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Laugh It Up 

click to enlarge Barbaro plays the Arcata Playhouse on Thursday, May 26 at 8 p.m.

Photo by Jeff Mateo, courtesy of the artists

Barbaro plays the Arcata Playhouse on Thursday, May 26 at 8 p.m.

I'm happy to report I finished last week with a show that absolutely repaired my mood and gave me just enough oomph to get back to the working week. I am, of course, talking about the Eureka Symphony's amazing season finale. I will be brief because there is new business at hand, but two things: First, if you see Jenny Scheinman's name on the lineup, buy a ticket immediately, regardless of what you know about the show because you will never be disappointed; secondly, I can't wait for next season. If you get a chance to go to a performance by our beloved local symphony, take it. You can thank me later. Kudos to everyone involved.

Moving on, we're back on track for the Grand Kinetic Championship. Given the ongoing pandemic, I have mixed feelings about this event but I concede that there's literally nothing to be done. Those who choose to take precautions and those who don't are firmly encamped, each side fully convinced of their own righteousness. My only observation is that a country stupid enough to turn a public health crisis into a culture war isn't going to ever get better without a fundamental reconstruction. The reins have been loose for a long time, the coachman's drunk and I can hear a horde of bandits picking up the scattered coins dropping out of the shot-up lockbox. Let those among us with reason retain their sanity by losing that reason and replacing it with absurdist humor. Rather than looking with stark horror and the slithering destruction of collective normalcy, let's embrace the madcap and absurd and laugh at how hideous the ride has always been. In that sense, we are better equipped for the artful weirdness of this weekend's Kinetic spectacle than ever before. And no matter how you feel about the future, you had better enjoy today. Be seeing you.


Barbaro is a Minnesota quartet whose sound can perhaps best be described as "chamber grass." This means it plays intricate, bluegrass-flavored songs with the complexity and sonic qualities of chamber music and cool-era jazz. If that description either appeals to you or leaves something to be desired, you can judge for yourself tonight at the Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. ($18). Perhaps there's a better genre name for this excellent band and you might be the one to discover it.


It's always a treat to write about a venue I haven't covered before. At least not to my recollection, which is admittedly slipping a lot these days as the "new normal" steadily grinds away the dura mater of my brain. At any rate, Forever Found is the place I am referring to and the show is a good one for all you reggae fans out there. Dezarie is a talented chanteuse from the Virgin Islands who dabbles in a soulful modern form of that great rhythmic genre. I hear her band is top notch, too. The all-ages show is at 8 p.m. and there is a byzantine pricing model: $45 general admission, $40 advance, $35 early bird, $25 super early bird, $10 kids 12 and under.


It's the last Saturday of May and another hip hop night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge is on tonight's program. Brother Ali is something of an unusual figure in the hip hop world: A young convert to Islam, the Wisconsin-born rapper encountered early outsider treatment because of his albinism, an experience that has informed his spiritual and creative life, fostering a love for activism and social justice. He is joined tonight by local rap collective City Hippie, as well as DJ Last Word and Rowdy. Doors at 7 p.m. ($24, $20 advance).


There was a time when people referred to the mix of rockabilly with modern punk as "psychobilly," but I have seen that term thrown around less and less in the last decade. No big loss; I'm not much of a fan of kitschy genre names. Regardless, if your ears prick up at the sound of those styles mixed together, the Siren's Song Tavern has a show for you. The Rocketz are some Los Angeles veterans of the cool cats club, while Motel Drive hails from Fresno and has a bit more country twang in the mix. Tonight's lucky number is eight, as in "time of the show and number of dollars needed to get inside."

Monday, Memorial Day

It's the last day of the long weekend which means that from Crab Park to downtown Ferndale the Kinetic madness will be in full swing during the sunshine hours. If you find you've had your fill of both sun and fun, and need to hide out somewhere and top off the tank, consider heading over to the nearby Angelina Inn, where Buddy Reed and th' Rip It Ups will be playing the blues starting at 5 p.m. The music is free, the pizza is not.


It's easy to do a double-take tonight because the wide world of music has more than one guy named Mike Love. Thankfully, tonight's visitor isn't the more (in)famous one, known as the Republican Beach Boy, who tours the country with the worst iteration of that foundational group and is largely hated by better musicians and discerning fans alike. No, I'm talking about Hawaiian reggae artists Mike Love & The Full Circle, a group that trades in genuine Good Vibrations and not the saccharine type. Catch the action at the Arcata Theatre Lounge tonight at 8 p.m. Acclaimed French group Dub Inc is on the marquee as well ($20).


Over Yonder has made a name for itself by peddling a righteous mix of intricate noodling with funky beats and heavy riffs. Sometimes known as The Primus Equation, Portland trio Sweet N' Juicy has a similar formula, albeit with fewer musicians and the addition of three fruit-themed costumes. So, if you choose to visit the Siren's Song Tavern tonight at 8 p.m., you won't just be listening to funky party music, you'll be listening to funky party music performed by a pineapple, a banana and a strawberry on keys (price unknown). Shake it up.

Collin Yeo (he/him) would like to wish the fondest of farewells to an old furry friend of his in New Orleans. Rest in peace, Pyg. You were one of the sweetest cats I ever knew. Until we meet again, dear one.

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Collin Yeo

Collin Yeo

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