I'd like to think that I have my cats fairly well trained. They are scared of birds and the road, two fears I have worked hard to instill in them since they were little kittens because a) I won't be allowing bird murder in my home and b) they are asphalt-colored and if one of them got hit by a car I would be John Wick-level inconsolable. I don't mind when they brutalize the local insect population (they are particularly fond of eating cabbage moths and crane flies). But one thing I can't shake them of is their habit of playing with snakes. I say "playing with" because in their fascination with the slithering motion of the subject, they forget to strike with any lethal power, leaving the serpents shaken but unharmed. However, they have gone beyond the pale this time and I am put out in a way that I am not accustomed to. One of the little assholes brought a garter snake into my bedroom, and helpfully released it into a landscape full of books, tool buckets and clothing trunks. As of press time, the snake has not been found. This is a bridge too far and the level of disrespect I am feeling at the moment borders on mania and shame. I simply can't have this situation, it is intolerable. So I have thrown both of them in the trash, in the hopes that the misery of their future Oliver Twist-like lives will serve as an object-lesson in the consequences of disrespect. And while nothing in the previous sentence is even remotely true, I have allowed myself to fantasize about the two little monsters slaving away in a feline workhouse, raggedy, ill-fitting clothes hanging off their hungry bodies. I quickly release these ugly thoughts and return to my job of keeping them fat and sassy, and very much cared for. Why am I sharing this with you, dear reader? Well, I suspect we all get mad sometimes at those who we love, and talking it out is better than actually acting on our darkest thoughts. Plus, writing this column is one of the ways I keep them fed on crunchies and gravy, and keep the heat on during these cold nights. And when all else has failed me, I have found that my lifelong love of cats has kept my spirits buoyed through the dark days. Well, that and music. Go get some.
The Outer Space is hosting an outré show of psyche-folk wanderings. Local bard Oryan Peterson-Jones, who'll be hosting a birthday show this Saturday at the Griffin (more on that later) brings his act Die Geister Beschwören to share the stage with Nevada City touring acts Scott Hawkins and Sammy Fields. I caught Sammy at a generator show out at the dunes earlier this year and folks, lemme tell you: He's good! At 7:30 p.m. ($5-$20 suggested donation).
Rural New York state, particularly the Hudson River Valley, has a habit of harboring some top-notch folk talent. There's an undeniable magic up that way and I have some good memories of snowshoeing around when I was a rootless 20-something Brooklynite trying to get out of the frozen hell of NYC for a spell. Anyhoo, one such talented folkster is landing at Humbrews tonight at 8 p.m. for a visit. Dar Williams has headlined and shared many acoustically minded stages in her multi-decade career, building a reputation as modern folk royalty with complex lyrics wedded to sweet, catchy songs ($35).
The rest of the week is a wee bit barren (as so often happens this time of year), so I'm going to stack today as a means of balance. Here are three shows to brighten your time. First up, as alluded to before, local world-traveling folkster Oryan Peterson-Jones is playing a free matinee birthday gig at the Griffin at 2 p.m., so consider coming by and wishing the fellow a good one, as he is indeed one of the good ones on our local scene. Next, you have two options at 8 p.m. Over at the Logger Bar, there's a free show featuring Oak Top, aka Michael from the Bow Legged Buzzards, Idle Spurs and King Strang. This will be a country-heavy, Americana sort of show. Meanwhile, over at the Arcata Playhouse, the ninth annual celebration of the music of Joni Mitchell, which goes down near-ish her birthday, is happening tonight and tomorrow. Lots of local stars will be out playing from the discography of the Canadian master, so I'll just name a few: Marla Joy, Beverly Twist, Chris Manspeaker, Peggy Martinez and Tofu Mike. Get in the door for $25 and if this one sells out, you can try your luck tomorrow's 2 p.m. matinee.
If you're not at the Playhouse celebrating the life and songs of Joni Mitchell, I'd like to suggest another gig across town. The Arcata Theatre Lounge is screening Alfred Hitchcock's traumatizing 1963 masterpiece The Birds with the pre-show starting at 5 p.m. Come and fork over $8 to see the flick that briefly ruined Melanie Griffith's mother's life.
The Siren's Song Tavern is hosting a paranormal open mic at 7 p.m. While not entirely certain, I suspect that this entails sharing your own anecdotes about strange encounters with like-minded fellow travelers. It's free, and probably good for a shiver or a laugh.
One more free, ongoing weekly institution at the Siren's Song: TerrapinTuesday is an open-form Grateful Dead jam at 8 p.m., where you can bliss out to the music of the Dead band that just won't die.
One of these days I will participate in the Savage Henry Open Mic and tell some horrifying stories from my chaotic life to a roomful of strangers. Will it be tonight? Will you perhaps be among the elect, trying your hand at live humor? Come through at 9 p.m. to find out. No cover, just a shred of your dignity required to pay the boatman.
Collin Yeo (he/him) has a particular field that he likes laying in and watching the stars. He suggests that you find one of these for yourself, as it is one of the sublime joys of Being. He lives in Arcata.