Sometimes I wonder about things. The sort of questions many of us ask ourselves: What am I doing here? Where am I going? Will people take care of me when I'm old? Why do I care so much whether or not people go see live music? That latter one especially.
One reason is that, much like organic food or independent movies, if there's not a demand for quality, Humboldt's overall scene will suffer. Those of us who appreciate live music as an entertainment option know we must make it not only worth a musician's while to stop in our fair county, but for the promoters and venues as well. The other reason lacks distinct definition and has more to do with matters of the heart — something about the power a song can have, the catharsis of live performance.
You feel sluggish and reach for your favorite powerhouse playlist and five minutes later are rocking around the house like Vincent Vega powerslammed adrenaline straight into your heart. Or your heart aches for lost love or from loneliness and you play some sad songs that make you cry and cry until suddenly through your tears the pain has evaporated. Or maybe Monday has you in its grip and you feel all hope for the week is already lost and then that song you loved so much in high school plays over the Co-op speakers while you're desperately trying to remember what you were supposed to buy for dinner and you smile, you can't help it, you're singing along in your head, because music makes you in love with life and that is a precious thing.
Spotify, Pandora, your local radio stations, iTunes, your stack of CDs, your crates of albums, those are all fine options, but to tune in physically as well as mentally and emotionally, to get lost, absorbed in the world, no screens, just you and the musicians and the crowd, well, that is why I care, people. I am in love with life and music and you. Please, go be free.
All shows 21-and-over unless specified otherwise!
I wrote something before about the marvelousness of John Craigie — he's a hell of a personable entertainer, true to the essence of folk music and one of the most original songwriters of the last hundred years. Craigie returns to the Arcata Playhouse in support of his new album Working On My Farewell (he promised he's not going anywhere, don't worry). Anna Tivel opens. Tickets are $12 advance and for members, $15 at the door. Show starts at 8 p.m. All ages!
If you drink whiskey, Eureka's The Hill is a good fit. If you don't, no worries — the outlaw country honkytonk sounds are intoxicating on their own. The band has this song, "Devil Helped Me," which reminds me of a Mojo Nixon tune, "Are You Drinking With Me, Jesus?" (most notably covered by The Beat Farmers, RIP Country Dick Montana) and that's a right fair compliment.
Sharing the bill is The Mother Vines, an Arcata band that delivers a sexy psychedelic surf pop experience. I hope the Vines play "Faded" two-thirds the way through the set because it's a straight-up make-out song and I figure that's right about the time folks are either buzzed enough or infatuated enough (or both) to shed inhibitions. This gig's at the Jambalaya, $5, 9 p.m.
MarchFourth — aka M4 — is an internationally-acclaimed, genre-breaking, unstoppable force. Immovable objects cease to exist in this sonic explosion. Featuring 20 musicians, exceptional music and a visual kaleidoscope of stilt walkers, "hoopers" and vaudeville-style dancers, M4 whips audiences into a celebratory frenzy with an over-the-top spectacle of high-energy compositions, colorful costumes, hilarious stage shenanigans and irresistible charisma. All this at Humboldt Brews, 9:30 p.m., $20.
Indie fans take heart — and doubly skip a beat because this is an all-ages show — yes! Oakland darlings Pookie and the Poodlez show up with fellow Oaklandites Cumstain, plus A-towners Let it Fever and 51 Cards, all at Blondie's and all for only $5. Should be juicy, poppy and an overall raucous celebration of irreverence and excellent times.
If you want to understand the difference between bluegrass and old-timey, well, I am still a bit unclear. I think it has something to do with the whomp and strum. (Please, someone explain to me again!) What I do know is that John Reischman and the Jaybirds are a top-flight band delivering old-time heritage and bluegrass power at the Arcata Playhouse. Also, Reischman is one of the premier mandolinists of our generation, capable of swinging between re-inventions of traditional tunes, deconstructions from the bluegrass repertoire and compelling original tunes, many of which have become standards. Music starts at 8 p.m., doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $13 Folklife Society members.
Regular readers know I adore the melodic wonderfulness that is Strix Vega. Oh, sure, sometimes the band noodles off into weirdo space jams, but whatever — sometimes dreams take you odd places and I'll take the trio's brand of sonic reverie any time. The band's current descriptor is "psychedelic alt-folk," which is apt. See them at the Alibi with Arcata songstress Nola Victrola, better known as Moon Pine's elegantly haunting vocalist. Have your soul wrung out for a mere $5. Music at 11 p.m.
Jackie Green returns to Humboldt Brews on Sunday, March 8, and if his sexy take on roots music wasn't enough, up-and-comer Lauren Shera opens. She's deep and dreamy and embodies the spirit of California folk that's as much Joan Didion as Joni Mitchell. Get in on this golden embrace. Music starts at 8 p.m., tickets are $25 advance, $27 at the door.
Legendary vocalist Sheila Jordan and bassist Cameron Brown elevate the Morris Graves Museum of Art to world class concert venue beginning at 8 p.m.
Jordan made her breakthrough with a beautifully melancholy version of "You Are My Sunshine" on George Russell's The Outer View in 1962. Soon after, Blue Note Records issued her debut album, A Portrait of Sheila. Jordan was the first female vocal recording on that iconic label — but because she was a working single mother, her career developed slowly, as evidenced by the fact that, in 1963, Jordan took the "Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition" category in the DownBeat Critics' Poll for what would be the first of a record nine times. Late in her career, the recognition finally broadened: In 2012 she was named an NEA Jazz Master, the nation's highest distinction for the art form. Advance tickets are $15 general, $10 students and seniors.
Jordan will also present a workshop, free and open to the public, at noon on Monday, March 9, in HSU's Music A, Room 131.
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.