Creating filtered version of banner image.

In the Press

Sonoma County Gazette



Real Music - Dec 2013
Hippie Holidaze Party

“We’re a bunch of hippies,” says Mike Campbell, bandleader and founder of the Thugz, who, due to their longevity, are approaching the status of a county landmark.  In a recent talk, Campbell discusses his Hippie Holidaze Party, Dec. 21 at the Rio Nido Roadhouse, “a Christmasy thing” he says, that will include Stephanie Salva, a distinguished local singer and ukulele player, and other special guests, plus a Psychedelic Santa costume contest and a few seasonal songs. You don’t have to be a hippie to attend.

“The Thugz are beyond just playing music,” he says. “It’s all about the people in our bands and our fans, who have been coming to see us for years, to celebrate the community that has kept us going. Also, we’re trying to promote those things that were good about the renaissance days of the 1960s. The more people that want to join us in that the better.”

The Thugz, Sonoma County MusicNo two Thugz shows are exactly the same, but the spirit and love of making music are always present, Campbell says. Often identified as a Grateful Dead cover band, the Thugz are much more. There’s also an emphasis on folk and blues, and what he calls “old-time psychedelic music,” including songs of Country Joe & the Fish, the Doors and Donovan. Bob Dylan songs, almost impossible to avoid in any discussion of that era, are included, and keyboardist Sylvia Murphy leads the way into country and R&B sounds. Campbell also plays trumpet, and Andre de Channes, program director of KRSH, adds guitar depth. Bassist Chris Lushington has been with the Thugz forever, and Bradley Leach  recently became the regular drummer.

Campbell likes the Dead because “their music encompasses many styles and has an element of improvisation.” The Thugz’ improvisations, or jams, start with basic song structures as a takeoff point, he says, to go somewhere else, often into another song along the way.  Their “cosmic jams” have even less adherence to the actual song, including increased use of electronic modification. “Every time we play, at some point in that show, it all clicks, and the band has this feeling that’s so good – you get into a zone – we look at each other and know this is why we’re doing it.”

In 2011, in what Campbell calls “an epic gig” at AT&T Park, the Thugz played before a Giants game. They performed for an on-field party, then, standing on top of the dugout, opened for former Grateful Dead bandmembers Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, who sang the National Anthem. A lot of people from the Russian River area showed up, some carrying a banner saying “Guerneville.”

The Thugz have generously donated their time for fundraisers over the years, and the Giants event was a result of their association with the Rex Foundation, a  group dedicated to “furthering a tradition of grassroots giving,” for whom the band does an  annual benefit performance. “It’s flattering that people think we can help,” Campbell says. 

Press Democrat

THUGZ to * assassinate your Blues

Thursday, December 19th, 2013 | Posted by

Time Traveling is not for everyone. There are idiomatic expressions you’re not familiar with (“an old poacher makes the best gamekeeper”, “like a shag on a rock”), foods which you wouldn’t dream of eating and dances that seem tricky and

Thugz Hippie Hollidaze Jubilee at the Roadhouse

Thugz Hippie Hollidaze Jubilee at the Roadhouse


But if you can summon up the courage to zip through that tear in the Cosmos, you might want to celebrate the solstice with the irrepressible THUGZ at the Rio Nido Roadhouse.

Almost all the ‘locals’ are familiar with their music and style, and the tireless way, one tune after another, they musically forge ahead, and there are reasons why folks come to hear them time after time.

They’re FUN! Good musicians, genial entertainers, unafraid of trying out new arrangements, and a feeling of being a “part” of the band the same way rabid football fans are considered the Twelfth Man on the Team.


Thugz at the Roadhouse

Thugz at the Roadhouse

The Roadhouse is hosting on December 21 a “Hippie Holidaze Party” where attendees may witness people who have been hippies for fifty years youthfully gallivanting around the dance floor.

All ages are welcome,  admission is an Eisenhower-era $5 (the same as premium tickets for the Beatles SHEA STADIUM gig in ’66) and  the Roadhouse is fun for children as well as adults.

A varied menu afford many choices, the full bar is prepared to indulge (almost) anyone’s taste,  and the R3 prides itself on being very homey and relaxing.

Brad, Sandy and Raena take their hospitality very seriously and they love what the have (in the Roadhouse) and do what they must to keep everyone satisfies and fulfilled.

When: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.,  Saturday, December 21

* For those who wonder why the Tribal Hippie UnderGround Zone is called the Thugz , you may get some inkling from the following. But then again, maybe not.


The “original Thugs” (Lookin’ for Ringo…)

First mentioned in 1356 the Thugs, an organized gang of professional assassins travelled in groups across India for several hundred years and according to some estimates the Thugs murdered a million people between 1740 and 1840.

For some years, India’s British administrators had been hearing reports of large numbers of travelers disappearing on the country’s roads; but, while disturbing, such incidents were not entirely unusual for the time. It was not until the discovery of a series of eerily similar mass graves across India that the truth began to dawn. Each site was piled with the bodies of individuals ritually murdered and buried in the same meticulous fashion, leading to an inescapable conclusion: these killings were the work of a single, nation-spanning organization. It was known as Thuggee.

For the members of Thuggee, murder was both a way of life and a religious duty. They believed their killings were a means of worshiping the Hindu goddess Kali, who was honored at each stage of the murder by a vast and complex system of rituals and superstitions. Thugs were guided to their victims by omens observed in nature.

And according to a late bulletin from the THUGZ Mike Campbell, one of the omens the Thugees observed in Nature was The Beatles, one of whom (Ringo) they tried to assassinate in “Help” to appease Kali.


There are no reports of any of their victims being among the grateful dead.


Press Democrat

Thugz celebrate Jerry Garcia’s birthday by once again resurrecting the Dead

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 | Posted by | no responses

The Thugz performing at the Rio Nido Roadhouse on Bob Dylan night

The Tribal Hippie UnderGround Zone (aka the THUGZ)  will bring the Dead back to life with a celebration of  Jerry Garcia’s 71st  birthday at the Rio Nido Roadhouse from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, August 3.

The user-friendly and beloved local band will be certain to cause a Ripple in every Friend of the Devil who comes Truckin’ on down to revel in the festivities as the THUGZ  play exclusively all Jerry/Grateful Dead tunes  for the benefit of the Rex Foundation,  $7 cover charge.

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia

Proceeds go to the Rex Foundation which provides grants to worthy arts, ecology and social programs. There will be raffles and prizes, dining and dancing at one of the lower River’s most unique venues. Unique because of an outdoor stage, a spacious dance floor, an excellent sound system, imaginative lighting and Adirondack chairs a-plenty scattered about an expansive lawn which butts up against the establishment’s swimming pool. Diners may eat indoors, in the attached, covered pavilion or while seated comfortably at an outdoor  picnic

table or in a chair.This is the Roadhouse’s 12th annual Jerry celebration and it’s often mentioned that the Dead’s Dark Star was composed on this very site in the 60′s.

It’s also safe to bet the performance will take place against a backdrop of tie dye that is certain to time-trip attendees back into the  Bay Area of the late 60s when the hugely successful Garage Band called the Grateful Dead, which became an icon during their own time and a legend to many, entertained legions of ganja-puffing, anti-establishment denizens of America’s Left Bank, who lived

Thugz Drummer Ian Favell

Thugz Drummer Ian Favell

primarily, to see and hear the Dead. All ages are welcome and the tab is $6.

What is the Rex Foundation?

Established in 1983  by members of the Grateful Dead and friends, the Rex Foundation enabled the Grateful Dead to not only respond to multiple requests for contributions but to provide extensive community support to creative endeavors in the arts, sciences, and education. Since the first benefit concerts held in the spring of 1984 at the Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium,  the Rex Foundation has granted over $9 million to over 1,000 recipients.

The Foundation’s mission is to “help secure a healthy environment, promote individuality in the arts, provide support to critical and necessary social services, assist others less fortunate than ourselves, protect the rights of indigenous people

A Well-Seasoned Jerry

A Well-Seasoned Jerry

and ensure their cultural survival, build a stronger community, and educate children and adults everywhere.”

When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, August 3

Where: Rio Nido Roadhouse, Canyon Two Road, Rio Nido

Live CD! Outside Inside - Thugz originals

Listen to live THUGZ here!

Join the tribe!

The THUGZ at A.T.&T Park

click to see Bob Minkin's photos

THUGZ performance on video page!