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Out with the Old 

An array of North Coast New Year's Eve parties

click to enlarge The Delta Nationals - PHOTO BY BOB DORAN
  • photo by Bob Doran
  • The Delta Nationals

Another year is crawling to a close, and with it the first decade in the 21st century. Not exactly a great year and certainly not such a great decade. Regardless, it's time to ring out the old and ring in the new. Since New Year's Eve falls on a Friday, giving us Saturday and Sunday for recovery, why not make it a rager?

As usual you'll have all sorts of choices -- just pick your musical genre and hope your peeps show up (or check in with your social network and coordinate).

Where to start? There are some early evening options if you're planning a long night, or perhaps thinking you'll watch the replay of the Times Square Big Ball drop on TV. (Warning: Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest has New Kids on the Block and The Backstreet Boys. Yikes!)

You could swing by Fieldbrook Market (careful on that road in the rain) for a set by Dead-ish acoustic jammers The Bare Necessities (starting at 7) or stop at Libation, the wine shop on the Arcata Plaza, where you might have a champagne toast while listening to cool jazz by Zuzu's Petals (from 7-10).

Robert Goodman Tasting Room across town has a fancy dress New Year's Eve Gala with "classy food and drink" and classy guitar music by Fred Neighbor and Junior (no, not his son).

Looking back at the last decade and particularly the last year, the DJ scene and electronica continue to grow, even behind the proverbial Redwood Curtain. Where's the glitchy dubstep party Friday night? Where's Queer Bill promises "the largest New Year's Eve Dance Party the North Coast has ever seen" at Nocturnum -- the "Two Thousand and Heaven New Year's Bash." Now, that's mostly hyperbole, but Nocturnum does have the biggest dance floor and will have DJs in both rooms. Conductor Cadence, iBeat and Delphik drop dubstep and glitch hop in the Bass Room while DJ Buddy and DJ Ninja fill the big room with "club hits and exclusive remixes."

Alliance Music Group and the Better World Family present a New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball at Portuguese Hall in Arcata that doubles as a CD release party for dubsteppers Niteppi and Kid-Telex with guest shots by Franco, J2M3, World's Finest, Alton San Giovanni and others.

Ragg's Rack Room has a NYE "video mixdown" with MXMSTR KRSHN2N (Dub Cowboy, when he plays reggae) on the Serato playing "whatever makes people dance."

DJ Kev from Don's Neighbors asks the rhetorical question: "Where's the most happening local New Year's Eve party in town?" and answers it: Sal's Myrtlewood Lounge, where he's spinning "the best rock, soul, hip hop, oldies and dance party jams ever released."

Looking to kick it old skool? Look no further than DJ Red, spinning vinyl at Humboldt Brews. "I've dusted off my funk and soul 45s and will start the evening with some of that, then move on to the old school hip hop as the night progresses," he tells us. And you may not have a lot more opportunities to experience Red's fine work on the wheels of steel. "I see the sun setting on my DJ career as we speak," he forewarns. "I keep getting older, but the dance floor stays the same age. And the requests get shittier every year. Who the fuck is Katy Perry and why should I care?" Good question.

DJs and live hip hop mix at the Red Fox Tavern's Hip Hop New Years with Potluck headlining a show with Garth Culti-Vader, Ishi Dube, Never Die, DJ Just-one and The Hip-Hop Lounge with B. Swiz, Stevie Culture, Shasta Kersh, Mike Lee and GBOB. (Expect beaucoup rhymes about the herb.)

For pretty much the exact opposite try the Safe and Sober New Year's Eve Celebration at the Embassy (corner of Wabash and Union in Eureka), a Christian gathering with "gospel/positive music" by Tristin Roberts, Sound Doctrine Band, TOC, Joseph Dominic Band and Worship Live Band.

Meanwhile all four casinos are in full swing, mostly with music on the nostalgic side.

Bear River has ’80s New Wave hits by Eyes Anonymous plus DJ Ray. Blue Lake has NightHawk playing classic rock on the bluesy side in the Wave with The Kid and Nic Show in the Sapphire fronted by the husband/wife team Nicole and Kirk Tracy -- the emphasis here is on the "show." Cher-Ae-Heights has Dr. Squid playing hits for your dancing pleasure. Even Lucky Bear Casino up in Hoopa has music: Jimi Jeff and The Gypsy Band, with their Hendrix covers and assorted funk and blues.

Bump Foundation does their old school funky thang at Six Rivers Brewing NYE. Also in McKinleyville, folk/rock groovers Kulica provide music for a dinner and dancing party at the Moose Lodge of all places. ("You don't need to be a Moose member.") They're even offering rides to and from if you make advance arrangements.

The Jambalaya has the Tom Petty tribute band, Full Moon Fever if that's the sort of nostalgia you're after.

Arcata Playhouse offers a double bill: Cadillac Ranch opens with a mix of country western, Cali-style country rock and boomer blues-rock. Then it's The Delta Nationals swerving stylistically from rootsy blues and twang to schmaltzy rock ’n' roll, and doing so nicely. Added bonus: "complimentary midnight champagne!"

The Arcata Theatre Lounge also has a double bill: Chris Wixson's soulful Speakeasy Saints open followed by The Absynth Quintet, who seem to be outgrowing the gypsy jazz label in their ever-expanding acoustic excursions.

The Humboldt Brass New Year's Party at Humboldt Hill Grange starts with a potluck dinner and moves on to swing dancing. RSVP to if that sounds like your thing.

Down SoHum way, the Riverwood Inn hosts its 17th annual New Year's party with Back in the Daze playing classic rock, hats and horns, champagne (or some sort of sparkling wine), cake and Loreen's famous Midnight Buffet. As Loreen points out, they also have a large generator, Big Bertha, ready to go in case of power failure. (Who can forget the New Year's blackout of Oh-Five?)

Is there anything going on before or after New Year's Eve? Not a whole lot, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

The truly fine L.A.-based neo-funk ’n' soul band Orgone plays the Red Fox Thursday night. Orgone is making the rounds in Cali touting a new CD/LP, Cali Fever. (That's right, it's also pressed on vinyl.) This one's for fans of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings who can't make it to New York for that band's show on Broadway with Allen Toussaint.

Earlier that evening (6-ish) sweet guitarist Lyndsey Battle y Sus Amigos play some folky stuff at the Mad River Brewery. Not sure who her amigos are, but Lyndsey is bilingual and does some songs in Spanish. (And she's good.)

Tuesday, Jan. 4, marks the third anniversary of the resurrected Blues Jam at the Jambalaya. The original hosts of the jam, The Uptown Kings start things off -- that's Andy Widman on guitar, Dale Cash bass, Ray Moretta drums and Ron Perry on harp. From there it's basically a blues free-for-all, which is what the jam is all about. Ron, who sent me an invite, hopes that some "blues jam vets" show up to thrown down. Recycling 12-bar progressions passed down from long dead bluesman might seem passé to you, but they don't care. They do it because they love it and they have a grand time. Isn't that what music's all about?  

Resolutions? How about we all enjoy more music in 2011?

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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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