It's been a long time coming, three years in the making, but Axis Mundi, the debut album by Moo-Got-2, is finally done -- and it's a blast, with the band stretching out with a dozen tracks exploring funk, reggae and jamrock.
The start for Moo-Got 2 came when two other bands, Old Man Clemins and Lyckitty Split, broke up simultaneously a few years ago. Guitarist Mike Solomon, bassist Aaron Drago and drummer/vocalist Darin Mitchell started playing together.
"The other bands were more toward funk and more guitar-driven," said Darin, who dropped off an advance burn of the CD. "The three of us started jamming together for a while, then Tomek [Szajckowski], our original keyboard player, started playing piano with us. Then Lucas (Hieronymus) started playing percussion. Then Noonan came along, and Swiz asked if he could join." Keyboardist Brian Swizlo and saxophonist Chris Noonan, both old hands on the local funk/rock/jam scene, fit into Moo-Got-2 perfectly. "Those guys want to be in every band and play every night," said Darin with a laugh.
Like most bands, Moo-Got-2 tries to avoid categorization. "Everybody always asks us what we play. I don't like to tell them anything," said Darin. "We do some funk, some rock, some electronic stuff, and we've got a couple of reggae tunes. Noonan calls it 'psychedelic-electro-funk.' I tell people we play everything. I kind of like it that we don't play just one genre. It's funner that way, and with seven dudes, there's no way we can stick to one thing all the time. We can shift from dance stuff to slow rock to reggae, but we do a lot of funk. And not traditional funk like from the ’70s, more Phishy. I like it like that."
The requisite CD release gig is at Humboldt Brews Saturday. "We're stoked to be doing this party," said Darin. "We've been going at it so long. We've done tour after tour with no CDs; people always ask, 'Where's your CD?' Here it is."
There'll be no opener. "Saturday it'll just be us. For the last few years we've always had a DJ or another band open every show. We want to do a full night, do two sets. We have some covers we want to do. I'm not going to say what they are. We need some surprises."
Got a note last week from Peter "Thanksgiving Brown" Agoston. Peter left Arcata for Brooklyn a few years back and was booking shows for the Knitting Factory until they downsized, leaving him in the ranks of the unemployed. Now he has a new job, working for another ex-Humboldter Michele Cable and her mega-successful Panache Booking. Peter brought some of his associates into the Panache fold, including a couple of Anticon artists and Humboldt's own Starving Weirdos. I mention this in part because the Weirdos are playing Thursday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge as part of a four band alt. psyche extravaganza. Like Moo-Got-2, the band has a brand new disc out, into an energy, on Bo'Weavil, a British label that eloquently describes the S.W.'s music as "deep-forest-ghetto-musique-concrète." Joining the Weirdos at the ATL are the always adorable Pipe(s) of the Doctor of Witchcraft, semi-metallic psyche rockers White Manna (who also play Saturday at the Alibi with Summers in Kuwait), and the band from Portland du jour, Eternal Tapestry.
E.T. got its start High Fidelity-style when drummer Nick Bindeman and guitarist Dewey Mahood were working together at a Portland record store and found they shared an interest in free jazz great Sonny Sharrock. "Very informal" improv sessions followed and over time the band evolved with members coming and going. Nick (who also plays in the Portland alt. band Jackie-O-Motherfucker) eventually switched to guitar and his brother Jed joined to play drums.
"At first it was a stony get-together band and nothing more. We had some notion of bands like Hawkwind, but mostly it was a total, all-out freak-out band that can go crazy," said Nick. "These days it's a mixed bag with influences from all over the world: Asian music -- Indonesian, Indian and Japanese -- and African music." Assorted craziness was captured on a series of E.T. CD-Rs and cassette recordings; hints of Hawkwind and free jazz show through the international psyche-rock rumblings; a pair of LPs (on vinyl) are due soon. Added bonus for the tour, former Arcatan Ryan Carlile, of Placebo fame, will be sitting in on sax.
When I saw Jackie Greene play solo at the Muni a few years back as part of the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, I could sort of see why the press had dubbed him "the next Bob Dylan," a phrase that has been applied to a long string of singer-songwriters and was over-used decades ago, long before Jackie was born. Greene was a skinny kid with a guitar and a harmonica and tousled hair, and some of his lyrics might be described as Dylanesque.
Greene recently noted, "I'm just sorta sick of being the kid with the harmonica rack. I don't want to be Bob Dylan." And he isn't. At this point he's on his fifth album, Giving Up The Ghost, which does not sound Dylanesque in the least. It rocks. Check him out when he returns to the Eureka Theater Friday night and you'll see. L.A.-based rockers Truth and Salvage Co. open. As an aside, if you want to hear "the next Dylan" for real, you might pick up Bob's latest, Together Through Life, a roots-rock feast that will probably hit No. 1 this week, with a bullet.
Friday, you can hear another singer/songwriter with a harmonica rack, as prodigal daughter Lila Nelson returns to Humboldt. The promo e-mail put it like this: "Lila's back with some new tales and tunes. Like a salmon swimming home ... No. Like a baby delivered by a confused seagull ... No. Like the lost fourth king who chose her own star ... Whatever. Her recent East Coast tour left her cold and broke. Life in the Bay Area has left her embittered. And she wants to share it all with you at the brand swankin' new Arcata Theatre Lounge! Siena Nelson (no relation to Willie Nelson) and Greg Lojko of The Bad Lilas will make guest appearances."
"[They've] been through the desert on a horse with no name; it felt good to be out of the rain... La, la, la la la, la la..." America found major success in the ’70s with their harmonious take on SoCal folk-rock a la CSN/Neil Young. Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek got together about 40 years ago in England (their dads were U.S. military; mums were Brits). Peek eventually left to become a Christian rock star; the others marshaled on as America. And now, two of the original three members are coming into the rain to play at the Arkley Center Saturday night.
More icons coming to the Arkley Center: The Temptations harmonize there May 21, Blues Traveler jams on May 28, and -- just announced -- country diva LeAnn Rimes, Sept. 22 (a guaranteed sell out).
Speaking of icons, Memphis soul organist Booker T. Jones plays Monday at the Red Fox. Not sure what to expect; while Booker T. led the Stax/Volt house band back in the day, Potato Hole, his latest disc for Anti- finds him rocking with Drive-By Truckers and the afore-mentioned Neil Young. Guess we'll see.
A few quickies: Minnesota-based alt. bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles plays a twangfest at Humboldt Brews Friday with Johnson Family Band from Fargo, N.D. Next Wednesday, May 13, catch Brooklyn funksters Pimps Of Joytime at the Red Fox. Or, same night, head to the Manila Community Center for an all ages psychobilly blast with Mad Sin, Rezurex and The Sick Shooters. Ya-hoo ...