“Up in the mornin' and off to school. The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule, American history and practical math. You’re studyin' hard and hopin' to pass… Soon as three o'clock rolls around, you finally lay your burden down. Close up your books, get out of your seat, down the halls and into the street. Up to the corner and 'round the bend, right to the juke joint, you go in…”
from “School Days” ~ Chuck Berry
Yes, school’s back in session, at least for you college kids. That means an uptick in action in town as businesses try to grab the students’ attention. I’m told they ramp up things in this paper in hopes that you’ll get in the habit of reading stuff, just in case that’s not a lost art. My editor offers a little guide to NoHum venues to help you out (with even Eureka considered akin to SoHum), and as usual I’ll be offering you choices of things to do when you “finally lay your burden down” and take a look around town.
What do people like to do around here? Go dancing. Like everywhere. One of the no. one dance parties is known as Soul Party #1, at Humboldt Brews, this time on Friday night. I ran into one of the Arcata Soul Party Crew, Funky T-Rex, at a local kebab place yesterday, and he told me they’re hoping to rope in some new dancers who are into old school soul and rock (of the vinyl sort). Their “Welcome Back Soul Party” borrows a retro theme from Mr. Kotter.
They suggest, “How about taking a break from that first week of stress, homework, and mycology lectures and joining Soul Party resident DJs #jaymorg, DJ Red, and Funky T-Rex at HumBrews for our special back-to-school edition of Soul Party!”
They have a guest selector up from the Bay, DJ HayHay, noting, “This is kind of a big deal, as it marks the one and only time we've had a female on the decks. About time, right?” Right. No telling what she’ll bring, the only rule: “100% vinyl.”
Meanwhile across town at the Jam it’s more dancing where, “groove is in the heart at Club Triangle's Rump Shakin' Retro Dance Party,” and they’re “spinning the best hip-hop, pop, new wave and techno from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” for the LGBT+ crowd (and allies).
DJ Anya (one of our top rated) eloquently describes it as “a multi-cultural manifestation of Humboldt's unique Queer scene, celebrating Diversity by creating spaces that radically explore gender, sexuality, race, religion, body image & other forms of self-identity. We reject the environmentally and socially destructive mainstream culture that perpetuates racism, sexism, body shaming, transphobia, homophobia, ageism, environmental degradation & other forms of oppression by embracing our own cultural identity and resisting mainstream assimilation.”
DJ Joe-E and Zero One help with those lofty forms of resistance while Marmalade sky provides visuals (a light show). Both dance parties are low-cost, $5, and both venues have full bars, so they’re 21+.
On a side note, if you want to be a DJ, on Thursday, there’s Vinyl Tap at the Siren’s Song, a record listening party for vinyl enthusiasts. “Bring your own records to play a 20-minute slot. Limited time slots available, come early to get yours.” This is described as “kid friendly,” translation: all ages.
Same all ages tag for the End of Summer/Back to School Party on Friday at Blondies Food and Drink (right near campus) hosted by YAMS : Your Arts & Music Syndicate, a cool crew that puts on shows all over. No records, bands with a triple bill: Paradise Inc. (“psychrock”), Foxtrot (“freaky folk/psychedelic”) and Dimboi (“bedroom rock”). They all seem to be new, probably college kids, but what do I know. Coincidentally, this also has a five buck cover.
Friday’s Barntini is looking at a different demographic with a split benefit for two Humboldt non-profits with “a night of dancing, and martinis, a deluxe taco bar, desserts, an awesome silent auction” and more martinis. Music comes from Sam McNeal, who plays Celtic-style fiddle, Vanishing Pints, more Irish music (not really Celtic) and Belles of the Levee, who describe themselves as an “antique grrrrl power” band, playing roots-style jazz and blues. All are rootsy. All good.
Arcata Councilperson Susan Ornelas does the benefit every year to raise funds for the Jacoby Creek Land Trust (it’s their barn) and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/bird ally x, who take care for a bunch of animals in a building near the barn. It’s kinda spendy ($30 in advance, $35 at the door), but Brett Shuler oversees the food and he knows his stuff, and your first martini is included. Plus it really is a good cause. Monte Merrick and his dedicated crew do wonders for our troubled wildlife.
FNL (like SNL) and classics
Same night, they’re trying something new in Eureka called Friday Night Live. It starts early (5:30 p.m.) with music and more by the Gazebo in Old Town with local funk/soul masters Object Heavy. Then the party moves to the Siren’s Song at 8 p.m. with a new “alt. jazz” quintet LD51 playing some sort of ecstatic music.
Brian “Swiz” Swislo from Object Heavy explained the Friday Night Live concept as like a street party with “live music, delicious local food, drinks, adventures for kids and good times for everyone… that New Orleans vibe here at home.” It's one in a string of shows for his band. Thursday (Aug. 24) Object Heavy at Humboldt State University on The Quad at noon. (They head to Tahoe the next day for a coupla shows.) Swiz has been working on this new endeavor with Markus Messina and others on FNL. They met through playing in a band called Roister, which includes several Zappa associates (including Ray White) and mostly plays in the Midwest in a Dead-ish-jammy vein. They’re the core of something called Flagship Sounds, a new crew with big plans.
“We realized that there is this hole in the Humboldt music scene,” said Markus. “For years we’ve essentially been playing for the college kids, and when college is out, not as many shows are scheduled. On top of that it's risky to play when college is out. You’re always hoping that people will show up.” Sometimes they don’t.
Then there’s the late night aspect. A lot of musicians have kids and get tired of shows that don’t start until 10:30 or later and don’t end until the wee wee hours. (Frankly, older music lovers complain about the same thing.)
Between those shifting demographics and wanting to be part of a year-round cultural scene, they looked for help. They got a hand from Charlotte McDonald at Eureka Mainstreet and Alanna Jane Powell of Humboldt Made. They “have been crucial components in helping us make Friday Night Live possible,” said Markus, who’s already looking ahead to September and beyond. “We know the future of tourism in our area will grow in the years ahead and we hope the Humboldt sound is a part of that. There are just so many incredible artists in our area that fly under the radar. Creating a path and a scene for people to succeed from the art they make is everything to us.” Hear hear and big ups to Humboldt culture and Flagship Sounds.
Along the same Humboldt culture lines, the ambitious Trinidad Bay Art & Music Festival runs all weekend, bringing classical music of all sorts to our seaside town, presumably hoping to attract music-loving tourists.
Returning from national and international tours, world-class musicians will perform six concerts in this historic, intimate and extraordinary village, leaving you with lasting impressions. Trinidad boasts excellent restaurants and bars with coastal views and 5-star ratings, as well as wine tasting rooms, breakfast patios and lunch nooks. There is a plethora of vacation stays and motels, alongside art galleries, gift shops, and a city museum and library. The airport is only five minutes away! To top it off there are endless trails, State Parks, the Pacific Ocean, and Trinidad Bay.
The music starts Friday, 8pm at Trinidad Town Hall with a "Concert of Modern Classics" with Nonoka Mizukami, marimba and Peter Kibbe, cello (together). Saturday, at 2 p.m. it's "Tales of the Baroque" with Trio Seraphim (including Rob Diggins and Jolianne Von Einem). Temporary Resonance Trio plays at 8 p.m. again in Trinidad Town Hall. Sunday, 11 a.m. the fest moves to Holy Trinity Church for "Preludes, Dances, Counterpoint" featuring cellist Peter Kibbe. At 2 p.m. again at Trinidad Town Hall you can hear Clara Lisle, soprano and Daniela Mineva, piano, "In Concert..." TBAM wraps things up at 8 p.m. with "Festival Strings and Soloists" once more time in Trinidad Town Hall.
Former Supervisor (and currently a member of the Eureka Symphony) Julie Fulkerson explains, "I found a partner who has all the connections and musical production experience to add to a successful festival. Smaller music festivals are catching on throughout the world as people become more and more enthralled with close-up live performances... We expect to fill every seat."
It's an ambitious plan. I hope it works, but IMHO, it's kind of a high price point: ticket are $30 a pop, unless you go for the whole thing, that's $162.50. The musicians all sound great, and the town hall is nice, but it's not exactly a fancy concert hall. Let's hope the fest lives up to their expectations. Advance tix are available at TBAM (click here).
Also in a classical mode, HSU Music Professor Gil Cline and Trumpet Consort von Humboldt play classics on old horns at 2 p.m. Saturday in the rotunda at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. They just played for the Historic Brass Society Symposium at the Met in NYC, which in the esoterica world of ancient brass is a big deal. Another hear hear with a fanfare for that.
The horses are off…
Did you notice that the Humboldt County Fair is week later this year? It starts this week and yes, the horses are running again. Of course there’s music and other stuff too. I’m mostly interested in my friends and other locals who all seem to be performing in Friendship Square (appropriately). For example, Saturday they have the Academy Fiddlers at noon, Irish Dancers at 2 p.m. (think step), then Lyndsey Battle at 4, followed by Striped Pig Stringband at 6:30, which may mean square-dancing since Lyndsey’s there and it’s Friendship Square. (BTW, there’s also the Jim Gupton Veggie Auction at 2 p.m. in the Dairy Judging Pavilion, named for the late Green Grocer.)
Other highlights: Country singer McKenna Faith plays opening day Wednesday (August 23) at 6:30 p.m. She’s touring in support of her new album, Heartstealer, and this will be her only local appearance.
Sunday for Hispanic Heritage Day Rabbi Les Scharnberg plays flamenco at 2 p.m. (He also plays ‘60s songs on Thursday again at 2, as Les Glen. There’s a story there.) La Nueva Illusion takes the stage from 4 p.m. on if you want to experience local Hispanic culture uncut.
The fair runs two weeks. More next time.
CenterArts kicks off its season Saturday, bringing Paula Poundstone to the Van Duzer. KHSU is sponsoring, since she’s on “NPR’s top-rated weekly news quiz show” Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” She was also a voice of “Forgetter Paula” in Pixar’s cartoon Inside Out, and she just launched her own podcast, Live from the Poundstone Institute. I’m sure she’ll talk about all of those things “and more.” (Yeah, she’s funny.)
A band called Talking Dreads plays at Humboldt Brews Saturday night. Talking Dreads? Sure. Why not? This reggaefied tribute to the Talking Heads was the idea of “head dread” Mystic Bowie (from Jamaica), who sang with Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of T-Heads in their side project Tom Tom Club for nearly 20 years. Throw in a Dead tune or two and you have a cover band deluxe.
Want some turntableism on Saturday? At The Alibi on bar row, Humboldt Free Radio presents Radio Clash, where they spin that I assume includes a Clash record or two and more along those lines. Blancatron, Zero One and Gabe Pressure are on the turntables. Incidentally, Gabe was once part of a killer tag-team known as Pressure Anya (with DJ Anya of course). What happened? I don't know. Things get going late at the Alibi, music at 11 p.m. Cover just $2.
As you may know, a lot of musicians use laptops to make music. Sunday you can hear several laptoppers in Outer Space, an all ages space that’s also a “safer space” and “sober space.” (That’s right it’s one of the few venues that’s alcohol free.)
The headliner is Nona Marie Invie aka IN // VIA, on tour from Minneapolis with her mystical debut Meditations, which has just two long, unnamed, haunting tunes. (Think Eno with chanting vocals.) She’s on the road with Lonesome Leash aka Walt McClements from L.A. formerly of Dark Dark Dark (with Nona) and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Arcata’s NIXH plays “alchemical electronic” of some sort. Note: none of this is EDM. Showtime 6:30 p.m.
Sunday at the Jam is aka Sundaze, a weekly EDM night run forever by the Deep Groove Society.
This week catch Yage, a duo from Brazil plus DGS resident DJs Marjo Lak (also from Brazil) and JoeE (from Humboldt). Expect a mellow night with a tropical feel.
Don’t forget Thursday
On Thursday @ the Miniplex @ Richards' Goat it’s Dent May, a Mississippi-based songwriter singing "big, bright retro pop songs with a disco undercurrent.” Dent is described as “in the vein of Magnetic Fields with a dash of Serge Gainsbourg and Jonathan Richman thrown in for good measure.” Sounds intriguing. Mandatory local openers TBA.
The headbangers of Angry Hammer (who put on local metal shows) have a show that same Thursday at the Jam with two bands from Oakland, Hazzard's Cure (“crusty stoner metal”) and Wild Hunt (“atmospheric black metal crust”), and two local bands, Muppet Hunter (“weird metal”), and my editor’s fave, a just plain “heavy metal” band, War Möth (her wife is in the band). Heavy all around.
Another place to hear loud music in Little Red Lion, just down the road from the other Red Lion. Saturday there's a show called "Make Little Red Lion Great Again." I don't remember ever being that great, but they've had shows there that were generally under the radar with bands who somehow heard they had a sound system. This is a benefit show to "fix/update the sound system at Little Red Lion, featuring music from Ultramafic, FHOG, Muppet Hunter and Dead Drift.
Again welcome to Humboldt (or welcome back). See ya somewhere on the town.