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Half a League From Stardom 

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I've been told by more than a few people to check out the 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. Winner of an Academy Award, the film is about a few singers with tremendous voices who played the role of "backup singer" to many bands over the decades. I'm still unclear what's taken me so long to view this film as I'm almost guaranteed to enjoy it. What strikes me as most interesting (after viewing the trailer) is the fact that for every rock/music "star," there are multiple nameless and faceless musicians just as talented playing supporting roles. Since the Super Bowl© is upon us this weekend, maybe I'll throw in a football reference to explain.

For every Peyton Manning, there are offensive linemen whose job it is to keep Peyton from having his clock cleaned during each play. Now I know there are some die-hard Broncos fans who could name each of these beefcakes, but most of us keep our eyes on the QB and often forget that these spandex-clad refrigerators on legs are what keep Peyton's brain from sloshing around in his skull. That's probably the best I can do for a football reference. Back to music ...

We've all heard The Rolling Stones' song "Gimme Shelter." Most of us can point out Mick and Keef; some of us can go deeper and name Bill and Charlie as well. But one name that might not be as well-known is Merry Clayton — the vocal powerhouse that joined Mick on that song and provides the emotional highlight. If you've been lucky enough to see The Stones live, you may have been lucky enough to hear Lisa Fischer "backing" Mick on stage on this same song. Both women are featured in the above-mentioned documentary. Only one, however, will be in Arcata on Tuesday, and as her star rises, she may be getting a bit closer than 20 feet.

Friday

Ryan Davidson returns to Humboldt for a two-show attack (more below). You may recall that Ryan brought his "Americana/Irish storytelling songs" to our neck of the woods a few months. He must have done alright, as he's already back at Dead Reckoning Tavern in Arcata, for free at 7 p.m.

Following the Irish theme, up in Westhaven local bouzoukist/flautist Seabury Gould and fiddler (violinist?) Evan Morden will be playing traditional Irish/Celtic music. I'm alerted that both Seabury and Evan have jammed in pubs back in Éire. Consider me jealous. Less far away, and less pubby, the Westhaven Center for the Arts hosts these two hibernophiles at 7 p.m. Sliding scale cover from $5-$15.

Get rhythm tonight at Humboldt Brews with Cash'd Out, a Johnny Cash tribute band. With the blessing of the Cash family, these fellas are the real deal and give you a taste of the boom-chicka-boom. After checking out some videos online, it sure as hell sounded like Luther and Johnny were playing. 9:30 p.m. show time and for those that dress in all black, only $15 to get in. (Same price for everyone else.)

Saturday

It's unclear whether or not reggae/dub ambassadors Stick Figure are playing The Mateel for Bob Marley's birthday, or if it just happens to be Nesta's b-day. Either way, celebrate away in Redway. Opening the show will be South Bay Area reggae band Fortunate Youth and, from Arizona, rock/funkers Katastro. $20 to get into this 9 p.m. show.

If you're looking for trouble, might I recommend The Siren's Song Tavern? There you'll find local Americana bar rockers The Trouble joined by No Pardon after Arts Alive!, so probably around 9 p.m. and for free.

A name I know, but whose music I've been unfamiliar with, is the Ryan Montbleu Band. It struck me as something that KHUM might play, and, listening to a few tracks, I got the singer-songwriter kind of vibe with a bit of a Brett Dennen vocal delivery. (I'm not sure which is the chicken and which the egg is in regards to these two fellows.) It'll be a full band at Humboldt Brews at 9:30 p.m. and $15.

For you late night rockers, The Alibi's the place to be. Ryan Davidson plays another night joined this time by local high-altitude-peyote-desert rockers Opossum Sun Trail. $5 and 11 p.m. show time for this one.

Sunday

If the Super Bowl© isn't your thing and you want to honestly, for once, tell your folks you went to church, today's your day. Head over the Lutheran Church of Arcata (I am told this is at 151 East 16th St.) to hear The Chamber Players of the Redwoods perform music by Ludwig van, Arutiunian, Fiala and Ellington (Duke, I presume.) Music at 2 p.m. and donations are welcome, but not mandatory.

Later, the Redwood Jazz Alliance's Spring Season gets movin' with guitar phenom Rez Abbasi at the Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. Working his chops in high school covering Rush, Led Zeppelin, and King Crimson songs, he eventually made a move into jazz/rock fusion and now with the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, which brings a new view to classic songs by the likes of Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra with guitar, vibes, bass and drums. Students get in for $10, the rest of us old timers, $15.

Tuesday

Now only a few inches from stardom herself, Lisa Fischer will be at the Van Duzer Theater with her band Grand Baton. HSU students get a deal with a $10 ticket price. 8 p.m. showtime and $46 for the rest of us.

Wednesday

I mentioned Bob Marley's birthday a bit earlier (Feb. 6), and if you couldn't celebrate then, well, the 10th is just as good. The Meditations will be bringing some of their roots reggae to celebrate the man at Humboldt Brews at 9 p.m. Bring $20 to get into this celebration.

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 music@northcoastjournal.com.

Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. His favorite stars are those that collapse under their gravitational mass.

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Andy Powell

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