Caught on Tape in Humboldt

Jensen Rufe joined the Zappa-esque punk band Puddletown Tom after he left Poway High. "I was ahead of the blink guys at Poway High by about two or three years." During his UCLA years ('91--'95), he came down to play local gigs. "We had a residency at Java Joe's. We played with the Rugburns and Jewel.... We played the Casbah and Soma, but we didn't get much of a fan base."

When Rufe went to graduate school for film at Humboldt State, he played in Eureka-/Arcata-area bands and made a lot of music videos. In 2001, he was hired by MTV/VH1, where he edited Making the Band, Road Rules, and Real World. Since then, Rufe has created an hour-long documentary entitled Rural Rock & Roll, shot during an eight-day period last summer in Humboldt County.

"There are 100,000 people in Humboldt County. There are more people in Escondido than in all of Humboldt, but I would say there are 500 people that staunchly support live bands. Of them, 300 are in bands.... There are only two or three venues, a lot of house parties.... There were 50 other bands I didn't even get to talk to."

For his film, Rufe mixed interviews and live footage of 13 Eureka bands.

"One band plays 'mountain metal.' They are construction workers with big beards. They say they are the only band that can build you a house.... Nine out of ten people up there have no delusions of grandeur. They are perfectly fine that no one will ever hear them outside of Eureka, which is what the film is all about....

"I'd like to think there are a bunch of Eurekas across the country." Rufe says the music scenes of Boise, Idaho; Bozeman, Montana; and Lawrence, Kansas, would be perfect for other shoots. "This could be a traveling rock series."

Rufe, on a West Coast tour with his film, will show Rural Rock & Roll on July 29 at the Whistle Stop Bar. A live set by the Ian Fays of Eureka (who appear in the documentary) follows.

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