Well, it's that time of summer, time for Reggae — again. You might be thinking, wasn't Reggae on the River a couple of weeks ago? It was. This weekend it's Reggae Rising, the massive festival at Dimmick Ranch on that familiar bend of the Eel River.
By all accounts RotR was a successful venture, raising some money for the Mateel, and as the Mateel folks put it, it "was a very special celebration that brought together local families and longtime fans for some great reggae music and a whole lot of healing energy." (See Maxwell Schnurer's review on page 15.)
Of course, SoHum is in need of some healing because of the battle over Reggae, which seems to be over. While I was on vacation the terms of the agreement between the Mateel, People Productions and Tom Dimmick were announced. There are details I've not heard yet, but basically People Productions is going to pay a half million to the Mateel and take possession of the $300 grand worth of gear that will be used to put on Reggae Rising this weekend (and used for the Willie Nelson and Family show coming up at the end of August). The Mateel keeps the trademarked Reggae on the River name (and they're already looking toward RotR 2009) and Carol and Tom are free to do their own thing. I'm assuming both sides are paying their own lawyer fees, and we're talking about a lot of money. Hardcore Mateelites are not happy with the deal, and we can only hope they'll get past it and move on so that peace, love and unity can reign once more in the Eel and Mattole watersheds.
And that brings us back to this weekend. The 2nd annual Reggae Rising Music Festival starts Friday and there are still tickets available. Carol Bruno has done her usual job pulling in top reggae and dancehall acts from all over, so the lineup is strong all three days. My suggestion: Head down on Thursday, set up camp and get a good night's rest so you'll be ready for a long weekend and able to get to the stage in time for Lost Coast Marimbas, a jazzy SoHum ensemble with mystical soothing powers opening Friday after Coyote's traditional Wailaki blessing. I've also heard good things about Aussie reggae/rockers Blue King Brown. Then you have modern tribal music from a reunited Medicine Drum with drummer Greg Ellis, Rara Avis on keys, percussion by Chris Deckker of Earthdance fame, Lizbeth Scott on vocals (she was on the Narnia soundtrack) plus Reggae regular Tevya (aka Wisdom). I love Cham (who used to be Baby Cham), and Jamaican veteran Beres Hammond has awesome pipes. UB40 closes Friday showing us the post-Ali version of the band. Former lead singer Ali Campbell left the band in January and has been replaced by his brother Duncan. (Maxi Priest has also been handling vocals on some touring dates, but he won't be at Rising.)
Saturday starts with the Lion Camp Showcase featuring Ishi Dube and Jah Sun. When I caught up with Ishi Tuesday he'd just come back from the Ranch where he's been working setup with Sam Safier's Universal Balance sound crew. Ishi laid out the plan: He's bringing his band, Massagana and Jah Sun will bring his High Voltage band, which means all of NoHum's best reggae players will be in the house — plus, he adds, "We'll have many guests from the Lion Camp," a massive that includes Soul Medic, Windstrong, Gideon and Messenjah Selah. This set is mandatory for the Humboldt/Mendo massive. Saturday will be another long day with a bunch of dancehall midday followed by Junior Reid, Sly and Robbie (rumor has it they're doing a tribute to the late great Joseph Hill of Culture) and a final sizzlin' set by Sizzla into the wee hours.
Something new this year, aimed at those who can't handle a whole weekend down by the river: Sunday-only tickets (and paid in-and-out parking). And Sunday's show is good: Former local Jade Steel is back into roots reggae so that should be a great way to start things in the morning. You also have Collie Buddz returning with the New Kingston Band; Bob's boys are represented by Julian Marley with The Uprising Band, plus you have German reggae star Gentleman and, to close things out, the venerable Don Carlos from Black Uhuru. If that's not enough, there's also the Dome across the river and the "straight from yard" High Altitude Dancehall Clubpumping overnight Friday and Saturday and late Sunday morning. Late addition for Sunday in the Club, Mark "Tansoback" Mohr and Christafari for all the Christian reggae fans out there. Hallelujah!
The idea behind Thursday's Reggae at the Mateel is to pick up business from folks in town early for Reggae weekend. Interesting idea, but since on-site camping opens that day I don't think that will work. I suppose it might draw some locals who aren't into (or can't afford) R. Rising. Anyway, music is by Stevie Culture, Iqulah, Elhadji, Jah Tory, Malika Madremana and The Demolition Squad.
So you're not into reggae? There are other options. The ladies of The Bad Mitten Orchestre are here from Eugene Thursday for some folky cabaret business at the Jambalaya with Humboldt's own alt. cabaret queen Universalia Jane plus Boomsauii.
I sat next to U-Jane at the Folklife songwriters' showcase the other night (great job, Lila) and got to talking about the amazing string of shows at the Lil' Red Lion. One of our CD reviewers, Juli, noted the same thing and wondered who's doing the booking. The tireless Amy Mayville is the main person (great job, Amy), but I hear the Pipe(s) o' the Doctor of Witchcraft folks have also played a role. The Pipe(s) is (are) part of a 4-band show Thursday joined by High Castle, You Need New Glasses and Thief Thief. Friday Lil' has Teeth Mountain, Super Vacation and Gary War; Saturday it's Hypatia Lake, Neighborhood Stars and Apple War; Sunday's show has Xray Press and Electric Children ,and then on Tuesday, Aug. 5, it's Panther, Touch and Still Time. That's a helluva-lotta bands and there's not space for blurbage, so hit MySpace.com/thelilredbar to learn more about them.
Bust out the tie-dye, there's a Jerry Garcia B-Day Bash Friday at Humboldt Brews with Miracle Show and special guests. Saturday, HumBrews has The Bottom Feeders, a twangy alt. country band from Woodland that includes former local Ivan Sohrakoff on guitar.
Saturday at the Jam it's Portland string jammerTony Furtado(formerly of Boulder). He's a fine banjo picker and good on guitar, too. (The Feeders are at the Riverwood Friday.)
Andy from Strix Vega alerted me to a show Friday at Mosgo's featuringTownland, a "prairie pop" band from Long Beach, plus Greg Lojko of Rubberneckers fame, who (says Andy) is also playing drums for Battle of the Bands winners Svelte Velvet who headline the show.
Skipping Reggae to attend Wildwood Days? This note came in an e-mail, "There is new band called Bloodstone performing at the Rio Dell Wildwood Days Festival on Saturday at 8:30. We are a two guitar, bass and drum band playing true classic Heavy Metal from the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. Think Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, Ratt and a little classic rock (Aerosmith, AC/DC, Ozzy). The guys in the band saw a need to truly honor this style in our area due to the fact that no one is really doing it. Or not that we've seen in the clubs or casinos. This area is in serious need of a kick ass twin dual lead guitar slinging, tight vocal, heavy metal group and Bloodstone will deliver. Could you please mention us in your column?!" Sure, why not? While the note didn't say so, it turns out this is the latest project for guitarist Clint Warner, a self-confessed metal head. And, yes, he's heard that Bloodstone was a ’70s soul band. (Remember "Natural High"?) And since there's also a Brit band with the name he says when MySpace time comes they'll be Bloodstone-USA. Watch for them in a casino near you.
If you've been paying close attention, you may remember me mentioning something called "The Lefsetz Letter," written by music biz insider Bob Lefsetz. Not long ago he was riffing on catalogue sales, albums by classic acts. No. 35 on some such list was the Doobie Brothers album, Greatest Hits. Sales that week: 3,784, Cumulative: 2,161,196. Bob asked rhetorically, "Did they do something? Did they appear on Oprah? Or is it that despite being derided for having hits, they're part of our rock fabric?"
(No, they were not on Oprah, unless I missed it.)
Wondering what to expect if you go see the Doobies play at the Arkley Center Monday, Aug. 4? “We always pretty much do a lot of the songs that people have come to hear, the hits and stuff," said guitarist Patrick Simmons, in a recent interview posted on the Doobies' website.
So, as they sang way back when, "Don’t you feel it growin’, day by day, people gettin’ ready for the news. Some are happy, some are sad oh, we got to let the music play. What the people need is a way to make ’em smile. It ain’t so hard to do if you know how. Gotta get a message, get it on through... (Come on sing along!) Oh-oh, listen to the music. Oh-oh, listen to the music. Oh-oh, listen to the music. All the time."
Hey, that sounds like a plan. Let's all listen to the music — all the time — and appreciate the fabric.