The latest YouTube vid by SF lo-fi kings Sic Alps illustrates the song "Do You Want To Give $$?" with grainy images shot on Super-8 by SA mastermind Mike Donovan swerving between panhandlers and businessmen on cell phones before culminating in a sequence where guitarist Noel Von Harmonson is showered in dollar bills as the band sings about money, money, money. The track is off Napa Asylum, a gritty blast of alt. rock released on Drag City in January. The band spent February and March working its way around the USA doing one-nighters where I imagine merch proceeds went to fuel something other than a VW. We'll assume they're not in it for the money.
Wikipedia describes Sic Alps as "an American garage rock band from San Francisco," but basement rock might be more accurate. Their "lyrical ruminances on reincarnation, magic and schizophrenia" were recorded in a basement that presumably muffled the intermittent wail of feedback on songs like "Trip Train" and "The First White Man To Touch California Soil" with its lament, "Now we're in this country living free, and we got that same mentality." Von Harmonson from Comets on Fire burns; drummer Matt Hartman of Cat Power, Coachwhips, etc. keeps it all rhythmic as they shift through various forms of unpretentious alt.
They're just about done with the long road trip (Europe later in the year); the final date before home and their own beds is a Saturday night thing at the Arcata Playhouse put on by the Ink People's MARZ Project, which of course makes it one of those rare all-ages rock shows.
Stevo of MARZ assembled an awesome collection of alt. for the rest of the show including Cameron Stallones, aka Sun Araw, who puts out twisted ambient soul dirges for the Woodsist label. (He'll be back in April opening for Animal Collective, whose once sold-out April 11 show at the KBR has been moved to the Arcata Community Center "by popular demand." A.C. and Sun Araw also play at the Mateel April 12.) Then you have Prince Rama, a tribal psyche trio from Brooklyn/Boston with Taraka Larson, Michael Collins and Nimai Larson tripping on songs like the ancient Indian chant "Om Mane Padme Hum." Last but not least (or probably first) is Humboldt's own White Manna laying down long-form, distorted psyche/blues/rock drones that somehow remind me of Blue Cheer.
Make it an all-alt. weekend by stopping by Missing Link Records Friday eve to hear ambient gospel collages by Fielded, the solo incarnation of Chicago's Lindsay Anne Powell who tells us, "Desire is ravaging, drilling my mind, fills my pulse."
Are you ready for another tribute band? St. John Hunt and The Sinners debut Mirage: "A Fleetwood Mac Tribute" Thursday at the Jambalaya. Vocalist Christina "Stevie" D'Alessandro explains, "We focused a lot on Rumors, and also material from before Lindsey and Stevie joined the group. We'll all be in full character." (Think shawls and scarves in Christina's case.) Expect hits like "Dreams" and "Rhiannon" and St. John as Peter Green on "Black Magic Woman." Christina notes that they'll be doing the same set twice, first at 9:30, then at 11:30, so you boomers can get to bed early (or maybe head to another show).
It's pretty much an all-tribute weekend at the Jam with Full Moon Fever (the Tom Petty tribute) on Saturday night and another revival of the Soul Revue on Friday. Bump guitar man Greg Camphuis assembles this loving collection of covers of soul classics by artists like James Brown, Aretha, Etta James, The Meters, War and AWB. He's joined by the usual suspects: Madi Simmons and Leah Crenshaw on vocals, Chris Wixson and Tommy FitzMaurice on bass and drums respectively, Jesse Jonathan adding percussion, Chris Noonan, Isaac Williams, Johnny Fire, Matt Engel and "special guests" filling in the gaps on horns etc. It's a soul party for sure.
Bad Kitty takes over the Cher-Ae Heights Firewater Lounge Saturday night with psychobilly veterans The Rocketz and Cold Blue Rebels, a horror/glam-abilly combo from Hollywood with former members of Jetboy, The Zeros and The Glamour Punks.
Late night Saturday the Alibi (in Arcata) gets heavy with fem-metal duo Lozen, plus Dog Shredder, a Sonic Youth meets Sabbath trio from Bellingham fronted by ex-Black Eyes & Neckties guitar mangler Josh Holland.
The polar opposite? Young violinists Nigel Armstrong and Luanne Homzy, violist Minkyung Sung and cellist Julian Schwarz, aka The Peresson Quartet, performing tunes by Beethoven, Shostakovich and Schubert Saturday evening at Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bayside. The kids also present a free workshop earlier in the day at HSU sponsored by the HSU Music Academy.
For a more staid chamber experience there's the venerable Juilliard String Quartet playing Wednesday at the Van Duzer. This is a group that's been around since 1946; obviously none of the original members is still playing. Violist Samuel Rhodes and cellist Joel Krosnick have been with JSQ since 1974; 32-year-old violinist Joseph Lin is the newest and youngest of the bunch.
Then there are the benefits. Friday you must choose between two. The Beach Ball at the Arcata Theatre Lounge is a benefit for Humboldt Surfrider and Friends of the Dunes with the soulful Berel Alexander Ensemble plus UKEsperience with the inimitable JessiCurl serving as emcee and leading something called the SyncOrSwim Squad (synchronous swimming w/o the water?). Bonus: Surfrider Jen Savage promises "surf porn" on the big screen (waves not flesh).
Meanwhile across town, same night, the Arcata Playhouse has the 2nd Annual Pacific Union School Music Program Benefit with P.U. music teacher/fiddler Jim Hatchimonji joined by Jeff DeMark and The LaPatina Band, which includes Compost Mt. Boy Bruce Johnson, Jeff's twin Paul and Dave Ryan (both from the D-Nats) and the Journal's own Andrew Goff. Special guests include the delightful Lyndsey Battle with her uke and Playhouse playgirl Jackie Dandeneau. Last year they raised $1,200, all of which went to maintenance of the school's instruments and other program costs. "Without the money from that benefit, many of the instruments simply would not be playable," said Hatchimonji. "This benefit will help ensure that next year's students will play musical instruments in good condition."
Saturday Fuente Nueva Charter School is raising funds for their Spanish immersion program with The Fiesta Ball at Portuguese Hall with food by Folie Douce, beer from Six Rivers Brewery and music times two: traditional and contemporary Peruvian music by Huayllipacha giving way to the funky dance grooves of Moo-Got-2. Muy bueno!
It's not really a music event, but those masters of the art of benefiting, the Eureka Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, have a musical title for their Saturday drag bingo party at the Bayside Grange: "Sisters Are Doing It For Ourselves" references the Aretha/Eurythmics hit. After five years of charity work for dozens of good causes, the Sisters are raising funds to keep their own organization afloat. The evening is also a celebration in memory of their dear friend Charles Vaughn who worked tirelessly as an HIV/AIDS nurse case manager for the Open Door.
And in case you hadn't noticed, it's also Redwood Coast Jazz Festival weekend (details elsewhere in this issue). At its heart it's another big benefit, first and foremost for our tourism/service industry, but also for school music programs and seniors. Swingers will be swingin' -- young and old. The jazzers will be jazzin' -- trad and otherwise. And rest assured there's lots more than Dixieland schmaltz -- you'll find Cajun, Django-esque jazz and much more. Give it a chance.