Music

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Alien Noise in Outer Space

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 4:19 PM

Right to left: Ice Balloons members Kyp Malone, Dan Scinta, Sean Powell, Sean Kennerly, Dani Miller (seated), B.A. - PHOTO BY SEAN PATRICK LEYDON
  • Photo by Sean Patrick Leydon
  • Right to left: Ice Balloons members Kyp Malone, Dan Scinta, Sean Powell, Sean Kennerly, Dani Miller (seated), B.A.

The Outer Space is something of a unique venue for Arcata. The only DIY, all-ages, sober/safe space in town, it sits in a building in the southwest section of the Nilsen Feed lot, on the corner of 11th and M streets. Drugs and alcohol are strictly forbidden, and children run through the floor plan past book and record shelves and an ad hoc art store. On Sunday night it hosted a disparate and sometimes noisy show, with Shiveley locals Blackplate opening for Los Angeles’ Sun Foot and Brooklyn’s Ice Balloons.

Blackplate is one of my favorite local bands. Comprised of a father/son guitar and drum dynamic with Sean Casement and the talented young Valis Vanderlinden-Casement, Sunday marked the debut of new bassist Max Brotman, whose heavy tone and tight playing brought new life to the trio. I like to call Blackplate our homegrown version of the Melvins, but that's a lazy comparison. The song structures come from the same pre-grunge/post-punk neighborhood, but Sean’s fiery guitar displays and extremely personal songs make them a rare mutant in their own genus. Tunes like "Sliding" and "The Lament for a Dead Brother" feature slide guitar histrionics melting into a ubiquitous, and in the case of "Brother," haunting groove, while the tremolo-feedback bridge of "Self Fulfilling Prophecies" speaks in stranger tongues. Sean writes songs about arsonists he has known, personal reminders not to be “a jaded fuck,” and getting ill. They cover a Flipper song. They are great and worth your time.

Coming on like a YouTube instructional video on whispering into a lavalier microphone was Blackplate’s sonic foil: Sun Foot. Made up of drummer Ron, bassist Chris Love and guitar player Bri Bri 22, the three bespectacled Sun Footers play at such a low volume that the movie projectors running spliced videos of DNA and animals on the back wall were never far behind their threshold sound. Ron tapped out patterns on a digital drum pad, while Chris and Bri Bri played staccato riffs and repeating patterns which sounded like Devo covering Arthur Russell tracks with Mr. Rogers producing. Good stuff. Quiet stuff.

Finishing the night was Ice Balloons, featuring Kyp Malone from the fantastic TV On The Radio seated and playing synths while tapping sequencer triggers with his bare feet. An astonishing backdrop visual display came from artist B.A., whose images of flies, monkeys, and dancers of every kind were flashed in wild colors from a projector/laptop set-up she controlled with a keytar. Meanwhile, bassist Dan and drummer Sean kept things vintage art punk in the rhythm department. Singer Sean Kennerly wore a fly mask and screamed out echoplex arias which walked the line from the Butthole Surfers to KRS-One at an auction while Dani Miller sat on her amp and used her synth to make what she called “alien noises.” They played nearly all of their recent release "Fiesta" and live the songs bled together until we were left at the very end with visions of a monkey on the backdrop while Kyp’s synth screech faded into an ear-pillow of gentle echoed hush. Perfect.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Samba Sunday

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 3:11 PM

Samba da Alegria drew a crowd for the parade on the second day of the North Country Fair. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Samba da Alegria drew a crowd for the parade on the second day of the North Country Fair.

Sunny warm weather continued for another day for Sunday's 44th annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza. A large crowd soaked up the sunshine and the high energy created by the Samba da Alegria dancers with their 31st annual Samba Parade.

Sunday's Fair featured another round of live music and dance performances. Attendees checked out the food, drink, clothing, arts and crafts, and tie-dyed clothing offered by over 200 vendors. See the slideshow below for highlights from the parade and more.


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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Franti Brings the Fire Even As Nihilism Beckons

Posted By on Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Franti and Spearhead - CHELSEA KLETTE
  • Chelsea Klette
  • Franti and Spearhead
Michael Franti is enjoying the blessings in between tragedies. When we spoke to the singer-songwriter on Monday, Sept. 11, a forest fire near Missoula Montana had led to some cancelled dates on his current tour with band Spearhead, allowing an unexpected two days at home in San Francisco with his wife and family. His oldest son Ade is about to go off to his first year at university; Sept. 12 was his wedding anniversary with wife Sara Agah. The date of our interview, he says, is auspicious.

Franti and Spearhead’s breakout album, Stay Human, was released in 2000 and introduced many in his burgeoning fan base to social justice issues such as mass incarceration and the human cost of globalization. A year later the Twin Towers fell and the stakes of the conversation Franti has been having with his audience – about human rights and human dignity – grew even higher. In the decade and a half that has passed, the singer-songwriter has released six albums, many inspired by his visits to places impacted by war, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Lyrics from his song “Bomb the World,” “You can bomb the world to pieces/ but you can't bomb it into peace," written as the wars in the Middle East escalated, became an anthem for many in the pro-peace movement. Which leads to the only question you can ask someone who has spent his entire adult life championing peace and harmony even as international politics devolves into even greater discord and instability: Isn’t it exhausting?

“It has been,” Franti agrees. “Especially in the last nine months or whatever, because it has surpassed the craziness of the previous 12 years. It’s just insane. I wake up one day and there’s a ban on transgender [military] people, the next day there’s a white supremacist rally implicitly supported by our president, hurricane, then another hurricane. It’s just non-stop. I never imagined with all the work we’ve done on civil rights in our country, after all we’d been through, we’d be here today.”

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Reacting to the latest announcement from Washington, D.C., that President Donald J. Trump was calling for the repeal of the so-called Dreamer’s Act, which created a path for citizenship and amnesty for children brought to the United States from other countries, Franti recalled his youth attending school with the children of migrant workers. “Mind you, [immigrants] are doing the backbreaking work every day to bring food to our tables without so much as a thank you,” he says. “I grew up with kids in my classroom who were migrant workers. I grew up playing with those kids. Those kids would leave December, January, come back in March, following the work. The fact that their children now are still trying to gain access to a path to freedom is just insane.”

But Franti says he remains hopeful. Part of that is his strong relationship with Agah, with whom he says he shares the same values. Franti and Spearhead’s latest album SOULROCKER includes a tribute to Agah, “Crazy For You,” about the stabilizing effect of a good partner in a world that constantly challenges your ideals. He and Agah talk often about how important to challenge yourself to “get to your growing edge.”

Franti also believes that ongoing attention to social justice is having an effect. “I’m more passionate today than I have been,” he says. “I’m more optimistic than I have been. I see more people who are ‘woke,’ more observant than they have been. I remember working on events, have a couple thousand people show up. At the [San Francisco] Women’s March we had 50,000 people. I think music is a way for people to keep the fuel burning. When people get down and feel frustrated, they know they’re not alone.”

Franti and Spearhead will be rolling up to Arcata on their biodiesel-powered bus Sunday night, playing what will no doubt be a sold-out show at the Van Duzer Theatre (when we checked the ticket office this Thursday afternoon, tickets were almost gone.) Franti, a perennial beloved to the Humboldt stage, has equally fond memories of his time here. “When I was a kid, my family would go along the coast, go to the Samoa Cookhouse and have giant pancakes, go to Agate Beach,” he says. “We’d keep driving, go through the redwoods, stop at different places.”

Along with the nature and cuisine (Franti, now a vegan, will probably not be getting those same pancakes, but welcomes your restaurant suggestions) the singer-songwriter says he appreciates Humboldt’s unique spirit. “There’s a spirit of independence there that’s not isolationist,” he says. “You be part of an independent community that cares.” High praise, Humboldt. See you in the aisles Sunday night.
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All Species Saturday

Posted By on Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Butterflies fluttered by in the parade courtesy of Trillium Dance Studio. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Butterflies fluttered by in the parade courtesy of Trillium Dance Studio.

Event organizers Same Old People were surrounded by a large crowd attending the first day of the 44th annual North Country Fair held on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday — with just one big change in tradition. The Northcoast Environmental Center's All Species Parade swapped days with the Samba Parade, surprising a lot of attendees who hadn't heard about the change. See the slideshow below for highlights of Saturday's festivities.


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Century Celebration

Posted By on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 12:28 PM

Shoshanna Rose (right), of Arcata, helped cut and serve the Creamery Building replica cake that building owners Lisa and Brian Finigan, of Arcata, brought to share with Fervor Fest attendees. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Shoshanna Rose (right), of Arcata, helped cut and serve the Creamery Building replica cake that building owners Lisa and Brian Finigan, of Arcata, brought to share with Fervor Fest attendees.

It took four days to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Creamery Building in Arcata this past week. Building owners Lisa and Brian Finigan, of Arcata, have spent the last 40 years rejuvenating the building and hosting an eclectic mix of tenants in the center of the emerging Creamery District — so they and friends decided to throw a party.

Arcata artist Lush Newton introduced her outdoor art installation "Golden State Creamery: The Land of Milk and Honey" at Thursday's evening reception at the Creamery District. She said her work commemorates the history, people and culture surrounding the historic Creamery building on its 100th anniversary. The billboard was inspired by designs for the original tenant, California Creameries, and her portable hand-painted figures were based on historical photos (including one of her great aunt riding a cow).

Friday evening's highlights were the Arcata Playhouse's outdoor shadow-puppet show that followed the Elemental Spectacle procession that included dancers, stilt walkers, giant puppets and a large dragon marching around the Creamery Building to live music. The Ya Habibi dancers performed next at the entrance of the Creamery prior to the shadow-puppet show.

More than 20 vendors offered unlimited samples of beer, wine, kombucha, cider and distilled spirits at Fervor Fest on Saturday. A large crowd attended the family-friendly event that included live music, food vendors and a popular children's play area. In mid-afternoon, the Finigans brought out the 100th anniversary cake shaped liked the Creamery building to share with Fervor Fest attendees.

The Creamery Festival wrapped up on Sunday with the last of the Flynn Creek Circus shows.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Irie Stylings at Reggae on the River

Posted By and on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 1:50 PM

The sun glints off a woman’s necklace in the concert bowl, Sunday afternoon. - PHOTO BY ERICA BOTKIN
  • Photo by Erica Botkin
  • The sun glints off a woman’s necklace in the concert bowl, Sunday afternoon.

Instagram-ready festival wear has become its own species of personal expression. The styles at Reggae on the River are certainly qualify, whether on performers, fans or the vendors, workers and volunteers who make the show possible, including volunteer security personnel, medics, food truck operators, cooks, camera people, sound technicians and journalists.

A camera operator at work during Marla Brown's set on Sunday afternoon. - PHOTO BY ERICA BOTKIN
  • Photo by Erica Botkin
  • A camera operator at work during Marla Brown's set on Sunday afternoon.

Oven-like August temperatures presented a daily challenge. There are basically two schools of thought on how to beat the heat — let’s call the debate Shirts v. Skins. Layer flowing fabrics? Or do away with layers altogether by wearing as little as possible? Both were in effect. (See the slideshow of the gamut of looks below.)

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Parade Fun in the Sun (With Costumed Goat!)

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 9:07 AM

River Christie, of Blue Lake, and her costumed pet goat. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • River Christie, of Blue Lake, and her costumed pet goat.
In case you missed it, the 50th annual Annie and Mary Parade in Blue Lake on Sunday featured its usual eclectic mix of participants, ranging from giant puppets, costumed children and adults, horseback riders, honor guard, Samba na Chuva (a dance and drum ensemble) and other local civic groups.

The Blue Lake Chamber has sponsored Annie and Mary Day since 1967 to celebrate the historic Arcata Mad River Rail Line. It is named after Annie Carroll and Mary Buckley, two bookkeepers who were employed by the railroad around the year 1907.

In addition to the parade, the annual event featured the annual Bill Nessler Car Show, a craft vendor fair, distilled beverages and beer, barbeque and after the parade, dancing to the Humboldt Folklife Society's music line up of The Timber Ridge Boys, That Buckin' String Band, No Pardon, Gatehouse Well, and The Detours.

The Humboldt Folklife Society's music performances continue all week. Check out the full slideshow below.

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

This Show Sucks

Posted By on Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Decades of Humboldt punk flyers at Gallery 424. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Decades of Humboldt punk flyers at Gallery 424.

While you're out at Arts Alive! looking at ceramics and skateboards tonight, you may want to follow the sound of fuzzy, crunchy guitar to Studio 424 (424 Third St., Eureka) for the Ultra Super Last Minute DIY Punk as F#ck Flyer Show. The small gallery hosts a "haphazard trip down memory lane" for local punk rock aficionados, according to owner and Journal contributing photographer Mark McKenna. Amy May, who secretly hoarded the ephemeral DIY posters over 20 years, kept her collection secret because preserving them was deeply uncool. But lucky for us she got over the shame so we can peruse the walls, trying to remember the shows we saw and, as McKenna remarks, "the ones you're still bummed you missed."

Watch the time-lapse video of 20 years of flyers going up on the walls.






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Monday, June 19, 2017

Bivalve Bacchanal

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Tens of thousands of locally produced oysters met their fate at the 27th annual Oyster Festival. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Tens of thousands of locally produced oysters met their fate at the 27th annual Oyster Festival.

You could get just about any creative approach to raw or barbecued oysters on Saturday at the 27th annual Oyster Festival in Arcata – except oyster-flavored ice cream. Staff from Humboldt Creamery, who were passing out free ice cream in the Family Fun Zone, said they might work on that for next year.

The Arcata Plaza was a packed house for the annual celebration of all things related to oysters, including an Oyster-Calling contest, a Shuck-n-Swallow contest, live music and many other food and beer options. In addition to the family-oriented fun, side streets off the plaza held an art market, a “green” zone (electric vehicles and environmental information booths), as well as the usual Farmers’ Market.
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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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