The HUM: Of Bret and The Basement

NEWSPAPERMAN Bret Harte was run out of “Uniontown” for telling the truth. Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Public Library

A long, long time ago, a young writer named Francis Brett Hart, better known as Bret Harte, was early in his career, working for the Northern Californian, a newspaper in Arcata, then known as Uniontown. 

As the story goes, Bret was run out of town, perhaps on a rail, for writing an editorial decrying the wanton slaughter of a number of Wiyot people on what was known as Indian Island. Bret went on to a storied career crafting short stories like those in his collection, The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches. 

At some time in relatively recent history (the ‘70s), the basement of Jacoby’s Storehouse in Arcata was gussied up and named “Bret Harte’s” in honor of the brave newspaperman, in a rethinking of the whole building that resulted in Youngberg’s, a restaurant/bar on an upper floor, now known as the Plaza Grill. Bret Harte’s was a happening spot with music by local bands and touring acts like the Robert Cray Band and Taj Mahal. “Those were the days…” 

The basement would eventually become a restaurant named Abruzzi, after a region of Italy. That too is now just a fond memory, as the restaurant closed (as they are want to do) and the basement was re-renamed, appropriately, The Basement, and it once again has become a cultural hot spot, with music of various sorts a few nights a week.    

On Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 9 p.m., you can go there for “Beatles at The Basement,” an ambitious show that includes a reprise of The Yokels Do Pepper, with the R’n’B/rock outfit’s take on the Sgt.’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, plus Ticket to Ride, consisting of Zach and Nate Zwerdling, Jeff Kelley, Seabury Gould, Trevor Enright, and backing vocalists, Jim and Tamara Hubbard and Jenni Brown. 

There’s also a new trio, Joel Sonenshein (of the Folklife Beatles sing-alongs fame) and The Sway Sisters, who Joel explains, feature, Violet Dinning and Laura “Mango” Krueger. “They sang with me at the Power of Protest show at the Playhouse several months ago as well as at Chris Parreira’s Dylan tribute at MRB last year. They are also part of a new band, MJV, I’ve put together along with Jeff Kelley and Misha Scott (Tammy Rae Scott’s 17-year-old bass player son).” See them at (or in) The Basement.       

The Facebook announcement for “The Beach Boys,” Thursday, Sept. 5. at the Arkley Center shows a picture of the band’s original lineup: brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their boyhood friend Al Jardine, along with another pic of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Presumably it came from ad for a “new” album where they’ve added unnecessary strings to the Boys’ greatest hits. 

The Royal Philharmonic will not be at the Arkley Thursday, nor will any of the Beach Boys but Mr. Love. Dennis and Carl are dead, Brian and Al are doing their own thing, and after much litigation, Mike ended up with the right to tour using the name of a band whose success is because of Brian’s genius, who came a long way from the days when he was writing about surfing and hot rods. I saw Mike and the Boys at the Arkley last time they played there. They were OK, but a far cry from Brian’s Pet Sounds tour. (Amazing.) Is Thursday’s show worth $94? That’s up to you. 

Some of those songs about cars will probably be heard at the Cruz’n Eureka Car Show Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 5-7. Thursday, they have a Poker Run starting at 6 p.m. at the Wharfinger, and a Show & Shine at Madaket Plaza with The Sunshine Kids playing a soundtrack. Friday, it’s Show & Shine Pt. 2 at Eureka NAPA, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and “Ice Breaker BBQ” at 4 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center (the whole thing is a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club), before the cars are Cruz’n thru Old Town from 6 to 7 p.m. presumably steering clear of Friday Market (where you can hear Bandemonium and the Paula Jones Band (RLA)). Cruz’n continues at 7:30 p.m. with the Kickback Movie at the Eureka Theater, Smokey and the Bandit. Saturday there’s one more Car Show, with a street fair and swap meet 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Old Town, leading in to Arts Alive, with art and music all over town. 

Sansfu Trio play for Arts Alive (6 to 9 p.m.) at Bandit Savory & Sweet, Erica Davie’s cool spot in the lobby of the old Vance Hotel. In case you’ve forgotten who they are, the trio is Absynth Quartet without drummer Tofu, who apparently has better things to do that night.

Across the street that arty night at Synapsis, local artiste extraordinaire Jesse Wiedel offers a “visionary glimpse into the chaotic tapestry that makes this place home.” Synapsis invites you to “stop by early for the Tailwaggers’ Fashion Show. And stay late for a ‘get yer freak on’ dance party, featuring aerial and circus acts.” Freaky indeed.

Friday in Arcata, catch the 2nd Annual Block Party on the Plaza (4 to 8 p.m.) aimed at HSU students, but with all invited. Music comes from the Chulita Vinyl Club “an all-girl, all-vinyl club for self-identifying womxn of color,” plus Mestizo Beat with a funk, soul, Afro-beat, and Afro-Cuban mix, and the inimitable Marching Lumberjacks.

Friday, Sept. 6, Richard’s Goat’s Miniplex has White Manna, Sacri Monti from San Diego and Monarch from Encinitas with “heavy psych, prog and free rock.” Rock on!

We have another rendition of Deep Groove Society’s Friday night “social dance party” at The Jam Sept. 6, with Austin Allison, CopperTon3, and Andreas in that order, starting at 10 p.m. Light show by Marmalade Sky.

Saturday, Sept. 7, at Outer Space enjoy Arcata rockers Wild Omar, and KMRO “a performance/activist organization intended to honor the drone,” with “electronic synthesis, distorted instruments and augmented voice combining to make a human electronic hybrid.” Plus you have LOUD Neighbors Brass Band, all beginning at 7 p.m.

Saturday at HumBrews, Coral Creek plays “Rocky Mountain newgrazz,” rock and R’n’B plus “a generous serving of the good ole Grateful Dead,” including a full CC Dead set. The band includes vocalist Chris Thompson from Derek Trucks Band, and on keys, Bill McKay formerly of Leftover Salmon. 

At the Alibi that Saturday (10-ish) get ready for the next installment of Radio Clash, with DJ Anya, DJ Zephyr, and Julee Unrulee “spinning classic punk, indie, ska, new wave, and more,” with residents Blancatron and Zero One.

Sunday at Sapphire Palace, The Eli Young Band are in town straight outta Texas with some modern “classic” country. I’d guessed that Eli Young was someone’s name, but I guessed wrong. The leaders are singer Mike Eli and guitarist James Young, which goes to show how little I know about modern country. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.

It doesn’t take much to get get me thinking about my dear departed friend, Gregg “Vinny” DeVaney. I’d get him to go to the all ages show at Outer Space Tuesday, Sept. 10, (7 to 10 p.m.) featuring the Tuvan rock band, Hartyga. They explain, “We are [a] psychodelic ethno-rock band and we are working to improve our art of playing the traditional Tuvan musical instruments and ‘kargyraa’ and ‘hoomey’ throat singing. Our mission is to introduce the entire world to the Tuvinian musical heritage in contemporary interpretation.” They’re joined by the wild and crazy saxophonist Arrington de Dionyso, who also plays the Bromiophone, which he invented. (It’s totally cool.) Local openers are “surf thrash crossover’ outfit The Sturgeons. Vinny would have loved it. 

See ya next week, or out and about. 




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