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Humboldt Played 

Defining the locus of local

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By the time you read this you will hopefully have had enough time to deal with your grief over the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead and giving the Cavaliers NBA Championship. It was painful for many of us up here on the North Coast, as we're only 280-something miles away from Oakland, so the Warriors are pretty much our team, right? At least when they're doing well. Living outside of any normal distance from a professional sports team, I've always wondered how many miles of space are necessary to maintain allegiance to a franchise. If you live in San Francisco, it's understandable that you're a Giants fan. Live across the Bay and you're for the A's, sure. Live in San Luis Obispo? Who's your team then? You're close enough to Los Angeles to be a Lakers fan, but you're about the same distance — I'm roughly guessing — from Warrior territory as well, so who's your team? If Portland were 120 miles closer to us, would we all be Trailblazer fans? Come on.

Enough sports talk. This is supposed to be a music column, right? And when it comes to sports, I'm about as out of my element as a fish on a motorcycle. My point being, we like things local, or as close to local as we can get. We're more connected to it, and it seems to be more "ours," whether it's a local beer, cheese, perfume or the Crabs. We love when something of "ours" gets recognition out there in that big ol' stupid rest of the world around us. When someone from Humboldt gets on a national show about hoarders, we celebrate! When some Hollywood celebrity comes through Humboldt and brings paparazzi attention to our redwoods, we swoon! When our weed makes national news, we all pretend we've been against prohibition forever and awkwardly celebrate! The same goes for our music. When one of our own musicians is able to garner national and international acclaim — and almost make a living — we are proud of them as sort of cultural ambassadors of Humboldt County. When someone like former-local Earl Thomas jet-sets around the world soaking up applause many miles away (more below) but once called this special place on the planet home ... well, it puts a bit of wind in our sails, doesn't it? So whatever you define as "local," you've got some good choices for music coming up.

Friday

Tonight in the Lake o' Blue you can catch one of the more entertaining bands Humboldt has to offer. Peeping Thomas will kick things off with a 9 p.m. Logger Bar show, and I heard they might be joined by some guests. Your guess of guests is as good as mine but I imagine this will be a fun spot to be and it's totally free. Blues sensation Earl Thomas will be throwing an album release party for his new release of Crow at Humboldt Brews around 9:30 p.m. This is his 14th album, I believe, and he's got a pretty busy year coming up touring through Europe and the UK, so tonight would be a good time to catch him. Bring $18 to get in, and wish him luck as he trots the globe.

Saturday

An email from Dan Davis of Wild Otis focused mainly on trying to sell me one of his bass guitars, but also got around to mentioning that the band will be jamming for your pleasure tonight at Redwood Curtain Brewery in Arcata for free around 8 p.m. Just a bit later, at 9 p.m. and for a $10 cover, Humboldt Brews is hosting the "Smash the Quiet Tour," which features the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps out of Seattle, a "renegade marching band club that is dedicated to keeping the tradition of music, performance, energy, havoc, discipline and sheer stupid fun alive." Sounds fun. The corps is joined by locals SambAmore, who bring the Afro-Brazilian funk and will easily get you to move. Speaking of locals, Humboldt County's "newest steel pan ensemble" (as they tell me) Pandemic Steel Band is also throwing itself into the ring on tonight's bill, but that's not all. On top of all that, out of Chicago comes Environmental Encroachment, which peddles in marching band sounds with theatrics and costumes for your entertainment. Later in the night, Ian of the Alibi mentions that some "all vinyl garage rock" will be spun courtesy of Garage Au-Go-Go, who will be joined around 11 p.m. by local super spinners Adam and DJ Red at this rare $2 Alibi show.

Sunday

You can get your Sunday off to a mellow start at the Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad with the sounds of JD Jeffries and Devin Paine, who will be playing this free show for you starting at 5 p.m. Over in Arcata, Bohemian world music ensemble 3 Leg Torso is stopping by The Sanctuary at 8 p.m. Often heard on NPR, this ensemble blends together some modern-Gypsy-chamber-pop and has won various awards and accolades from Portland press and critics. Expect to hear some songs from its latest release of And To All A Good Night. Sliding scale of $10-$20 for this one. As if this Sunday wasn't already busy enough, there's an interesting three-band bill at Richards' Goat Miniplex (which I have occasionally referred to as Richards' Goat Tavern and Tea Room or The Miniplex) at 9 p.m. tonight. Residual Echoes alum Adam Payne brings his eponymous solo project to town tonight with his "left-field garage pop," according to Dieter of local high-altitude mystic-plateau rockers Opossum Sun Trail, which will be the local support for said band and synth-tinted Boston band Los Greys. Only $5 for this show, so go get lost.

Wednesday

Good sport David of the Arcata Playhouse has noticed my recent ambivalence toward overly wordy and pretentious press releases, and simply mentioned that he's excited to have a very talented band at the Playhouse this evening. The name is sounding very familiar, so I'm just going to go ahead and say that the "globally inspired roots quintet from Western Canada" The Bills are returning to Humboldt tonight. They have a new album entitled Trail of Tales that they'll be performing a healthy majority of for you. What's the album like you wonder? Well, it "walks a verdant path through lyrics that explore and shimmer with melodies that are sure to become standards in the deep and rich Canadian folk/roots/rock songbook." Sorry, David, I had to quote the press release a bit. The Bills have two JUNO nominations and some Western Canadian Music Awards to their name, so that's nothing to shake a Canadian stick at. Get a $15 ticket before they sell out for this 8 p.m. show.

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 wife will not like the column title.

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Andy Powell

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