A few years ago I went with my wife and my dear old mom on a trip to Europe. We started in Paris, went down to the French Riviera, then through Italy, essentially following what the Brits used to call “the Grand Tour.” Shopping in a Paris flea market, I scored some cool 45s for my record collector son.
In Rome, I happened upon a store in an alley where they sold books and CDs, so I thought I’d check it out. There were books in the window by the poet Ezra Pound, and that should have been a clue. The CDs were all by metal bands and on closer examination, I realized they were by some of the worst sort of bands, National Socialist black metal by modern day fascists and neo-Nazis. I exited as soon as possible. Many of you know nothing about that world, but as a music writer, I was always worried that I would unintentionally help publicize the career of someone whose screamed lyrics hid vile hate-filled diatribes.
There always have been politically conscious anti-nazi metal/punk bands around, but lately for reasons that should be obvious, there are more. Earlier this year New Yorker magazine had a piece about Black Flags Over Brooklyn a fest bringing together “anti-fascist extreme-metal” bands. Punk rock has long been political.
I suspect this weekend’s Vert and Distort Vol. II at RampArt Skatepark (Aug. 23, 24 and 25) is a metal/punk grab-bag along semi-political lines, with an emphasis on racism. The organizers explain, “Humboldt County, as beautiful and awe inspiring as it is, holds heavy racial tensions and emotional scars from the past and present. This event will introduce, as well as acquaint the new students and general public of the experiences and realities of living in Humboldt County as a minority. As a small town we can create change through our activism with our voices and hearts, holding accountable the leaders and institutions that refuse to acknowledge the presence of systemic racism and bigotry… How can we effectively combat racism in Humboldt County? Here’s your chance to find out.”
Some of the bands are more political than others. Some just want to thrash while their friends mosh. But Charmaine Lawson and local activists will speak out at the event and workshops are scheduled throughout. (All profits will be donated to Justice For David Josiah Lawson.)
Friday, Aug. 23, things start off at RampArt (on South G, near Redwood Curtain) with Human Soup Hot Tub (6 p.m.), then Racket (6:15 p.m.) Cross Contamination (6:30 p.m.) The Chainlinks (6:50 p.m.) and Wet Spot (7:10 p.m.). Then you get speakers from Centro Del Pueblo, then back to music by The Choice from Chico (8 p.m.) Fall Children from Ukiah (8:30) Masculinity Crisis from Seattle (9 p.m.) and the closers, Deathwish WI, punkers from Wisconsin (9:30 p.m.) until everyone is warn out. Single day ticket: $15.
Saturday Aug. 24, there are two sessions, the “Day Show” starting at 1 p.m. is an underground thing at the “Manila Terror Center” with The Flying Hellfish (2 p.m.) KLOD (2:45 to 3 p.m.) Masculinity Crisis (3:15 to 3:45 p.m.) and straight outta Oakland, Manback (4 p.m.) $5 gets you in. (Ask D-Beat for location.)
The “Main Gig” that day is back at RampArt starts with Failed Blessings (6 p.m.) then Muppet Hunter (6:20 p.m.) Cross Oceans (6:40 p.m.) and Nan Elmoth (7 p.m.), then a heartfelt speech by Charmaine Lawson. Music resumes with Agnostic Priest from Oakland (8 p.m.) Aseptic from San Jose (8:30 p.m.) Hemotoxin from Pittsburg, Calif. (9 p.m.) Nerve Exposure from San Jose (9:30 p.m.) Argentavis from Santa Rosa (10 p.m.) ending with Necrot from Oakland (10:30 p.m.). Tix are $20.
Sunday, Aug. 25, starts with a free “Propaganda and Market” from noon until 3 p.m. with reps from Humboldt Mutual Aid, Black Humboldt, Save the Mattole’s Ancient Forest, Outer Space Arcata, Humboldt Garden Collective, Word Humboldt, Hidden Replica, Kat Bones Art plus “more TBA.” $10 gets you into the “Main Gig,” starting with Sad Krotch (4 p.m.) Aitherios from Chico, (4:20 p.m.) Not Ewe (5 p.m.) Dead Drift (5:30 p.m.) Sue and the Namies (6 p.m.) Death Mode Trippers (6:30 p.m.) Ultramafic (7 p.m.) Imperial Destructo (7:30) Dead Fucking Serious from Eugene (8 p.m.) and closing, White Manna (8:30p.m. until the end).
Meanwhile, on a somewhat less political mode, Friday, Aug. 23, the Miniplex has an alt.-ish “No Cover Local Showcase!” starting at 9:30 p.m. with Spirit Notes, Blood Hunny and Los Dune Bums. Did I mention that the thing at RampArt is for all ages? The Miniplex is 21+ this time.
For a different sort of politics, of the eco-sort, we have “Luna Then and Now,” Thursday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m., a free event at the Arcata Library. In case you’ve never heard of her, well, “Luna is an ancient redwood that rises 200 feet above the Eel River in Southern Humboldt. Retired HSU math professor Stuart Moskowitz will talk about her. From 1997 to 1999, Julia Butterfly Hill sat atop Luna to prevent the cutting of this 1,000 year-old tree and to attract the world’s attention to the necessity of protecting and restoring natural resources.”
I got to know Julia a bit when she was living in Luna spending her time talking on her cell phone to reporters. At the time she brushed aside the fake news of the day. “I’m doing wonderfully as far as my health goes,” she assured me. “There’s been all kinds of rumors. I’m not pregnant, I don’t have six toes, I have never eaten corned beef at the Scotia Inn, I’m not marrying a Highway Patrol officer.”
I actually broke the news story when Ms. Hill made a deal with the timber company that led to her leaving Luna. There were some who felt she sold out. “I never set forth any specific conditions that had to happen before I came down,” said Julia. “I came forward with terms for a resolution with Pacific Lumber, a comprehensive conservation easement where both sides could win, and I got attacked for making nonnegotiable demands from one side and attacked from the other side, saying I was negotiating with a company that can’t keep its word.”
Stuart will talk about that easement, as well as about the tree being attacked by a vandal less than a year after the deal was struck. The famous tree is currently under the stewardship of Sanctuary Forest; Stuart is a longtime board member who serves as Luna’s caretaker.
Back on the music front, The Gatehouse Well plays their first gig at The Basement Wednesday, Aug. 21. “Celtic flavor!” the venue claims. (Really?) The lovely Paula Jones and RLA are at The Basement Friday, Aug. 23.
“Loud in the Library” is a free Barn Dance with Striped Pig Stringband and Lyndsey Battle getting shh-ed in the Eureka Library at 11:30 a,m. Saturday, Aug. 24. “That’s right: we are going to be promenade-ing, do si do-ing, and chasse-ing right in the middle of the library!” they promise.
That evening (Saturday, Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m.) Americana master Robbie Fulks plays the the Old Steeple (in Ferndale) with help from our own Jenny Scheinman. Get tickets ahead.
Same Saturday night, at The Jam, Fraktal Productions presents US Blues, yet another Grateful Dead tribute, one that suggests they play the bluesier side of the Dead canon. The lineup includes Norman Bradford and Andy B on guitars, B. Swizlo on keys, plus a rhythm section with Craig Wright and Alex Linzinger.
Out of space. Guess that means I’ll see you next week (again).