The HUM: Turn turn turning into fall and the fair

OH SHOSHANNA! Shoshanna Rose, leader of Ya Habibi Dance Company, dances at last year’s North Country Fair. She’ll do the same Saturday at 2 p.m. Photo by Bob Doran | Union

The Earth keeps turning. One season follows another, turn, turn, turn, and the days go from getting longer to getting shorter. When they’re about equal, per tradition, we call it the Autumnal Equinox. This year Fall officially starts at 12:50 a.m. (Pacific Time) on Monday, Sept. 23. People who live to the rhythm of the moon and stars have big parties to celebrate the changing seasons.

Also per tradition, the so-called Same Old People put together a big hoop-de-do on the Arcata Plaza, to celebrate the ever-changing seasons and the coming of Fall (as close to the Equinox as possible). It’s called the North Country Fair, a name borrowed from a song about a girl by Bob Dylan. There’s been doing it every Fall just about as far back as I can remember. 

The 46th Annual North Country Fair takes place this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22, running from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. around the Plaza and nearby. As always, it’s free and “family-friendly,” which means big fun and things to do for kids and grownups. They’ll have local food booths, 170 curated art and craft vendors, music of all sorts, dancing and other things on three stages, and parades around the Plaza at 1 p.m. both days, with the Northcoast Environmental Center’s All Species Parade on Saturday and the very rhythmic Samba da Alegria’s Samba Parade on Sunday.

The endless music starts at 10:45 a.m. Saturday on the Garden Gate Stage (on Ninth between H and I streets) with indie rock by Sue and the Namies, followed by the jazzy Belles of the Levee at noon, then an hour break for the All Species Parade. Music resumes at 2 p.m. with Oryan’s primitive blues, Die Geister Beschworen, then quasi-Celtic tunes by Vanishing Pints at 3:30, ending with radical/folksinger Darryl Cherney from 5 to 6 p.m. (BTW, I just found out Darryl has an Airbnb in Shelter Cove, which he runs under his given name, Robert.) 

Across the Plaza (on 10th between F and G streets) they have what’s called the Threadbare Stage (despite the fact that Threadbare Dancewear has moved to the Jacoby Storehouse). Saturday morning’s music begins at 11:30 a.m. with the always glorious Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, then a parade break, then at 1:30 p.m. alt. pop from Blood Hunny, Dead covers by Dead On at 3 p.m. and Madi Simmons with some combo of reggae and funk from 4:30 p.m. til close.

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The Lawn Stage is set aside for movement of many sorts starting Saturday at 11 a.m. with Humboldt Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts), Redwood Coast Soo Bahk Do (karate) at noon, Humboldt Lao Dancers at 12:40 p.m. Hayal and Ya Habibi Dance Company bellydancing at 2 p.m., breakdancing by Humboldt Rockers at 3 p.m. Arcata Contact Improv Dancers at 3:30 and Samba Floresta at 4 p.m. 

Sunday we start again, turn, turn turn, starting on the Garden Gate Stage at 11 a.m. with “cosmic folk-grass” by LodeStar with Linda and Goodshield, then it’s steel band music by Arcata High Pan Club at 11:45, a long break for the Samba Parade, and at 2 p.m. old timey from Trinidad by Tidepool Highdivers, Jared Smith at 3:30, and C-Baker and Dynasty One mashing up funk, reggae and rock from 5 to 6 p.m. 

The Threadbare Stage kick off at 10:30 that morning with the “preeminent prog-jug band,” Tyger Byle. At noon, it’s folk rock by Fire Sign, and after a short break there’s King Range at 1:30, Forever Young at 3 p.m. then a hard rock band called  Thundercloud closing the show at 4:30 p.m. That’s mostly bands I’ve never heard before (aside from Fire Sign), but that’s what the Fair is for, to introduce you to new friends while you reconnect with old friends. 

Speaking of old friends, Marla Joy & Friends start thing going on the Lawn Stage at 11 a.m. Sunday with a Zumba session, followed with Spring Chickens at noon (a band? IDK), a samba break 1-ish then at 2 p.m. it’s Bandemonium doing what they do at every event in Humboldt, play crazy international marching band music. At 3 p.m. Company of African Drum & Dance Arcata dances and drums beautifully, and from 4 p.m. on, North Coast Sound Healers plan on centering everyone, I suppose with those musical bowls and gongs and the like. 

What else? For the first time, they have a Bike Valets in the Pacific Outfitters parking lot run by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, so ride your bike and don’t worry. By tradition, I’m supposed to remind you to leave your pets at home. Please. As they put it, “Bring your reusable cups, but not your pups!” 

While I’m spending my Friday night writing this, the Zero Waste Humboldt folks are honoring “heroes” who are saving the planet from the avalanche of garbage that’s engulfing us. Do your part. Bring that stainless steel cup you got at the last festival you went to, or get one with a North Country Fair logo. I have a collection. Start yours. And BTW, if you want to get hero credit for Z-Waste, you can join NEC in cleaning a beach Saturday morning for Zero Waste Coastal Cleanup Day. (Plastic sucks.) 

Speaking of changing seasons, the Redwood Jazz Alliance kicks off its latest season with a concert by Emilio Solla & Bien Sur! on Friday, Sept. 20, (8 p.m.) at the Arcata Playhouse. RJA always brings cutting edge musicians here, always presented in intimate settings. Friday’s show features Solla, born in Argentina, but now centered in New York City, jazz central. His combo was called The Tango Jazz Conspiracy, until he called an album “Bien Sur!” (Of course.)  His music could be categorized as “world jazz” with classical and Argentinian folk and tango influences, especially when French-born accordionist/bandoneon player Julien Labro takes a Piazzolla-esque solo. Saxophonist Chris Cheek has been playing in a trio with Hungarian drummer/bandleader Ferenc Nemeth. Bassist Edward Perez, also leads his own bands focused on Peruvian and Latin jazz. World jazz indeed. Next up in October, RJA presents a two night run (Oct. 21 and 22) by Jenny Scheinman and Allison Miller’s Parlour Game. Read about the rest of the season “and more” on their brand new website (,) which I’m proud to say is illustrated in part, by my photos. It looks cool. What else can I say? Admission is quite reasonable. RJA is cool. 

While we’re talking jazz, pianist Kenny Barron, certified a “Jazz Master,” by the National Endowment for the Arts, plays a CenterArts show Saturday, Sept. 21, in HSU’s Fulkerson Recital Hall with his quartet. Who’s playing with him? I’m not sure since CenterArts no longer sends out press releases, but an educated guess says his quartet includes Japanese saxophonist Erena Terakubo, Barron’s longtime bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa (also from Japan), and on drums, young phenom Justin Faulkner, who has been playing with Branford Marsalis. Tickets run $66 apiece. Showtime 8 p.m.

Friday, Sept 20, Absynth Quartet returns to Humbrews with new tunes they’re working on for their forthcoming album Robot 0 (on tap for Winter 2020, so there’s lots of lead time). Opening: the jam/funk outfit Dan and the Americans, (no connection with Jay and the Americans). 

Same Friday it’s Tiki Lounge Night at The Miniplex, with Martin Denny records and other vintage exotica spun by DJ Red and Dacin. Cultural appropriation via Hawaiian drag is encouraged. 

Saturday Sept. 21 beginning at 6 p.m., poet Dylan Collins, founder of Word Humboldt celebrates publication of first book, Love Poems We Write Ourselves, Northtown Coffee (Word Humboldt headquarters). “I will be reading poems … with special music and lyrical guests!” he says. Live art by Couri Jamison. 

Local rapper Hiway celebrates the release of his new album The Carpool, Saturday (Sept. 21) with a mess of hip hop as he’s joined by Freejack, Doe the Unknown, WestGh0st, DJ Pressure, and “special guests.” Free copy of the disc with admission.

The Humboldt homegrown Pink Floyd tribute Money plays at Humbrews that same Saturday (Sept. 21) with special guest Chris “BOA” Noonan on sax and a light show by Marmalade Sky.

Canadian band The Burning Hell, centered around literate songwriter Mathias Kom, comes to Outer Space Saturday, Sept. 21, with local support from heartstring-pulling pop and bedroom blues Blood Hunny (they’re at the fair earlier that day) plus a rare appearance by The Comix Trip, Violet Crabtree’s trippy art project utilizing “an old-style overhead projector like the one your grade school teacher used,” as she tells strange stories. The early show allegedly starts at 7 p.m.   

Sunday, Sept. 22, at Outer Space, again at 7 p.m., it’s take-two for that show I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago with Hartyga, the Tuvan rockers, saxophonist Arrington de Dionyso, and “surf thrash crossover” outfit The Sturgeons. The Tuvans had passport trouble and had to postpone until Sunday. New addition is Dhinn-Djon a new local band. 

I wish I had room to say more, but I’m way over my word count. See you somewhere, some time. 


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