I hope you took my advice and checked out El Ten Eleven on the HSU Quad. It was pointed out to me that the first time I saw the mindblowing duo — the first time they played here — was seven years ago in the infamous corner of the Alibi. This I-saw-them-when story exists in many variations, prompting the reminder: Go out and see these bands while you can.
If you like things free and local (and are 21-or-over), head to the Palm Lounge, where Companion Animal, The Curiosities and John Ludington offer the following, respectively: garage-synth rock, mandolin and bass, and intergalactic folk starting at 8 p.m.
Oh, this'll be a blast — Re-ignition, a female-fronted tribute to Bad Brains featuring Om "Bon Scott" Rhanjani of Hells Belles? Yes, please! Plus Voodoo Dolly, a Siouxie and the Banshees tribute? All for only $7? From Seattle and San Francisco, respectively, and playing at the Alibi. Music starts at 11 p.m., show is 21-and-over.
Some friends and I were talking about Humboldt's restaurants recently and I noted that there are many places where I like a particular item on the menu, but wouldn't necessarily say, "Oh, that's a great place! Anything you order'll be delicious!" Other places — hello, Renata's! — are, without fail, consistently fantastic. Our various venues fall along similar lines, but one location that unvaryingly serves up quality music is the Arcata Playhouse. If you have enjoyed a show at the Playhouse, odds are you will enjoy all other shows at the Playhouse or, at the very least, respect the musical talent standing before you. All that to bring us to Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, a band that excels at both the craft of writing songs and the art of delivering them via kickass performances. The Norway Rats includes members of the Decemberists, Lucinda Williams Band, The Eels and Minus 5, whose new album, Goodbye to the Rank and File, is a haunting post-punk whiskey-fueled rave-up that somehow successfully melds the flavor of Richard Thompson with The Clash. Springsteen fans, take note. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $13 students and members, available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or www.brownpaperticket.com.
Another option for those who enjoy exceptional talent comes to us via the Arcata Theatre Lounge, where legendary saxophonist Karl Denson and his Tiny Universe plus Roosevelt Collier and Daniel Bambaata Marley will take the stage. Expect cuts off Denson's latest studio album, New Ammo, which includes covers of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Up To Dry" and "Sure Shot" by The Beastie Boys, as well as the original track, "My Baby," featuring Nicki Bluhm on vocals. Tickets are $20 advance at the ATL box office and online, and $25 at Wildberries, People's Records, The Works and at the door, which opens at 8 p.m. The show is 21-and-over.
Across the highway at Blondie's, my favorite local psych-jazz-indie band High Crimes joins The Wild Lungs and Ted the Band at Blondie's. All-ages, music starts at 8:30 p.m.
The weekend brings a couple of all-day events, starting with the 10th annual Humboldt Hoedown at the Mateel featuring Grammy winner Peter Rowan as headliner, plus top touring players Tony Furtado and Rich Shenave, John Reischman and The Jaybirds, The Pine Box Boys, the Blackberry Bushes String Band, Hicktown Homeboys, Miss Lonely Hearts and our brilliant local bands Absynth Quintet, No Good Redwood Ramblers, Way Out West, Kingfoot, April Moore and Ranch Party, and Jefferson Parson. Doors open at noon with music until midnight. Advance tickets are available online only at www.mateel.org for $30. Tickets at the door are $35 and current MCC members will receive a $5 discount.
A completely different music explosion happens at SkateFest! from 2 to 11 p.m. at RampArt Skatepark, 700 South G St., Arcata. Scorching tunes will be provided by Guns N Barrels, Mother Vines, Lao Tzu's Army, Adult Crash — I've been assured that I've never heard an Ian MacKaye impression so good — Imperial Destructo, and Lord Ellis (a great chance to see Humboldt's heaviest band at the reasonable hour of 10 p.m.). The event's free and all ages, but fundraising's the point, so if you can donate, please do. (Note: in addition to the music, tarp surfing.)
After the skate fest, wander over to the Alibi for Songwriter Circle of Death VIII with special guest Lana Rebel of Juanita Family and Friends, a band who infused the early-and-mid-aughts with the sweet tang of alt-country done right. Also featuring TheBoredAgain of The Real DT's, Gabe Rose Hell of The Decency and The Weavetone of The Smashed Glass. Cover is $3, music starts at 11:30 p.m., show is 21-and-over.
The Jambalaya also has an exceptional-sounding show happening. Local bluesy rockers Cold Blue Water celebrates the release of the band's new CD, notably recorded in L.A. with Doors' drummer Ty Dennis and top studio bassist Brad Cummings and a slew of guest artists. Show starts at 9 p.m. with Brethren of the Coast and is 21-and-over. Theoretically there's a cover charge, but damned if we could find it.
Meanwhile over in Eureka, all-agers can get their metal-punk-crust fix at the Ink Annex courtesy of The Placebo. Burning Hash, Occult SS, Komatose and Dead Drift start at 7 p.m. Cost is $4 members, $6 general. No drugs or alcohol.
The Redwood Jazz Alliance elevates Humboldt's sophistication with the kickoff of its 2014-15 season at 8 p.m. in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room with The Cookers, a horn-heavy ensemble of veteran bandleaders and star soloists. Between them, the veterans who make up this group have played with nearly every jazz legend of the last half-century. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students and seniors, and can be purchased in advance at the usual outlets and online.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.