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Bells, Banjos and Puppets 

As I write this from my friend's porch on a hot afternoon in the last week of June, my ears are met with the sweet sounds of summer. No, wait, that's just a rooster mindlessly screaming in the yard while it pecks around in the dry dirt for snacks. Meanwhile, spreading around me with the bird's mad shriek is the wind and the heat working in tandem to blast my skin with all the pleasant ambience of a steel mill. Why do people like this season again? Oh, never mind me and instead enjoy this mid-Mad River Festival and eve of the Humboldt Folklife Festival however you see fit.

Have a peaceful week.

Thursday

Smokestack Relics is a band made up of two multi-instrumentalist brothers, Cameron and Collin Webb, who play a sort of road running powerful brand of swamp rock — a genre known for its gritty and twangy troubadours usually from south of the Mason-Dixon line. These Webb boys hail from Golden, Colorado, but that doesn't put a hole in their pirogue, sound-wise. Don't take it from me. Go find out for yourself for free at the Logger Bar at 9 p.m.

Friday

Humboldt's finest Pink Floyd tribute band Money plays the Eureka Friday Night Market on Clarke Plaza this afternoon at 5 p.m. This free gig — not in the sky — will allow you ample ambling time to check out the various wares around you at the market while vibing out to analog verisimilitude of bygone sounds supreme.

Another cash-free show awaits you at 7 p.m. at the Eureka First United Methodist Church when Reno's Tintabulations Handbell Ensemble presents its concert program entitled Coming of Age. Ever wanted to see a real human version of a chromatic bell music box from the golden age of German and Swiss wind-up automaton engineering? Well here's your chance.

And finally, the spooky honky-tonk and bluegrass sounds of The Pine Hill Haints haunt the Logger Bar at 9 p.m. for a free one with support from fellow Arkam Records rock act The Invisible Teardrops. Viva!

Saturday

Tyger Byle bills itself as "Humboldt's preeminent jug-prog band." Having never seen the group live and so being deprived of all context I have absolutely no idea what that means. At all. However, I am told by local sources that it is a show worth checking out so maybe find out for yourself — for free — at the Logger Bar tonight at 9 p.m.

Speaking of Blue Lake, that town's best country cover band Barn Fire plays Humbrews tonight at 9:30 p.m. ($5). Featuring a heavy set of whoopers and weepers from the best of the outlaw country catalog, this is surely a fun time for all you good ol' boys and buffalo gals. Gritty folk act Dead Bird Sons opens.

Sunday

Wake up, wake up, wake up, it's the first of tha month. No, Cleveland's finest rap vocalizers Bone Thugs isn't running through town today — sorry for the tease. However, you can catch a musical treasure from a little farther up north when Toronto banjoist and composer Jayme Stone brings his Lomax recordings-inspired act Jayme Stone's Folklife to the Arcata Playhouse at 7 p.m. for an evening of early Americana played like it was laid on wax yesterday ($15, $13 for Humboldt Folklife Society members).

Monday

International Spanish folk touring act Sangre de Muerdago plays the Sanctuary tonight at 8 p.m. For a sliding scale fee of $10-$25, come enjoy the Galician-inspired sounds of the multi-instrumental acoustic act.

On the Bywater side of St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans is a quirky little two-story building with — if memory serves — red trim, peeling white paint and cast-iron fencing that made the structure look like a 3D Victorian playing card. It was called the Spellcaster Lodge and I sometimes biked there after work to catch a cool show in those beautiful pre-Katrina evenings of my much-abused youthful years. This was — and is after restoration — the headquarters of Quintron and Miss Pussycat, the married duo of mad genius music inventor Q and cool-as-can-be artiste and puppeteer Miss P. They will present their deliriously fun dance pomp and theater act to the lucky few who can get to the Miniplex early and stuff the room. If this one doesn't sell out, you have failed yourselves, Humboldt. I will go even further and call it my inner sports writer's LOCK OF THE WEEK for best in show. At 8:30 p.m. ($10).

Tuesday

Music is often nothing if not the convergence of sound and stories so let's examine the latter half of that equation tonight. As part of the ongoing Mad River Festival, Dell'Arte presents its International Family Series: Stories in the Tent. In a collaboration with the Mad River Union, Dell'Arte showcases five stories written by Humboldt County citizens and acted out by Dell'Arte players in the titular Pierson Big Hammer Tent in Blue Lake at 7:30 p.m. (free).

Wednesday (Independence Day)

Forks Lounge in Willow Creek hosts its weekly Wednesday free acoustic jam with host Jimi Jeff at 7:30 p.m. And just like that, I have captured another Pokémon by including a Willow Creek gig in the mix for the first time. Huzzah.

Whomp Whomp Wednesday at The Jam is featuring a Path to Northern Nights featuring Sebastopol's deep bass act Shlump supported by similarly minded electro-clashers SuDs and Mike iLL at 9:30 p.m. ($20/$15 advance). Will the deep grooves overpower the firework blasts from the bombs bursting in air? Check it out.

Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to music@northcoastjournal.com.

Collin Yeo believes that independence from tyranny is a mutable state that is worth preserving. He lives in Arcata.

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Collin Yeo

Collin Yeo

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