Music » The Hum


Mark Growden's moving songs, plus Lila's return, some poetry and an Alibi venue history



Mark Growden is described as a composer/performer rather than a singer/songwriter, although he sings his own haunting songs, sometimes with a band, but often on his own, accompanying himself on accordion, banjo and the droning shruti box.  His tour in support of a new album, Saint Judas, is solo. It brings him to Garberville on Thursday.

Asked what it is he does, he hesitates before answering. "I sing songs," he begins, "and I get people singing, hopefully, and move people emotionally -- move them -- that's my goal." His songs are indeed moving, and difficult to pigeonhole. But why bother? As he notes, we're in a "post-genre era -- the world is moving away from categories. For me the music is more about deep presence -- that's what live art can do, bring people to the moment."

He goes on to describe the songs, "Some are light and playful, some are deeper, even dark.  I hope it's cathartic for people. That's what I look for in art: depth."

If you're ready for some depth -- and something different -- catch Mark Growden at the Garberville Civic Club (477 Maple Lane) on Thursday, June 10. Showtime 8 p.m. Tickets sliding scale, $12-20.

Our favorite folksinger Lila Nelson is back in town for a show that same Thursday at Humboldt Brews. Since her usual Mom and Pop back-up duo, Tim Gray and Marla Joy, are in the midst of preparation for Blue Lake: The Opera (debuting June 24 at Dell'Arte's Mad River Festival) she'll be backed by bassist Chris Wixson and drummer Tofu Schwartz, "my young man band," as Lila put it.  She's on a brief NW tour with Myshkin, a like-minded alt. folky from Southern Oregon who you might remember as the core of Myshkin's Ruby Warblers. "She's amazing," says Lila. "She takes melodic risks and is just all over the jazz map." Judging from the Ruby Warblers album I have, Sigh Semaphore, I'll have to agree with Lila -- amazing. (So's Lila.)

Poet Jerry Martien and stand-up bassist Shao Way Wu have been working together for years in the tradition of beatnik spoken word/jazz collaborations. Since they recently gathered some material for a CD, The Road to Heaven, they're celebrating with the proverbial album release party on Friday evening at Northtown Books during Arts! Arcata. "The poems come from familiar places: local beaches, the coast range, moving inland all the way to the Great Basin and the land of dreams," says Martien, adding, "It's like the soundtrack to a Northern California road movie."

More poetry and music the night before (Thursday) at Accident Gallery: "Last Accident Lab of the season," says the Reason to Listen crew. "Come share your original spoken word in our unique open mic format. Featured poet: Patrick Kingshill from Santa Cruz; Live music by The Johnson Brothers; live art by Julia Finkelstein. We will re-open Sept. 9th."

Benefit of the Week: One on Friday at Humboldt Brews with UKEsperience and the local tribute to Neil Diamond, The Solitary Men raising money to help with the Gulf oil spill cleanup. The hosts are Humboldt Baykeeper, the Humboldt Surfrider Foundation (expect surf flicks on the wall) and Ocean Conservancy (O.C. basically being Journal columnist Jen Savage). The money goes to Save Our Gulf, a project of the Waterkeeper Alliance that Baykeeper is affiliated with.

Friday at the Lil' Red Lion local psyche rockers White Manna, hard rockers The Hard Ride plus Manilapede, "Humboldt County's heaviest dune metal band."EndFragment

They're calling Saturday's joint gig by The Brendas and Ray Gay and the Rent Boys at the Logger Bar the "Penultimate Show!" although they do not say what the ultimate show might be. (Maybe if The Rubberneckers showed up for a surprise reunion).

A note from Francois le Rock offers a personal perspective on a piece of local rock history, the seventh anniversary of music at the Alibi, as Humboldt Free Radio presents Spokesmen (Carbondale rock) plus Prizzy Prizzy Please (rock 'n' roll from Chicago) Saturday, June 12, at The Alibi.

"On June 5, 2003 I got a phone call from Justin Ladd," writes Francois. "He had just closed the doors at The Vista but he wanted to continue to support the local music scene, so he went down to Arcata Police Dept. and got a dance permit to have live music at The Alibi every Thursday night. And he wanted me to do the booking. And he wanted to have the first show in a week.

"I called up The Hitch and The Letdown, two of the most popular local bands at the time. I put up some fliers around town, just the names of the bands, the date, and the location. Thursday, June 12 was the first day of live music at The Alibi. We charged two bucks. The place was packed.

"It's been seven years now and The Alibi has hosted bands from all over the country and all over the world. We've had garage rock, black metal, outlaw country, and every sub-sub-genre in between. We've even had reggae and hip-hop DJs. To celebrate this anniversary we're charging two bucks, just like we did for that first show. Neither of the bands are local, and neither are popular here, but one of the main goals of having bands at The Alibi over the years is to give people the opportunity to hear new music. So bust open that piggy bank and come on down this Saturday. It's only two bucks to get in, a pint of Oly is only two bucks, and that still leaves you money to tip your bartender and buy merch from the band. Or you can stay home and take bong rips and play Mario Kart on your Wii."

Rock on Francois! Rock on Alibi! Thanks for all the music.

Add to the anniversary week, a stoner rock show at the Alibi Thursday with House of Broken Promises from Indio (with ex-members of desert rock legends Unida) plus Sasquatch (not to be confused with the Big Foot-costumed joke band that opened for Trainwreck recently). "Loud, heavy fuzzed guitars and butt rock vocals," says Matt from Missing Link describing Sasquatch. "Something you can raise a beer to and scope on that chick at the end of the bar -- ’til you find out she bats for the other team."

Matt's probably even more psyched about the simultaneous show at Jambalaya that Thursday (June 10) with Woods ("an epic band from Brooklyn") plus "jangly" garage rockers The Mantles from S.F. and Art Museums, a duo that records for Woods' record label Woodsist. Matt is way into Woods. "They have kind of a spacey new wave-run-through-and-old-tapedeck sound that has been dubbed 'art pop' by the modern world," he says. He sent along a Pitchfork blurb on Woods saying, "One of the most promising developments of the last year or so in indie rock has been the removal of the Grateful Dead from the blacklist," which is news to me, and an odd way to start a description of Woods. The band has a semi-psychedelic sound -- very Californian, considering they're New Yorkers -- but they sound nothing like the Dead. Their recorded songs are short, mostly under three minutes with a feel that's more lo-fi Laurel Canyon than S.F. psychedelic -- maybe they stretch out more when they play live.

Neo-old timey whiz kid Frank Fairfield is back at the Jambalaya for another Monday Night Budget Rock thing. I caught his last show there, also a Monday nighter -- Frank was great, deftly picking his guitar and banjo and sounding like he was channeling Charlie Poole or at least old 78s. And he pulled in a big crowd of mostly young people. Unfortunately, not many were not actually listening to Frank. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I have to say the hubbub ruined the show. I left early. A day or so later I stumbled upon a Facebook group called "Shut the f*@k up the band is playing." I joined up immediately.

As you may have read elsewhere on the website (click here) this weekend the Redwood Run, known as "the ultimate biker party," is ending its run after 33 years with a show including music by (among others) backwoods blueman Elvin Bishop and a couple of all-woman metal tribute bands, Priss (Kiss covers) and Mötley's Crëw (need I explain?).

A year after the bikers started the Run, hippies in Sonoma started the Health and Harmony Festival, a celebration of all things New Age that has since evolved into simply the Harmony Festival with a self-professed "mission to support progressive social values, sacred community activism, trans-partisan politics and conscious uplifting music." Multiple tents spread around the Sonoma County Fairgrounds offer a wide range of music from headliners like Ms. Lauren Hill, Galactic and 7 Walkers to electro-rave stuff with Kitaro, Ana Sia and others, plus The Eco Rally Action Sports Zone with pro-skaters, a BYO board zone, and music by Fishbone and Slightly Stoopid (among others). Bonus: Newage speakers, including Swami Beyondananda, who could be the guru you've been looking for.


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