Before we launch into this week's live music picks, a clarification regarding the Where's Queer Bill Dance parties: Although Nocturnum's closing means the end of the monthly events at that no-longer-existent venue, the good people behind WQB intend to keep the booty-shaking happening. Stay tuned for the return of Where's Queer Bill in February. We'll keep you posted as to the where and when.
Confession: I came late to appreciating karaoke. After spending several years tending bar in live music venues, I'd slogged my way through so many open mics and bad opening acts that the idea of deliberately going out to hear people sing badly sounded as appealing as shoving an ice pick into my eardrum. But over the years, watching people I adore light up at the prospect of singing "Night Moves" to an approving, albeit drunk, audience has endeared me to karaoke's existence. The Internet is full of tips if you're in need, and if you want to branch out in this manner, Humboldt has no lack of opportunities. Especially on a Thursday. From south to north, you've got your karaoke with Chris Clay at the Bear River Casino (8 p.m.), your karaoke with KJ Leonard at the Blue Lake Casino (8 p.m.) and your karaoke with DJ Marv at Central Station (9 p.m.). All these bring-your-own-voice options are limited to aspiring/hobbyists singers age 21-and-over.
Tracy Grammer brings her flawless alto back to Humboldt on Friday. A legend in the folk music world, Grammer originally rose to acclaim in the late 1990s as one half of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. All three of the duo's albums topped folk charts and in 2002, Carter and Grammer toured with Joan Baez, both as featured artists and Baez's band members. Sadly, in 2002, Carter, 49, suffered a fatal heart attack. Grammer has since continued on solo, touring internationally, playing both her own songs and those from her time with Carter to greater and greater fame. It's not an exaggeration to say Grammer has become one of folk music's most beloved performers.
The songs alone are enough, ranging from melancholy to rollicking, but like all the best entertainers, the storytelling on stage doesn't stop and start with the songs —Grammer makes a point of sharing her own misadventures and anecdotes in between.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with music starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $13 Playhouse and Humboldt Folklife Society members, and are available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or 822-1575.
Oh, people love the strange world of David Lindley, a man whose mastery of stringed instruments manifests in the playing of such varied and unusual instruments from the Hawaiian lap steel guitar and Turkish saz to the Middle Eastern oud and Irish bouzouki. He's said to also be real funny. Catch him in the Van Duzer at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $25 unless you're an HSU student, in which case, $5.
And then we get to the outlaw country of The Abigails. I opened up Spotify for a listen and immediately fell under the dark honky-tonk spell of the band's 2013 album Love and Despair. With a voice somewhere between Country Joe Montana (RIP) and Mark Lanegan, singer Warren Thomas sings about hell and love — and sometimes both — in a smoky drawl. Most often compared to Lee Hazelwood, The Abigails perform in the appropriately dark corner of the Alibi on Saturday night. A-town trash rockers Dirty Pillows open. The show's $5, music starts around 11 p.m. and this show is for those 21-and-over.
All-girl Seattle surf band La Luz plays a free show at the Palm Lounge on Sunday night. When they last performed at The Works, I described them thus: "... this is not your average Link-Wray-meets-The-Ronettes nostalgia. That's only the launching pad for a reverb-filled musical stratosphere heavy with sunshine and hooks you can't resist." Still true. Locals Companion Animal open. Show time is listed as 9 p.m. and the Palm Lounge is 21-and-over.
If you're a slave to the weekly grind, cheer up your Mondays with the weekly Getdown at the Jambalaya. Humboldt's best local funksters do their thing, along with live art and spoken word — a true celebration of the rich talent pool we're so lucky to swim in. Hosted by DJ Rickshaw, B. Swizlo and Pete Ciotti, The Getdown gets going at 9 p.m. and is 21-and-over.
Speaking of Ciotti, the tireless musician/promoter/venue owner/pizza guy/family man was hit hard — like so many in the community — by the killing of Father Eric Freed at the year's start. On Jan. 2, Ciotti posted to his Facebook page, "I'm working on putting on an 'Increase the Peace' music event to raise awareness of all the violence in our local community lately. I wanna hold it at The Jambalaya Arcata very soon and give all the proceeds to a non-violent charity of some sorts. Anybody willing to help me?" Response was swift and strong, and Increase the Peace is scheduled to happen Saturday, Feb. 1 with dinner, poetry, music, spoken word, a silent auction and guest speakers. Want to donate to the auction? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to contribute your poetry or spoken word? Email email@example.com.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.