Music

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Dylan-esque Celebration

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 7:12 PM

Megan Hendley rang them bells at the Dylan to-do. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Megan Hendley rang them bells at the Dylan to-do.

Highway 299 (OK, State Route) led to a great sunset view of the Blue Lake skyline for Wednesday night’s seventh annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash at the Mad River Brewery. All I really wanted to do was to drink a glass of cold hard cider, as I wasn’t going anywhere else for the evening, and the music covers of Dylan’s songs by the collection of local performers kept me in my seat all evening with long ago, far away memories.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rockabilly, Blues and Dancing Shoes

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Line dancers filled the floor at the Grand Finale at the Muni on Sunday afternoon. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Line dancers filled the floor at the Grand Finale at the Muni on Sunday afternoon.

The music and dancing started early and went late on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend at the Redwood Coast Music Festival. The musicians and audience members again circled Eureka venues throughout both days. (You can see photos of Thursday and Friday's festivities here.)

My Saturday goals were to watch the dance contests, catch Gino & the Lone Gunman for some rockabilly in a cramped Red Lion meeting room, eat an early dinner and stay out late with a big crowd at the Municipal Auditorium for the Blues Special.

The Blues Special did not disappoint. Prior to the show, organizers were stressed out because Michael Doucet's flight from SFO to ACV was cancelled — who would ever expect that? But the organizers announced he was driving up and he eventually arrived in time to make the show. Kenny Neal moved up to Doucet's 6 p.m. time slot and put on a fantastic show with his singing and guitar and harmonica playing.

The audience likely wouldn't have let Neal leave the stage if Doucet hadn't finally arrived and joined Tom Rigney & Flambeau in some virtuoso fiddle and violin playing in another great performance. Rick Estrin & the Nightcats closed out the show.

Sunday's Grand Finale at the Muni featured seven groups who demonstrated great musicianship, as well as the ability to make smooth transitions from group to group. The dance floor was packed for a two-hour display of amazing dance skills. Doucet and Rigney closed the festival with another round of fiddle and Cajun violin.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Swingtime

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 2:21 PM

Gator Nation led off the Friday evening music at the Adorni Center with an outstanding performance. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Gator Nation led off the Friday evening music at the Adorni Center with an outstanding performance.

Last weekend the streets of Eureka filled with musicians and audience members who love good music and who love to dance. A packed, repeating schedule of performances of New Orleans jazz, blues, rockabilly and Cajun music by award-winning performers kept them and audience members rotating around venues at the Adorni Center, Morris Graves, the Eureka Theater, the Municipal Auditorium (with its poor acoustics), the Sequoia Center and a cramped room at the Red Lion Inn.

The musical talent all weekend was outstanding, with guest artist Brian Casserly seeming to appear with his trombone and trumpet with every group and at every venue on the schedule. Many young and old fans of dancing showed up for the festival, given its growing reputation as a dance venue, and worked up a sweat.

Thursday and Friday events included a series of free children's concerts, thanks to the leadership of retired teacher Lynn McKenna of Eureka. Thursday evening's kick-off dance featured talented local youth in the 24th straight music festival performance by the Zane Middle School Jazz Band, under the direction of Bruce McCay. Fifth graders from Grant and Lafayette grade schools performed their version of the Charleston and the traditional New Orleans Parasol Walk at the Friday Opening Ceremony, under the direction of McKenna and retired teachers Fred Johansen and Linda Hall. After that, the music performances rolled on for the rest of the weekend.

Enjoy the slideshow of Thursday and Friday events here and stay tuned for scenes from Saturday's dance contests, the blues special concert and Sunday's grand finale.

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Watch Sara Bareilles' Oscar Performance

Posted By on Sat, Mar 4, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Sara Bareilles sings Joni Mitchell at the Academy Awards. - FROM OSCAR.GO.COM
  • From Oscar.go.com
  • Sara Bareilles sings Joni Mitchell at the Academy Awards.
There were some moving speeches and emotional twists at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, including Sara Bareilles' moving rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," performed during the In Memoriam montage of stars and industry greats who passed away in 2016. In case you missed it while microwaving more popcorn or hobnobbing at the Eureka Theater, the awards show's official website has the video posted for your viewing pleasure.

A choked-up Jennifer Aniston introduced the Humboldt County native, who must be made of steel to hit those high notes with Prince, Gene Wilder and Carrie Fisher speaking softly from the big screen over her shoulder. You can watch it here but get some tissues first. That's it. Just let it all out.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cry it Out with Sara Bareilles at the Oscars

Posted By on Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 2:45 PM


Still hurting from all the stars we lost in 2016? Humboldt County lady Sara Bareilles is here to soothe your pain. Well, not here, but in Los Angeles, where the singer, composer and current Broadway star (she's taking a 10-week turn onstage in Waitress, the pie-centric musical she scored) will perform during the In Memoriam segment of the Academy Awards tonight. According to her Twitter feed, she's already getting cozy with the golden boy (see above). No word yet on what song she'll perform but if sitting in my parked car listening to "When She Was Mine" and crying into a wad of Fresh Freeze napkins is any indication, expect tears.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentuned In

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 6:23 PM

The wandering Valentunes minstrels serenade our own Jonathan Webster. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The wandering Valentunes minstrels serenade our own Jonathan Webster.
Contrary to popular belief, not all of us here at the Journal are hardened, loveless cynics. Some of us work in production and graphic design, like Jonathan Webster. Witness his Valentunes serenading by fresh-faced members of the ArMack Orchestra/Arcata High Madrigal Choir at the behest (and paid order) of his girlfriend, Kira Weiss. The singers and musicians, on their annual fundraising mission, harmonized on "You Can Count on Me," which Webster actually arranged a couple of years ago while he was working at Arcata High School. Watch the video and give yourself a cavity from the genuine sweetness.


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Monday, February 6, 2017

Jewels of Wisdom

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 7:33 PM

Run the Jewels at the Van Duzer Theater on Feb. 5. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • Run the Jewels at the Van Duzer Theater on Feb. 5.

A sold-out crowd packed Humboldt State University’s Van Duzer Theater last night, with hip-hop supergroup Run the Jewels headlining. (View the slideshow at the bottom of the post.) The crowd was young, jubilant and wreathed in smoke. Outside the venue, a line stretched across the plaza as people waited to be patted down by security. One very high young man tried to trade steaks for extra tickets.

“I got prime rib, prime rib,” he said, waving a large plastic bag of meat as people waited patiently in the rain.
Inside, students elbowed their way through the packed aisles to stand next to the stage, where the group’s security team stood behind ropes, looking bored.
DJ Nick Hook. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • DJ Nick Hook.
DJ Nick Hook started the evening with some unique beats and an unsubtle but popular chant of “Fuck Donald Trump,” setting the tone for the evening — fierce, politically proactive and boisterous. Hook, a producer and collaborator on Run the Jewels albums, spun for two other artists, Cuz Lightyear and Gangsta Boo. Cuz, formerly known as SL Jones, was a torch of energy, spitting rhymes quickly as he stood on top of the speakers. But even his dynamism couldn’t overcome the awkwardness of the largely white crowd when he tried to initiate a call and response using the N-word. But he finished his set to an enthusiastic crowd and was followed quickly by Gangsta Boo, a filthy-mouthed, fun breakout star from the Memphis, Tennessee group Three 6 Mafia. Boo’s lyrics spoke to the nasty women in the audience as she unleashed fast-flowing raps about financial autonomy, Cookie Monster kush and the importance of cunnilingus.
Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia fame. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia fame.
The air was already thick with smoke when DJ and producer the Gaslamp Killer took the stage, dialing down the vibe with a slow jam mix before working the audience back into a jumping, lighter-waving frenzy. William Benjamin Bensussen — who takes his stage name from San Diego’s Gaslamp District, where he grew up — is tall, intense and bearded, with a narrow ascetic face: Rasputin with a bouncing afro. He danced like an electrocution victim, occasionally lifting his T-shirt to wipe sweat from his face, flashing a pale belly. He rarely spoke during his set, leaning into the mic only occasionally to say, “I am the Gaslamp Killer,” and to announce, “My grandfather is from Istanbul, Turkey,” before introducing a beat using traditional Turkish music. The audience didn’t need to be led to the message, responding with a loud cheer as the tempo increased and forming a mosh pit in front of the stage. They cheered even louder when he announced, “My grandmother is from Syria. Some Syrian music for my Syrian grandmother.”
“Remember,” he said before ending his 45-minute set with a Super Mario Bros. sound-infused mix, “We create the culture. Just because he rules the country doesn’t mean he’s in charge. We’re going to create the best art.”
The Gaslamp Killer. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • The Gaslamp Killer.

The Gaslamp Killer ended his set to an enthused and anticipatory crowd, who used the interval when the houselights came on to push even closer to the stage, chanting “RTJ” and clutching blunts. The duo is made up of rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. Killer Mike, whose offstage name is Mike Render, has gained a reputation in recent years as an activist speaking out against police brutality and campaigning for Bernie Sanders. He and El-P (Jaime Meline) entered to a remix of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” as the audience screamed and held up their hands in the signature gun and fist gestures that are Run the Jewel’s logo. Lighters flicked across the theater and the venue filled with smoke. The rappers launched into “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” with the crowd waving their hands in the air and singing along to Killer Mike’s lyrics, “This Run the Jewels is/ Murder, mayhem, melodic music.”
Killer Mike and El-P. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • Killer Mike and El-P.

“This is what I live for,” said El-P to the screaming crowd. He asked if they should turn up the bass, noting that as they were testing the sound system before the show their normal bass levels had caused the ceiling to flake. The crowd shouted yes, and RTJ launched into a series of songs off their latest two albums, including “Nobody Speak” (produced with DJ Shadow) and “Stay Gold.” The ceiling stayed intact but was put in further danger when Gangsta Boo returned to the stage to join the duo. El-P led the crowd in chanting “Pussy is power,” before delivering an impassioned and well-received speech about the current political administration.
“It just boggles my mind that we haven’t replaced all of these goddammned pieces of shit men with women,” he said, drawing screams of approval.

“It’s mostly white men, I got to say,” added Killer Mike, drawing more applause.

“You know these motherfuckers are only doing five things,” said El-P, leading the crowd into the 2014 hit, “Lie, Cheat, Steal, Kill, Win.”

"Go outside of your white liberal, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant circle,” said Killer Mike in a recent Huffington Post interview. “Go find other people and become a part of movements that you don’t lead. Go become a part of movements in which you have to learn from the people who have endured this ― since Reagan, since Nixon ― and you will start to see what they have had to do to thrive and survive. And you guys will learn and you guys will devise strategies together.”

Once the smoke cleared, there’s a chance some in the audience had found that movement on the dance floor.



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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dreaming of a Brass Christmas

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Jude Carter, 6, of Eureka, played in his fourth TubaChristmas performance, along with his father and grandmother, in front of a crowd of 100 or more at the Gazebo in Old Town Eureka on Saturday, Dec. 3 - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Jude Carter, 6, of Eureka, played in his fourth TubaChristmas performance, along with his father and grandmother, in front of a crowd of 100 or more at the Gazebo in Old Town Eureka on Saturday, Dec. 3

For many, it's not officially Christmas in Humboldt County until you've attended one of the all-brass Tuba Christmas performances, which have been led locally by Fred Tempas since 1988. Santa also showed up for Saturday's 1 p.m. performance at the Gazebo in Old Town Eureka, along with board members of the Redwood Coast Music Festival, who unveiled this year’s poster. The local all-tuba performances are part of an international Tuba Christmas movement started in 1974.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All Species, All the Time

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 12:38 PM

Local puppet master James Hildebrandt, of Arcata, led the All Species Parade with an avian creation. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Local puppet master James Hildebrandt, of Arcata, led the All Species Parade with an avian creation.
The Same Old People's 43rd annual North Country Fair continued on Sunday with a large crowd gathered to watch the All Species Parade. It featured the Arcata Playhouse’s large and small creatures and a wide mix of puppets and other life forms marching twice around the plaza. Attendees also checked out performances by local bands and dancers, along with a large array of food, jewelry and clothing vendors.
Two new additions to the festival this year included a zero-waste kids’ craft zone sponsored by SCRAP Humboldt and a Wellness Row of information tents featuring community health information, tea samples, massage and yoga.


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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Samba and Sunshine

Posted By on Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Belly dancers performed in the Samba Parade and the Ya Habibi Dance Company danced later on the plaza lawn at the North Country Fair on Saturday. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Belly dancers performed in the Samba Parade and the Ya Habibi Dance Company danced later on the plaza lawn at the North Country Fair on Saturday.

The two-day 43rd annual North Country Fair got off to a bright start on a warm, sunny Saturday on the Arcata Plaza. Organized by the Same Old People since 1974, the zero-waste, family-friendly festival features 170 art and craft vendors, three music and entertainment stages, local food booths and activities for children. Members of Trillium Dance and Samba da Alegria led a lively Samba Parade in the afternoon. Add a little rhythm and shine to your day with the slideshow below.

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