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Black and White or in Color? 

Fort Knox Five at the Black and White Ball, Leo Kottke, birthdays, grad night haps and one wild Wednesday

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Bob Doran

As the multi-talented saxophonist/electronica artist/clothing designer Chris Noonan put it, "It's that time of year again." It's HSU's graduation weekend for one thing, which sort of means the beginning of summer, signaling a definite shift in the local student population. Actually, Noonan meant it's time for another Black and White Ball, Saturday night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. That's the funky, fancy dress affair he's been part of for the last few years, bringing bands like Dumpstaphunk and Lettuce to town.

"As usual we are keeping in line with our funk roots," says Noonan, "this year featuring a four-turntable set by Fort Knox Five and Thunderball — yes that's right, vinyl." The DJ crew out of Washington, D.C. merges hip hop, bass music and funk into a very danceable modern mix reminiscent of D.C.'s go-go scene in the 1980s and '90s. Also on the bill, semi-local Afromassive, a big band with a funky Fela Afrobeat feel (Noonan is a member). Expect some added New Orleans vibe since the massive is fresh from playing the N.O. House of Blues during Jazz Fest. (Watch for a new Afromassive disc, Fill the Void, due out in June.) Opening the show, a set by the MaddHatta, Noonan's DJ/EDM project — he somehow manages to mashup and manipulate tracks on his laptop while looping his sax into the mix. He'll be joined by Luna Moon and her posse of tribal belly dancers, fresh from a performance Friday night at Tribal Fest in Sebastopol.

Along the same lines as Afromassive: Polyrhythmics, an eight-piece worldbeat/funk combo from Seattle playing Thursday night at the Jambalaya. Opening: Jambalaya soundman Piet Dalmolen's new band, Free Rain.

Solo guitarist Leo Kottke brings his six- and 12-string guitars to the stage of the Van Duzer Thursday, closing the CenterArts season with an evening of mellifluous fingerpicking. Kottke launched his career at the end of the 1960s, most famously recording an instrumental album titled "6- and 12-String Guitar" for Takoma Records, the label run by his mentor John Fahey. In the '70s Kottke signed with Capitol, where he was encouraged to try shifting into singer/songwriter mode, but his guitar playing usually outshined his vocal work. His picking style has evolved over time, in part because his initial percussive technique led to tendonitis and a forced hiatus in the '80s, but he still plays his inventive compositions beautifully.

Thursday also happens to be local comedy queen Sherae O'Shaughnessy's birthday, which she plans on celebrating with a "hullabaloo" at the Pearl Lounge. Her Ba-Dum-Chh Comedy buddies will be telling jokes; local radio personality John Matthews will serve as emcee (usually Sherae's job) and Drifter Killer will play a few tunes. There will be cake. "Plus," as the birthday girl points out, "there's booze."

Speaking of birthdays and radio personalities, Lyndsey Battle, the uke-slinging host of KHUM's "Meet Me In The Morning" (Sundays starting at 9 a.m.), is turning 30 and celebrating with something called "Airheads: A local band takeover of KHUM celebrating 30 years of Battle!!!" If you remember the movie Airheads, the story involved the members of a rock band commandeering a radio station to get it to play the band's new record. Lyndsey's version is a live broadcast from Redwood Curtain Brewing with a slew of bands and solo performers including Gunsafe (apparently it's also Stella's birthday), gypsy jazzers La Musique Diabolique, country swingin' Kenny Ray and the Mighty Rovers, Beatles tribute Silver Hammer, thelittlestillnotbigenough, Eel River, Kurt Vonnegut's Orange Chicken, Colin Vance, Josephine Johnson, Chris Parreira, Todd Krider, Lela Roy, Jeremiah Wiebe-Anderson, Cory Goldman (who plays with Lyndsey) "and probably more." All that between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Then everyone is invited to head over to the Arcata Marsh for a squirt gun fight.

San Francisco-based "Americana/folk/gypsy/jazz/rock/surf" combo The Jaunting Martyrs has roots in Humboldt, so it's natural that the band is celebrating the release of its eponymous CD with a party Friday night at the Jambalaya. I previewed a few songs on Bandcamp — sounds great. I especially liked the ones with fiddler/mandolinist/guitarist Justine Lucas out front on vocals. Local jazz/funk/blues band River Valley Mud opens.

Other grad night haps (on Saturday):

Missing Link Soul Night No. 19 at Humboldt Brews will undoubtedly be off the hook. Vidagua is around the corner at the Jambalaya with DJ Gobi and special guest Madi Simmons.

The Bruce and the Dancers Relay for Life Fundraiser at the Arcata Community Center has blues by Buddy Reed and the Rip It Ups and the Jim Lahman Band (for dancing).

SB Lounge and Space Biscuit share a bill at the Bar-Fly Pub.

Seattle's "tropical punks" Week of Wonders play two shows Saturday, an early Placebo gig at the Ink Annex with Tabor Mountain and Blanket Ghost, then at Five Eleven with those "reverbalicious" Lost Luvs.

Blue Lake is hopping with Rooster McClintock and Twist of the Python at the Logger, and Kulica at the Mad River Tap Room.

There's also neo-trad Latin American music by Quijeremá at the Arcata Playhouse. And it's Rutabaga Ball time at the Portuguese Hall with the wild and crazy Kinetic Queen Contest followed by DJ dancing with Itchie Fingaz, Marjo Lak and Pressure Anya.

The Eureka Symphony closes its current season with shows at the Arkley Center Friday and Saturday. The concert includes Sibelius' "Finlandia," but the main feature is guest soloist, Ivana Bilic, a Croatian marimba virtuoso performing two works for marimba and orchestra: Pablo de Sarasate's familiar "Carmen Fantasy" and a new piece, Emmanuel Séjourné's "Concerto for Marimba and Strings." Show up an hour before the show to hear "Music Notes" by Ron Samuels of Marimba One, an Arcata company that's one of the world's top marimba makers. He'll be talking about recent marimba innovations, and I'm certain he'll discuss the upcoming Zeltsman Marimba Festival, an international showcase for marimba players coming to Arcata from June 30 to July 13, with a bunch of performances in HSU's Native Forum and other shows at the Arcata Playhouse.

Seattle saxophonologist Skerik plays in about a dozen bands. He's coming to play at the Jambalaya Tuesday with Bandalabra, a quartet with fellow Seattleites Andy Coe (on electric guitar), Evan Flory-Barnes (upright bass) and Dvonne Lewis (drums) that Skerik describes as "Fela Kuti meeting Steve Reich in rock's backyard." Pc4 opens.

Wondering what to do next Wednesday?

German organist Christoph Bull is at Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka playing what he describes as "organ music, rock music and rocking organ music" in a benefit for the church's summer music and arts camp.

L.A.-based electro duo niceFingers is at Nocturnum for Whomp Whomp Wednesday with some of the usual WWW residents.

It's also graduation night for Va Va Voom's Spring 2013 Burlesque Bootcamp. Prospects for spots in Va Va's review are strutting their stuff at the Wave Lounge with Pressure/Anya playing for a dance party afterward.

Gashcat and Ghost Foot, a pair of alt. rock bands from Shreveport, La., stop off at Jambalaya on a West Coast tour. (Gashcat records for Sub Pop.)

And across town at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, it's the infamous Detroit rapper Danny Brown. Described by MTV as "one of rap's most unique figures in recent memory," Mr. Brown has been blowing up big time lately, playing Coachella, and more recently, signing with Goliath Artists, the mega-management team that also handles Eminem and Blink-182. His "Old & Reckless Tour" (named for an upcoming album) also includes the L.A.-based crew OverDoz. Opening the show is my favorite rhyme spitter The L|A Dodger, although I have to admit I'm prejudiced by the fact that she works down the hall from me. Curious? Give her a listen at

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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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