Humboldt has its own complicated and multifaceted relationship with its best-known cash crop. Whether you are hip enough to call it cannabis or still call it "the dope," it's tough to fully appreciate the extent of its influence on our county. I don't have the space/time/patience to go into depth here in this column but love or hate the weed — and the people involved with it — it's impossible to separate it from the local art and music community. I began playing music in Humboldt about 15 years ago when I was somewhat new to the area. The number of talented musicians I met and was lucky enough to play with who didn't seem to have day jobs was always curious to me. Now I was young(er) and naive(er) and didn't quite grasp how some of these musicians were able to spend so much time writing songs and rehearsing with their bands. Eventually it dawned on me why they always needed friends to "watch" their places when they were out on the road. When I finally put four and 20 together, I was working crappy jobs to pay the bills and a bit jealous. But in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. Artists tend to avoid nine-to-five gigs as long as humanly possible. There are plenty of good reasons for doing that but to follow a creative life, time is of the utmost importance. The more time one has — or the more flexible one's time can be — to devote to a creative pursuit, the more the artist and the art develop. Now does this justify or excuse the black market completely? No. But perhaps it brings some shades of gray into the black/white world we're accustomed to hearing about. If time be the food of art, then grow on.
It's Humboldt's unofficial holiday today and if you still don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. I don't see why today can only be celebrated with rasta-tinged reggae or hip hop speaking the praises of "Jah's plant," so feel free to celebrate with The Compost Mountain Boys up at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room at 6 p.m. this evening for free. Returning to Humboldt is folk-troubadour John Craigie, whom I remember hearing play at Redwood Yogurt years ago with witty, whimsical and oft-times goofy songs occasionally dealing with Mr. Texas Ranger himself, Chuck Norris. I never quite knew where John lived back in the day (or if he lived anywhere to be honest) but I hear he's based out of Portland these days. He'll be stopping by The Old Steeple in Ferndale tonight joined by special guest Cygne from Santa Cruz at 7:30 p.m. Perhaps John will freestyle a song about owl eggs tonight; a $25 ticket will get you in to find out. I imagine the 4-20 vibe will be strongly represented at The Jam tonight with local reggae-something bands Woven Roots and The Dubadubs. Word is it's at 9:30 p.m. and $10. A blend of funk and soul n' roll is on the bill at Humboldt Brews courtesy of Chicago's The Main Squeeze, who've had a pretty good 2016. Their tight and funky jams incorporate ranges of assorted genres and will probably keep you busy on the dance floor. This is a 9:30 p.m. show with a $10 cover.
The Moonshine Bandits will be in SoHum with their unique blend of hip hop and country music supporting their latest album Baptized in Bourbon. Based out of California's Central Valley, the Bandits take influence from Southern Rock, Country, and lyrical hip hop. They'll stop by The Mateel at 9 p.m. and $30 gets you into this show. At 9:30 p.m., you'll find Poor Man's Whiskey returning to Humboldt Brews in Arcata to mix up some traditional bluegrass with a more psychedelic and jam oriented rock vibe. Outside of their old time and bluegrass influences, you can count the members all fans of Pink Floyd, The Dead, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles and Paul Simon. Bring $15 to get in the door.
The father-sons of Doug Fir & the 2x4s are at it again at the Mad River Brewery Tap room around 6 p.m. They bring the classic rock sound to covers and originals and it's a free gig, so you've got nothing to lose —except perhaps sobriety — by checking it out. Floyd fans are probably aware that premier Pink Floyd tribute act House of Floyd is making a stop in our neck of the woods tonight at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. HoF is smart to stop by Humboldt about twice a year as we've got a pretty big concentration of Floyd fans. I've been lucky enough to see this group a few times and they run the gamut of hitting the Floyd hits just as you've heard them on the albums and also recreating live versions of some of the deeper cuts that Floyd would play in concert. Grab a ticket for $38 before they sell out. More reggae is on the bill at The Jam tonight around 9:30 p.m. Dynasty One takes the stage along with Jah Sun to bring the positive vibes to the dance floor. Not sure on this ticket price but whatever it turns out to be, you won't be sorry.
An early show this afternoon sees PianoVoce at the Trinidad Town Hall at 3 p.m. This recital, I'm told, is based on From the Bohemian Forest composed by Dvoák and then Carlisle Floyd's Pilgrimage: Solo Cantata on Biblical Texts. PianoVoce is comprised of Annette Gurnee Hull and Nancy Correll on the Hall's Steinway piano, Carl McGahan singing baritone and narrator Richard Duning. A $15 donation supports the Trinidad Library. Bring the kids to sing-a-long with their favorite Beatles tunes at Six Rivers Brewery at 4 p.m. played by Humboldt's favorite Fab Four fans, Silver Hammer. It's a free show, but always feel free to tip. Fans of Scottish fiddling know the name of Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Famer Alasdair Fraser and most likely a former student of his and excellent cellist Natalie Hass. Well, we're in for a treat tonight as they are taking the stage at Ferndale's Old Steeple at 7:30 p.m. Alasdair is a master of the Scottish fiddle but can also easily hop between Irish fiddle and Appalachian fiddling styles as well. He and Natalie have an instinctive chemistry on stage and whether they're playing "The Highlander's Farewell" or "Grand Etang" you'll hear the heart of Scotland beating. Jig your way down to this $30 show. And for something completely different, '90s hip hop veteran Abstract Rude (touring to support mixtape Owl's Cry) is on The Owl's Cloud Tour along with B. Squid & Friends (supporting their own Cloud 9) and will be at The Miniplex in Arcata tonight at 9 p.m. for only $10.
Speaking of supporting recordings, Minnesota's The Cactus Blossoms are on the road for their release of You're Dreaming. Brothers Jack and Page have made stops at the Newport Folk Festival and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to name a few and have a busy year in front of them. With well-constructed harmonies and haunting guitar lines, these Blossoms have gotten good reviews for this latest release in Rolling Stone among other places. Welcome them to Humboldt tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Humboldt Brews with $10.
A free show is on tap at 6 p.m. at the Mad River Brewery Tap room with the RLA Jazz Trio with Paula and Don. They'll be playing until about 8 or 8:30 p.m., and you can catch their jazz chops while enjoying some John Barleycorn. Leave the band a tip, or get 'em a beer if their pints are runnin' dry. Singer/songwriter Tom Russell has 35 albums to his name and he's at The Old Steeple tonight at 7:30 p.m. His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Iris Dement, and Nanci Griffith, just to name a few. You might hear songs of dust-hazed sunsets, the shifting sands under caballeros and the California snow. Get your $30 tickets quick.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Album of the Week Show on KWPT 100.3 FM Tuesdays at 6 p.m. The times they are a changin'.