Scott Carlson had an idea. He wanted to bring the local music community together for an all-day festival showcasing the wide range of great bands playing here. His plan was to have bands playing all day in various Arcata venues with attendees able to wander from place to place, all as a benefit for some good cause. He already had Humboldt Brews signed up (he works there) and Jambalaya was willing. He buttonholed me one night to talk about bands that might play and about who might get the money; I offered a bit of advice (give the proceeds to some school music program) and promised to help put the word out when the time came.
Well, the time has come: Arcata Winterfest takes place Saturday, Feb. 27. "One wristband, 13 bands," as the poster puts it. (And, I should note, the Journal is one of the sponsors.) Most of the action will be at the Jam and HumBrews, but the Alibi is also aboard and there's a special "V.I.P. Room" at the old surf shop (on the corner of 9th and I streets) for important peeps who throw down 50 bucks for the cause. (The Bad Lilas will be there 6-8-ish to entertain you.)
Fest doors open at 2 p.m. Saturday. First band up is The NPK, the "high energy dance band" originally from SoHum, who kick things off at 2:30 at HumBrews.
The red-hot country honky tonk band Rooster McClintock gets things going at the Jambalaya at 2:45. The Jam then shifts into jazz/jam mode with Mike Kapitan's Miles Ahead project (at 5:15), mostly based on the music of Miles Davis. The Miracle Show follows with their Dead tribute (7:15); then it's reggae and more reggae with Synrgy (9:55) and Woven Roots (11:55) until closing.
The parallel party at Humboldt Brews continues post-NPK with "groovin' rock ’n' roll" jams by The Fickle Hill Billies (4:30), string jams by The Bucky Walters (7 p.m.), rock jams by The Nucleus (9:30) and electrofunk dance grooves by Moo-Got-2 (11:30 until closing).
Music starts late at the Alibi, but they'll have "special discounts" all day. As you might expect, the music there will be on the heavy side with local headbangers Fall the Giants and semi-Celtic punks The Smashed Glass. Bands start at 10:15, and if you've skipped the rest of Winterfest, it's just $5.
Regular price for an all-venue festivus wristband is $20, $17 in advance (available at all three locations). Single-venue bands for HumBrews and the Jam are $15. Events proceeds go to support the music program at Coastal Grove Charter School.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Arcata, there's another benefit, for another charter school. The Spanish-immersion Fuente Nueva Charter School is throwing its gala Rio Carnaval Samba Ball at Portuguese Hall. They'll have a Brazilian-themed dinner catered by Folie Douce and an international music spread including Andean music by Huayllipacha, worldly "organic percussive music" by WoMama and Brazilian-style dancing by Samba Na Chuva, plus the obligatory silent auction and raffle. Note: dinner is optional; you can just come for the music (and pay less).
Add another to the series of local benefits for Haitian earthquake survivors: The Invasions play one Friday at the Ocean Grove with Brett the Truck opening; donation of whatever you can afford is encouraged.
Also on Friday, down SoHum way, Joanne Rand and the Rhythm of the Open Hearts play at Cecil's New Orleans Bistro.
Fat Tuesday has come and gone, but the Mardi Gras-esque celebrations continue. In addition to the Rio Carnaval above, the Red Fox has its Second Annual Carnival Party Friday night with Ponche bringing the AfroCuban vibe, The Bayou Swamis with sprightly Louisiana Cajun music, Brazilian drum and dance by Samba da Alegria, plus the Ya Habibi dance troupe, who don't exactly fit the theme. (But hey, everyone likes bellydancers, so why not?)
Not interested in Winterfest or Carnival? Saturday night in Blue Lake the Logger Bar plays host to semi-official house band, The Brendas, plus Ray Gay and The Rent Boys and Dark River ("all the way from Placerville"). Dr. Squid is over at the Wave -- you might ask Eldin Green to play something from his new album, Unbiased Opinion. (More on that another day.)
Other options: Catch local reggae star Ishi Dube Saturday at the Pearl. Or drive down to the Scotia Inn and dance to The Delta Nationals.
Veteran Jamaican roots reggae band Inner Circle plays the Mateel Saturday with Senegalese reggae singer Elhadji Niang (now a Humboldt local) opening. They call Inner Circle "The Bad Boys of Reggae," not because they're bad but to capitalize on their song "Bad Boys," which is arguably among the best known reggae tunes ever. While the band formed in the early ’70s (an early iteration included Ibo Cooper and Cat Core, who later formed Third World), brothers Ian and Roger Lewis remain from the original lineup. They put out "Bad Boys" in 1987 -- it was later adopted as the opening theme for the Fox reality show Cops and used in Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2, a pair of Will Smith/Martin Lawrence crime comedies. Everybody knows the chorus, "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" As a result, Inner Circle is still going strong.
There's also a big reggae show Thursday (Feb. 25) featuring rising Jamaican conscious/roots star Tarrus Riley, touring behind his latest for VP, Contagious. "The reason why I called it Contagious is because I would love for everyone to catch it," says Tarrus. "I don't want my music to have boundaries of race, age, nationality or religion -- I represent reggae, live music, and I want everyone to catch on to its positive, good vibes." He's on tour with Kingston-born Sherieta Lewis (who does backup vocals on Contagious) and his record producer, the amazing saxophonist Dean Fraser.
Remember Chris "Toosa" Berry? The formerly Arcata-based mbira maven moved to Zimbabwe (home of the mbira), then returned to live in New York and travel the world playing "Afro-electronica" on an electrified mbira as the Chris Berry Trio (aka CB3). The trio includes the rhythm section from Brazilian Girls (two guys, neither from Brazil) and typically tours with a fourth, some star from the jamband world. When they play Tuesday, March 2, at the Red Fox it's with liquid guitar master Steve Kimock -- a logical match since Kimock has been exploring African guitar styles in his own music of late. Should be a good one.
Same Tuesday at Nocturnum, it's an evening of swingin' psychobilly, burlesque and blues with Big John Bates and The Voodoo Dollz, a wild and crazy combo from Vancouver, BC, who were driven out by Olympic fever. They're touring with Reverend Deadeye's no man gospel band, another one of those down ’n' dirty one-man blues stompers.
Add to the never-ending series of bass-heavy electro-groove dance parties: Thursday, Feb. 25, Team Bunny Bear takes a break from wedding planning for a free Red Fox show: Hit the Breaks! with Touch and Sycamore. Saturday TBB is back at the Fox with Energy Alchemist from Mendocino and Cadence (also free). In between, on Friday, they'll be part of the crowd at the Arcata Theatre Lounge when Beats Antique and Danny Corn rock the house.
And finally, a reminder: Austin's amazing Asylum Street Spankers play Thursday, Feb. 25, at Humboldt Brews. (It's also Jess' birthday. HBD!!) Be there.