There are many things I do not understand. The Shugborough Inscription. What a head gasket does. Why we continue engaging in behavior we know to be bad for us. Bitcoin. Non-Jamaican purveyors of reggae speaking in patois. But let's turn to something I can help you with, dear readers. No, not how to make a divine cheesecake (some other time!), but separating this week's musical wheat from the chaff.
Let's first address the heavy riffs preparing to unleash themselves via Humboldt's Lord Ellis and Austin's Adrian (& The Sickness) Thursday night at the Jambalaya. Frontwoman Adrian Connor also handles the Angus Young duties in AC/DC tribute band Hell's Belles, so she's no stranger to delivering seriously charismatic performances. With (& The Sickness), the dread-locked Adrian expands into a sweeter, but no less edgy, sound. Heavy rock gods Lord Ellis — featuring members of legendary local bands The Hitch, Dragged by Horses, Wasabi and Grimace — open. Doors at 9 p.m., music at 10 p.m., cover is $5 and this show is 21-and-over.
Maybe you prefer your music delivered more gently. Good news! The fourth annual Bob Dylan's Birthday Bash channels the iconic songwriter's elegant and oft-obscure lyrics through a dozen-ish of your favorite local folk-flavored bands for not just one, but two nights (and an afternoon), because you need that kind of time and this many people to do justice to a catalog as big as Bob's.
The magic begins Friday at 9 p.m. at Humboldt Brews with The Rezonators (Chris Parreira and Marc Jeffares from The Trouble, Jimi Hawk from Graffiti), The Subterranean Homesick Boozers (Parreira, Jeff Kelley and Norm Bradford from the Miracle Show and Vanishing Pints, Jay Forbes of Strix Vega and Full Moon Fever and Issa Stemler), plus The Birdhouse Band (Siena Nelson and Sky McKinley). Cover is $5, show is 21-and-over.
The Dylan festivities spill over to Saturday the 24th (the man's actual date of birth) with an all-day free event beginning at Mad River Brewing Co. The music starts at 3 p.m. and includes The Rezonators, Morgan Corviday and Jan Bramlett, and more songsters a'plenty.
What to do Saturday night? The Jambalaya puts forth an interesting lineup: bassist Bobby Vega, whose credits include playing with Sly & The Family Stone and Etta James; with drummer Prairie Prince, a founding member of Journey, and member of The Tubes and Todd Rundgren's band; plus guitarist Chris Rossbach, who played with Zigaboo Modeliste. SuperHelix joins the trio. Cover is $15, show is 21-and-over.
On the other side of the bay, as well as the gender and musical spectrum, Seattle's dancey modern rock act (and self-declared Yeah Yeah Yeahs fanatics) Mrs. Howl plays at the Palm Lounge with local dark punk disco queens Space Biscuit and the bluesier Plumb Uglies. The show promoters promise Mrs. Howl will start at 9 p.m., so arrive on time. A $3-to-$5 donation is asked and the show is for adults of legal drinking age and up.
That show has some stiff competition over in A-town, where cute-moody-rockers-from-the-Bay-Area Finish Ticket celebrate the Atlantic Records re-release of their album Tears You Apart. Finish Ticket is spending most of the summer hitting big festivals and large venues, so this is a rare chance to not only catch an alt/rock/indie/etc. band like this in Humboldt, but to do so in the sweet embrace of the Arcata Playhouse. Show time is 8 p.m., tickets are $10 and the show is 21-and-over.
And if Saturday's choices are difficult, Sunday's aren't exactly easy if you like fun, rare shows. This is a bit superficial, but here, pick one: soul or punk.
Beloved soul man and local Trinidadian Earl Thomas reunites with The Rhumboogies, the band he started with 25 years ago in San Diego. Thomas left The Rhumboogies, the story goes, to pursue his dream to be a songwriter, which came true quickly when Etta James recorded his song, "I Sing the Blues." The reunion gig has a higher purpose as a benefit for a team of Humboldt cyclists raising funds in the upcoming AIDS/Lifecycle Ride To End AIDS from San Francisco to Los Angeles. (The local portion of the team is made up of Daniel Baer, Bob Ornelas, Michael Weiss, Dylan Ruiz and Debi Farber Bush.) The gig happens at Hum Brews with doors at 8:30 p.m. and local young indie rock trio UFO8 opening. Tickets are $15 advance, $18 at the door, and the show is 21-and-over.
Portland's The Suicide Notes (featuring former Humboldtian Patrick Foss) return to the Shanty with tourmates Sex Crime, along with Oakland's Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony and Humboldt's own Blood Gnome. Now, "punk" was a convenient label, but the bands play, respectively, girl-pop-meets-the-Ramones, synth rock, adventure rock and synth pop. What does all the mean? It means the outpour of radness will leave your eardrums blistered and your face styled into a permagrin. Show up at the Shanty at 8 p.m. — early show! — with ID and $2.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.