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Shift Happens 

quake news, plus Richard Shindell, The Haints and weird music

click to enlarge Richard Shindell. Photo by Alejandro Baccarat
  • Richard Shindell. Photo by Alejandro Baccarat

There's a Rodney Crowell song, "California Earthquake," that seems apropos considering what we just went through: "California earthquake, you just don't know what you've done. We may fall off in the ocean, but you'll never make us run. You're a partner to the devil, but we ain't afraid of him. We'll build ourselves another town so you can tear it down again."

Yes, we survived another one, we're a bit worse for wear from the seismic action, but we will persevere. As it says on that Petrolia bumper sticker, "Shift Happens."

Saturday's temblor cancelled a few events -- the Strix Vega/Acid Jazz Experiment Capricorn party did not survive (Strix plays again Saturday at the Alibi). And the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had to cancel their benefit at the Grange. "Due to the earthquake, Beach Blanket Bingo is rescheduled. Watch for announcements of new date," they tell us.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the quake shook a few things loose (details elsewhere in this issue) and Eureka was particularly shaken.

Head Ink-Peeps Libby and Tanya note that, "The Ink People [building] is Red Tagged. No one can enter the building until further notice. A structural engineer has to do further evaluations. The facility will be closed until further notice. No classes, no artist use, no nothing till we hear that it's safe. In the meantime, we'd like to figure out how to set up an alternate place to conduct business. Ideas?"

Down the street at the Eureka Theater, the marquee -- with its announcement of a pending show by Devil Makes Three -- cracked near the top. "The theater building did not have any damage," said the theater's restoration manager Chuck Petty. "We may need to remove a small portion of the top of the 'Eureka' sign, but it should not affect the show on Jan. 21st."

Hardest hit was the brick building on Second Street that was once home to the Old Town Bar and Grill, affectionately known to patrons as the Oatbag. Despite pleas from the historic preservation community to try to save it, the city council gave it a death sentence Monday and the current owners, Security National, are planning demolition. Monday also saw the creation of a Facebook fan page for the club that closed 20 years ago with former employees, patrons and musicians who played there reminiscing about days gone by. As Rick Siegfried put it, "A whole lot of good times were had in that building! More history swept away." With Deborah Lazio at the helm from 1980-’89, the Bar and Grill was a music epicenter with touring act like Los Lobos, Neville Brothers, Richard Thompson, David Lindley and the Robert Cray Band among the stars who graced the stage, along with countless local bands. Six Rivers Brewery used it for a northern outpost for a while in the ’90s, but it was never quite the same.

Those who remember the OTB&G are invited to gather on Two Street by whatever remains of the building at noon on Sunday, Jan. 24, for a toast to days gone by. Later that same day there will be a memorial for the late Sean Bohannon, who served as Oatbag soundman in the crucial decade. That potluck musical sendoff takes place at 3 p.m. at the Bayside Grange.

Incidentally, I heard "California Earthquake" for the first time after someone from Moo-Got-2 posted a YouTube of a Grateful Dead cover version on Facebook late Saturday night. Moo-Got-2 plays its "psychedelic funktronica" this Friday at the Jambalaya, a warm-up for a Cali tour that has them playing one-nighters all over this shaky state.   

Enough about earthquakes. Let's talk music. Next Tuesday songwriter Richard Shindell returns to town to play songs from his latest disc, Not Far Now, and from throughout his long, storied career. Originally from New York City, Shindell married an Argentine woman and now calls Buenos Aires home. When he was here a few years back for a house concert, we got to talking about the nature of his songwriting. He does not subscribe to the channeling-some-spirit school of inspiration. "I think it's more like literature," he told me, adding, "not that my songs are literature. I would vehemently disagree with the idea that songs are poems. They look like poems if you take them away from the music and look at them on a page as lyrics. Songs have the same form as poems -- there are verses and stanzas -- but they're not poems. There's a big, big difference: They do not exist separately from the music, and they don't sound right spoken. Poems have to have their own music without accompaniment -- the music has to be in the language."

When I suggested his songs might be more akin to short stories, he disagreed,  "because the whole economy is different between stories and songs. You can't do a lot in a song -- you don't have a lot of time to do a lot -- so what you have to do is sketch. It's like a little pencil sketch of an actual painting, but in a way that's good. I like it. I like being able to sketch the story as opposed to filling out every detail, first of all because it corresponds to my own limited attention span, and also because it allows the audience to fill in the rest. You give them enough so they can fill it in themselves, and they do."

Got your crayons ready? Richard Shindell plays on Jan. 19 at the Arcata Playhouse. German-born, Boston-based Antje Duvekot (another literate songwriter) opens the show.

The Compost Mountain Boys play their monthly gig at Humboldt Brews this Thursday, Jan. 14, with very special guests The Haints from Canada, featuring ace banjo picker/maker Jason Romero, a former Composter and ex-member of Striped Pig Stringband. Jason married a Canadian guitar player and moved to Vancouver Island. His wife's in the band along with fiddler Erynn Marshall and mandolinist Carl Jones.

Catch some hot Americana Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Six Rivers: Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band plays kick-ass blues and country.

Same Wednesday: Local floorcore stars Starving Weirdos host a five-band show at the Blue House (an undisclosed location in Arcata) featuring touring bands Castanets, Tiger Saw and Alps of New South Whales, a one-man-band from Australia. According to Alps (aka Chris), "Castanets is like weird blues/old country/folk with a bit of free-form and psych stuff floating around the songs. Tiger Saw (from Portland, Maine) is more straight songwriting folk/slowcore. I'll have my keyboards and drum mach and stuff with me, but I'll probably mostly be doing these shows based around clean guitar, field recordings and looping." Arcata's The Neighbors make five. Showtime is 9-ish. For location email starvingweirdos@yahoo.com or ask Merrick at La Dolce Video in Arcata.

Got jazz? Friday at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in Bayside, young Rose Armin-Hoiland sings standards backed by pianist Darius Brotman. The pair shined at a similar show last year benefiting the New Orleans Youth Project, assisting schools in N'Arlins still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Saturday evening at Libation Zuzu's Petals play more standards with saxophonist Susie Laraine, bassist Shao Way Wu and Brian Post on keys. Sunday afternoon they host the Jazz Jam at the Graves Museum.

Saturday night at the Riverwood Inn: "The one and only Candye Kane with her fantastic band featuring Laura Chavez on guitar," as Loreen put it. Expect the SoHum blues crowd to be out in force with plenty of NoHum folks making the trip down to hear the ladies rock the blues.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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