Wow. This week. So much. Mardi Gras, garage rock dance party, a benefit for the blind, New York folk, San Francisco Americana, one of the guys from Ween, horn-heavy bluegrass ... . Let's dive in.
Technically, Mardi Gras aka "Fat Tuesday" offers you a chance to get your feast on before the penitential season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Even if you don't observe the Catholic customs, you can indulge in several celebrations this week, beginning with Where's Queer Bill's Mardi Gras Masquerade Dance Party Friday night.
The successful monthly queer night needed a new home when Nocturnum closed and organizers have found one in A-town's Humboldt Brews. WQB's launch party will feature DJ Razorburns, the Red Carpet Girls Drag Revue, free beads, Mardi Gras party favors, dancing and a costume contest with cash prizes. Do you need a reminder that Mardi Gras revolves around energetic colors, glamour and wild design? Dress to impress — beads, feather masks and painted faces, oh my! Things get moving around 9:30 p.m., 21-and-over, $5 cover and please note that while WQB events are targeted toward the LGBTQ, everyone is welcome.
The sounds and smells of Mardi Gras continue to fill the air on Saturday, this time at the Arcata Playhouse, where a Mardi Gras Ball features local favorites Bayou Swamis and raucous horn ensemble Bandamonium. Show up early for mask-making, a Mardi Gras parade and the crowning of the king and queen. Also, prizes for best mask, best costume and best dancers, Creole and Cajun food, and "authentic" Mardi Gras drinks. The event is an appreciation party for Playhouse members and supporters and is open to the public for a $25 membership, which includes the party and discounts on tickets throughout the year.
The evening's festivities begin at 7 p.m. with parade at 7:30 p.m. and Bayou Swamis at 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 822-1575.
After you've warmed up over the weekend, celebrate on actual Fat Tuesday Humboldt-style at Samba na Chuva's eighth annual Fat Tuesday Party. Dance to Brazilian-style live percussion and enjoy the troupe's latest samba choreography at Six Rivers Brewery. Show starts at 9 p.m., cover is $10 and you'll need to be 21 or over.
Two highlights for you on Saturday — both sound like a gas, so why not start in Blue Lake and work your way back west? The Logger Bar presents the "triumphant" return of Garage Rock Au Go-Go where a collection of Humboldt's raddest DJs will infuse the night with garage rock, moldies, rockabilly, psychedelic and, they say, "maybe a little pinch of soul." One hundred percent vinyl, 100 percent free. I'm guessing things get moving around 9 p.m. and you definitely need to be of legal drinking age to make this party.
And you'll want to have a designated driver to chauffeur you to the Alibi once the hour gets late, because Humboldt Free Radio presents the ninth annual Benefit for Humboldt Council of the Blind with the cosmic stoner jams of CV plus the all-star country rock of Denim Vest. Music starts around 11 p.m., cover's $5 to $20, sliding scale. Also 21-and-over.
We've two women enticing you out Sunday night. At the Van Duzer, longtime political commentator Ani DiFranco will entertain you with songs infused with insight, righteousness, humor and compassion. Tickets run $45 general, $22 HSU students. Local astounding success story Jenny Scheinman opens at 8 p.m.
Down the hill, neo-folk artist Diane Cluck plays Mazzotti's (yes, Mazzotti's!) in support of her seventh album Boneset. Cluck is highly celebrated among her peers — Devendra Banhart, Jeffrey Lewis, Regina Spektor, Coco Rosie, Kimya Dawson, et al — but has yet to receive the sort of mainstream recognition such a talent deserves (hence, Mazzotti's). She refers to her style as "intuitive folk" and it's true that her music digs more deeply than clever lyrics alone suggest. You know when you hear a song and time stops all around and you find yourself trapped with your feelings, but then the beauty of the song burns off everything holding you back and suddenly you're soaring, heart racing and free in the world? That's what Cluck's capable of bringing you. Cellist Isabel Castellvi joins Cluck onstage, Sondra Sun-Odeon opens. Show's $10, doors at 8:30 p.m.
Between the daytime beauty and the onslaught of seriously amazing nighttime options, Humboldt County really is the best. Case in point: Humboldt Brews has landed two sure-to-be-epic shows requiring you to forego your predictable weeknight routine and instead spend it being happy in the venue's outstanding music room. First up, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers offer a "luminous, heartfelt patchwork of California folk-rock, brisk Americana and show-stopping soul" in an early (8 p.m.) Monday night gig. (Note: Nicki is the wife of Tim Bluhm, whom you know from The Mother Hips.) Tickets are $15 and strongly recommended in advance.
Don't even think about slowing down because Tuesday night brings Moistboyz featuring Mickey Melchiondo aka Dean Ween from Ween playing dirt, best described as a "ferocious mix of charging riffs fusing classic metal with an outlaw country vibe." The melting of faces is promised. Qui opens, show time is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. Both shows are 21-and-over.
And if dirt rock isn't your thing, please know that Marimba One is sponsoring a concert by world-class Japanese musician Eriko Daimo, a driving force in today's generation of marimbists, Tuesday night. With numerous prizes to her name and concert tours around the world, Daimo is known for her virtuosity and charisma. She'll play Bach, Debussy, Ryuichi Sakamoto and more at the Arcata Playhouse, 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 Playhouse members, $12 general and available at Wildberries, Wildwood Music, brownpapertickets.com and by calling 822-1575.
You might as well power down some extra coffee because your week isn't done yet — Greensky Bluegrass plays at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on Wednesday. As their name suggests, Greensky Bluegrass uses traditional bluegrass instruments — dobro, banjo, guitar, upright bass and mandolin — but they also have distortion and horns (and a ton of fans, accordingly). Doors open at 8:30 p.m., cost is $20 at the door, but you can get advance tickets at Wildberries, People's Records, The Works, the ATL and ATL online. This show is 21-and-over.
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.