When I met Israeli rocker David Stitch from The Mother’s Anger a couple of years ago, he was living some weird version of the American rock dream, traveling around the states, living in the band van, calling no particular place home, playing soaring guitar and writing intense songs. Last week he called me from his home in Dallas.
“After being on the road for like three years, I actually moved out here to Texas,” he began. “You might wonder what got me here? I asked God why. He probably knows, but he didn’t say. Basically I think Texas is the craziest place. There are a lot of problems and chaos. You don’t really see it, but once you live here, you feel it. It’s a crazy place.”
After a tangent talking about his love for Arcata, the beach in Manila (he likes to touch the waves then run away) and the impact of soaring gas prices on tour economics, I asked him: Is the mother still angry? “She is.” Why?
“You know, we could just have fun and not be angry, and I do that in my daily life. But I can’t play music just for fun. I have to put my message in there and try to change things, to raise awareness of a lot of stuff going on. You have to change people’s minds and attitudes. Some people think, what can we do? How can we change things? Maybe we can’t, but we have to try.”
Change what? “It’s a big word, but it’s the system. There are so many problems: The difference between the classes in America keeps getting bigger, and the whole system keeps treating you like a number — they follow you around. I have a new song about the chip they’re going to put in our bodies soon. They’re already putting them in your passport. The system basically makes people machines. Before I came here I had a certain vision about America, from the movies, from the music and art. I trained to come here and live the rock ’n’ roll dream. I’m living it, but it’s not always a dream.”
The Mother’s Anger is spending big bucks on gas to come to Arcata for a show at the Jambalaya Thursday, May 29. Traveling with them is Texas band JointMethod in which Stitch plays guitar. The other members also back Stitch in The Mother’s Anger, so it’s kind of a two-for-one deal. Last time he played Arcata, the band crashed at the home of Brett the Truck. Brett is in the political-country-punk band Henpecker, opening act on Thursday. A reunion is in store.
The biggest show and best bang for the buck this weekend is the massive Mateel Summer Arts and Music Fest down by the river at Benbow. Our summer intern Meghannraye has a piece on it elsewhere in this paper and I’m assuming she hit the high points. Semi-connected to SAMF is a show in Arcata featuring the cool and groovy (yet edgy) Eric McFadden Trio Plus 1, the plus 1 being keyboard genius Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic, Talking Heads etc. The foursome is headlining Saturday’s SAMF, then heading north Sunday to tape a season-closing session of “Live with Passion,” Passion Presents’ public access music show that runs on Channel 12 (on TV). Doors are at 8 p.m. for the free show at the Passion space in the Aldergrove business park (5251 Ericson Way). Music from 9-midnight. The Northcoast Environmental Center is running the bar, and taking home all proceeds, so please, do not BYOB.
As I was writing this, I got a call out of the blue from old timey fiddler/multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky, who’s coming to town next Wednesday, June 4, for a Humboldt Folklife show at the Arcata Playhouse. “I’m best known as an old time Appalachian fiddler,” he told me, although he was born and raised in New York City. “In the ’60s and ’70s, when I was a teenager, a lot of the old rural performers were being brought to festivals in the North and played in New York. I just kind of fell into it. I loved the idea that you can make music on you own and always aspired to musicians who did something I thought maybe I could do.”
Molsky plays in all sorts of group contexts, but on his West Coast swing, he’s solo. I wondered how that might work, since I think of old timey as music played by a string band. “It’s not really band music,” he explained. “It’s as much a solo tradition as a band tradition. In fact, the really old music, which is the stuff I love the most, is played either solo, or maybe with one other instrument. So my whole thing on a fiddle, for instance, is making a complete piece of music on one instrument, moving melody and tonality and rhythm and all that stuff and trying to integrate it. That’s what so exciting about the old fiddlers. That’s what they did, the good ones.”
Beside the fiddle, he’ll bring along a banjo and a guitar, which he plays fingerstyle. “That’s where I branch away from traditional music,” he said. “I play some African pieces and there are some Bulgarian things I’m working on, and I sing quite a bit with everything.”
From hearing Bruce’s old timey stuff I can attest that he’s really good. African and Bulgarian style guitar? That’s something else. I am so there. He’s also doing a fiddle/singing workshop at 5 that day — call Folklife (822-5394) if you’re interested.
Folk traditions stretch in many directions, even into classical music. Thus you have the Eureka Symphony Spring program titled, “From Folk Traditions,” this Friday and Saturday at the Arkley Center. Maestra Carol Jacobson conducts Vaughan Williams’ “English Folk Songs,” Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” and a Mozart concerto for two pianos with young Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and his former teacher Deborah Clasquin playing together.
For the reggae aficionado there’s the Stephen Marleyshow Thursday, May 29, at Arcata Community Center. It’s kind of ironic, but Bob’s son has won more Grammys than his dad. He’s on tour with Gully Bank Sound System, brother Damian’s DJ group. Also on the bill, Zeph and Azeem, an alt. hip hop/reggae duo from the Bay Area. Azeem is a Michael Franti associate from the Supa Highway days. Definitely worth a listen.
More reggae? Champion drummer Mabrak plays dancehall and roots reggae Friday at Humboldt Brews. Jah Womb, Jah Siloh, Ras Mel, B Jah and Mr. Funk get irie at HumBrews Saturday.
Longing for some blues? How about Lady Bianca? She’s at the Riverwood Inn on Saturday. She rocks. My guess is the place’ll be packed.
I watched a piece on NBC national news last night about California schools holding fundraisers to make up for pending budget cuts. This morning, this came via e-mail: “Hello Bob, My name is Adriana Contreras and I am a teacher at Morris Elementary. I hope it isn’t too late to have something mentioned in the Journal about a fundraiser that is being put on by our PTO group. It will be held at Cher-ae Heights Casino on Monday, June 2, from 5:45-8 p.m. The fundraiser is called “Bust the Budget Cuts Fundraising Dinner.” There will be two live bands: Twice Lightning and Clean Livin’, bellydancers, dessert tables, auction items ranging from free swimming lessons to weekend getaways. Tickets are available at our school (839-1529). Thanks for supporting teachers! 8-)” Hey, isn’t that a school night?
The Queer Control Records “Pass the Torch” Tour hits Auntie Mo’s Monday, June 2, with a rainbow of GLBTIQ punk bands: Pariah Piranha, a queer band from York, Pa., Tough Tough Skin, a trans-guy band from Minneapolis, 8 Inch Betsy, a queer girl band from Chicago, Fruit Punch, a queer punk band from Philly, and Oi-Gays, a queer girl band from label headquarters, San Francisco.
“QCR is all about reenergizing queercore music and serving as a platform for some of the amazing queer bands out there,” says QCR CEO Marlene Melendez. “These guys are better than a lot of indie bands that are blowing up in the ‘straight’ world. It is our hope that the resources and support we can offer our bands will help to bridge that gap.”
Another dreamer, but hey, you’ve gotta dream. And isn’t change possible? I guess we’ll see. And hey, don't forget to vote on Tuesday!