Enough time has passed since Super Tuesday that I feel it necessary to thank Humboldt County specifically and California broadly for voting and generally supporting Bernie Sanders in the democratic primary. Now let's get the rest of those votes counted fairly and delegates assigned. This primary season isn't over.
Why am I so blunt and partisan here? Because I have watched loved ones navigate our wretched for-profit healthcare system and crumble under its deliberate austere cruelty. Because we are on the eve of a pandemic and have no way to address it with the sclerotic bromides of late-stage capitalism. Why is a culture writer concerned about this? Because, as I have said before, everything in the material world flows downstream from politics and I hate to consider the endless galleries of lost art and music that died with a young creator who ended up in a coffin because they couldn't afford insulin.
One of my favorite painters, Gustav Klimt, was struck down in 1918 by complications from the Spanish Flu, an epidemic to which the COVID-19 is being (somewhat hysterically) compared. Ditto for Egon Schiele, a brilliant young protégé of that master. We do not need to lose more souls today to manageable calamities. We can all build a more just world full of art, music and healthcare to the repudiation of the stupidity of the age of Trump. We can all be heroes, not just for one day, but tomorrow and into the future.
Let's enjoy our future.
John Reischman and the Jaybirds are a Pacific Northwest bluegrass act with members from British Columbia and Washington State. In the group's two-decade plus career it has released seven albums and snagged two Juno nominations (essentially the Canadian Grammys). Bandleader and mandolinist Reischman has been a well-regarded and highly skilled player since the 1970's. Tonight you can enjoy the band's bright sounds at the Old Steeple, everyone's favorite local venue for roots music, at 7:30 p.m. ($20).
It's the first of two Friday the 13ths in 2020, this one coming right before the Ides of March and the second one landing 10 days after the election in November. Yikes. Anyway, this seems like a good night to try to have some fun. Here are two good and slightly rowdy shows for just that purpose.
At 8 p.m. at RampArt Skatepark, you can catch an all-ages punk and metal show as Portland's doom-rockers RIP blow through town and hit the stage behind the halfpipe. Local support is a very nicely balanced assemblage of Ultramafic, War Möth and Racket. $5 gets you in the door and on the floor.
An hour later over at Humbrews, you can see a rootin' tootin' country and rock show as often dormant but never dead Rooster McClintock teams up with The Trouble to play an OG Humboldt gig. This one's $10 but still nice at twice the price.
Few Miles South is a jangle-rock and country duo featuring Georgia native Blake English and Los Angeles chanteuse Tori Lund. Tonight they play at Phatsy Kline's Parlor Lounge (I've always preferred parlour with a "u" but I'm weird and it would probably clash with the same letter in lounge anyway) at 8 p.m. (price TBA). This is likely to be a very sharp and special show in an intimate space, and boy, don't we all just love those?
Sunday (The Ides of March)
In the days of ancient Rome, the months were split into three points roughly corresponding with the lunar phases from whence the calendar originally came. The near half-point of the split between the beginning portion of the month in question (called the Nones) and the Kalends, or first day of the next month, was called the Idus (or in contemporary English, the Ides), likely from an Etruscan word meaning "to divide." The Ides of March gained notoriety as the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated by the conspiracy of the Senate.
Today at 6:30 p.m. on the Arcata Plaza there will be a vigil for slain Humboldt State University student Josiah Lawson, featuring his mother Charmaine Lawson and the HC Spiritual Singers. This comes a month ahead of the third anniversary of the young man's fatal stabbing, an event that remains a notorious stain on the face of the city of Arcata, unresolved and thus denied any notion of justice. May this not be the case forever. Hopefully many of you will join and bear witness to this continued obscenity.
When I lived in New Orleans, I used to keep a mental shortlist of the truly strange and unique performers who had migrated to that city and found a niche amongst the locals with their prodigious musical talents. Names like Mike Dillon, Anders Osborne and Coco Robicheaux swirled in the hot damp evenings like exotic fragrances. Helen Gillet is one such musician and I can personally attest that her mixture of looped cello and vocals is worth a gander and then some. Tonight she plays a house show in Arcata at a mysterious venue about whose offerings I have written before. For more information, RSVP via email to email@example.com or call 499-8516.
The Underwater Bubble Show is a Latvian theater troupe whose specialty is actually pretty well described in the name. Imagine fantastic bubble blowing stunts and props with a nighttime aquarium theme and elaborate playacting. Seems pretty fun to me. See it at 7 p.m. at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts. ($39, $25 children, $10 HSU students).
The Basement has been a fun venue for me to slip into on these midweek evenings. The subterranean vibe is nice and the crowd is fairly genteel. I've enjoyed the Peter Ciotti Trio and PD3 here recently, and tonight I might slip in for the Underground Hip Hop showcase starting at 9:30 p.m. Killer acts like Lyricool, dr. Oop and Gabe Pressure will all be on tap. The music is free and the staff are very nice and skilled.
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.
Collin Yeo is a writer, carpenter and bartender living in Arcata. He prefers he/him pronouns and is currently reading Anna Karenina, which he thinks is pretty neat.