Labor Day weekend is coming up. That used to mean the end of summer vacation and something about rich people wearing white, but those are archaic traditions. We have new traditions to replace them. Established as a holiday to honor trade unions and the “workers,” now it’s just another extended weekend.
We’ll still set up a soap box for speeches at the annual Labor Day Picnic on Monday in Sequoia Park hosted by the union folks of the Humboldt and Del Norte Central Labor Council (and AFSCME Local 1684), but as far as I can tell, the unions are barely holding in there, at least here in Humboldt. The resistance will be on people’s minds.
You can get union-made hamburger or a hot dog (undoubtedly with a vegan option) with all the sides at the picnic, and all they ask is bring some canned goods for the hungry. The party runs from noon until 3.
Meanwhile in Arcata, we’ll be celebrating “solidarity” with the 32nd annual I Block Party, with music and more from noon ’til 6 p.m. by Los Bagels. As always this is a fundraiser for the Arcata-Camoapa Sister City Project, celebrating our “international friendship and solidarity” with the people of Nicaragua.
There’s always a cool raffle and a silent auction, bbq chicken, albacore, and yes, grilled tofu. There’ll be great desserts and things for kids to do. And, as always there’s great local music all day. This will be my first chance to hear Daily Driver with the Trujillo bros and Lyndsey Battle. Then there’s the überfunky Bump Foundation, bluegrass by The Kentucky Warblers and just plain blues by the Jim Lahman Band. BTW, I wrote a whole Hum about I Block last year going into the history of the event and the struggles the Nicaraguan people. You can read it HERE.
40 acres, a mule and some horses
I got to know the blues when I was a teenager growing up in the ‘burbs in the Bay Area. I realized early on that was it black music, but mostly it was played by white boys. The first time I went to Bill Graham’s Fillmore, it was to see Chicago’s Paul Butterfield Blues Band playing blues. I heard a British take on the blues of old black men by Cream with guitar god Clapton at the Fillmore. I also saw Howlin’ Wolf, the real deal at the Avalon, but in all honesty, I went because the Steve Miller Blues Band was on the bill.
As the ‘60s came to a close, I heard Cold Blood, an Oakland-based R&B band with a killer lead singer, Lydia Pense with Fillmore's Bill Graham as a manager. This was a bit different, with soul added, but still the blues. The band disbanded at the end of the ‘70s, but Lydia came back in the 21st century. She’ll be playing Saturday in Eureka with a resurrected Cold Blood on day one of a two-day blues fest at Redwood Acres with the clever name Acres of Blues.
This is basically Blues by the Bay, back in a new incarnation after years of wishin’ and hopin’ by former BbtB director Glen Maxon and Michael Buell, a blues lover/talent broker who runs a talent agency call Bay Area Music Connection.
Lydia plays Saturday right before fiery guitarist Laurie Morvan Band, who you maybe saw at Blues by the Bay. There’s Volker Strifler, a German guitarist who now calls the USA home. Pearl Alley Band is fronted by a young couple from San Jose. Opening the show is that day’s only local outfit, the Jim Lahman Band. Jim is really good. He knows the blues and has a tight band.
If you’re wondering why these bands were chosen, it’s no coincidence that both headliners and several of the other bands are Bay Area Music Connection clients. Jim and Anna both open with sets early, at 10:30 a.m. The fest ends at 7 p.m. both days. If your looking for an acre o’ blues, look no further. Looking for 40 acres and a mule? That offer is no longer available.
By chance, the fest is up against the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale and some of the best local bluesmen in Friendship Square. Saturday, Buddy Reed & the Rip-It Ups plays two sets at 2 and 4 p.m. with Shinbone following at 6:30 (with KHUM blues deejay Charles Horn on harp, Robert Franklin on guitar and guest bassist Rick DeVol). Sunday, the day’s theme is officially “Blues and Brews” with the Uptown Kings (2 and 4 p.m.) and Jimi Jeff playing Hendrix-style blues at 6:30.
Not strictly blues, but Thursday at the fair in the Square Jenni and David and the Sweet Soul Band def have soul (6:30 p.m.) Ukelaliens play earlier (2 and 4). Haven’t heard them but it’s another clever name. Monday, Labor Day, the venerable Merv George rocks two sets (2 and 4). BTW, if you’re mainly going for the horses, the track is dark Wednesday and Thursday it’s Bull’o’Rama, so, no racing.
Art and music
Saturday is Arts Alive! night in Eureka and there’s all sorts of stuff going on...
There's a block party with The Latin Peppers in Clark Plaza...
“Cats in the Hall,” with cat art in the C Street Hall Gallery, “Inverted Water Images,” a reflective photo show at Swanlund’s curated by Jose Quezada, and much more art and music...
I plan on being at Black Faun Gallery that night where Claire Iris Schencke will be creating what she calls “iPadJAZZart,” while the Francis Vanek Quartet jazzes things up and serves as models.
I met Iris when our boys were in the ArMack Orchestra together. I was the orchestra’s designated publicist and she painted marvelous posters for shows. We became close friends. We’re both jazz fans and I’d see her at Redwood Jazz Alliance shows where I had my camera and she had her iPad. I saw her style develop into something really cool, reflecting the improvisational nature of the music using a new tool to create digital art.
She says, “While painting, I am caught up in the turbulence of this improvised art form. I leap into each painting opportunity with all the confidence I can muster and grow the piece layer by layer. I flow with the music, and the movement of the musicians — sliding back and forth in a frenzy between as many as 20 layers,” as she creates.
She’s enlarged pieces that you won’t believe. She has a couple more nights planned at the Black Faun (Eureka’s epicenter of abstract-mural art) with an artist talk Saturday, Sept. 16 with the Gregg Moore Quintet and Saturday, Sept. 23, with the Tim Randles Quartet. (6 p.m. start time for everything.)
Way out East
Summer lives on as the summer festivals continue. East of here in Willow Creek, where Bigfoot lives, Saturday is the start of Bigfoot Days. Details remain as elusive as the Big, but the Chamber folks promise a parade down Main Street (aka 299) starting at 10 a.m. with a sighting or two guaranteed since this is the "Bigfoot Capital of the World.” There’ll be “live music” (no word who), a Car and Bike Show show ’n' shine-style (benefiting the DreamQuest youth program), craft booths and a deep pit barbecue at Veterans Park.
There’s also an ice cream social at the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum, where you can hear about the upcoming 50th anniversary of that iconic film clip shot by Patterson and Gimlin aka the PG film. (It’s not ’til October. Bobo says he'll be there. Woohoo!)
UPDATE 8/31: The organizers tell us, "Due to the catastrophic fire threatening Junction City and the surrounding areas the Trinity Tribal Gathering is being canceled. We will try to reschedule."
Further east in Junction City, the Trinity Tribal Gathering seems to have taken from the old Trinity Tribal Stomp. It runs Saturday and Sunday with music Saturday by headliners Nahko and Medicine for the People, a musical collective with a mission “to be the motivation and inspiration for all that have become members of the Tribe.”
Plus the soulful Jennifer Hartswick Band, Keith Secola from the Ojibwa people, Seed N Soil (from Arcata) with Ju Drum (from Nigeria) and many more. Sunday morning starts with Elk River Drum, then the rivers’ friend Alice DiMicele, a talk from Winona LaDuke, all capped by the Indigenous Women’s Wisdom Council. Get some wisdom.
Back in town
Thursday at the Jam it’s another night of dark heavy music with “raw black metal” by Utzalu from Portland...
plus “black metal/punk” by Ritual Knife from Atlanta, “death industrial/power electronics” by Primordial Wound from Seattle...
and more black metal from Zelosis from Whitethorn, who are kicking off a tour behind a new album titled s/t. Don’t forget your earplugs, the music will be loud.
Friday, Siren’s Song Tavern has Intuitive Compass down from Applegate Oregon, but also from “someplace else, yet quite firmly here and now.” Purveyors of “original western folk music,” they offer a “timeless sound, invoking a musical America of the past without sounding dated,” or so they say.
This Friday at the Jam sounds like Sundaze with the Deep Groove Society crew offering Higher Love: Dance Music for the Soul. DGS veteran Jan van Lier is back from the Bay. “It's been over 15 years since the first time I dropped beats for Deep Groove Society, and in that time a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same,” he says. Joining him are Simon Surreal and Mr. 415 also from DGS. Mr. E W from Storytime Crew plays too.
UPDATE: The show scheduled for Saturday night at the Arcata Community Center with next-gen rapper Iamsu (aka Sudan Ameer Williams) has been rescheduled and it currently set for Oct. 1. More later...
Also Saturday, at the Logger Bar, rock with Psychedelvis and The Rounders. That’s Tim Breed in Elvis drag backed a good time band. Fun! (Turtle’s in the band. And Janine says she’ll be there.)
Downtown you can hear Object Heavy and The New Traditions at Humbrews. I've recently learned the opening band was formerly The Dubbadubs. I learned this from Pete, the drummer for O-Heavy and the owner of the Jam. Pete promises, "They start at 9:30pm," adding, "Please come out early for a drink or some food."
Coming up Tuesday, Sept. 5 (at 8 p.m.) CenterArts and HSU ASPresents brings Thundercat to the Van Duzer. Aka Stephen Bruner, Thundercat is difficult to explain since he breaks down musical borders. Wikipedia simply describes him as an “American multi-genre bass guitarist, producer and singer from L.A.” In addition to fronting three albums of his own, he pops up in all sorts of places: He’s worked with producer Flying Lotus (grand-nephew of John Coltrane), the thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, showed up on saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s epic album The Epic, and Kendrick Lamar’s equally epic To Pimp A Butterfly. Maybe you saw his on The Tonight Show playing his bass behind Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. His own show? Expect Funkadelic-type grooves, a whole lot of soul and the proverbial “much more.”
Yes, it’s a labor of love. Why else would they do it?