It's fitting that this year Valentine's Day falls on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, when Catholics traditionally give something up to pay penance to a greater spiritual truth. Love and romance, in my experience, also involve giving things away and sometimes those things are just too much and the whole thing crumbles like the resolve of a fasting penitent after a week of withholding. Love and devotion are strange beasts, and their bite marks are often dire.
I am navigating this macabre love holiday with my two perennial loves: music and poetry. Specifically, the music of my all-time favorite band, which I recently decided after much thought is Thin Lizzy. Why Thin Lizzy? Because on a very basic level it has it all: songs about love, heartbreak, nostalgic pitfalls of memory and fighting and drinking. An entire rainbow of complicated human experiences covered in the deceptively simple but brilliant language in which the Irish sometimes speak and sung through the heart-worn voice of the late Phil Lynott. Plus dual-harmony, hard-rock solos are just like heaven when pulled off correctly.
Anyway, retreating into music is one thing — you can do that at top volume while firing down the highway, after all — but poetry is another critter entirely. One of my favorite melancholic creations is that stanza from Shelley's "To A Skylark":
"We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought."
Or how about that message about intellectual love and devotion directed to a critic of high esteem by Willie S. from the final couplet of his 112th sonnet?
"You are so strongly in my purpose bred,
That all the world besides methinks are dead."
Woof, it would shiver my timbers and crack my foundations if the right person told me that. Maybe keep that one in your back pocket for when you meet the right person, dear reader. And bringing it back to the local nightlife, which is my beat and purview, what would be the proper mantra for that? How about the opening lines from the love song of another famous poetic weirdo, Mr. Prufrock, as told by Mr. Thomas Stearns Eliot:
"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table ..."
Enjoy your evenings, however they end up spreading out.
Modern dancehall star Jahdan Blakkamoore is arguably best known for his collaborations with Major Lazer and Snoop Dogg during his short-lived "Snoop Lion" phase, as well as his position in the group Noble Society. However, the Grammy nominee has a solid reputation as a dynamic and exciting solo performer these days, his sound falling somewhere at the intersection of dubstep and dancehall. He plays The Jam tonight (doors at 9 p.m.) with local support by Dynasty One and Sarge One Wise ($10).
Dent May is the stage name of James Dent May Jr., a native-Mississippian with the delicate features of a young Truman Capote and a sound that gives a smooth synth sheen to decades of cool pop influences from new wave to French lounge music. He is signed to Animal Collective's Paw Tracks record label, where he is something of a poster boy for the next generation of that group's pleasantly outré aesthetics. He is joined at the Miniplex at 9 p.m. by Canada's dreamy act Moon King and local Gene Autry/Dave Gilmour hybrid Mr. Moonbeam ($8 advance).
Speaking of Dave Gilmour, local Pink Floyd tribute act Money plays two sets tonight at Humbrews beginning at 9:30 p.m. ($10/ $7 advance). Featuring visuals by local artist and tie-dye maven Marmalade Sky and my Setlist predecessor and last year's No. 7 dick move-maker (according to my editor, anyway: "Top 10 Dick Moves," Dec. 28, 2017) Andy Powell on bass/vocals/Roger Waters duty, this quartet is as good as it gets when it comes to faithfully translating the pink gospel for the North Coast crowds.
Tim Randles on piano, Mike LaBolle on drums and world-famous luthier and electric bass-maker Ken Lawrence on — what else — bass is the jazz trio RLA and tonight it plays with returning ex-pat champion trumpeter Nicholas Dominic Talvola at 7 p.m. at the Westhaven Center for the Arts ($5-$20 sliding scale). The show's theme is a tribute to Miles Davis and Nicholas, who tours full time as a jazz artist out of his home base in Spain, is more than up to the task to interpret the master's work.
Bay Area's Gypsy-influenced jam rock hustlers Diego's Umbrella — whose name I have always despised on a visceral aesthetic level — plays Humbrews tonight for the local happy-go-lucky set of groove music cognoscenti ($15). I won't pretend that this genre is my cup of tea but having caught one of the band's sets years ago at Summer Arts in Benbow, I understand the live appeal and, to paraphrase the 19th century humorist Artimus Ward, for people who like this sort of show, this is exactly the show for them. If you are one of those folks catch ya' boys at 9:30 p.m.
The Eureka Orchestra is putting on its annual Chamber Music Benefit Concert at the Eureka Woman's Club today at 3 p.m. Your $30 buys a spot to watch the masterful playing of violinist Terrie Baune, cellist and Eureka Symphony conductor and music director/local treasure Carol Jacobson, pianist John Chernoff and guest saxophonist Scott Seaton as they work through what will likely be an exciting matinee.
The Jam is holding a daytime GetDown for local musician and electric cellist Mike Lee, who died tragically last month while surfing in Morocco. The informal jam kicks off at 1 p.m. and it is suggested that people bring a dish to share or money to donate to one of Lee's favorite charities. Expect a Journal blog post soon about Mike as told by his friends and contemporary musicians. Rest in peace, Mike Lee.
It's Monday night, which means that the Rude Lion Sounds is hosting its Dancehall Mondayz at the Ocean Grove at 9:30 p.m. Come on out and dance and spit hot fire on the slanted floors of Trinidad's best ad hoc night club ($5).
Tuesdays are normally pretty slow here in the north end of the 707 but tonight has a couple of low-key fun and free joints out in scenic Blue Lake. First up at 6 p.m., the Mad River Brewery Tasting Room hosts indie folk rock act Native Harrow. Then within walking distance over at the Logger Bar at 8 p.m. there's an Irish music session. Come one, come all and pre-game some Celtic tunes a month ahead of St. Paddy's day.
Wednesday (Valentine's Day)
What started out as a curio act — how many beatboxing Hasidic reggae artists have there been in the history of music, let alone those that have toured with Madonna? — has become long-range career for Matthew Paul Miller, aka Matisyahu. Tonight he brings his shine to the Mateel Community Center at 9 p.m. to show you exactly why he has enjoyed near two decades of critical and commercial acclaim ($30).Rock and soul sextet Eminence Ensemble provide support and opening vibes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collin Yeo is fortune's fool. He lives in Arcata.