“Life is such a great adventure. Learn to live it as you go. No one in the world can censure what we do here below. Don't save your kisses, just pass them around. You’ll find my reason is logic'lly sound: Who’s going to know that you passed them around a hundred years from today.” ~ from “A Hundred Years From Today” as sung by Jack Teagarden, circa 1933
A hundred years is a long time. And the great adventures of the old building known as The Creamery are just beginning. Elsewhere you can read about the storied past, and plans for the future, when the building becomes the center of the Creamery District. We’ll talk here about what’s going on at the Creamery Festival on a busy weekend.
“We’re gearing up for a big celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Creamery Building August 17-20,” said David Ferney, impresario of the Arcata Playhouse, the venue at the center of the coming storm. “Pageantry, art, food and drink, live music, and a big top circus are all part of the centennial celebration. Highlights include the Flynn Creek Circus, fermented food and drink at Fervor Fest, the giant puppets and lanterns of the ever-popular Elemental performance spectacle, and a whimsical outdoor exhibit of unique historical recreations by local artist Lush Newton.”
Prior to setting up shop in the Creamery Building, Lush had an illustrious career working for Disney, Hallmark and Winterland Productions, where she designed t-shirts for the likes of NSync and Led Zeppelin. Thursday the festival kicks off with an opening reception for her latest project, “Golden State Creamery; The Land of Milk and Honey,” Lush’s centennial inspired outdoor art exhibit based on historical imagery.
In the field across from the Creamery, Mendocino County’s Flynn Creek Circus is in a vintage big top tent has colorful tightrope walkers, aerialists, jugglers, acrobats, clowns and comedians, you know, circus stuff (but without elephants or other animal acts). They’ve been honing their skills since 2002 in the Mendo hills “pushing tradition to the edge” with a mission: “to radically inspire audiences by demonstrating disciplined artistic and athletic risk.” Flynn has its first of six shows Thursday at 7 p.m.
Friday around dark (8:15 p.m.) the Playhouse Arts crew begins its “signature outdoor performance spectacle,” Elemental, something David and Jackie been doing for years. It’s a magical participatory parade involving a Chinese dragon, handmade paper lanterns, giant puppets, stilt walkers (trained in a summer pagentry program) with a band drawing on Bandemonium circling the Creamery building, the procession concluding with a shadow puppet show.
The evening ends with what’s described as “a special adult performance” by the Flynn Creek Circus at 9 p.m. David was “not sure” what they have planned that’s “adult” aside from demonstrating that circuses are not just for kids. The circus also has all ages shows at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, then closes the festivities Sunday with two more shows at 1 and 4 p.m.
Then Saturday from 1-5 p.m. it’s the Second Annual Humboldt Fervor Fest, a benefit for the Arcata Playhouse and Humboldt Made. What the heck is fervor? Webster says it refers to intense heated emotion; passion and ardor, but also fermenting and intoxication. According to David, “the event is full of fermentation fun with sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, cheese and pickles” on the fervor food side,” with “hard cider, distilled spirits, beer and wine” on the intoxicating side (plus “fermented non-alcoholic drinks”).
There’s a stage somewhere near those ace C-District fermenters, Wrangletown...
where you'll hear Latin percussion band Timbata...
Plus the old timey Belles of the Levee, the jazzy Paula Jones Band, which includes The RLa Trio, and a second set by RLa with fiddler Rob Diggins. Bandemonium will be marching around somewhere, and there are “some special surprises” promised. Expect passionate performances all around. Fair warning: It’s not cheap since there’s basically an open bar at Fervor.
Meanwhile Saturday there’s something “festive” going on in the courtyard in front of Redwood Raks, and the Creamery Building tower will be open for guided tours.
The historic building is home to mess of other creative endeavors in addition to the Arcata Playhouse: Tosha Yoga upstairs, Phoenix Ceramics, Finigan & Thonson Custom Woodworks and vintage clothing at Bang! Bang! There’s more than enough passion and intense heated emotion all around. Be there. Now.
Got a message the other day from Dean Haakenson, a Sacramento-based songwriter who goes by the nom de band Be Brave Bold Robot. He has a new album with a palindrome title, but to hate god do get a hot tub, and was looking to book a Be Brave Bold Robot Humboldt CD release tour. I helped. He did. His band plays Friday at The Miniplex with Absynth Quartet and Saturday at Siren’s Song Tavern with John Ludington (of AQ) and Andrea Zvaleko.
There’s actually an Arcata/graffiti connection in the name Be Brave Bold Robot that Dean explained (after I asked). “The name came from this truncated chronology: a young guy, Sean in the Bay Area did the [BBBR] graffiti, ‘round about 2000 or so. He had a woman friend whose name escapes me (any of your readers please lemme know!) who shortly thereafter went to Humboldt. I believe she was a student at HSU, because the graffiti of the name started popping up in the HSU women's bathrooms, and all around Arcata area.
“In 2003, I started making a zine, and at that exact same time a friend going to HSU told me off handedly of the cool graffiti phrase she saw in the HSU bathroom... I thought it would make a perfect title for my zine, so I used it... I made a bunch of issues of the zine, and then a couple years later, as I was forming a band to play my music, I thought it would make a good band name as well…
“I did my first tour up to Humboldt in 2005, I told a bunch of people on the social networking platform of the day, MySpace, that I had taken the name for my band, and to tell the lady who did the graffiti to come to one of the shows we were playing and introduce herself. Sure enough, she showed up to our first show at Metro CDs, that music store that had shows. She gave me the only piece of merchandise with ‘Be Brave Bold Robot’ on it that I did not make, a black field with white lettering — it is on my merch case to this day. We joked that if I ever made any money, I'd pay her. I have yet to make any substantial amount of money, but the promise remains!”
We went on to talk about the new album with a palindrome title. “The album spans chronologically the life of a person: first song about doing mushrooms with siblings at a young adult age,” he began. I guessed it might be an autobiographical set starting with a story about him and his siblings.
“That one is autobiographical, yes,” he admitted. “When we were oh so young, and made it no further than a half mile away, near the Albertsons, but [were] afraid to go in…” But most of songs are about friends. “The last song is autobiographical: ‘Old Man’ is about my job, where I process complaints from old men who were sadly defrauded of their life savings.”
His day job in working for the Calif. Dept. of Business Oversight, “the overarching regulator in California for most all things in financial industry regulation”
“The song's complainant specifically was defrauded by investment fraud. There are lots of desperate people out there, and with the ubiquity of people doing business on the internet, we're seeing lots of internet fraud, people engaging with fraudsters who ask them to front some money with the promise of loans, or investment returns, advance fee scams. And on the internet, all these scamsters are impossible to track down.”
Can you do anything to help?
“We are able to do things when it comes to [some of] the fraud we see; real people we can track down, who do unlicensed investment or lending business. We're a terribly greedy lot, us Americans.”
With modern day scams, there is little they can do “when it comes to people sending money up front to scamsters, and then awaiting to hear back, via email or phone calls, all re-routed [to untraceable places] on the fraudsters end. Get this, often the fraudsters require the up front money via Walmart and Amazon gift cards [which are] much harder to track than personal checks and the like. I think it's important for people to know to not get scammed... Always always check with the regulators, like my department, for proper licenses before handing money over to anybody."
So two things to keep in mind: Don't get ripped off by clever scammers. And don't miss Dean's weekend off when he visits Humboldt. He has more tales to tell, and a band to back him up.
Saturday you have your choice of sexy happenings. First there’s Grab Art by the Pussy: A Night for All Genders to Grab Back at The Inn at 2nd & C...
The benefit for Planned Parenthood Northern California is hosted by comedians Ivy Vasquez and Sam Greenspan, with music by Mystic Lions, Griddle Cakes, and Clyde Cisco. The catered event (good food) includes a sexy juried art show, a silent auction, all in support of Eureka Planned Parenthood.
The ladies of the Va Va Voom Burlesque Vixens offer a new twist they're calling “Burlesque Roulette” Saturday at the Eureka Theater.
“Watch as the talented vixens perform to whatever song the wheel lands on! Guess who gets to spin the wheel?! You do! Come early and purchase a raffle ticket from one of our lovely stage hands and win a chance to decide the next performers fate! Burlesque! Improv! Games! Raffles! And so much more!!!”
MC'd by Dixon Nohrmuss and Jezza Belladonna. Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime at 8. VIP Tables are available from Miss Ophelia Cox at Old Growth Tattoo for perks like goodie bags, cake, a cocktail waitress (table service) and “the best seats in the house.” A portion of proceeds benefits Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction and Eureka Theater Restoration Project.
FDM, alt. soul and “blues”
Blondies is a college hangout. They completely shut down this summer when the students headed for sunnier climes to work, play or whatever. The place reopened last weekend for the new school year. That means (among other things) Blondies Legendary Weekly Open Mic is back this Thursday (and every Thursday night) with sign-ups starting @ 6:15 p.m. Your host BeTh isBell kicks things off from 6:30-7.
“We welcome solo/duo/trio musicians, full bands (with notice), poets, a capella artists, & even people performing to tracks,” says BeTh. “It's always fun with a very talented cast of college performers, tasty food, full coffee bar, and every kind of beer imaginable,” and BeTh’s enthusiasm.
DJ Knutz and friends return to the Jam Thursday for Loose Joints, “a monthly installment of funk, disco, soul, house, and more” they call “FDM” (Fun Dance Music) differentiating it from EDM. It’s free before 10 p.m. when things get going.
Oakland alt. soul superstars The Seshen have a session at the Jam Friday fresh off the success of a new release, "Flames and Figures" and a European tour. Locals The Velvet Touch open with their “post-modern funk/soul/pop/rock” (kinda like alt. soul).
Remember House of Pain who had a hip hop hit with “Jump Around” a quarter century ago? That band’s lead singer, Everlast, later reinvented himself as Whitey Ford singing the blues, at least sort of. (BTW his real name wasn’t Ford, he was born Erik Schrody.) He’ll be in Eureka Friday for “a rare acoustic club performance” in a new club called Live in Humboldt in the space that was once Red Fox Tavern. Also performing at the all ages show: J-Dom and Redwood Blues. Details and tickets at liveinhumboldtfifthst.com.
Psych, metal, gypsys, more blues
A Humboldt Free Radio benefit at The Alibi Saturday has Bearcats from Arroyo Grande, who play “bass n drums,” meaning in this case, two sisters, a bass player and a drummer, playing garage pop. The sisters say they sing about “heartbreak, movies we like, and throwing up on our ex-boyfriends.” They share the bill with White Manna who sing about other topics.
They’re calling Saturday’s heavy metal benefit show, “Shredding For The Strays!” War Moth and Frequency Shift are the headbangers throwing the fundraiser for the Humboldt County Animal Shelter emergency fund at Little Red Lion. “Think about the strays! This will not only help them from getting euthanized, it will help them find their forever friend and home,” they implore you, adding, “Support local metal \m/“
At Humboldt Brews Saturday, you have San Francisco's “Ambassadors of Gypsy Rock” Diego’s Umbrella playing “klezmer, flamenco and punk rock, all blended to pop perfection.” Their influences run wide. There’s the usual musicians-they-like— Tom Waits, Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, Diego Del Gastor, Devotchka — but also, “women who can control the weather, leather, sounds that aardvarks make when they're angry, Danny Glover's proctologist, mediocre humor, Acqua diGio, Chariots of the Gods, The Plight of the Gargonauts, Bicorns, lighting bolts, thunder nuts, Lake Wobegon, your mom, that feeling when you're driving and forget that your fleshlight is between your legs, Howard, catapults, silent vowels, unruly consonants, brain pans or skillets, Juergas, Fincas, Booze-ass, Bill Fichtner, and anything relating to Nate Parsley.” What does it all mean? I don’t even know what a “fleshlight is.
Coco Montoya plays at HumBrews Tuesday. Coco’s influences? Well, he was taught by the “Master of the Telecaster,” Albert Collins (as was Robert Cray), and he was “schooled by a decade on the road with John Mayall” as a member of the Bluebreakers, which puts him on a stellar list with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Mick Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar, Paul Butterfield and many others who learned from Mr. Mayall. Yes, Coco knows the blues.
Remember, life is a great adventure. Learn to live it as you go — and find good teachers along the way. Listen. Then play.