Chicago singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks makes a rare West Coast appearance at the Arcata Playhouse. Intimate, yet roomy; sophisticated, yet never uptight; with great sound and wonderful people, the Playhouse is one of Humboldt's top venues. And Fulks is a fascinating performer, with live performances that feature improvised rearrangements of his original songs, off-the-cuff musical humor and covers of songs by such unlikely influences as Fountains of Wayne and Cher — his 2010 album, Happy, consisted of nothing but Michael Jackson covers.
Audiences don't know what to expect from Fulks. Honky-tonk? Country? Bluegrass? Power pop? The man can handle whatever strikes his fancy. Which leads me to a minor correction: Audiences don't know what to expect from Fulks, but they know it'll be good.
The Chicago Reader has gone so far as to say, "There are many good living songwriters, but then you hear a new Robbie Fulks record, and you can't remember who they are." Fulks' latest effort, Gone Away Backward, is a sparse, acoustic-only effort that echoes the sounds he heard as a child growing up in rural Appalachia. Gone Away Backward also features renowned jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, who will join Fulks at the Playhouse gig, along with Chris Scruggs on bass and Robbie Gjersoe on a National guitar.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with show time at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $13 members and are available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or by calling 822-1575.
Bonus! You can indulge in a Fulks/Scheinman preview via KHUM radio
at 4 p.m. today. In the meantime, please enjoy this version of "She Took a Lot of Pills and Died":
Badass girl bands
Maybe the holiday expense and stress means you need a different kind of show. Let's say, a free one. With a couple of wild and wacky bands comprised solely of women. You're in luck! It's the fabulously named Cliterate ("cowgirl riot grunge") plus Blood Gnome ("Japanese noise porcupine covered in melted synth popsicle") in a free, 21-and-over show at the Logger Bar.
Let's say you're looking for a gig that's free, fun and won't keep you up late. In that case, I would like to offer you the much-beloved Compost Mountain Boys, who are bringing their virtuoso bluegrass stylings to the Mad River Brewing Room — for free! Music starts around 6 p.m.