SoundBite: From Humboldt beginnings …
October 2, 2008
I knew it was the new CD from my friend’s Humboldt County band when I pulled the package out of my mailbox.
Upon opening it, I thought, “Hey, that looks like ” yes! ” that’s Camel Rock on the cover. And it’s high tide and the waves are perfect.”
Some of the most memorable moments from my 21 years in Humboldt County were at Camel Rock. Certainly the most vivid was the time a great white shark chased a surfing buddy and me out of the water.
The best times were those days in October when the waves and the weather were perfect. If you see the CD cover, you should know that the clear blue sky is a rarity for the beach just north of Arcata.
Many mornings the waves would be unsurfable, and we wouldn’t really mind. It was so cold that driving another couple miles to Trinidad for breakfast was a good reward for at least thinking about going surfing.
Listening to the CD brought a flood of memories. “All Over The Map” is just like it says it is: A variety of American music styles reminiscent of earlier days. The opening track,” Camel Rock,” is a surfing song I’d wished I’d had back in the day. There’s jump blues, country, Ray Charles-like R&B and even bossa nova. The sound is clean and fun.
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My friend is Paul DeMark, who I met taking journalism courses at Humboldt State. Although he is a highly respected drummer who’d played with Sunnyland Slim, Robert Cray and Albert Collins, DeMark opted out of life on the road with a band. He decided to get an education, settle down and raise a family. I suspect the rest of the Delta Nationals ” Ross Rowley, Dave Ryan and Steve Irwin ” have similar backgrounds. I think the band just plays at the local places in Arcata, McKinleyville and Eureka ” they must have day jobs, you know.
The Delta Nationals are storytellers, and “Last Logger Leaving Town” is a definitive country saga of the nearly extinct workers who used to drive the economy of the great Northwest. If Rowley’s lyrical attention to detail and delivery is believable, it’s because it’s true. The song reminds me of something Bill Kirchen might have sung with Commander Cody in the early 1970s, before the timber jobs began going away.