In Humboldt County we rarely experience a joy greater than that of the outside world noticing how awesome we are. Whether it is the Washington Post naming Humboldt the second most beautiful county in the country (somehow behind Mugu-Rock-having Ventura County) or some other national rag documenting Eureka as having the most artists per capita, or media picking up on Kirsten Dunst swillin' at the Logger Bar, we don't mind others knowing how awesome we are. However, if we're so awesome and have so many amazing artists and musicians, why is it that local venues are often one reggae or EDM night away from closing? The above-mentioned Logger Bar is at risk of only being able to host John Cage cover bands due to noise complaints and the Jambalaya is "re-opening" on Saturday (and re-naming itself "the Jam") to remind you that it's awesome.
I recently spoke with Pete Ciotti, owner of the Jam, about his new developments designed to lure in customers and music lovers. In addition to serving food now (again) and expanding hours from noon until 2 a.m., the Jam is focusing on live music. They have a great new sound system, a remodeled dance floor and Ciotti mentions that "it's kind of the beginning of a new era for the venue." Ciotti says a mural being painted inside the venue is "an idea that started with Brian Swizlo and grew into a tribute to our local music scene from the Jambalaya era in the early '70s to present day ... it's a local tribute to the folks who make our music and art community so great." The mural, painted by Jullia Finkelstein, honors the musical heritage of the Jambalaya and the broader Humboldt music scene. The question is, will you?
Humboldt Brews tonight hosts one of their returning champs, Diego's Umbrella from S.F. The Umbrella falls into that nebulous realm of "gypsy _____". It rocks, but in a gypsy type of way. It's bluegrassy, but in a gypsy type of way. Got it? The key element is that you can dance to it yet somehow feel culturally appreciative of your European roots at the same time. Mustachioed chaps, just know that someone there will have a cooler lip caterpillar than yours. Wurlybird opens around 9:30 p.m. and it's $15.
As the world continues to forget what albums and compact discs are, locals the No Good Redwood Ramblers rebel against this trend by releasing Shoot From the Hip Straight to the Heart. The Ramblers hope to entice you to pick up their locally recorded sophomore album by swinging on down to Hum Brews. Just $5 to get in and fellow locals Gunsafe will open at 9:30 p.m.
If the two brothers in the Ramblers don't give you enough of a Brady Bunch feel, head up to the Mad River Brewery where the "multigenerational" rock band Doug Fir & the 2x4s will be playing for free at 6 p.m. It's a father-son-father-son band and bonus points if you can guess which offspring belongs to which sire.
On Saturday you find yourself presented with an opportunity to publicly declare which of the infamous DeMark brothers you personally prefer. Are you in the Jeff fan club, or is Paul more your guy? For you disciples of Paul, head over to the Fortuna Monday Club because at 7:30 p.m. the Delta Nationals will be playing. Put on, or keep on, your saddle shoes and dance the night away for only $10.
For the brother that works harder and freer (I imagine Jeff thinking), check out the LaPatina Band at Redwood Curtain Brewery at 8 p.m. for free. Let the brotherly bands commence, and chips fall where they may.
Portland band Dead Men Talking are on tour supporting a self-titled debut EP release with friends the Fourth Wall, also from Portland. Expect some well-crafted avant-indie type rock at the Jam. If you just so happen to have paired your black skinny jeans, Converse and third favorite ironic cat cardigan, this is the place to be tonight (assuming all the thrift stores are closed). I'm going to guess $5 for this show and a 9 p.m.-or-so start time.
There's a band from Canada in town! I don't feel any more needs to be said about this, but I still have a word count to fulfill. If you've ever wanted to impress your middle-class friends by informing them you've seen a band nominated for a Juno award, get yourself to the Arcata Playhouse. Although I personally am not aware of what a Juno award is, I imagine it's something Canadian. And very nice. Check out the Bills at 8 p.m. and for $15 you'll find out why they were nominated for this award named after an American film. I don't know if all the members of this quintet are named Bill, but I sure as hell hope they are. If they aren't, they should at least refer to themselves on stage as Bill. The stage name thing worked for the Traveling Wilburys (kind of) and the Ramones (kind of) and Mr. Bill (totally). Bonus point to the Bills for describing one of their musical inspirations as the "melodies of the wandering Romany people." That's some class right there, as "gypsy" is seen by many to be a derogatory term. Take heed "gypsy rockers" — go with "Roma-rockers" to avoid the ire of the PC police.
A band that I like, although I can't recall any of their songs off the top of my head, will be at Hum Brews. "Alt-country pioneers" the Old 97s will grace Arcata with their visit. A happy birthday to Paul who will be there at 9 p.m. hoping his old buddy Noah is still a roadie for the 97s.
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.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts the Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m.