Stopped by my favorite Arcata record shop last Wednesday to chat with proprietor Matt Jackson about this Thursday's DJ night at Humboldt Brews, Missing Link's Got Soul, another jumpin' all-vinyl dance party hosted by the M.L. crew. The concept, spinning soul/funk 45s and the like for dancers, has been very successful so far -- Matt noted that last time over 200 people showed up and filled the dancefloor. This week's will be the third session, the last for 2011. Once again Matt and his partner Adam will be joined by DJ Mantease, King Maxwell and JAYMORG along with a mysterious "Special Guest."
We got to talking about the skill it takes to keep dancers dancing and agreed that Jonathan Toubin of New York Night Train Soul Clap fame is a true master -- Matt sees his work as an inspiration. He's legendary in NYC, playing dance parties all the time, and has come through Arcata a few times on national tours. He always keeps dancers on the floor with his collection of rare rock, funk and soul 45s, unrelentingly extracting the highlights, sometimes just playing the essential minute of a side that only runs two minutes or so.
We didn't know it at the time, but Jonathan was in Oregon that day we spoke, in advance of a record party at some Portland nightclub. While he was sleeping Wednesday night at the Jupiter Hotel on East Burnside, an out-of-control taxicab smashed through the wall and into his room, running right into the bed. Jonathan ended up trapped under the taxi, pinned against the headboard. Once he was extracted (apparently it wasn't easy), the bloodied DJ was whisked by ambulance to the hospital in critical condition.
As Matt pointed out, DJs do not carry health insurance. The Soul Clap DJ's fans in Austin, New Orleans and New York City are organizing benefits, rallying to help him out. Says Matt, "In solidarity with many of the other soul nights Mr. Toubin helped inspire, our DJs have agreed to donate most of the night's proceeds to try and help cover any medical expenses. We'll also be taking donations throughout the night and hoping him a safe and speedy recovery."
Those who don't get enough analog/vinyl dance music on Thursday night can return to HumBrews Friday when DJ Red holds court spinning tunes from the ‘80s to make you shake yo' thang. Then late Saturday night King Maxwell brings his box-o-vinyl to the Alibi for yet another dance night, this one with a funk focus.
Arcata-based songwriter Joanne Rand is at a level in her craft where others come to her to learn how to write songs. But that doesn't mean she's stopped learning. When she called Monday she was in Nashville learning some chops from guitarist/songwriter Steve Young, perhaps best known for his song "Seven Bridges Road" (recorded by Eagles among others). Like Joanne, he's a Georgia native.
"He helped create the sound of the new South," she explained, calling from Young's studio. "I heard him in Eugene and was drawn to what he does now -- it's roots music but real." When Joanne takes on new students, she asks them two questions: Where are you musically? And where do you want to go? Where she wants to go right now is essentially back home, to her Georgia roots. "But I also want to make that my own, make it real and expansive... transformative."
She won't be in Nashville long. Friday night she plays a show at the Arcata Playhouse, a celebration of Rise, the 12th album she done since 1988. Not that she'll be sticking to songs from the CD. She's constantly writing new ones and already has album No. 13 in mind.
She'll be accompanied at the Playhouse by bassist Ken Braziel. "And Josephine Johnson will do some songs with me," she added, "and she'll do her own set with her guitarist; I forget his name, but he's really good [Ed. note/disclosure: That would be Journal staffer Andrew Goff]. She and I have been working together. Her voice is just amazing, she's like this benevolent being; she has so much energy and heart."
After attending an Occupy Humboldt General Assembly together, the two songwriters ended up collaborating on a song about the experience. "Flying Rattlesnake" was initially inspired by a traditional folksong collected by Alan Lomax. "I found this song, ‘Rattlesnake,' which is all about the underbelly of America, about fortitude. The new song was born out of it saying, ‘You're not going to keep us down.'" Not a chance when it comes to Joanne and Josephine.
‘Tis the season for CD releases. The John David Young Trio invites you to: "Come to the Unveiling! Our First Album!! CD release party!" That's Saturday evening (6-9) at All Dogs Biscuit Bakery and Olivia's Beastro, which somehow has become a music venue with a weekly open mic. This is perhaps the only music joint in town where pets are welcome.
Later that night at the Red Fox, Diamondback unleashes an actual "holiday" album, Dead Elves, The XXX-mas Bootleg, with "holidaze horrors and viciousness to bleed your ears to." The NSFW CD came by mail without a cover or liner notes so we can only assume that some of the acts playing at the Fox are among the bootleggers. Saturday's related "O.G. Xmas Party & Concert" includes Vallejo-based rappers N2Deep and Celly Cel and Diamondback Ollie's friends, The Moonshine Bandits, doing their "hick hop"/outlaw country rock thing. Ollie also promises a "live captured Yeti" on display, holiday horror movies and a snowflake machine (cute). Inappropriate seasonal costumes are encouraged with contests for "dirty elves," "baddest Santa" and "naughtiest Mrs. Claus." ("He knows if you've been bad or good ...")
Speaking of bad, Bad Kitty returns to the Red Fox Thursday night with Three Bad Jacks, a retro rock trio led by a pompadoured cat named Elvis (Suissa). The Jacks have been on tour with two classic badass neo-retro bands, The Blasters and Supersuckers, but, explains Bad Kitty Norm, "Apparently a few dates got cancelled and rather than take the night off, Elvis and company have seen fit to come through our way for this last-minute show. Come on down and feel the heat, expect the swoon factor to be turned up to 11." Opening the show, Arcata's own Gunsafe "with their mix of country, roots and the occasional Nirvana cover."
It was good to see the worldly, rhythmic WoMama reunited at the Bryan Osper memorial the other night. Friday at the Red Fox the band joins forces with expansive rock jammers The Small Axe Ensemble in a benefit supporting Samba Da Alegria. Expect drums galore.
F.U.C., aka Fuck Ur Crew, brings its "Beware of the Tour Party" to Nocturnum Friday night. The Portland-based Canadian/U.S. hip hop/dubstep/Celtic/etc. hybrid quintet includes self-described "violinistextremist" and "shit disturber" Kytami, formerly of Delhi 2 Dublin, on electric fiddle with a pair of DJs, a drummer and an MC.
The MARZ Project Remix Party on Thursday at the Arcata Playhouse is another benefit, this one for the Ink People, who not coincidentally, oversee the teen-oriented Media and Arts Resource Zone (MARZ) Project. The all ages show features "all original electronic dance music" plus "fun antic performances" by The Creepy Marbles, Rave on Beautiful, Lost in La La Land and Queen Serene, plus the as-yet-unrevealed winner of the remix contest. Congrats, whoever you are.