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Hillbillies in SoHum


Poor Man's Whiskey
  • Poor Man's Whiskey

They call it the Humboldt Hills Hoedown. The folks at the Mateel who put on the annual mini-fest used to use a sub-title, "bluegrass and beyond," that helped explain the range of music you'll hear. Most of it draws inspiration from the stringbands of the Appalachian Mountains whose oeuvre was once tagged with the somewhat derogatory term, "hillbilly music." Today it's often called bluegrass, although that term is loosely interpreted, and there's an overlap with traditional country. Fiddles and banjos, mandolins and guitars typically carry the melody with acoustic bass and sometimes low-key drumming keeping rhythm, but bands often go "beyond" and there really are no rules. The improvisational aspects make it attractive to jammers and the jamband audience. Once again, old music is new again.

So, who's playing this new old music at this seventh annual Hoedown?

The headliner is Poor Man's Whiskey, a non-trad stringband from Sonoma County playing what it calls "high octane hootenanny," and incorporating bluegrassy versions of classic rock (it's done a full-on version of P-Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in the past).

On the more traditional side there's John Reischman and The Jaybirds, a fine band of pickers fronted by Canadian mandolinist extraordinaire Reischman.

The Brothers Comatose from San Francisco includes real brothers Ben and Alex Morrison on guitar and banjo respectively along with a few friends. Expect wild string music on the rocky edge -- they cite The Kinks and The Stones alongside Earl Scruggs as inspirations.

The Sweetwater String Band, a quartet from Mammoth Lakes, comes with cello and mando out front.

On the jammier side you have Lansdale Station featuring Judge and Lauren Murphy with what they call the "new San Francisco sound," mixing country with a bit of psychedelia. Along similar lines, Moonalice, an all-star Dead-inspired combo that's usually quite electric, will unplug for an acoustic Hoedown set.

The show runs from noon until midnight on two stages with a bunch of what the Mateel calls, "local and regional groups" among them Eric Cornforth and the Hicktown Homeboys, Way Out West, Fear Mia, Jefferson Parson with Raspberry Jam, and NoHum faves Striped Pig String Band and The No Good Redwood Ramblers.

It also promises "jamming opportunities," a petting zoo and other kids activities, vending booths, chicken poop bingo and a cakewalk (hopefully not in the same place) and "lots more country fun." Gates open at noon with music until midnight.

The Schedule (M) = Main Stage (40) = Back 40 Stage

Noon --   Eric Cornforth and the Hicktown Homeboys (M)

12:30 p.m. -- Morningwood Falls (40)

1 p.m. --  The No Good Redwood Ramblers (M)

1:55 p.m. -- Jefferson Parson and Raspberry Jam (40)

2:25 p.m. -- Sweetwater String Band (M)

3:20 p.m. - Way Out West (40)

3:55 p.m. -- Moonalice (acoustic) (M)

4:45 p.m. -- Fear Mia (40)

5:30 p.m. -- Striped Pig String Band (M)

6:10 p.m. -- The No Good Redwood Ramblers (40)

7:10 p.m. -- John Reischman and The Jaybirds (M)

7:35 p.m. -- The Sweetwater String Band (40)

8:55 p.m. -- The Brothers Comatose (M)

10:45 p.m. -- Poor Man's Whiskey

Eric Cornforth and The Hicktown Homeboys and Frank Lucky play between sets on the Main Stage.

The Seventh Annual Humboldt Hills Hoedown takes place on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Mateel Community Center, 59 Rusk Lane, Redway. Tickets are $30 in advance, $32 at the door, $2 off for MCC members. More info at


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