concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with sliding scale cover. 

New York-based songwriter Liana Gabel returns to the Sanctuary Saturday to perform music from her album Go Outside, which, coincidently was recorded at the Sanctuary during an Artist Residency. She describes the album as speaking to the current state of things, “the nature of being an independent musician, which involves a lot of time on the computer, and on the other side, the tranquility we can find by just being with nature.” 

We have dueling blues bands in Arcata Saturday, Sept. 28, with The Jim Lahman Band at Redwood Curtain Brewing (all ages, 8 p.m.) and Buddy Reed and the Rip It Ups getting down in the Basement (not sure what time).   

That Saturday at the Jam, it’s time for another Session, as in a reggae sound system night, Kingston-stylie. Selectors include Noble Tobal, Curlylocs and Tanasa Ras. Big up! 

At Humbrews Saturday, the Arcata Soul Party Crew cordially invites you to “turn on, plug in and freak out” at a “Psychedelic Soul Party.” Why? The theme is a birthday gift for light show guy Kevin Colando, who creates their psychedelic visuals (but gets little credit). Funky T-Rex, #Jaymorg and DJ Red are on the wheels of steel, with special guest DJ East One playing “trippy funk and Afrobeat.”

And at the Alibi, starting at 11 p.m. The Sturgeons and Opossum Sun Trail offer different styles of psychedelia. Trippy, man.

That’s it for now. Fair warning, I’m patiently waiting the arrival of my first granddaughter. I may not be here next week, or tomorrow, for that matter. We’ll see. Later… 





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