This past weekend I had the pleasure to see and hear from the Blue Dragon Steel Band while up in Blue Lake. Comprised of students from Blue Lake and Trinidad, the kids not only learn how to play the steel pans in school, but get to gig around town once in a while. Some of the kids look slightly terrified of being the center of the audience's attention, while others obviously relish it. But all kids — it's clear — love being in the band. With all of its syncopations and offbeat rhythms, it's also not the easiest music to play but these kids nailed it. Will they go on to be gigging musicians when they get older? It's impossible to know, but they've already got a great foundation should they choose to go that route. You'll have a chance to hear them this weekend (more below) and if you're a softhearted sucker like I am, you'll love seeing them lay the groove down for a good cause.
You can start off your weekend a little early with one of Humboldt's favorite local bands and rump shakers, The Absynth Quartet, who will be at The Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. tonight. Is it a "bionic string band?" Perhaps a "fire breathing-gypsy-circus-indie-grass" band? The press releases asks as much but I won't be a fool enough to try to answer. If you've lived up here long enough, you're familiar with the sound of AQ4. It's got just enough bluegrass in it to make our faux-Appalachian hearts swoon. Gypsy bluegrass with drums? Americana-jam-grass for city folk? Call it what you will, but AQ4 always puts on a great show. This one will be a bit of a multimedia performance as Steven Vander Meer's short animated piece "Boomerang," which just so happens to use AQ4's song of the same name, will be showing. It's $10 for this show and don't be late. The Weeks and Cold Front will be at Humboldt Brews at 9 p.m. With a bit of a dramatic band biography, The Weeks sound like a sincere rock band from the South, so give them a warm welcome — and $15 — to the Pacific Northwest, where we are nothing if not sincere. For a different sound, Humboldt Free Radio Presents some Irish folk-punk from Austin courtesy of Black Irish Texas, who'll be delivering the Celtic punk tunes around 10 p.m. and for free at The Logger Bar in Blue Lake.
Want to help send members of the 70-strong Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir to an international gospel conference in Oakland next spring? Tonight you can help them out. They'll be holding a "Sing-a-Thon" at the Arcata Presbyterian Church in Arcata. Director Louis Hoiland says, "Our goal is to improve our choir by bringing the majority of our members to the conference." This all starts off around 7 p.m. and is only $10 to help out. A free all-ages concert is being held at Cafe Mokka in Arcata around 8 p.m. Maybe grab some coffee, or show up early before a soak to hear the international stylings of The Last-minute Men.
Blue Lake is the place to be today as the Humboldt Hoptoberfest kicks off in Perigot Park to raise funds for the Blue Lake Education Foundation. There will be delicious beers and ciders for your discerning palates along with some great music as well. The aforementioned and excellent Blue Dragon Steel Band will show off its syncopated skills on the steel pans and were the highlight of last weekend's block party in said hamlet. Also on the entertainment slate is The Beautiful Losers, who I'm told are a "classic truck driving modern day Hee-Haw country band," and fellow locals Space Socks with the 3rd District's incoming supervisor pretending to play bass. Headlining the fest will be out-of-towners The Little Fuller Band (from some place called Twain Harte in Tuolumne County that is almost exactly twice as populated as Blue Lake), who fall somewhere in the Americana-folk-indie rock vein. The fest kicks off around 1 p.m. and is $30 to get in with a drinking glass, $5 for the non-drinkers/designated drivers. In the event you miss The Beautiful Losers and/or Little Fuller Band, you can catch them later tonight at the Plaza Grill View Room at 9 p.m. for $10, or only $8 if you still have your fest wristband on. Back at Cafe Mokka you'll find the French-Canadian stylings of Mon Petit Chou playing for free at 8 p.m. Reggae funkers Spiritual Rez have a new album, Setting in the West, coming out on the Oct. 7. so they'll be celebrating said release tonight at Humboldt Brews with Lizano around 9:30 p.m. Hear some of the new songs and if you dig 'em, you can pick up the album in a few days (unless the band has advance copies at the show). It's $10 for this show. At the Alibi you'll hear some "industrial power violence" from aptly titled Genocide Skin, who hail from Oakland. Joining them around 11 p.m. will be local "noize punx" Komatose all for only $5. I doubt there will be any love songs here tonight.
As you know, The Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad hosts music each Sunday at 5 p.m. for free, and this evening you'll hear from Joe Garceau doing his thing. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the "The Magic Pipe," the instrument invented and played by That 1 Guy Mike Silverman. I can't tell if it's part standup bass, tubular bell and part plumbing utensil, but it's worth checking out. It's well described as the brainchild of "Dr. Seuss, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Stanley Kubrick and Rube Goldberg," though I might throw Les Claypool and Primus in there somewhere. He'll be at Humboldt Brews tonight at 9:30 p.m. for $15. Get blown away. Delhi 2 Dublin returns to Humboldt and will be playing its dance and groove focused mix of Bollywood electronica and international and Celtic melodies at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Doors are around 8:30 p.m. with a show time closer to 9 or 9:30 p.m., if I had to guess. It's $20 for a show guaranteed to get you moving.
Originally hailing from Birmingham, Alabama — now in Nashville — Banditos are stopping by Humboldt Brews to deliver some of their Mussel Shoals and swampy grooves to us North Coasters. With mentions of CCR, Slim Harpo and ZZ Top as influences, I'd imagine this would be a rockin' show. It starts around 9 p.m. this Tuesday night and bring $10 to get in.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. Magnum.