March 30, 2006
The Billy Nayer Show returns to Eureka's Old Town this Thursday, March 30, bringing its lounge act to the Pearl Lounge, a couple of doors down from where they performed last time they were in town.
Who, you might ask, is this Billy Nayer fellow? Well, he's a fictional character, one of many to emerge from the depths of band leader Cory McAbee's psyche. You could trace him back to a short animated film McAbee made in 1990 titled Billy Nayer (included on The Billy Nayer Show: The Early Years DVD). Here Billy is a guy in suit and tie drinking a highball at a party. He would seem to be McAbee himself, rendered with the Rotoscope animation process, using, as noted on the DVD box, house paint. A woman off-screen insists that he "sing that song you used to sing for me," and others in the crowd chime in, demanding, "Sing the song!" He acquiesces and breaks into lounge singer mode, putting down his drink as he belts out a short tale about when "I used to wear the same clothes every day." This, at least in part, is a true slice of McAbee's life. He spent some lean years in San Francisco living in his car, wearing the same clothes every day while pursuing his multi-media artistic visions. The song ends with a recollection: "I was kissing my dog, right on the mouth, when the door opened up wide. It was my mother," then ends as abruptly as it started. The woman ventures, "That wasn't the song," and a man in the party yells out, "You're sick, buddy!" Fade to black.
McAbee does not live in his car anymore; he has moved to New York City, where he continues to make experimental films (his feature, The American Astronaut, was shown at Sundance) and ventures forth overseas and around the U.S. with bassist Frank Swart (and sometimes a drummer) with the alt. lounge act The Billy Nayer Show -- McAbee out front on autoharp (yes, the kind your elementary school teacher used to play). In a recent missive, Swart notes that the short West Coast tour bringing them to Eureka comes as they are working on a new CD, and just "before production of their new film, Werewolf Hunters of the Midwest, begins this spring." The Pearl show also includes two bands featured in the Rural Rock movie: The Buffy Swayze and, from Mendocino, The Blue Dot. I believe this is the first show of this sort at the Pearl; I would recommend arriving early to find a seat with a view.
The Buffy Swayze also play this coming Tuesday, April 4, at Sacred Grounds, sharing the bill with a couple of Portland bands, The Swallows and Displaced. It's an all ages thing (The Pearl is not), early (7:30) and there's no cover, but you should bring a few bucks for the tip jar and more for merch.
Dancehall reggae fans will want to check Baby Cham playing Indigo Lounge, also on Thursday. March 30.
It's also a good week for jamband fans: First there's New Monsoon out of S.F. playing multi-culti rock at Humboldt Brews on that same Thursday. Then it's Particle, playing Friday March 31, at Mazzotti's. The rapidly rising band out of L.A. recently reconfigured themselves, dumping their guitarist and replacing him with two others, and adding vocals. (They were exclusively instrumental.) Now they're on their first swing around the country with the new guys and, said their excited keyboard player Steve Molitz, "The new line-up has allowed us to explore a lot of styles we hadn't tapped into before, to take more of a songwriting approach. It's a new band; new songs, new members, new attitude!"
For jazz fans who want more, after what seemed to be a successful Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, there's The Mike Vax Big Band, led by trumpet player/educator Vax and featuring fellow alumni of the Stan Kenton Orchestra. That's Monday April 3, at Eureka High School with the school's own EHS Jazz Ensemble providing an opening set.
There are a couple of Mateel happenings this week. The monthly Southern Humboldt Community Jam takes place Thursday, March 30, with two SoHum bands: the neo-psychedelic The Non-Prophets and self-described "punkadelic grindhop" band Subconscious Revolt, plus comedy and more. Then on Saturday, April 1, aka April Fool's Day, it's Bay Area Afrobeat/dub/funk/etc. band Aphrodesia plus NoHum funksters Bump Foundation.
At the Bayside Grange that night it's "Charter School Rock," a benefit concert for Coastal Grove Charter School with soul/acoustic rock by Breeze & Flame plus a reggae outfit featuring Madi Simmons and perhaps a third band (Bump was once on the bill, but apparently jumped ship).
Saturday night is also Arts Alive! and that always means music, but this time the whole thing has bumped up a couple of notches. In addition to some of the usual suspects in Old Town (See Arts Alive! listings for details) we have the dark old timey sounds of The Pine Box Boys at the Graves (See Calendar for more on that show) and at the Ink People Center for the Arts, where the hall will be filled with drawings from Hoopa, there's a full-on alt. rock show featuring Geoff Farina, the celebrated lead guitarist/vocalist from Karate, on a solo tour along with Chris Brokaw, who, among other things, writes film scores and fronts The Chris Brokaw Rock Band. Local indies Swimming and Strix Vega complete the bill.
Also part of Arts Alive!: Eileen Hemphill-Haley gets folky at Old Town Coffee (she's also at Six Rivers Thursday) and The Widdershins rock Ramone's Old Town. The Arkley Center for the Performing Arts will set up their tent for the jazzy Michel Navedo Quartet. Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame play the blues at Kelly O'Brien's post A-A!, I caught them there after the last one -- thought they were great.
I've had an interesting set of e-mail exchanges over the last week or so. First there was a calendar item for Saturday night's Outsider's Cabaret, an event at The Schooner with several bands and Venom the pole dancer (The Schooner is usually a strip club). Then there was an invitation to become MySpace friends with pmp-disk, the record label for The Sticky Children, one of the outsider bands, who I have since learned have an "ever-changing" lineup, perhaps because they are transients currently residing in "the forests of Humboldt County." They are formerly from Olympia, where they lived in cars, and from Long Beach, where they probably slept on the beach. (Judging from the title of their first pmp-disk release, Suck My Dick Long Beach, they may not have left town on good terms.)
They're playing two shows that night with label mates Mini Bastardo, a Eureka duo who have just finished their debut CD, Introducing Mini Bastardo. Erin Cearley is the singer/fuzz violinist/guitarist/organist/noisemaker; John Haluska sings, drums, plays guitar, organ, tape bits, etc. John tells me they will be playing stuff from their album "as well as some covers from some of our faves: The Godz, Flipper, Albert Ayler, Red Krayola, etc." If you've heard of any of those bands, you'll know what to expect. The early Arts Alive! show is at The Cheri Blackerby Gallery in Old Town and, says John, will provide musical counterpoint to the theme of the art show: "fairies and flowers."
The second show (at The Schooner) includes both pmp bands plus "ironic accordion" by Rick Fugate (is he the busker?) and a set by Sour Cream, a young power trio I heard at the March Arts Alive! playing dead-on Hendrix and Cream covers in an alley. John also mentioned the possibility of Butthole Surfers Karaoke with The Sticky Children backing would-be Gabby Hayneses. Sounds like a wild time.
Me? I'll definitely be at Arts Alive! since one of my vacation snaps was accepted in the Northwest Eye photo show at the Graves. Which shows to hit? It'll be a hard choice, I'll start at the Graves and if I get over the cold that's been dragging me down, I'll see where the night takes me. See you out on the town.
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