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Scores to Settle 

It's not every week that a musician whose work has been featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and CSI plays live in Arcata. Keyboardist and bass player George Sarah has collaborated with members of Bauhaus and Save Ferris, and wrote a score for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, performed by the Beijing Modern Dance Company.

Sarah started out in the mid-1980s as a recording artist, making albums and touring. The music he plays is experimental, mixing electronic and classical music. While Sarah's music has never been commercially successful, a lot of filmmakers and choreographers have been drawn to it, asking him to collaborate on pieces for their presentations, or licensing his original compositions for TV shows and films. Film work wasn't something Sarah actively pursued, but it's worked out well for him, with a network of film executives hearing his work and tracking him down, or following the suggestions of other execs who have worked with him.

From 1992 to 1999, Sarah was the main composer and producer for a trip-hop band called T.H.C. He went solo after that. In addition to the 10 studio albums he's released, Sarah tours the country "at the mercy of whoever's interested," he says. Typically he'll travel on his own, teaming up with a string section from wherever he's headed for live performances. He may only play with the musicians for one night (which is exactly what's happening for his Arcata show), but the string parts for his songs are all scored, so before he hits the road, he's able to email each musician their part so he or she can practice prior to his arrival, then the group gets together and practices before the show.

For Sarah's Arcata show, he will play synthesizer and bass. Kira Weiss, Firefly Mizera and Michael Donovan — all local musicians — will join him on cello, viola, and violin, respectively. The quartet will focus on music from Sarah's 2014 post-industrial album Timelapse and his upcoming EP, both released by Flat Field Records in Seattle.

A portion of the proceeds from both the door and CD sales will benefit Friends for Life's Emergency Medical Fund. Sarah, a vegetarian for nearly 30 years, has been active with animal advocacy and rights for most of his life, and for most of his shows, he likes to donate a portion of the income.

Sarah and his local string trio will play Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Jam in Arcata. The show starts at 9 p.m. and there is a $5 cover.


Holly and the I.V.s play eclectic instrumentals, 6 p.m. at Mad River Brewery in Blue Lake. No cover.

Heart of a Dog, a film by Lou Reed's widow, Laurie Anderson, at Richard's Goat Tavern, 7 p.m. Described as a "documentary on love, death and (Anderson's) piano playing rat terrier," and dedicated to Reed. $8.

World Famous Productions presents Giraffage and Slow Magic with Lindsay Lowend opening, 9:30 p.m. at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Tickets are $20 in advance at


Richard's Goat Tavern hosts the final local showing Heart of a Dog. See the Wednesday listing.

The Jimmy D. Jazz Quartet features Jimmy Durchslag on trombone, Michael Curran on drums, Tim Randles on piano and Lee Phillips on bass, 7:30 p.m. at Cecil's in Redway. This group of musicians has all played together in Ponche, Latin Peppers, Humboldt Time and more. No cover.


MarchFourth marching band, featuring 20 musicians, dancers, stilt walkers(!) and artisans, 9:30 p.m. at Humboldt Brews. Tickets are $20 at I saw these guys last year on the HSU quad and they blew my mind with their funky jams.


Original surfabilly from Roland Rock, 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Mad River Brewery in Blue Lake. There is no cover and all ages are welcome.

Soul Night 50: The Funk Awakens, 9 p.m. at Humboldt Brews. Soul Night brings you the Star Wars Holiday Special with costumes, a visit from Santa and Christmas music. Advanced tickets are $5 at and at Missing Link Records in Arcata.

Monica Topping has been involved in just about every aspect of the local music scene at some point or another over the last couple decades. It doesn't take much arm twisting to get her out of the house for a show ... as long as she can find a babysitter.

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About The Author

Monica Topping

Monica Topping

Monica Topping has been a regular in the local music scene since the late '90s and has written about it on and off since high school. She is the coordinator for North Coast Open Studios, founded Rock Chick Designs and loves local business.

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