The HUM: Taj Mahal show moved to Arkley Center

Taj Mahal 1968

“There’s just no percentage in remembering the past, it’s time you learned to live again at last. Come with me, leave yesterday behind, and take a giant step outside your mind.” 

– from Take a Giant Step by Goffin and King 

There’s some irony, since there’s nostalgia involved and “Take a Giant Step” is about resisting remembrance of things past in favor of looking forward, but it takes me back — around a half a century. 

The song was the title track for a Taj Mahal album, Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home, released in 1969, the year I moved to Humboldt to attend college, a giant step for me, and that album was on my turntable a bunch. 

By the way, the song was originally written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King for The Monkees in 1966 and was the B-side to the band’s big hit Last Train to Clarksville, of course I was too hip for Monkee-mania at the time. The very hip, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, aka Taj first covered the tune with Rising Sons, with Ry Cooder. Taj made it his. The notion of taking big steps was perfect for me. 

On Sunday, Aug. 18, incidentally the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, we mark the beginning of the next CenterArts Season with the Taj Mahal Quartet. He may or may not play Take a Giant Step, although I’m sure he’ll mention Woodstock (he played the 10th anniversary concert), but you can expect a mess of blues, and probably Checkin Up On My Baby, which shows up on the re-released Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus restoration with expanded soundtrack including Taj. Showtime is 8 p.m. at the retrofitted Van Duzer Theatre. Tickets available (last time I checked).  

UPDATE: The Taj Mahal show has been moved to the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts due to ongoing earthquake retrofit work at the Theatre Arts building, which houses the Van Duzer Theatre. – Ed.

Of course nostalgia is big in the media at the moment, especially with the 2-hour PBS documentary, Woodstock, and an impossibly massive boxset, Woodstock—Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, spanning 38 CDs (and the failed concert). 

Here in Humboldt, we have Lawnstock 2019, on what looks to be a sunny Sunday in Blue Lake’s Perigot Park. It’s an all-day music fest, a benefit for Ty-Ty Holt, a local boy diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor threatening his brain. Yes, medical care threatens everyone’s pocket book. For now we have fundraisers and silent auctions. (Do you think healthcare-for-all might help? We’ll discuss that another day.) 

The first Lawnstock was eight years ago in Zach and Margery Zwerdling’s front yard. As they put it, “A hat was passed to raise funds for the beneficiary of the year [always a kid]. The event grew over the years and since 2017 it has been located at Perigot Park.” 

Like its name sake Woodstock, Lawnstock is diverse, this year more so than ever with Wild Abandon, The Gatehouse Well, Georgia Ruth Hellum-Willits with members of Absynth Quartet, Jenni & David and the Sweet Soul Band, Dynasty One, and Ghost Train. 

It’s partially sponsored by Mercury Sky Records, Zach’s label, and coincidentally, four of the bands include Zach’s bassist son Nate. (Have you noticed that bass players tend to be in more than one band?) One more thing: Lawnstock 2019 will also be hosting the Arcata High Class of 1969 Reunion Picnic. Yes, it’s their 50th year anniversary too. Awesome.

The day before that (Saturday, Aug. 17,) also at Perigot Park, it’s return of the Blue Lake Music Festival, which is a tribute extravaganza with Jimi Jeff & The Gypsy Band playing Hendrix and more (at noon) followed by two retro-rock cover type outfits, Drinking Moonlight (1:30 p.m.), and The Movers and the Shakers (2:30 p.m.), then, Silver Hammer: the Beatles’ tribute band (4:30 p.m.), and The Miracle Show playing what else but G. Dead tunes.

More tributes? We got ‘em. The tribute-heavy Eureka Concert Series wraps up Thursday. Aug. 15, with Heartless - A Tribute to the Rock Band Heart. Now I have to admit, I was never an enthusiast, and can only think of one song they did (Crazy on You), but I suppose there are fans of the Wilson sisters out there, and heck, it’s free. 

Then Friday, Aug. 16, in the Firewater Lounge at Cher-ae Heights Casino you can hear Full Moon Fever, Piet Dalmolen’s tribute to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

At the Logger Bar Saturday night, another tribute, Shakey, plays “a wide range of Neil Young songs from the early days of Buffalo Springfield to Crazy Horse but leaning towards Neil’s heavier side,” sez Pete Ciotti. 

Meanwhile, Saturday at the 123rd annual Humboldt County Fair (in Ferndale) there’s a Merv George Tribute on the midway stage to honor his memory with Merv’s son, Merv George Jr. performing with the Jimi Jeff Band. Not sure what time, but Jimi is playing in Blue Lake

earlier that day. The fair actually starts Thursday, but this sounds like a good day, including a dunk tank featuring local Supervisors somewhere near the racetrack. Horse race post time 2:07 p.m. 

Drifting off of tributes and back in time, at the Miniplex Wednesday, Aug. 14, it’s Action Beat, a UK noise-rock band fronted by GW Sok, a Dutch post-punk ex-The Ex, with backing from an army of guitarists and three drummers. 

How they will fit on the Miniplex stage? Who knows.
 They’re on tour with Opening Bell from NYC, home of Wall Street. Fortuna’s Car Made of Glass opens, they’re a post-grind quintet influenced by “limitless conceptualization & extreme sound.”

Somehow related is the “How The West Was Whomped 10 Year Anniversary” that Wednesday up the way at The Jam with out-of-towner Commodo from UK, and The Whomp All-Stars, which is “as many DJs that we can fit on the stage.” They’ll be celebrating Psy Fi’s 30th birthday. (“This is a western-themed event. Dress up is highly encouraged.”) For the uninitiated, Whomp Wednesdays is all about bass-heavy EDM.

At Outer Space Thursday, Aug. 15 (7 to 10 p.m.), an all ages show with Meernaa, a “celestial and soulful” synth band from Oakland, plus Mouth Painter, a “folk/exotica” trio Portland (with a musical saw), San(s) Kazakgascar Solo from Sacramento, described as like a “soundtrack to a cheesy ‘60s exploitation flick,” and last but not least, Humboldt’s own Mister Moonbeam, who is oh so much more than a one-man-band.

Saturday at Outer Space (7-10 p.m.) Flexing, a “heavy post-punk” outfit from Corvallis and Firstwife, a noise rock solo project from Arcata.

And at Blondie’s, also Saturday, it’s alt. this-and-that by locals Velvet Worms (8 p.m.) plus Sanguine Knight out of Long Beach with “retro-future vibes” (9 p.m.) and Arcata noisiness by D3D.

At Northtown Coffee that same Saturday, at 5 p.m. it’s a duo called Synergy with songster Ernest Whaley and Kent Froblom, a flautist who used to play his flute with Marla Joy at The Silver Lining back in the day. (Ah, memories…) 

That takes us back to Sunday Aug. 18, when the Humboldt Botanical Garden presents Music in the Garden featuring an all-star local country/blues/rock combo, The Handshakers. 

And that Sunday evening, there’s another Arcata Community Forest Show presented by the Outer Space folks. 

“Meet in the big grass field at Redwood Park by the parking lot, at the top of 14th St. at 5:30 p.m. Start walking at 6 on the Trail 1 Loop, stop along the way to be serenaded under the big trees by Oliva Awbrey, Whim, Cicada Song and Tyger Byle.” 

Feel free to wear flowers in your hair. 

See you next week. 



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