Hope you enjoyed last week's bit of a break, dear readers, because we're barreling down full bore into the holidays now and your things-to-do-places-to-go-people-to-see list isn't getting any shorter. The good news is there's a lot of good news, at least when the news is about the fine, fine selection of musical geniuses vying for your attention this week.
As mentioned last week — did you get your tickets yet? — Keller Williams returns to Humboldt with a Thursday show at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Musically, Williams is best known for what he calls "the looping thing." Machines that are essentially delay units enable Williams to step on a button and sing or play something. What he just played or sang repeats when he steps on the same button in time. Once that initial loop is created, Williams then layers on a bass line or a drum line, thus creating in real time something he can sing over and otherwise play with. Nothing is pre-recorded — everything is created onstage in front of the audience.
If it sounds complicated, it is! But the technology has allowed Williams to go out on tour without limiting his sound to the solo singer-songwriter motif of a guy strumming a guitar while singing. With his arsenal of tech toys, Williams expands his reach onstage by, in essence, jamming with himself — but you're invited along for the ride. Doors opens at 8 p.m., cost is $24 at the door, $20 advanced tickets available at Wildberries, People's Records, the Works and through ATL's ticket office and website. This show is 21-and-over.
If you're looking for something free and fun Thursday night, you're in luck, because The Hip Joint and The Blackberry Bushes are celebrating Humboldt County soundman extraordinaire and erstwhile Absynth Quintet drummer Tofu Mike's birthday at the Logger Bar. The Blackberry Bushes are an alt-folk string band out of the Pacific Northwest and bring forth an innovative sound drawing from the deep roots of American traditional music a la Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Through joyful singing and virtuosic fiddle playing, The Blackberry Bushes show every intention to move the audience both in their hearts and out of their seats. But no matter how happy you are and how much you love Tofu, this show is 21-and-over, kids. (Do the under-21s still prop lawn chairs outside the Logger to hear the music?)
Saturday night offers a show sure to please fans of good music and excellent entertainment when Mike Dillon brings his high-octane performance and unorthodox percussion rig to the Jambalaya. After emerging in the late 1980s as the first vibraphonist and vocalist to lead a rock/funk band, Dillon went on to work with artists as diverse as Les Claypool, Ani DiFranco, Polyphonic Spree, Brave Combo, Sex Mob, Galactic, Secret Chief's 3, Karl Denson, Steven Bernstein, Charlie Hunter, James Singleton, George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidocavich and Bob Schneider. His individual projects include: Critter's Buggin', Garage A Trois, Billy Goat, Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle, Hairy Apes BMX, Malachy Papers, the Dead Kenny G's, who regularly open for Primus, and his latest, The Mike Dillon Band. Should be a hell of a dance party.
Tickets are $10, show starts at 9 p.m. and is 21-and-over.
Elsewhere in Arcata, World Famous Productions presents The 4th Wall Tour with RunDMT, SPL and Geno Cochino at 9:30 p.m. in the Arcata Theatre Lounge with happy hour pricing on drinks and food until 10:30 p.m. Think heavy basslines and pounding beats. Tickets are $15 in advance.
Over in Eureka, following Arts Alive!, the No Good Redwood Ramblers serve up a free fix of straight-up quality bluegrass at the comfy cool Siren's Song Tavern.
Moving on to Sunday, Portland's "little orchestra" Pink Martini returns with what bandleader Thomas Lauderdale calls another "rollicking around-the-world musical adventure." The multilingual über-hip ensemble is part romantic Hollywood film, part musical archeologist and part red-hot samba parade, wildly diverse yet magically exhilarating. Tickets are $55 general and $25 HSU students. The whole shebang gets going at the Van Duzer Theatre around 8 p.m.
Oh, you thought Monday was going to be a boring return-to-work day? Not even close! Because you've got two Louisiana talents — Dirk Powell and Cedric Watson — joining forces at the Arcata Playhouse to explore the crosscurrents of three Americana musical traditions: Cajun, Creole and old-time Appalachian music. Folk junkies rejoice!
In addition to acclaimed releases on Rounder Records, Powell has recorded and performed with Loretta Lynn, Sting, Jack White, Levon Helm, Jewel, T-Bone Burnett, Ralph Stanley, Linda Ronstadt and, currently, Joan Baez.
Watson is a fiddler, singer, accordionist and songwriter who has performed with the Pine Leaf Boys, Corey Ledet, Les Amis Creole with Ed Poullard and J.B. Adams, and his own group, Bijou Creole. In other words, these guys have some serious resumes and you don't want to miss this level of talent, especially in as fine and intimate a venue as the Playhouse (#CreameryDistrictRising). The show is presented in association with Humboldt Folklife Society. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 general and $18 members and are available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or 822-1575.
And finally, we have another excellent show brought to us by the indefatigable Chris Parreira. This time it's Southern California's Steve Poltz, long beloved as both a solo artist and with cult legends the Rugburns, playing with the one, the only, John Ludington, perhaps Humboldt County's most unique songwriter and always endearing performer. (Also in Absynth Quintet.)
Note: This is an early show! Very important to arrive on time, which happens to be at the extremely wonderful-for-a-Wednesday hour of 8 p.m. Yeah! This happens at Humboldt Brews and tickets are $10. Here's a great quote about Poltz from country-punk icon John Doe: "My idea of hell would be having Steve Poltz open for me every day. There's no place left for the audience to go."
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Send your show info and high-res photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.