The sound of a young saxophonist struggling through "American Patrol" wafts from a practice room at Mantova's Two Street Music while a rock trio called The 51 Cards sets up on a stage in the main back room, preparing for a rehearsal.
Guitarist JR Perez kicks off an upbeat tune, "Undertow," and drummer Adam Summers and bassist Rich Macey join in. "Nothing's exactly what you would expect it to be. Take it from me," sings Perez as he rolls out quarter note triplets. The Cards' sound is bright and positive, with a youthful exuberance that comes from the fact that the members are all teenagers.
"I don't try to emulate other bands, but at the time we started developing our sound I was listening to The Strokes and Vampire Weekend a lot," said Perez, when the band took a break to talk. "And I used to be a huge Led Zeppelin fan. We're going for a really big sound, trying to fill as much space as possible."
The group began with Perez helping a friend, Christian Legaspi, flesh out a solo project called Chasing Royals. While at Mantova's in McKinleyville they came across Summers, who was new in town, practicing on a drum kit. Since Chasing Royals needed a drummer, they recruited him. Not long after, Legaspi decided to move on, but the band did not die.
"The 51 Cards name comes from the fact that when the original guy left we were one card short of a full deck -- it's a bad joke," said Perez, who assumed band leadership.
Macey, who had a punk/ska band called The Chocolate Strawberries, would later replace a departing member on bass. "I actually booked their first show," he explained. "I have this program I started at the Arcata Playhouse, Apprentice Entertainment, a bunch of kids who get together to put on shows. I wanted to book shows for local teenagers. It's hard for teen bands to book shows because you're not allowed to play in bars and it's hard to get festival gigs."
Difficult or not, Macey landed the band gigs at the Humboldt Arts Fest and Humboldt Made Fair; he's working on the North Country Fair. Monday night The 51 Cards play another Apprentice gig at the Arcata Playhouse, sharing the bill with Tough Stuff, an emo/punk quartet from Orange County. The digitally aware teens invite you to, "find us on Facebook, ReverbNation, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, even MySpace," but most of all they want you to hear them play live. Do. I think you'll like what you hear.
Thursday at the Lil' Red Lion Cocktail Lounge it's a night of woman-centric rock with girl garage rebels The Lost Luvs, "Theraflu-fueled synth pop delirium" by Blood Gnome and Deep Time from Austin. Lost Luver Aimee Montague Taylor (see Moment photo page 18) describes Deep Time as "like a bit of Liliput, QuixOtic, Electrelane and Young Marble Giants all mashed up -- so many of my favorites!" Incidentally, that's Natalie from Blood Gnome in the self-portrait on page 18.
You may have heard the rumblings in the local rock world about a band taking the monster rhythm section of The Hitch, drummer Steve "Thee Alchemist" Bohner and bassist Roshawn Beere, adding killer guitarist Pablo Midence from Dragged by Horses and a keyboard player, Andy Sorter. Briefly known as Yeti Fight and/or El Yeti, the band is now called Lord Ellis (a much better name). Imagine losing your breaks at the top of a mountain pass and rolling downhill with only the grinding metal of your gears for control -- that's what Lord Ellis feels like. The band has been woodshedding for a long time without many club gigs, but now the heavy hitters are emerging from their practice space to play a Friday the 13th show at the Lil' Red Lion, sharing the bill with Vastum, a brutal metal band from Oakland.
New dad Gabe Pressure (see on photo page 20 -- congrats to the whole fam!) is escaping from baby duty for a Friday night post-Arts! Arcata '80s dance party at the Jambalaya. He's joined by DJs Anya, Zephyr and Knutz spinning "all vinyl" dance tunes spanning genes: new wave, dark wave, synth, pop, punk, hip-hop, electro-funk and more. "Eighties attire and rump shaking encouraged." (DJ Gabe spins again Saturday night at the Shanty.)
Nocturnum has been pretty quiet lately aside from Miles PsyFi's Whomp Whomp Wednesday dance-a-thons. Friday the Eureka club brings in Arden Park Roots, a reggae/rock/punk/dub band out of Sacramento for a tribute to Sublime, creators of the reggae/rock/punk/dub genre.
Former L.A. funk rockers Chris Hancock and Chris Brown downshifted to acoustic guitars, practiced some tunes by Hank, Willie and Johnny, hooked up with mandolinist/vocalist Melissa Bernadt, became Merchants of Moonshine and moved home-base to Nashville. MoM twangs it up at the Wave Friday night.
Local hip hop luminaries Potluck have been spreading the Humboldt brand cross-country on the "Underground Rebels Tour" with support from Kungfu Vampire, DGAF and The DRP. Saturday night the crew brings it back home with a show at the Jambalaya presented by Fatbol with "special guests" including local rapper Hiway.
A Humboldt Free Radio show Saturday at The Alibi pairs psychedelic doom band Antikythera from Portland with dark country punk Saint Christopher "from the open road." Jasmine the all-ages princess alerted us to the fact that Saint Christopher is also playing an all-ages show early (7 p.m.) Sunday night at the Ink Annex with locals Gunsafe and The Bored Again, as well as Derek Dunn from The 357 String Band. "It's put on by The Placebo, so of course there will be no drinking or smoking at the venue. Should be a killer show." (Gunsafe also plays the McKinleyville Farmer's Market Thursday.)
Humboldt's new jam central, Swain's Flat Outpost, out Highway 36 near Carlotta, hosts a Sunday evening show by The Avalon Allstars, a band that takes its name from San Francisco's famed Avalon Ballroom. The line-up is indeed all-star with Ray White and Will Bernard on guitars, Bobby Vega on bass and Alan Hertz drums (if you remember KVHW, this is the same band but with Bernard in place of Steve Kimock). Local rockers Knights of Van Duzen open the show. Doors at 4 p.m. Showtime at 5:30.
Jill Petricca has been busy lately: She took over from Mike McClimon as director of the venerable Scotia Band, playing Sousa marches and the like. She also plays classical music and jazz on her flute and doubles on saxophone. Sunday afternoon she leads a combo for "Jazz at the Graves" with Matt Beck on trumpet, Tim Randles on piano, Michael LaBolle, drums and Shao Way Wu on bass. "The Graves will groove, bop and dance," she promises, adding, "The monthly concert is always opened up to the community for a lively jam session for the last half of the afternoon. Set the date, don't be late, and reconnect with this local opportunity to support jazz, community and local art."
The Riverwood Inn doesn't usually do midweek shows, but Loreen Eliason made an exception for blues guitarist Walter Trout, who brings his kick-ass band to the Avenue of the Giants Tuesday, July 17, in part because of a high-powered recommendation: "Tommy Castro told me that if I ever had a chance, to book Walter Trout. I can't believe our luck that we were able to reel him in," said Loreen, inserting a bad fishing pun.
Same Tuesday at the Lil' Red, the SoCal band 2HUNDREDWEST stops by on its "Orange in Hindsight" tour. The band, allegedly "known for laid back beach and sun sound," promises to "bring summer into any room and transform every hot sunny day into a cool chilled out night," which should not be too hard to do in fogged-in Eureka. Is this really summer?