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click to enlarge Sweet Honey in the Rock plays the Van Duzer Theatre at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19.

Photo by Howard T. Cash, courtesy of the artists

Sweet Honey in the Rock plays the Van Duzer Theatre at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19.

The new year claimed its first rock star death last week and it was a doozy. Neil Peart was probably the most uniquely influential drummer for the last four decades and his work in the band Rush is timeless and inspirational. The extremely private star's death from a brain tumor was jarring to his legion of fans and as I write this, he is still being eulogized in many rock and heavy metal circles. I have always been more of a fan of Rush's 1980s output, as I prefer prog rock when it abandons the spaceships and dragon-haunted castles, and instead inhabits the far-flung, anodyne suburbs of modern isolation. Rush was an old band when I was young and one of the tough things about loving older music is that you are forced to watch your heroes and old standbys age and die.

This is also true of intergenerational friendships, a fact that was brought home to me over the weekend as I watched a friend of mine in his 70s receive his last rites and never wake up again, going out sometime in the deep hours of the early morning. My friend loved opera and devotional music, and I will always hold close to my heart the memory of playing the divine music of Palestrina on my phone in the ICU for him while he smiled and the machines beeped and ministered their attention to his bodily needs.

I'm not sad; our friendship was many times over worth the grief, just as Rush's music is larger than the sadness of mourning its fallen drum master. We all die and it is so much better that we spend time caring about each other in the meantime. I say this a lot but I absolutely mean it every time: Take care of each other. Make unusual friends and go out of your way to be with people who you care about.

You will live a good life this way.

Thursday

Siren's Song has all of your metal needs taken care of tonight with an all-ages show at 7 p.m. ($10). The British anti-fascist black metal band Dawn Ray'd leads the pack, with Oakland's Ragana also filling up the road crew category. Local support comes courtesy of Dullahan and Nan Elmoth.

Friday

Djs Red and Dacin are presenting a proper '80s night dance-off at the Miniplex tonight at 10 p.m. For only a two-drink minimum, you can come and bop, bop, bop til you drop to this Neon Dreams-themed evening of innocent and earnest tunes from, let's face it, the greatest decade of music in the last century.

Saturday

There's a good rock show a-brewing at the Logger Bar tonight at 9 p.m. One-man band, bass guitarist and Eureka punk laureate Dave, aka The Bored Again, opens up the night's fun. Later on Humboldt County rock supergroup Former Chimps will have the floor and hold down the fort for all of the assembled tune-munchers. Strings + electric current + speakers + drum skins. What could go wrong? Oh, and like all of the shindigs at this great venue, this show is free.

Sunday

Sweet Honey in the Rock has been making music for more than four decades. What sort of music? Imagine an ark floating on the oceans of turmoil piloted by an all-female ensemble of singers whose sole job is to preserve the best elements of gospel, blues, jazz and African American spiritual music with a supernatural covenant with the Master of the Universe. That sort of music. Tonight the group plays the Van Duzer Theatre at 7 p.m., an appropriate end to the seventh day of rest ($66).

Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

"There are 40 million poor people here and one day we must ask the question, 'Why are there 40 million poor people in America?' And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the oil?' You begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the iron ore?' You begin to ask the question, 'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that's two-thirds water?' These are words that must be said."

— from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 16, 1967

Tuesday

The Miniplex is hosting a special Karaoke en Español for everyone who wants to try their hand at an evening of Spanish language singing. Sadly, I don't speak that lovely language but I feel like "La Bamba" wouldn't be entirely outside of my abilities, as I learned the song by rote repetition on guitar when I was around 14, after watching Lou Diamond Phillips kill it as Richie Valens in the film of the same name. Anyway, I'm certain that our very talented pool of local singers will put my gringo aspirations to shame and then some at 9 p.m. (free).

Wednesday

The Wardens are a trio of Canadian national park wardens stationed on the western range of the Rocky Mountains who sing sweet folk songs about their experiences overseeing the lonesome wilderness of our northern neighbor country. The songs are beautiful with plangent sounds and three-part harmonies that evoke the bare human experience in the vast and open wilds. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. they'll be stationed at the Arcata Playhouse, holding down inland watchtower tunes for those of us who are at remote posts in the lands of the heart ($15, $13 playhouse members, students, seniors, veterans).

'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 music@northcoastjournal.com.

Collin Yeo prefers he/him pronouns and thinks that few things are better than walking across a big muddy field on a sunny day. He lives in Arcata, where that activity is often available.

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Collin Yeo

Collin Yeo

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