As I sit typing on a dark Sunday night it's still 2007, but with the wonders of time shifting and the inherent lag in the print medium, by the time you read this it will be two thousand-ought-eight. Yes, a new year is upon us and, to borrow from that catchy Brett Dennen song they played relentlessly on KHUM over the holidays, "we're still at war."
No, I'm not going off on a political tangent (although I do wish the damn war will end someday), because this is a music column and not really the place for such a thing. Instead I'll do what I supposed to do, lay out some options for your Saturday night entertainment along with suggesting a few things you might do on Friday and other nights.
In fact, let's start with Thursday. While some of you are probably happy to hear it, it's with a tinge of sadness that I note that this Thursday, Jan. 3, marks the second-to-last show ever by those almost venerable boys from Blue Lake, The Rubberneckers. At least that's what lead singer Clayhas been promising. (At least one of his bandmates contends the band's merely on an extended hiatus.) The hard-drinkin' crew is going out with a bang — a two-night run at the Jambalaya starting Thursday with an allegedly "acoustic" set (they've been known to stretch the meaning of the word). Along for the ride, their guitar-slinging songwriter friend Lila Nelson, who we're all hoping will join forces with the ‘Neckers for a song or two or three, plus Trinidad's finest country swing band Rooster McClintock.
That leads into Friday and the final Rubberneckers show. For this one they've invited their old country punk friends My Life in Black & White down from Portland. It's a good match: both bands sing about whisky and hard living, and like Clay, MLiB&W founder Dylan Summers' vocal stylings draw some inspiration from Shane MacGowan of The Pogues. Opening the show, Blue Lake's hottest "zouk/Christian rap/electroacoustic" band, Tainted Zucchini. I've been chastised in the past for referring to T.Z. as a Rubberneckers spin-off — they are not — however the two bands do share some members, and when I asked Clay what his post-Neckers plans were, he told me he'd be focusing his energy on T. Zucchini.
Around the corner at Humboldt Brews Friday, another night with Play Dead playing songs by the Dead and Jerry Garcia. Last time P.D. played they had drummer Danny Montgomery with them, but I think he's off someplace else. Danny e-mailed me from Italy months ago to say he'd lined up an all-star NYE Dead night for a local club, with elaborate plans to broadcast it live on KHUM just as the Dead did with SF stations in days gone by. Alas, as often happens, someone (the club, not Danny) pulled out last minute and the thing was canceled. Danny did not remain idle, however — according to his MySpace (/dannymontgomerymusic), he landed a gig that night in Vegas backing Celine Dion.
You might remember last week's NYE column included a bit of ribbing for Humboldt's finest classic rock ‘n' roll cover band, Dr. Squid. (I mildly chastised them for what seemed a slightly exaggerated claim about their relative longevity.) Squid guitarist Eldin Green took offense. Having spent years putting his heart and soul into advancement of the local scene via Humboldtmusic.com and other selfless enterprises, he was feeling a lack of love. "would it kill you to say something positive about us?" he wondered. Honestly, I love the Squid, or I wouldn't kid them. That said, you can catch the rockin' Dr. S. at Bear River Casino Friday night, or if you'd rather experience the band's equally fine jazz incarnation, Mr. Calamari's Jazz Machine is at Old Town Coffee and Chocolate Thursday.
OK, time for some Saturday night action. Ready for some murder ballads and a touch of Tuvan throat singing? Six Rivers Brewing hosts the return of The Pine Box Boys, here from San Fran for another volley of old timey undertaker music aimed straight at your head. None other than Greil Marcus namedropped them in the überhip Interview magazine, describing their song, "The Beauty in Her Face" as "an indelible little number, which goes as far into the mind of a killer as anyone needs to." Traveling with the Box Boys, .357 String Band from Wisconsin (as in .357 Magnum), a self-described "amphetamine-fueled streetgrass" band who seem just as serious as PBB.
Last minute addition to the Jambalaya line-up: a show by young Humboldt rockers Steel Toed Slippers, whose middle name was misspelled in the listing I received as Toad. (Sounds the same, but that one letter makes for a totally different meaning.)
Those looking for something a bit lighter might want to hit Mosgo's earlier, where Kathe Lyth is playing her Celtic harp. Lyth is perhaps best known as leader of the globetrotting Redwood Coast Children's Choir, but I don't think she'll have the kids along at the Westwood coffeeshop.
For more Celtic music head over to Eureka for Arts Alive! There you can bounce from Good Company at Plaza Design to Scatter the Mud at Old Town Coffee and Chocolates. For AA! blues you've got Buddy Reed and the Rip ‘Em Ups at Opera Alley Bistro. Brad Werren and friends will be laying down some jazz at Avalon. Mathew Cook tickles the ivories at the Graves. The Sidekicks play folk-pop at Ramone's (the one in Old Town). Just like every weekend, The Tumbleweeds are doing the cowboy thing at Chapala. And even though it's January and freezing-ass cold out, there's a good chance you'll catch Huckleberry Flint or some other old timey band playing on Second Street and rubbing their hands together between songs. For the uninitiated, Huck Flint favors the sheltered area in front of Eureka Books (recently purchased by Amy and Scott, in case you hadn't heard).
DJ Danny is spinning at the Pearl with some special guest TBA for those who hang around after AA! The Alibi is still quiet this Saturday, perhaps because the staff is in preparation for expansion into the new Auntie Mo's in the former Club West/Indigo digs. Instead hard-rockin' upsidedowncross presents a triple dose of Humboldt heaviness at The Vista with "instru-metal" band 33 1/3, sharp-edged metal by Machete and chevre-rockers The Zygoats. This is a benefit for Humboldt Free Radio Alliance, who I'm told are on a temporary break and searching for new secret quarters after the pirates' semi-annual visit from the FCC. Need I remind the youngun's who might be thinking about attending that the Vista is now off-limits to all under 21? Sorry kids. And while I'm thinking about it, what's up with that sign over the Go Fish front door? That's just plain rude. Besides, I think Gus' wild mural is cool.
In case you hadn't noticed, the Jambalaya has been adding new music nights in recent weeks with Deep Groove Societyhosting "Sundaze" dance nights (on Sundays)andOne-Wise Soundspinning reggae every Wednesday. (Speaking of reggae, mark Feb. 24, on your calendar, that's when African reggae star Alpha Blondyand*his band**The Solar System**and German*reggae starGentleman play*at the*Arcata Community Center.)
Word of the latest addition to the Jambalaya music-a-thon comes from musician Ron Perry, who notes that "The Blues Jamwill return to the Jam on each and every Tuesday night from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. beginning Jan. 8. The initial house band will be a collection of veteran players who are calling themselves The Uptown Kings, Andy Widmanfeatured on guitar, Rob Andersonon drums, Dale Cashon bass and Ron Perryon harmonica. The Jambalaya is hoping to recapture a bit of the magic that existed during the Jam's golden days. It would be great if these events could be featured [in some] portion of the Hum."
You asked for it — you got it. And let's hear it for more music, more music, more music in 2008.