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The Method to the Madness 

(Explanations and parenthetical asides)

click to enlarge setlist-1-magnum.jpg

Hey there, dear readers! Let's indulge ourselves with an appetizer prior to the main course, shall we? Before we get to this week's music highlights, an account of how those shows are selected. Because first and foremost, this column exists to serve you, the people who've taken a few minutes out of your day to read it. (Thank you.)

If you are a venue owner, talent booker, musician or even a fan, your job is simple: Send me information. (People who already do that, I love you.) Because "The Setlist" emerges from music@northcoastjournal.com, Facebook events, NCJ calendar listings and venue websites. And then, once I have a comprehensive understanding of all the shows a person could possibly attend, the highlights are whittled out.

Some shows get attention because otherwise people might not know to go to them. Big-name acts will draw fans regardless, so I'd rather boost a lesser-known band I believe will bring enjoyment to people. Discovering new music is fun! A scene that embraces budding local and touring musicians will keep forming bands and bands will keep stopping here. (For something other than weed.) This driving principle is why I spend more time telling you about some relatively obscure band playing the Palm Lounge instead of being all "oh-my-god Dave Rawlings Machine at the Van Duzer again!" (Note: I love Dave Rawlings Machine. They're playing Sunday, Sept. 28. At the Van Duzer. For $35.)

Then there's that sticky qualifier: personal preference. Now, that doesn't mean I keep things from you. (Never!) But we all bring our own baggage to the music appreciation experience. When were you in high school? Do you play instruments? How long have you been listening to music? Are you most at home thrashing around, hair flinging into the faces of people beside you? Or relaxing at a table, glass of wine in hand? Will a well-crafted lyric make you cry? Or are words just an interruption of the beat you want to keep dance, dance, dancing to?

What say you, Humboldt music lovers? What do you want more of? Less of? (Besides this sort of explainer, ha!) What drives you to motor over to a particular venue? Inspires you to take a chance on a band you're not sure about? I want to know all the things! (music@northcoastjournal.com!)

Now, let us launch into the week.

Friday fun times

You'll remember local darlings High Crimes from last week's "Setlist" — see interview with drummer Alyssa Jung at www.northcoastjournal.com if you missed it. The band is laying down smoky grooves at Six Rivers Brewery starting at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. (Access the band's Bandcamp page via Facebook and give "Punk of Jazz" a listen — it continues to enthrall me.)

Another excellent option is singer-songwriter Anna Tivel (formerly Anna & the Underbelly) at Humboldt Machine Works. Entranced by the sound of her grandfather's violin, Tivel began playing in first grade. In 2006, she moved to Portland, where over the next few years she was swept into the music scene, playing with Shook Twins and The Jackalope Saints among others. Ultimately, however, it was the guitar that filled the music-shaped hole in her life, according to Tivel's bio. "It was like being dunked in cold water or slapped in the face in a good way," she says. "It suddenly became OK that I couldn't seem to retain concrete information, that my head is always full of sensory things, smells and sounds and color. Suddenly there was a place for all of it." Her songs are like clotheslines, simple structures on which all sorts of revealing shapes and colors hang. Caitlin Jemma opens. Tickets are $10, doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m.

Saturday sweetness

Now, you might not read "Fortuna Concert Series" and think, "Sexy!" But check this out — the 2014 season opens with classic and contemporary Latin jazz and dance music bosses The Latin Peppers, a group led by Jimmy Durchslag with Orlando Morales, percussion stalwart of the Bay Area Latin scene. Rounding out the group is Andy Barnett on trumpet, Lee Phillips on bass and Tim Randles on piano and Jon Lewis on congas. Concert time is 7:30 p.m. at the Fortuna Monday Club. Tickets are $10 general, $8 students and seniors. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Sounds like date night! (If you are 21-or-over.)

Back in A-town, if you are a jam band enthusiast, you'll be thrilled to learn that The Rock Collection, a brand new all-star group featuring Melvin Seals (JGB), Stu Allen (JGB/Phil and Friends), Dan "Lebo" Lebowitz (ALO) Greg Anton (Zero) and Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) brings original songs with extended improvisation and three-part harmonies to Humboldt Brews on Saturday night. Show starts at 9:30 p.m., Tickets are $20 and available in advance.

Let's say you've been lying on your couch for the past 25 years missing the sleaze-filled nights and hazy days of the Coconut Teaszer and Rainbow Room. Your bandana is still tied, halo-shaped, and hanging off the same nail holding up a guitar strap you found in the gutter after a G'n'R show. Well, dust that baby off! And smear on some black eyeliner. Because Prophets of Addiction return to the Alibi, bringing with them the finest in modern day glam-punk-meets-hair-metal. You will rock hard. Joining them, The Mother Vines, an Arcata band that spews out surf punk full of swagger and vim and sexy riffs. Don't be surprised if you find yourself making out with an attractive stranger. Music starts around 11 p.m., cover is $5, show is 21-and-over.

Beyond the weekend, a series of returns

Illustrating my earlier point about supporting touring acts in small venues, we're treated to three fine groups who've kept Humboldt on their stop-there list.

Nashville progressive indie-folk husband-wife duo You Knew Me When returns to Humboldt with a three-stop mini-tour-within-a-tour beginning at the Palm Lounge Monday at 9 p.m., followed by an appearance at Mad River Brewing on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and wrapping up at Redwood Curtain Brewing on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m.

The incomparable Anaïs Mitchell returns Tuesday to the Arcata Playhouse, sharing stories from epic to intimate through songwriting so well-crafted you will likely find yourself experiencing the same awe as when you stepped into an old-growth redwood forest for the first time. There aren't words, you think. And then Mitchell finds them. Reed Foehl opens. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Canada's foremost roots music sensation The Bills return to Arcata, Wednesday, Sept. 17. Drawing musical inspiration from a broad range of North American traditions, a melange of European stylings, rhythms of Latin America and melodies of the wandering Romany peoples, The Bills have forged a musical style all their own that transcends musical boundaries. Experience the mastery in the Arcata Playhouse starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 general, $15 students and members, and available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or (707) 822-1575.

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Jennifer Savage

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