by Sarah Felker
The Independent in San Francisco was lit with Nor Cal talent last Saturday night. Oakland’s Sun Hop Fat opened for Humboldt’s Diggin Dirt and together they drew a crowd of lively fans, eager to boogie. Sun Hop Fat, an Ethiopian jazz ensemble of seasoned musicians specializing in horn heavy instrumentals, served as a complimentary warm up for the soulful, funky dance numbers ahead played by Diggin Dirt.
Sun Hop Fat skillfully blends Ethiopian scales with American jazz rhythms producing a distinct and atmospheric experience. There were moments on Saturday that felt grand and dreamy, transporting me to another era in time. This show was my first of theirs, and won’t be my last.
Zach Alder is Diggin Dirt’s electric frontman with a deep and soulful expression very reminiscent of James Brown, a reported influence of his. Alder’s stunning vocals are what elevate the band to a league of their own and what grabbed my attention when I first heard Diggin Dirt years ago in the jam band scene. Decked out in 70s inspired attire, Alder is a comedic and uplifting storyteller with a vibrant stage presence. Diggin Dirt as a whole is a talented group that knows how to have fun and a complete joy to dance to. They already have an enthusiastic following and are a bright star in the west coast music scene.