There are two Neils near and dear to my musical heart. The first I would hear cranking out of my father's car when my sister and I were small. I have vague memories of him singing along to certain songs loudly, which implied that these were damn fine songs. The second Neil I didn't really get into until my high school years, and at that point I felt it wise to hide my Neil #1 fandom in the rare event a girl wanted to talk to me. In my later musical life, I would learn and cover many of The Neils' songs to occasionally lukewarm applause around Humboldt (even going so far as wearing a blue sequined shirt in public, and then later, flannel). The Neils I speak of are of course the Diamond and the Young, and at first listen, couldn't sound more different. I won't go so far as to say that they are incredibly similar ("Song Sung Blue" vs. "Cowgirl in the Sand," for example), however, when you pop the hood open and start looking at the songwriting and craft behind much of their work, you'll find familiar techniques. You may fancy one over the other or, like me, both, but it's hard to deny that they're both masters of their craft. I can't tell you that either Neil is coming to Humboldt this weekend (or anytime) but I can tell you that you've got some great options to celebrate and enjoy their music with your neighbors. So whether you'll be Rocking in the Free World or going to Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, enjoy and read below for more information on getting your Neil fix here locally.
It's opening night of the 120th Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale tonight. So what goes better with amusement rides, hot dogs, chili and horse races than Neil Diamond? The correct answer is Super Diamond (as Neil probably isn't playing county fairs these days). I've heard these guys are the real deal. Despite the perceived glitz and glam of the Diamond world, the guy can write a goddamn song ("I Am, I Said," "Holly Holy," "Kentucky Woman," "Solitary Man" and "Shilo," just to name a few), so duck your cowboy hat and shuffle your shit-kickers over to the grandstands around 7 p.m. to hear the songs of the Hebrew Elvis for only $8 tonight. Just remember, the words "they're coming to America" weren't always considered a bad thing. Thursday's still hoppin' with electronic music going late at Humboldt Brews in Arcata at 9 p.m. Monthly project Elevate brings you a "shapeshifting duo," which is one part Italian and one part Canadian KMLN from Berlin. Now I'm told that "KMLN" is to be pronounced "chameleon," which is cool but I then have to wonder why one would willingly choose a name that requires a pronouncinatory explanation (maybe there was already an electronic band called Chameleon?). Anyway, special guests for this $10 show are the more easily pronounced local spinners DJ Marjo Lak, Skinny P., and Joe-e. The party continues at the Plaza Grill in Arcata with the Level Up Dance Party, which will provide "funky dance music, great atmosphere and strong drinks" starting at 10 p.m. with Jaymorg and DJ ChillWill who will be providing modern boogie, electro funk and old school classics for only $5 tonight.
If you're into multi-platinum Québec folk bands, then you should head over to the Arcata Playhouse tonight at 8 p.m. De Temps Antan is a "trad triad," as I'll call them. Although far less familiar with Canadian music than the Playhouse is, I'll let you know that this "high energy, hot-fingered" band has some serious fiddle, accordion and guitar playing going on. It's $20 for this Canuck musical experience. At Humboldt Brews tonight and as part of "Community Appreciation Weekend," rock shredders Cold Blue Water and Non-Prophets play around 9 p.m. Only $5 will get you in the door, and bring some more for Hum Brew's new full bar. At the same time in Eureka, you'll find Mojave country rockers and "local cowpokes" Cliff Dallas & The Death Valley Troubadours peddling their sonic version of the desolate desert life for free. Joining them is Humboldt's favorite space cowboy Mister Moonbeam and all this trippy tree-a-treein' tunes.
It's a weekend celebration of the Neils in Humboldt (sorry Sedaka, you'll have to wait your turn). You fans of Ol' Shakey best be heading to the Logger Bar in Blue Lake tonight as you've got a rare treat waiting for you. Local rockers Wild Otis are going to be playing nothing but songs penned by Neil Young. Now I'm not sure what the setlist is going to be but if I had to guess, you might hear one or two from the Buffalo Springfield days, then a bit from Neil's folky period and then a good helping of the sweaty, nasty and beautifully broken Crazy Horse days. Regardless, you'll be in for a hell of a time. It's a free show starting around 9 p.m. and feel free not to be the wise-ass who requests something off of Trans. A little later you'll find Gabe Rozzell at The Alibi in Arcata with ex-.357 String Band member Billy Cook starting things off around 11 p.m. I'm hearing from Ian that this one's a free show, so take advantage.
You've got two good options for your Tuesday night music scene plans. Starting early at 6 p.m., you can catch local "original weird surf and instro sound" guy Roland Rock who's playing for you for free at the Mad River Brewery Tasting Room. A little later for $5, Los Angeles-based "bone-head savants" Zig Zags are hitting The Miniplex at Richards' Goat Tavern and Tea Room around 9 p.m. With a pretty good press release in tow, these fellas "are no-nonsense '80s-style thrash with a magpie eye for deep-fried pop culture detritus. These guys give so few fucks while they are out ripping faces that it's tough to say much about them that hasn't been said before — they shred so that we may raise beers in non-ironic salute to their Voivod worship, to a world in which young heshers subscribe to Heavy Metal and practice early Slayer solos while watching daytime TV, to wake and baking as you watch the world burn." So I'll leave it at that.
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. He still hopes The Neils will form a supergroup.