Renata's Crêperia is not normally a music venue, but it becomes one Thursday when Myshkin's Ruby Warblers drop by on a tour for Myshkin's latest CD, Diamond Lust. "Don't know if you saw her with Lila Nelson at HumBrews last time passing through," says Renata (a big fan), "but I caught her in Berkeley some time ago and she's wonderful live." She was indeed great opening for Lila. And I love the bio her record company offers: "Myshkin: rooted in the lowlands, conceived in Paris, raised in Indiana, running wild in what woods are left. Joined the circus. Lived in tents, trucks and busses. ... Stole a name from Dostoevsky, died her hair in the bathroom of a Texaco. Sings like a bird, plays like an inmate, writes like she's lived every story."
San Francisco's Hot Buttered Rum started out as a jammy "high altitude bluegrass" stringband, favorites at Telluride and High Sierra, but somewhere along the line they started plugging in and moving toward neo-Americana. A rockin' new disc is in the works with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin producing, but first HBR hits the road for a winter tour with Cornmeal, a like-minded quintet out of Chicago with a similar sound and storyline (bluegrass-ish jams, Telluride, High Sierra, Bonnaroo). The Hot Buttered Cornmeal tour warms up Humboldt Brews Thursday.
The Sewell Fine Arts Gallery is another place you might not expect to hear music aside from Arts Alive! They're trying out a music series with once-a-month sit-down shows. Thursday they have jazz saxophonist Sky Miller with my neighbor Shao Way Wu on bass and Mike LaBolle on percussion.
You may know Gary Farmer as an actor. Born in Ontario, a member of the Wolf Clan in the Cayuga Nation, he's done a lot of TV work and was featured in the Native American films Powwow Highway and Smoke Signals. He was Johnny Depp's enigmatic traveling companion in the Jim Jarmusch Western Dead Man and somehow reprised that role in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. He also plays a mean harmonica and sings the blues as leader of Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers. He brings his band to Humboldt this weekend playing Thursday at Nocturnum, Friday and Saturday at the Wave at Blue Lake Casino.
The Eureka Inn's Palm Lounge is now the home of a regular blues jam, typically led by Jenifer Breeze. This week she's handing the reins to keyboard wizard Mike Kapitan. Mike moved to Arcata a few years back, coming out of the L.A. music scene where, among other things, he played keys and did programming for Thomas "Blinded Me With Science" Dolby and worked on various TV and movie projects. Mike continued his production work here in Humboldt recording albums for Kulica and Rooster McClintock and putting out a fine record of his own, Believe It! He also led the outstanding Mile Davis tribute Miles Ahead through several incarnations. Now that we've reintroduced you, prepare to say goodbye. Mike and his wife are leaving Humboldt, relocating to Sonoma County to be closer to the S.F. Bay music scene. So Friday's session is a farewell performance of sorts. (He says he's not moving that far away.) As far as Friday's "blues" jam goes, well, Mike is not exactly a bluesman but a bunch of his friends will join him and he definitely can jam.
If serious blues is what you're after, you might want to head down to the Riverwood Inn Friday night where you'll find blueswoman Laurie Morvan, the hot guitarist who rocked last year's Blues by the Bay.
Then there's The Speakeasy, a new joint on Opera Alley that features blues on a regular basis with the guitar/trumpet duo SugaFoot most Tuesdays and Fridays. This Saturday, Buddy Reed and The Rip It Ups rip things up.
Back-to-back tribute bands at the Jambalaya: Friday it's Silver Hammer (a tribute to The Beatles); Saturday Naïve Melodies play T-Heads music.
Silver Hammer also plays on Saturday (St. Patrick's Day) at Six Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville, where they're throwing a big party to celebrate the eighth anniversary of operation under the current management (congrats, ladies). They promise food and drink specials all day and music on two stages. The Beatles trib is the exception to the mostly alt. country line-up, which features the dark country murder ballads of Six Rivs regulars The Pine Box Boys. Also on the bill: Coffin Hunter, fronted by Jack Gibson, long-time bass player for thrash metal outfit Exodus, who discovered banjo and sort of switched gears (his banjo picking still has thrash metal influences) and Colonel Jimmy and The Blackfish, a country punk band from Sacto whose primary influence seems to be Hank 3.
In the folky zone: Jersey-born singer/songwriter Karen Savoca returns with her guitar player partner Pete Heitzman. Karen has been doing a lot of house concerts of late, and that's the plan here, playing in someone's home in Sunnybrae on Friday (doors 7:30, music at 8). Local songwriter Jan Bramlett opens, accompanied by guitarist Craig Carroll, who I met through pot journalist Sharon Letts (not Letz). The $15 cover goes straight to the touring pair. Call 707-502-5814 and they'll tell you how to find the house.
Seattle-based songwriter/activist Jim Page returns to Humboldt for two shows: Saturday he does a benefit for Trees Foundation at the Garberville Civic Club (showtime 7:30 p.m.); Sunday it's a Northcoast Environmental Center benefit at the Westhaven Center for the Arts with locals Morgan Corviday and Mo Hollis opening. Page is something of an old school protest singer, although not overly strident. As you would surmise from the show sponsors, he's an eco-activist, but he's also known for anti-war songs -- and as a supporter of busking rights. He still plays on the street at places like Pike Place Market, a right he helped secure back in 1974 when he performed a pro-busking protest song before the Seattle City Council and helped convince them to drop a permit requirement for street performers.
Gender-bending folk/pop quartet Girlyman returns to the Arcata Playhouse Sunday on a tour behind a new disc, Supernova, an album they say "almost didn't exist." Multi-instrumentalist Doris Muramatsu was diagnosed with leukemia recently, but the band persevered and the album became about "everything we've gone through over this last year: death of a way of life, massive change, transformation, fear, and ultimately: new hope and a new start." (Doris is doing fine, BTW.)
A few more returns: Saxman Charles Neville (of the Neville Brothers) and kora player Youssoupha Sidibe are back for a Friday show at the Red Fox backed by the reggae-ish Mystic Rhythms. Marisa Anderson, who switches between guitar and lap steel, plays her droney psyche blues improvisations with deep folk roots next Wednesday (March 21) at Missing Link Records, starting at 7 p.m. Same Wednesday, San Francisco jazz/funk/folk/Ethiopique goddess Meklit Hadero returns to the Arcata Playhouse with her combo.
Big treat for those who tuned in Gus Mozart's Music Box on KHSU Monday night: Gus played half a dozen archival tracks by Kala Kenyatte and The Sound of Truth, a local reggae band led by the tall, dreadlocked singer, who died last week. Hearing Kala's warm vibrato on his song "The Sun" sent chills up my spine and reminded me of the power in his music. Kala's local friends will gather Thursday night at the Jambalaya with the local reggae band The Mighty Redwood Ambassadors laying down the one-drop. Madi Simmons, who was a member of Kala's first reggae band, The World Peace Band, serves as host. He's hoping some of Kala's old blues jam compadres will show up too -- since Kala also loved to sing the blues. So long, big man.