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click to enlarge The California Poppies play the Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10.

Courtesy of the artists

The California Poppies play the Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10.

Last Sunday we had Fall Back, when we retreated to an extra hour of darkness — and for many, sleep — on the clock to adjust to the changing season. Fall back, retreat, ceasefire, armistice ... these words flow together in a certain thematic harmony as we reach the last one. Until 1954, we used to celebrate something called Armistice Day on Nov. 11, to mark the cessation of hostilities in the Great War, one of the most ignoble and pointless slaughters in human history. All Quiet on the Western Front, in book or recent movie form, has you covered if you're curious about the scope of its blind atrocity. Then eventually, the Great War became World War I because, oops, we did it again. And by the time the Korean War ceased hostilities in favor of paranoid hyper-militarized border skirmishes and the eventual rise and fall of a peninsular, shaky détente, we changed the name of the observance to Veterans Day. On some conscious level, this probably came from the realization that while we aren't very good at ending bloodshed and keeping ceasefires, we are definitely in the business of making more veterans. And ever since, business has been good, especially if you are in the investment, development and sales divisions of our vast war machine churning out its machines of war. I've never once written a negative thing about veterans as a group and I never will; they deserve remembrance as much as the world deserves an eventual permanent cessation of hostilities. The War Pigs preventing that cessation, on the other hand, can all go to Hell. Don't ask me to help with that change, though. It ain't me, I ain't no senator's son. There, between Creedence and Sabbath, lie my sensibilities. Peace out.


I haven't checked in on Blondie's in a while, so in deference to that sweet little venue in my old neighborhood, Here's a two-fer for the evening. Starting at 5 p.m. and running for two hours, the lively open mic will be happening, then after a pause, at 8 p.m., you can enjoy a showcase of local bands, with Racket, Morning Dew and Short Stop. If present, cover charges tend to vary and often there's a suggested donation cup, so bring a little currency for the players.


Not long after their local star-studded and sold-out show at the Minor Theatre, The California Poppies will be featuring another presentation of their new record The Holy Rainbow with the aim of gathering even more footage for an eventual live album and concert film. Tonight's performance will be at the Arcata Playhouse, with support from local bands The Critics and The Mighty Superbloom. The gig's at 8 p.m., and tickets are going for $15 or $10 for students. Come make your mark as a member of the cheering masses.

Saturday (Veteran's Day)

A jazz night tonight sounds just about right, especially considering the dramatic weather we've had pouring down on our hat brims and pooling around our gumshoes recently. Let's start with the double bill at the Basement, where from 6 to 8 p.m. you can listen to Gil Cline's Midnight Jazz-Tet do it right. Afterward, sax player Russ Thallheimer will scoot over to trumpeter Nick Talvola's quintet to set us up with the goods for the rest of the evening. Buy some bevvies and tip the staff. If you want a smaller combo, stroll over to the Arcata Playhouse by 8 p.m. for the avant-stylings of a duo of Bay Area heavies, drummer Scott Amendola and saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, whose three decades of collaboration have yielded some very adventurous sonic travels, eclipsing the regular limitations of a beat and woodwind duo with remarkable ease. This one will cost you $20 — two bucks cheaper if you're a Playhouse club member — but the price is worth seeing some returning champs.


Baltimore's Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is a funk-centered jam band whose musical palette is defined by the genre-skipping qualities of the group's chosen jam genre. If that sounds reductive and circular, then howdy, and welcome to the world of jam music, a playful and self-referential place that tends to treat live music as a moveable feast. And why not? Someone should be having fun these days. You can be one of those merry pranksters if you roll up to the Van Duzer Theatre at 7 p.m. and fork over $40 — or no money at all if you're a Cal Poly Humboldt student with an I.D. Dogs in a Pile opens, so it's a carnival of animals tonight.


Bella Union Records was founded in the U.K. 25 years ago by the bassist and guitar player for the highly influential band Cocteau Twins, whose dreamy pop sounds trickle across the label's artist roster. One such act oozing that sound is Toronto's Tallies who will be making a pit stop at the Miniplex tonight at 8 p.m. to share some mystic and treated reverb-rich tones. The tourmates are Portland's Shady Cove which has a similar approach to songcraft, while the new kids on the block are locals Natural Blasters, fronted by White Manna's David J. ($15, $12 advance).


I saw one of its members the other day, which reminded me to remind you about the Opera Alley Cats, a jazz group that plays to fill its surroundings, two places in particular being just about perfect for heightening the ambience: the Basement and the Speakeasy. Tonight at 7 p.m. the group will be at the latter place. Bring some coins for a cocktail and some scratch for the band.


Singer and songwriter Dave Alvin specializes in a hybrid-genre style of distinctly California music with noirish lyrical qualities. The results are songs that create scenes, steeped in speedway country, boogie blues, surf rock and lo-fi trip tunes. He's also a road dog with his band The Guilty Ones, who have counted Tom Waits, Bobby Rush and Los Lobos among their admiring peers. Tonight at 8 p.m. the group headlines the stage at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, with support coming from Los Angeles' dark Americana group Dead Rock West ($45).

Collin Yeo (he/him) is actually quite fun at parties. He lives in Arcata.

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Collin Yeo

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