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On a Monday 

Billy Nayer Show, B*Side Players, Highlonesome, varieties of grass and tributes

click to enlarge Cory McAbee of The Billy Nayer Show - PHOTO BY BOB DORAN
  • photo by Bob Doran
  • Cory McAbee of The Billy Nayer Show

While the pre-summer, no-college-audience lull is in effect overall, Monday night seems to be full of options. The Eureka Alibi has a three-band blast featuring The Billy Nayer Show, a strange dark combo with the most badass autoharp player you'll ever hear, Cory McAbee. Wikipedia describes BNS as a New York-based musical group "of questionable genre," which sounds like something Cory would say. Last time they came to town it was in connection with a film screening; McAbee went from making idiosyncratic music videos to full-length epics such as the dark sci-fi tale The American Astronaut and the postmodern western/sci-fi hero tale Stingray Sam. The other bands: Drifter Killer, discussed here last week, and Eureka Garbage Company, whose founder/drummer, Chris Colland, is a major BNS fan.

When I ran into Chris at the Rutabaga Ball, where St. John and the Sinners had just pulled out a few Fleetwood Mac tunes as Mirage, I suggested that he might want to get on board the tribute train and think about doing some off-kilter cover band. He noted that the Garbage Co. worked up a cover of Captain Beefheart's "Drop-Out Boogie" from the Safe as Milk album, a tune they've found deceptively difficult. A Beefheart tribute? "That would be way too much work," said Chris. "His music is so complex."

Start with a big splash of San Diego borderline Mexi-Latin cumbia/rock, add an equal portion of funk with a reggae bassline and a one-drop beat, touches of hip hop and samba here and there, overlay with horns and bilingual lyrics expressing what they call an "overwhelming positive vibration of love, culture and unity." The result: a SoCal powerhouse called B*Side Players. They've been around since 1997 playing clubs, festivals, etc. They're on a NorCal swing this week, coming to Arcata for a show at the Jambalaya Monday night. Be prepared to sweat. Monday is normally rock steady/ska night with Gabe's Pressure Beat Soundsystem -- not to worry, he's on the bill too, and I know he loves Latin ska. 

Meanwhile, same Monday, at the other Alibi (in Arcata) a band called Highlonesome plays rollickin' music they call "mountainbilly thrash." Based in Madison, Wis., the "group of four guys being as real as can be" ("real as yer busted heart and empty wallet") plays "loud fast music, a mix of true American roots mountain music mixed with rockabilly influences." Roots music scholars will recognize the crammed together name as a reference to Bill Monroe's explanation of the bluegrass sound. Accordingly, you'll find lead "howler" Noah T picking clawhammer banjo, which in most cases is enough for easy pigeonholing by club owners, etc., as "bluegrass." This ain't no bluegrass. 

If you read the letters to the editor last week you know that Cameron Trujillo, who scrubs washboard for The No Good Redwood Ramblers, does not like being genre-fied as "rough-hewn humgrass," a too-clever phrase I coined mainly to avoid erroneously calling their stringy music "bluegrass." Whatever. TNGRR play what they call "All American Freedom Grass" at Mad River Brewery Thursday.

Same Thursday at the Jambalaya, The Fickle Hillbillies, whose name suggests bluegrass, play jammish rock (guitars, no banjos) along with The Grass Band, whose profile ends in /humboldtgrass. They've subtracted the "grass" from bluegrass and play the blues.

Get your reggae fix Friday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge when Proper Productions presents reggae legend Don Carlos, one of the original members of Black Uhuru, backed by The Dub Vision Band featuring Jimmy D. He's the real deal.

Pianist Ryan McCullough, who grew up in Arcata, returns to his hometown for a Friday night concert in HSU's Fulkerson Recital Hall. The program includes classics by Beethoven, Debussy and Lizst plus something by Ryan's friend Dante De Silva subtitled "Arcata." "He wrote a large chunk of this piece while renting the downstairs living space at my mom's house in Bayside," McCullough explains. The concert concludes with John Adams' twin-piano piece "Hallelujah Junction," with Daniela Mineva on the other piano.

A different sort of piano player, Tim Randles, plays jazz and world music that same night at Holly Yashi Design Studio in Arcata. It's hard to keep track of all the bands Tim plays in; he's also majorly involved in Dell'Arte's big show for the Mad River Festival, Mary Jane: The Musical. More on that next week in Muse.

The electro-fiends of Deep Groove Society are not on summer break. Saturday they bring Ornette, Tim Brown and DJ Touch to the Red Fox. Sunday it's Sundaze as usual at the Jambalaya.

While the small Mad River Brewing Tasting Room usually sticks to local acts, Saturday they present Morning Fire, an alt. folk-rock duo from Montana, specifically Red Lodge, "gateway to Yellowstone." The duo is on a voyage in the Grey Goose (a sleek '77 Ford Econoline) in support of a new album, The Voyager, recorded while snowed-in in Red Lodge, where "inspiration came from cabin fever, freak weather systems and the local deer."

Been hearing lately about a new youth venue in Eureka: Club Retro. What little I'd heard made it sound something like a more successful version of the Placebo concept, creating a space where kids too young to go to bars can listen to and play music. This week Club Retro present a big show on Saturday night with five bands I've never heard of: Jamie's Elsewhere, Lions, Tigers and Bears!, Loren Battle, Orchestrate and Razor Crown. Thinking they might be local high schoolers or something like that, I checked in at to find more details.

Turns out there are several Club Retros, one here, one in Roseville, Ore., another in Fresno -- and they have a mission (with a capital M): "The Mission of the local Club Retro is to create a community where believers and non-believers alike can come together in a safe environment and enjoy good music, and to create opportunity for bands, both nationals and locals, to have a stage were they can play and showcase their talents in a professional facility." They also "offer an encounter with God and the Christian faith in a life altering way..." The kicker: "Through this, we long to create an impact which will allow us to transform our region and in turn allow us to take over the world."

As I write this, a music player on their site is playing "Beautiful," a carefully crafted pop song by Jamie's Elsewhere that seems like a love song. It shifts part way, adding a metal riff -- the familiar mutated growl that passes for Satan in metal chimes in with the auto-tuned lead singer. "You're so beautiful; I want to get with you." It's very slick and, in a way I can't quite explain, frightening. Maybe it's the last four words in that mission statement. It makes me rethink those band names. Orchestrate? Razor Crown? Lions, Tigers and Bears!? Oh my.

OK, back to that tribute trend. The latest entry: Naive Melodies, a Talking Heads tribute band playing Thursday at Six Rivers. The name cleverly references my favorite Heads song, "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)."  

"Home is where I want to be ... And you're standing here beside me; I love the passing of time. Never for money; always for love. Cover up, say goodnight -- say goodnight."

Love that notion: "Always for love."


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About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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