There’s a lot going on this week, as there always is, but I hope you don’t mind if I glance backward. Last Wednesday I went to the Playhouse to hear a Quebecois band from Canada, Le Vent du Nord. I also interviewed them earlier in the day on Fogou, a show I help produce on the local public radio station KHSU. (You listen to that interview HERE.) At the end of the night, I was talking with the guys in the band about how they make their way in modern America playing traditional music at a time when it isn’t easy for any musician to make enough to survive. Part of what makes it work for them is the fact that there are public radio stations in both countries like KHSU, where their esoteric music is played, and they're able to spend some time on the air talking about what they do. We ended up comparing the role of government in Canada and the U.S. in this day and age.
The simple fact is, our neighbors to the north have always enjoyed robust public support for the arts and it’s only getting better. Last year Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party pledged a $1.9 billion injection over the next five years supporting culture, including a $675 million increase in the budget for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and $550 million more for the Canada Council for the Arts.
What does the council do? “We champion and invest in artistic excellence through our grants, services, prizes and payments to Canadian artists and arts organizations,” they explain. The tour that brought Le Vent du Nord to Arcata was supported by a grant, as was the new CD they were selling after the show. That’s right, the government supports creative people.
In contrast, a story in last week’s New York Times reported, “A deep fear came to pass for many artists, museums, and cultural organizations nationwide Thursday when President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities … and scrapping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a key revenue source for PBS and National Public Radio stations.” If the Republicans get their way, stations like KHSU will have a lot more pledge drives. My friend Gus Mozart, another KHSU deejay (listen HERE) says we don’t have to worry, the cuts will never go though. For me, it’s the thought that counts. Art counts. It’s important.
Heard about Arcata?
Meanwhile, the culture war rages on in nightclubs all over, “The sound of gunfire, off in the distance, I’m getting used to it now… This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around. No time for dancing, or lovey dovey, I ain't got time for that now.” So sang David Byrne of Talking Heads in a song titled, “Life During Wartime.” A Heads tribute band from Portland calls itself Life During Wartime. One of their specialties is reproducing songs from the 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense, which, of course, includes that song.
“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?” I hear the war goes on in Arcata Saturday at Humboldt Brews.
To get ready, you might check out the movie Stop Making Sense, screened for the Eureka Theater Fourth Friday Flix starting at 7:30 p.m. (that's the evening before).
Across town at Arcata Theater Lounge, there’s another cover band doing their thing. Like many others, The Schwag draw on the canon of the Grateful Dead. The dreadlocked band leader from Missouri Jimmy Tebeau spent a few years on the road playing bass with JGB (Jerry’s band when he was un-Dead). He parlayed his success to become boss of Schwagstock, an annual hippie music festival he ran with The Schwag. They held it at a few places in MO until Jimmy mortgaged his home and bought Camp Zoe, an old summer camp in the Ozarks with a river running through it. Their plan to resurrect the Woodstock spirit was a success and Jimmy was recognized by the state of Missouri for his "entrepreneurial spirit and creative skills” — until he ran afoul of the Feds.
It seems people were using drugs at Camp Zoe. Surprise. People do drugs everywhere, especially at festivals. A small army of DEA agents and the like busted attendees. Jimmy wasn’t arrested with drugs — and he was not selling any — but the feds determined that he had not done enough to stop the illegal activity. Ultimately Camp Zoe was seized using asset forfeiture laws, Jimmy did some hard time, and the camp became the high-end Echo Bluff State Park, “Your gateway to the Missouri Ozarks.”
Jimmy’s festy days are over, but he’s still playing songs like the Garcia/Hunter number “Deal” — “If I told you all that went down, it would burn off both your ears.” Indeed it would.
At the Sanctuary Saturday, Jeff DeMark and friends share “Dreams, Visions and a Few Jokes,” a group show they performed for a full house awhile back at the Space in Sunnybrae Center (not to be confused with Outer Space). (See below.) The group includes Tim Breed of Psychedelvis, storyteller Diana Heberger, "sit-down comic" Charlie Gilbert, Bob Davis, Dr. Marvin Samuels, Marc Jeffars (from The Trouble0, and as usual, Jeff playing songs and telling stories. "The stories and songs range from light and humorous to serious reflections on the some of life’s deeper mysteries. Conscious dreams and unconscious dreams share equal billing. There will also be a tongue-in- cheek dream analysis session with the audience," so dream on.
Saturday, at the all ages safer/sober space known as Outer Space, it’s a four band new rock extravaganza with Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz from Pennsylvania, out west after SxSW with a new album Tourist in this Town
and Vagabon aka Lætitia Tamkoa, a songwriter/rocker New Yorker with her own new project, Infinite World.
Also on the bill, SOAR, a Bay Area “indie punk super group” that allegedly met on an internet dating website and decided to skip the romance and form a band, and from right here in Arcata, Melrose Place, who promise music you can dance to.
Down the way at the Miniplex Saturday, the experimental music series Constellation is throwing a benefit for the ACLU, whose work protecting civil liberties is demand right now. I don’t know much about the experimental acts, FEK and Rush Hour 4 (a band, not the movie), but I know King Maxwell, a soulful DJ who sometimes plays at Soul Night. Go for the cause if for no other reason.
French Oak Gypsy Band plays at Westhaven Center for the Arts (7:30) Saturday at offering "a fresh spin on French and American Swing Era classics. With repertoire derived greatly from French Chanson, Gypsy Jazz, Dixieland Jazz, they also play with Traditional World Folk music, and Modern tunes from around the world."
"North Bay native and vocalist, Stella Heath, and French/American guitar player, Gabriel Pirard, lead this group of "gypsies" in their undeniable fun performances. Reed player, James Inciardi, rounds out the group. With their French-inspired sound, spotlighting Heath’s magnetic vocals and the band’s tight rhythms, they'll transport you straight into the bygone era of swing." $5-$20 sliding. Refreshments available.
Feel the art
Graham Nash is at the Van Duzer Friday. Since we’re talking rock festivals, well, he’s played some big ones including Woodstock, which was only the second gig for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. (I missed that show, but I saw them play later the same year at Altamont.)
Lately Mr. Nash been playing with guitarist Shane Fontayne who has played with some other stars: Bruce Springsteen, U2, Paul Simon, etc. As Graham put it when he was interviewed by the afore-mentioned Gus Mozart, it will be “just me and Shane and the songs.” He continued, explaining, “I take my songs around the world and make people feel — feel period. Feel good, feel angry at what’s going on, you know, feel.” (You can hear the rest of the interview HERE.)
Got a note from someone at the Black Faun Gallery today saying, “Not only does Jesse Wiedel create paintings that have you not knowing whether to laugh or cry, he rocks the guitar too,” specifically with The Tweeners, where he plays with members of The Pipe(s) of the Doctor of Witchcraft. If you haven’t seen Jesse’s show yet, Friday is your last chance at a closing party for the Black Faun art show along with strange beautiful surreal paintings by Seana Burden and Tony Machado. The Tweeners will be playing.
Added bonus: a second underground band, Deep Dark Light with Robert Tripp and friends playing “meditative, synth/drone pieces that are great for getting your head straight after a work week,” (assuming you have a job).
Friday at Humboldt Brews Missing Links Records presents Soul Night #65 with DJs Matt n' Adam, DJ Red and #Jaymorg. I think the Missing boys are only taking it up to #67 before their last boogaloo, so boogie with them while you can.
Wild and Crazy Boobs
Wednesday, March 22, World Famous brings Big Wild to the Arcata Theatre Lounge on his Invincible Tour. The SF-based electro-producer/musician (aka Jackson Stell) mixes synths with drums and occasionally whistles. He's on the road with the duo Phantoms (Vincent Pergola and Kyle Kaplan) and Imagined Herbal Flows (Ben Gorvine). You will dance to this music. You must dance.
Thursday, the Humboldt Free Radio crew presents the “one-man band guitar party" Bob Log III who favors slide guitar and is known for his love of boobs and scotch whiskey. (He has a song titled “Boob Scotch.”) The “primitive country duo” Moon Opossum provides the mandatory local support. As with most HFR shows, it’s at the Alibi.
Speaking of boobs, earlier that evening at Humboldt Brews, Rag Doll Revue invites you to celebrate the burlesque troupe’s one-year anniversary with some revamped Dolls’ classics and some new stuff. Your host Miss Jamie Bondage introduces the tattooed Miss Inked Hearts for 2017 Stevie Di’Luxe, Lulu Fatale (Miss Inked Hearts 2013) and Jessica Pow among others, including a special guest from New Orleans, Heather Loop, who spent a few years doing the booty bounce with Big Freedia. The Cropdusters provide a soundtrack.
Monday night at Humboldt Brews Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles shifts into a more of a Blood on the Tracks mode with a band he calls Dead Man Winter taking us on what’s described as a “personal journey through divorce, the dissolution of his family and the reflections that stemmed from it, while still managing to leave you with a sense of hope.” Sounds cathartic. He’s playing Conan later that week. The relatively upbeat singer/songwriter Ryan Montbleau opens at HumBrews.
It’s another folky night Tuesday at the Arcata Playhouse with Goodnight Moonshine, a trio featuring a husband and wife team: Eben Pariser from Roosevelt Dime, an Americana band I’m not familiar with and Molly Venter, who is part of a band I know, Red Molly.This will probably not be as heavy as the dead of winter, as the couple “explore what it means to be in a healthy authentic relationship — both wholesome and irreverent — and sing of joy and grief in equal measure.”
Incidentally, Red Molly had been together for a few years when Molly joined the vocal trio. The band took its name from Richard Thompson's song "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" about "dangerous man,” a vintage motorcycle and a redhead who inherits the bike. (Mr. Thompson will not be here.)
Same Tuesday at the Miniplex, Burger Records recording artists Death Valley Girls roll into town, also fresh from SxSW. According to their FB bio, we’re to “think of them as an acid-tripping science experiment that’s been buried alive and resurrected as a sexually liberated dystopian chain-gang,” whatever that means. The well-dressed local sci-fi gang The Monster Women open the show. Please leave any dangerous weapons at home.