Who is Thurston Moore ? As they put it semi-succinctly on the Ecstatic Peace! promo for his latest album, “Thurston Moore [above], for those of you just visiting planet Earth, has been playing music and liberating whatever ossifying standards rock ’n’ roll becomes threatened by since the late ’70s when he walked the downtown jungle of punk/post-punk/no wave NYC and started the band Sonic Youth. Ever since he and the band have consistently stayed true to the authenticity and creativity of radical rock ’n’ roll idealism.”
(For the uninitiated, we’ll point out that post-punk is just what it sounds like, while “no wave” is the polar opposite of new wave, the music you hear at those ubiquitous ’80s Night record parties.)
Moore joined forces with guitarist Lee Renaldo early on. They both played with avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, whose drone symphonies with multiple guitars in unusual tunings are often cited as influential on the Sonic sound.
Branca’s influence and Moore’s creative/authentic ethic often spill over into side and solo projects. They are in also evidence in the work by a wild collection of artists released on Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label, among them MV & EE, The Magik Markers and Mouthus, all bands that have played locally this year alongside Humboldt’s droning Starving Weirdos. The February show with MV & EE and the Weirdos also included Charalambides, a husband and wife duo with Tom and Christina Carter . I mention this because Christina shows up singing harmony on Thurston’s latest album, Trees Outside The Academy , and she’s half of yet another E. Peace! duo, Scorces , with Heather Leigh Murray (another Charalambides associate). Scorces is the opening act for Moore’s show Friday, Oct. 26, at The Depot (downstairs in the University Center).
All of the bands/musicians above, the ever youthful Moore included, are operating outside the mainstream crafting idiosyncratic music that defies easy categorization. Let’s just say it’s alt. something.
It’s hard to say exactly what kind of music Thurston might play Friday, but one can guess he’ll draw material from Trees Outside The Academy, which is just a month old. It may surprise Sonic Youth fans in that it’s not loud, dissonant or shot through with electric guitar feedback. Recorded at the home of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., it’s a collection of songs in the folk vein (well, alt. folk anyway) with violin ( Samara Lubelski from MV & EE), rather calm drums ( Steve Shelley from S. Youth) and Thurston on acoustic guitars, playing music that comes from a place he describes as “the new weird America.” Expect a touring outfit that includes Shelley and Lubelski plus Christopher Brokaw (from Codeine) and bassist Matt Heyner . The record has a screech here and there, but mostly it’s stuff you might describe as nice , not a word you typically ascribe to the Youth — and no, that’s not a bad thing.
Halloween proper doesn’t come until next Wednesday, but the costumed madness in the clubs and various Halloweeny events start early. There’s some sort of list in the calendar, but it seems de rigueu r to offer some of the highlights here too.
Sweet Melody Walker called to say, “ TheLuscious Ladies are doing a Halloween show at Muddy’s next Saturday (Oct. 27). We’re calling it ‘ Ghouls Gone Wild .’ It’ll be a costume party cabaret ball thing. Halloween repertoire. Of course we ladies will be in crazy sexy costumes; we’re encouraging the rest of the crowd to do so as well. We’ll have a contest with various categories with awesome prizes. We’ll have apple bobbing with organic apples from the Farmers’ Market, and we’ll have tricks and treats for all the ghouls and boy-eez. It’s going to be so spectacular.” I’m so glad she didn’t use the word spooktacular .
A Halloween Harvest Costume Ball at the Mattole Grange in Petrolia that night includes Cajun food plus music by Electric Mudd and The Nucleus , all to benefit the Mattole Salmon Group’s restoration efforts.
Latin dance alert: Red Fox’s Saturday Halloween Blowout reassembles Humboldt’s favorite AfroCuban salsa band, Ponche!
Also on Saturday, the annual KMUD Halloween Boogie at the Mateel, this year featuring Los Duggans from Echo Park playing what an O.C. deejay describes as “Appalachian/metal/blues/punk, distorted guitars raging with banjo, gut bucket beating along with a modern drum kit.” They’re on tour with Old Bull , a like-minded political alt. country punk band also from down L.A. way. As usual this is a family event (kids free) with costumes, sweets and all that.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Saturday — check the Music and More listings for costume parties in clubs too numerous to mention. Jumping forward to Wednesday, the real Halloween: You’ve got murder ballads by the spooky Pine Box Boys at the annual pirate costume party at Six Rivers. There’s a Passion show at the Red Fox with stringy jamgrass by The Bucky Walters and Greensky Bluegrass . Moo-Got-2 is throwing a funky Halloween Bash at Muddy’s Hot Cup. And last but far from least, the Jambalaya has a Blue Lake invasion, a Halloween Ball with The Brendas , Tainted Zucchini and The Rubberneckers . The three bands are all friends, all are theatrical in nature (The Brendas are always in costume) and what with the various Dell’Artesian connections this should be a wild one.
You say you don’t want to dress up in a costume? There are other things to do. There’s the Humboldt Baykeeper Birthday Bash Friday, Oct. 26, at the Arcata Community Center. It starts early with dinner awards, speeches and all that, but you could opt to show up late (and pay much less) just to hear the West African Highlife Band . The Oakland-based outfit is all-star all-African quintet led by Ken Okulolo of Kotoja, who originally came over with King Sunny Ade. There’s Nii Armah Hammond from Hedzoleh Soundz out of Ghana and Nigerian guitarist Soji Odukogbe played for years with the late great Fela Anikulapo Kuti. This is the real deal.
Also on Friday, Mad River Brewing Co. celebrates the annual release of its gold medal-winning seasonal brew, John BarleycornAle , with a party at the plant in Blue Lake. Expect beer, barbeque and music by Kulica .
Guitarist Wolf Navarro debuts his latest project — appropriately named the Wolf Navarro Project — on Thursday at Jambalaya. Joining Wolf for some folk jazz fusion are Marcus Messina (from Mobile Chiefing Unit) on keys and guitar, Eric Andrews on bass and Simon Lucas on drums. Watch for a CD coming soon.
They seem to be 20-somethings, otherwise you might mistake Seattle’s The Blakes for one of those obscure jangley psyche-rock garage bands from the ’60s you find on a Nuggets compilation. At least that’s the feel on their eponymous CD. The fact that they’re named for visionary poet William Blake makes me like them even more. Catch them Friday night at the Jam (with teen band The Kiwis opening) or earlier when they play live on K-Slug.
Between the dark themes, growling vocals, monstrous guitars, pounding drums and often twisted imagery, modern metal in its many forms seems perfect for the All Hallows season. It’s way before the holiday, but San Francisco stoner rockers Floating Goat and Walken roar Thursday at the Alibi. Saturday the Alibi hosts Portland’s Facepilot , who lay down thunderous chords propelled by driving drums, backing your classic distorted Satanic metal vocals. They’re on a brief tour with Humboldt’s heaviest band, Dragged by Horses .
There’s metal plus punk across the Plaza Saturday at Mazzotti’s. Rocktoberfest brings together Oceanside punks Pig Champion , Sacto thrashers Awaiting the Apocalypse and locals Entheogen and Forcefed Trauma .
Ready for church? Earl Thomas takes you there on Sunday singing with the True Gospel Singers at the Arkley Center to raise money for the National AIDS Day Marathon.
My favorite folky Lila Nelson is at Muddy’s Hot Cup that night joined by Kenny Edwards the veteran songwriter (from the Stone Poneys etc.) who has been working with Lila on her next record.
Coming Monday, Oct. 29, to the Jambalaya, mad accordionist Jason Webley on his The Cost of Living CD release tour with several alt. folk bands, Ribbons , Led to Sea and Quilken , whose members also play on Jason’s new album.
Yes, I, reggae moves ever forward, this week with hot Jamaican sing-jay Lutan Fyah , whose dancehall hit “Save The Juvenile” topped the Kingston charts earlier this year. He’s at Indigo Friday night, a show presented by 2b1 Multimedia. As you might recall, way back in March Lutan was among the headliners booked by 2b1 for the ill-fated Reggae on the River 2007.
Is semi-related news, a note came in over the weekend from former Mateel E.D. Taunya Stapp. It seems her lawyer friend Robert Highley has filed the required papers to renew the Reggae on the River® trademark for 10 more years. Will there be a RotR 2008? Time will tell.
One more thing — don’t forget Snoop Dogg and his posse are at the Muni Thursday, Oct. 25. When I checked before press time there were a few tickets left, but not many. Should be a rager, same with the after party at Indigo. Be there or be square. And don’t forget, there ain’t nuthin’ wrong with being square — if that’s your thing.