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The Infinite Jukebox 

click to enlarge Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band play the Miniplex Monday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Sublime Frequencies

Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band play the Miniplex Monday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

Last week we lost Harry Belafonte and early this week, Gordon Lightfoot saw his last sundown. In both cases, there is in my mind a tone of triumph rather than tragedy, as they died at advanced ages, in which living is in itself an achievement. Particularly in the case of Belafonte, who was a four-year term shy of reaching 100. At 84, Lightfoot was not a young man either. So rather than mourn, I'd like to celebrate the fine catalogs both men have left us. Does "Jump in the Line (Shake Senora)" pair well with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?" I don't know but I'm going to find out.

These fellas moving on has led me to think about death a bit this week, one of America's big taboos (the other is intimacy). We tend to treat all passings with a fair amount of grief but, if we are being honest, when the reaper comes to visit someone at an advanced age, it isn't really a loss so much as it is a grace. This life isn't easy and nobody reaches the far end of its span without the transformative shroud of aging. The physical aspects of ourselves break down in countless tiny ways that all eventually compound to create a sort of living decay. This is the great, inevitable end of a long life, and a blessing for those who are able to see the true nature of things. We are subjects of time, forced by the dimension in which our senses operate, to perceive the passage of years as a linear process, rather than a series of moments within eternity. The swallows and red-winged black birds that are currently filling spring skies live for about two years, and to them I am an ancient sentinel, though I am myself just a brief songbird to a redwood or a mountain. Yet we all share a place in the sun in this piece of eternity. We all are. And, I suspect, we shall forever be, in a way that none of us could ever fully understand with the limitations sewn into the native senses of our bodies. But if you care to trust me, I will share with you that we and every other living being in creation, are an infinite part of eternity. It's our job to inhabit that space with the same love and honesty that is displayed by the actions of those ascending birds, and the music of dudes like Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Belafonte.


The Dell'Arte school is presenting the first night of its three-night run of Clown at 8 p.m. What is Clown? Why, it's a student-cast performance of the sort of stuff that Dell'Arte does best: theatrical, clown-based capering. This show has been quite popular in the past, so if this is of interest to you, snag one of the $10 tickets with a quickness.

Friday, Cinco de Mayo

Having never traveled to Mexico, I'm not too hip to this holiday, in the sense of how widespread its celebration is outside of my native state of California. However, my general aim in this column is to learn and share. One thing I do know is that Makenu is a fantastic local cumbia band playing at the Miniplex tonight around 9 p.m. in celebration. Tickets are $10, and DJs Amaru Shia and Eclectic will be spinning some grooves in the gaps in the action.


Houston rapper Devin the Dude has built his 25-year career around the oddball, back-alley by the mainstream style of hip hop that has made that city an artistic haven and spiritual twin of its cultural sister city of New Orleans. I'm talking about cool, idiosyncratic shit that is too real to be esoteric and far cooler than the powers on the Billboard charts. He's the real deal, folks, and tonight at 9 p.m., he will be doing his thing at Humbrews. The pot is further sweetened by the addition of local wax master DJ Goldylocks ($30, $25 advance).


The Chamber Players of the Redwoods are putting on a free show at 5 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka. A cursory scan of the program had my ears pricked up, as one of the composers whose music is on the menu is Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine master of the tango and a man whose entire being pours out of his body into the bandoneon, a type of accordion. Piazzolla is one of my favorite artists of all time, so much so that upon reading my notes for today, I bumped Chopin off my writing soundtrack and replaced him with Piazzolla. His is true soul music and now you have a chance to hear it live, you lucky ducks who are favored by the fair passions of the Fates.


There are certain musical ley lines that curl around the world and contain within their mysterious pathways certain regions that are of great importance in the Promethean creation of music. Prime among those areas is West Africa, where the DNA of much of our best contemporary music can first be found. Burkina Faso is a country in that region from whence (along with neighboring countries like Mali) comes a sound that is every bit as passionate and narrative as the Delta blues. Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band conjures up the very best sounds of this tradition. Hear it for yourself at the Miniplex tonight at 7 p.m. I've heard the $25 early-bird tickets are going fast and, while an extra $5 will get you through the door on the night of, I think this one might reach capacity quickly.


Humboldt Bay Social Club continues its free, weekly adult movie night tonight at 6 p.m. This evening's offering is the 2021 Ryan Reynolds comedy Free Guy, set in a video game world that is apparently nothing like the landscape of Tron. If nothing else, the venue is very charming and the drinks well made.


The world of 1970s Jamaican sound system DJs was every bit as complex and groundbreaking as early punk rock or hip hop, and a volume could be written about the various scenes and artists contained therein, which I am clearly not going to compose here. With that in mind, the singer and MC Eek-A-Mouse stands tall in that crowded field of eccentric geniuses. Four decades into it and still touring, he's worth a gander, which you can have tonight at Humbrews at 9 p.m. ($35, $30 advance).

Collin Yeo's (he/him) career goal is to cleanse the doors of perception so everything will appear to him as it is, Infinite. He lives in Arcata, where he is working on his CV.

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Collin Yeo

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