The spot was an elusive and desolate warehouse in industrial Arcata, off West End Road. It was 9:30 last Sunday night. Inside the tall aluminum doors of the two-story warehouse, soft spotlights glowed purple and red through swirls of opalescent white smoke. Urban graffiti and abstract oil paintings of 70’s icons such as John Lennon and Eric Clapton covered the 30-foot tall, wine-colored walls. Floppy beat up couches lined the back wall for lounging. In the slightly gothic, slightly urban room, an intimate crowd of about 40 relaxed Humboldt peoples jived to The Eric McFadden Trio (+1).
Despite the band name, the true music star of Sunday night turned out not to be frontman and bona fide rockstar Eric McFadden. The star wasn’t even the super-special guest, keyboard genius Bernie Worrell (the +1). On the right side of the Passion Presents stage, James Whiton balanced his six-foot tall standing electric bass on one single point on the wooden floor. His four stringed instrument was made out of an amber-colored polished wood and resembled the lookout of a pirate ship mixed with a harp. Throughout both sets, he vivaciously plucked out complex, boombastic vibrations with precision, focus, and ease. His pursed but slightly twitchy lips, furrowed brow and squeezed-closed eyelids expressed just how much passion and emotion he seeped out of each note. The bassist James Whiton and his upright bass were never meant to be the centerpiece of the whole show, but they were. They were.
The Eric McFadden Trio is set to play the Oyster Festival on the Arcata Plaza, June 12.