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On the Road Again 

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While I'm never fully clear what the "music industry" is comprised of, any professional musician will tell you things have changed on the business end of their profession. The "higher up" one is on the professional music ladder, the more pronounced these changes have been. Decades ago, before there were billions of bands, record labels scouted groups as investments. A band might sign a deal (often a shitty one) and get studio time, producers and engineers, hoping for a hit in its first three albums. Amid all that industry money, more and more bands popped up with aspirations of getting support and "making it." Without making this a boring history lesson, the digital age and file sharing made music plentiful, easy to get and often free (many say devalued). Record labels took a bath and so did bands and the songwriters. It became much harder for smaller bands to make a living.

Touring used to be a way to promote your latest album. Just released that sci-fi concept album? Then your record label would have you hit the road to advertise the songs and increase sales. The formula has flipped. "Back before Napster and Spotify, we toured to promote record sales," says songwriter James McMurtry. "Now we make records to promote tour dates." Live shows are the bread — and if you're lucky, butter — musicians can still count on to eke out a living. So whether or not you buy any of the albums that the below bands are hawking, by seeing musicians live, you're helping keep them alive. We can all get behind that.

Thursday

Chicago acoustic duo Sugar Still returns to the Mad River Brewery and Tap Room tonight at 6 p.m. for free, so if you missed them last time, sip on a beer and give 'em a listen. If live electronic/world beat is your cup of modern tea, head over to The Jam to hear Random Rab around 9:30 p.m., $20, $15 advance. On the road with John Mayall, Bill Carter makes a house concert appearance tonight in Humboldt. Look for Humboldt House Series online for directions and show time.

Friday

A "Standing for Standing Rock" benefit concert is on at the Mattole Valley Community Center at 7 p.m. with bands such as Asha Nan, Madi Simmons, Sarah Torres and Goodshield Aguilar, helping to raise awareness of the importance of water in regards to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Your $10 ticket benefits the Standing Rock Tribe. Back in Northern Humboldt, drummer Paul DeMark tells me there's something else to do tonight besides checking out his twin brother's performance later this evening. So, in hopes of stirring up some brotherly conflict, the Honky Tonk Detours are at the Mad River Brewery at 6 p.m. and for free (unlike his brother's show). Get some honk in your tonk and be prepared to dance in Blue Lake. In my imagination, Jeff DeMark is telling me that sometimes you get what you pay for. He and a troupe of talented local musicians are trying out a weekend experiment starting tonight at the Humboldt Light Opera Company's "The Space" around 7:30 p.m. Just $10 will get you in the door to witness Dreams, Visions, and a Few Jokes, a work-in-progress with "songs and stories about dreams," and the conscious and unconscious. Joining Jeff will be Marc Jeffars, Diana Heberger, Tim Breed, Bob Davis, Marvin Samuels and "more." They're putting this on two nights in a row, so maybe Paul will check it out tomorrow. With no sibling rivalry in sight, Cafe Mokka hosts some accordion and guitar music from Squeezebug at 8 p.m. Not only is this one free, but you can bring the kids along. You may remember hearing in late August about a band called The Beer Scouts who came to our fair neck of the woods to jam. All former Humboldtians and members of various local bands in the '70s and '80s, this now-Bay Area power trio returns to our county — specifically Six Rivers Brewery at 9 p.m. for free. All the way out from Phil(adelphia)ly is Purling Hiss, which caught the attention of Kurt Vile, who helped motivate the band to get on the road years ago. Purling is out on the road supporting its album High Bias, joined by local "one-man electonic musical snake oil salesman" Mr. Moonbeam and local three-man (of which I'm one), alt-somethings Strix Vega for a $7 show starting around 9:30 p.m. at The Miniplex in Arcata. At the same time in the same town is Poor Man's Whiskey who return to Humboldt Brews for $15.

Saturday

By the time you read this, you will know how Proposition 64 unfolded and whether or not marijua — I mean, cannabis — is now legal for adult recreational use. I only bring that up because it will no doubt flavor the mood at the 26th annual Humboldt Hempfest held at the Mateel in Redway at noon today. Vendors and food will be around but you'll find music by bands such as Rocker T & 7th Street Band, OJOLO, The Gentleman Amateurs, Back To The Hill, Sleepy Village and Ngaio Bealum. It's $20 to get into this celebration (Prop. 64 celebrations optional). Later this evening at the Fortuna Monday Club, you'll hear the melodic dance music stylings of Kenny Ray and the Mighty Rovers at 7:30 p.m. Rounding out the band is said Kenny with Brooks Otis on pedal steel, reed instruments, and brass with nice-vest-wearing-guy Darren Weiss on stringed instruments and Maria McFarlin on the double bass. It's $10 for this show. For a more Celtic time, head over to Café Mokka at 8 p.m. for Good Company, who are playing for free (and for your children under 21 should you choose to hang out with them). The Humboldt Bay Brass Band is playing its only concert of the year tonight in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on Humboldt State University's campus at 8 p.m. for $8. The "only 25-piece brass and four-piece percussion," U.K.-style brass band in Northern California will be delivering some great music along with one of my favorites, John Williams' "Olympic Fanfare." It's not every year that you get a band who played at Woodstock to stop by Humboldt. Well, thanks to the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel along with — one of my employers — KWPT The Point (100.3), you'll have the rare opportunity to see and hear Canned Heat live and in the flesh in the Sapphire Palace around 8:30 p.m. for $35. Lucky bastards — and KWPT Classic Cover Contest winners — Silver Hammer open this show with tunes from a band that was invited to play Woodstock (I hear) but declined. I'll let you figure out which band. There will be a birthday celebration of Woodstock attendee and performer Neil Young tonight at Humboldt Brews. This $5, 9:30 p.m. show will allow you to witness some of Shakey's best tunes courtesy of local Neil enthusiasts The Fickle Hill Band, Wild Otis and aptly-titled Shakey. Hardcore honky-tonk 'n' rollers Side Iron will be blowing the doors off of the Alibi tonight for only $5 as well. Joining the band is local Americana songwriter Gabe Rozzell. Catch Kirtus' first performance since becoming a father.

Sunday

A mellow Sunday upon us after a busy weekend. However, the Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad hosts vocal powerhouse Dee Hemingway at 5 p.m. tonight for free.

Monday

You may be wondering why I didn't mention the Iris DeMent show at The Old Steeple last night. It was sold out so I didn't want to rub it in. However, as of press time, Paul of said steeple tells me there are about 20 tickets left for Ms. DeMent's show tonight at 7:30 p.m. I somewhat promised Paul that I'd help get it down to only 19 tickets, so maybe if you act quickly, $50 will get you one of the few tickets left for this show. Humboldt Brews hosts fellow out-of-towners James McMurtry and Anders Osbourne, who are on an eight-city West Coast tour, at 8 p.m. Hear this Austin denizen and New Orleans native (respectively) before they hit Eugene tomorrow night — all for only $25.

Wednesday

The David Nelson Band was to play Humboldt during Harvest season but David broke his arm, which I hear makes playing guitar tough. So tonight, you'll pretty much have the DNB, just without David. Hear Pete, Barry, Mookie, John and Vince Herman tonight at 8 p.m. for $30. Can't make it tonight? You'll have another chance to catch this harvest tour tomorrow night.

'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 music@northcoastjournal.com.

Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. Nothin' ain't worth nothin', but it's free.

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Andy Powell

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