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Keeping the Gray at Bay 

As November descends and the days turn grayer and shorter, our sweet Humboldt County begins to resemble the Asphodel Meadows of Homer's underworld or the garden of virtuous pagans in the first circle of Dante's Inferno. Limbo, in other words — everything around here can start to resemble a wet, green-gray limbo. Which leads us to a variety of options: Do we shack up with a new squeeze or a reliable old partner and burn through our Netflix queue like it's the end times? Or do we take up a new hobby like firing clay pots, macramé or arthropod dissection? Do we become one of those weirdos who swears they love hiking in the rain and can't see what all the fuss is about while cultivating a cold newt-like sheen of wetness on their clothes and face at all times, even indoors?

For me, it's a heady mix of all of the above (except for the grasshopper dissection, yuck), warmed and tempered by a steady stream of live music. Here are some glowing gems to brighten your darkening days.

Thursday

The Outer Space hosts an international indie and garage rock show at 7 p.m. with locals The Monster Women, Australia's The Fix Ups and Los Angeles' The Blank Tapes ($8).

Because of the refreshingly early 10 p.m. curfew at the Outer Space, you can double your pleasure most nights and catch another show in Arcata, and tonight is no exception. Seattle's Smokey Brights play the Jam at 10 p.m. (price TBA) and I think this band might surprise you as it did me because it has a really tight, clear and original sound. Led by husband and wife Ryan Devlin and Kim West, these Smokey Brights sound to my ears like '70s pop masters such as Big Star or the Dire Straits funneled through a low-key New Order rhythm-section filter. Everyone plays crisply and there are chords in there you don't normally hear in a rock band.

Friday

EPIC puts on its annual fundraiser at 9 p.m. at the Mateel Center in Redway to celebrate four decades of fighting the good fight against the planet-polluting plutocrats who seem to increasingly make up the top tier of the political class in this country. The folk music-heavy event features performances by Joanne Rand, Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, and Alice DiMicele. All proceeds will go toward EPIC's ongoing mission to stop the Big Guys from making our forests look like the collapsing world in the third act of The NeverEnding Story so I would consider the $20 ticket price money well spent.

Catch a bad one at Humbrews at 10 p.m. when innovative rapper, time-traveling visionary Gorillaz collaborator and cousin of Ice Cube Del the Funky Homosapien takes the stage in a much welcomed return to Arcata ($25, $20 advance). With special guests DJ Tyler and DJ D'Vinity.

Saturday

A couple of years and a lifetime of little social interactions ago, I met a nice man named Bear Dyken and helped him load his truck up with old solar panels donated by local solar genius and all-around nice guy David Katz. Bear told me about his long running activist folk group, Clan Dyken, and even though that type of music usually isn't for me, I was very impressed with the many environmental and social causes that Bear and company had raised money for over the band's three-decades-long run. Clan Dyken's Revive the Beauty Way tour is a fundraiser for indigenous people in the Big Mountain part of the Navajo nation in northern Arizona, who have been resisting relocation since the early '70s. It kicks off its Arcata stop of the tour at 5 p.m. at the D Street Neighborhood Center with local musicians Joanne Rand, Rob Diggins and Piet Dalmolen filling out the bill. The $10-$25 suggested donation seems like a bargain to help a great people retain their homes.

It's alive! It's alive! It's Art's Alive in Eureka! At 7:30 p.m., the Siren's Song has a raucous rock show with indie slammers Echo Rows followed by heavy Americana act Side Iron and melodic space bumpers Strix Vega closing out the night. All local bands, all free.

Sunday

Uh-oh. What's that low rattle coming from G Street between 10th and 11th? Did a little Godzilla crawl out of the bay to seek the bright lights of our cozy college town? Did those awful yak guys return from a pilgrimage to India with elephants to better harass the dog walking population? Nope! It's another electronic show at the Arcata Theater Lounge with The Floozies bringing their Funk Jesus tour to the stage at 9:30 p.m. ($17). The Lawrence, Kansas, sibling duo of Mark and Matt Hill play live electronic tunes with sounds and samples that reference some of the space-jammed sections of the vinyl notebook of tunes and tricks. Disco dance DJ duo The Funk Hunters fill the bill with electro artist Maddy O'Neal opening.

Monday

Phoenix, Arizona's own power-violence monstrosity Burnout plays the Outer Space at 6 p.m. with local handsome duo of noisy weirdos Rush Hour IV starting the show ($5). Bring earplugs or start buying real estate in the muted nightmare that is my aural world. If you forget them though, this show is definitely worth the hearing damage to the loud and heavy music fan.

The Jam hosts cystic fibrosis survivors and brothers Evton and Skip and their roots dub reggae band Indubious at 10 p.m. with their deep, heavy grooves, spiritual songs and tight vocal harmonies (price TBA). Zahira opens.

Tuesday

The popular Santa Cruz-by-way-of-Vermont bluegrass trio The Devil Makes Three plays the West Gym at HSU at 7:30 p.m. DMT are well-loved and respected in these parts but I am honestly excited about the entire show, as Texas native, one-man band, country-blues and punk-fried metal-playing badass and road-dog lifer Scott H. Biram inaugurates the evening. The $33 ticket for this line-up is a steal and the show will likely be packed.

Wednesday

The Old Steeple continues what has quickly become a stellar tradition of booking talented singer/songwriters to play its beautiful refurbished Methodist church hall. Portland's John Craigie is one such talented performer. Like earlier heavies like John Prine or Guy Clark, Craigie deftly offsets his deeply evocative and touching lyrics with a simple delivery and quippy one-liners between songs. Simplicity and sweetness are the métier for opening duo Hollis Peach. The baritone/alto interplay in the gorgeous vocal harmonies produced by Dan Sherrill and Jacqui Aubert are capable of both breaking the heart and swelling the soul to the surface of the skin. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. ($25, $20 advance).

Collin Yeo is an astronaut, nationally ranked bridge champion, former pro tem mayor of Carmel, California, midwife and full-time scurrilous and inveterate liar. When he isn't busy lying (which is never), he is a gardener, musician, handyman and writer. He lives in Arcata.

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.

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