Nostalgia has been floating around like a faint mist lately, not quite as thick as a fog, but I've walked through bits of it unexpectedly this past week. I think it all began with a chat with my old friend Monica, who's been involved in the local music scene longer than I've been a musician. It reminded me of fond and sweet memories of the early days of my "joining" the music scene some 12 or 13 years ago. She then regretfully informed me that a mutual acquaintance had suddenly passed away. After the initial shock, my mind wandered back to the first time I'd met this woman at a Common Vice show — Victorian Modesty anyone? — at the Jambalaya. It was a short-lived romance of awkward joys and decent servings of mind-altering pain, but I'll spare you the details. I confirmed the sad news with another musician friend and we chatted about some of our past musical exploits (a Neil Diamond tribute band) and time on the road with our respective bands — touring up and down the West Coast in search of new music fans, free beer and validation that we weren't all wasting our time peddling our music to strangers. Whether we found that validation is still up for debate. However, the other bands we met and friendships we formed on beer-soaked stages and in piss-soaked alleyways made touring the bottom-of-the-barrel club circuit an opportunity we all jumped at. All of these memories had the connecting thread of music — an amalgamation of people, time, places and music.
One of the bands we befriended on the road up in Portland was Drunken Prayer (more below), which would help guide us through the rock circuit in the City of Roses. So when Ian of the Alibi tipped me off to the fact that Drunken Prayer was not only still touring, but coming back to our neck of the woods, I couldn't help but smile. Maybe it's time for new memories.
I recently saw a child of about 10 wearing the classic "swan song" Led Zeppelin shirt and remarked that he had an "awesome shirt on!" Perhaps I was thinking that he was not only an actual Zeppelin fan but that he would think it was cool that an adult rocker would comment on his shirt. The blank stare followed by a muted "thanks" made me realize that he most likely didn't think this plaid-clad stranger was cool and he may not have picked out this shirt of his own accord. I decided not to mention to him that a Zeppelin cover band — one he's too young to see anyway — was coming to town. You Zep-heads are most likely familiar with the Bay Area's Zepparella, who have been bringing the heavy rock to our land for the past few years. I've only been lucky enough to see the band once but it was most excellent. It's easy to be disappointed by cover/tribute bands but I walked away from the show impressed. Zepparella will be joined by Italian Daniele Gottardo, a guitar shredder who happens to be one of Steve Vai's favorite "new" guitarists. Think some metal and '80s guitar virtuoso playing with spoonfuls of progressive orchestration and classical melodies. This guitar heavy show starts around 9:30 p.m. at Humboldt Brews and will cost you $20.
Sticking with Humboldt Brews here, Portland-based rock band Ages and Ages are on the road supporting their latest album Something to Ruin. The album deals with watching a city — Portland — grow and expand in the shadow of commoditization and dollar worship. The band explores the trials of surviving in a city the soul of which is up for sale. Maybe it'll keep countless numbers of our musicians from relocating to Stumptown? It's $10 to hear songs from this new album starting around 9:30 p.m. Local reggae jammers The Dubadubs will be laying the grooves down at The Jam in Arcata around the same time and I'm thinking it's probably only $5 for this show. For something in more of the EDM vein, head to the Arcata Theatre Lounge around 9:30 p.m. Oakland based duo Dimond Saints will be laying down the heavy bass and "angelic melodies." They're joined by Stylust Beats (Geoff Reich), who fuses rap hooks to a dubstep bass and whose goal, he says, is to "make timeless bass music: I try to make every track an epic melodic adventure through many different genres." It's $20 for this one.
Two of the most celebrated and danced to Humboldt State University groups are teaming up again for a rhythm-palooza at the Van Duzer Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Bringing the "pulsating sounds of the Brazilian Samba" and rhythms from West Africa, the HSU Percussion Ensemble is teaming up with the Humboldt State Calypso Band — still celebrating its 30th anniversary — which brings the calypso sounds of the Caribbean to your feet. It's been a few years since I've seen these two groups play together in the Van Duzer but I remember the aisles filling up rather quickly with dancers who didn't stop for the entire show. The groups are directed by Eugene Novotney and Howard Kaufman, and HSU students get the deal of a $3 ticket price. The rest of us will pay $10. For those of you who've been around the local rock scene for a while, you may recall the name Drunken Prayer. Morgan and Audra used to be based out of Portland and would come through town every so often and rip up the rock clubs. Since then, Morgan headed out/back to North Carolina and kept the DP name alive. Mixing some dark outlaw country with rock and gospel influences, he was always a commanding presence on the stage. He'll be at Humboldt Brews tonight with The Handsome Family, about which I've heard a bit. The wife-husband songwriting team out of New Mexico reminds me a little bit of Calexico at points and has a general quirky melancholy desert sound. They apparently hit it big time when one of their songs was used as the opening theme to the TV show True Detective. A $15 ticket price and a 9:30 p.m. start time. Say "hi" to Morgan for me and if you're lucky, he'll play "Brazil" or "What it was that Made Me Kill."
When speaking of music genres, the term "fusion" often elicits a facial expression of awkward disgust. Used frequently to describe a type of jazz that became prevalent in the late '60s and early '70s, which would bring in influences of rock, soul and funk, with some of the main standard bearers being Weather Report in the early '70s. However, the term fusion can also be a way to describe music that ventures out of just a single genre, which is pretty much everything when you think about it. At 9:30 p.m. tonight, Humboldt Brews hosts Kung Fu, which fuse a bit of funk and electronic music, which some call the "new-funk movement" or electro-funk. This quintet pushes some '70s funk fusion into a modern-day dance party, according to the press release. Citing bands like the early Headhunters and Weather Report as influences, I imagine it'll be a good time grooving out. They're followed up by Particle, which also blends some electronica with funk and rock while adding a nice dose of improvisation. Be prepared to sweat at this $20 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 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 had some good times.