In the beginning there was music. It was simple at first -- grunting, belly-drums -- later lutes. As the tribes spread, different groups developed their own traditions, such as Gregorian chants, Tuvan throat singing and elementary explorations into salsa.
Today the world of music is an advanced and esoteric state of war, with Humboldt as its righteous battlefield. The hippies hate jazz, and the jazzies hate metal. Pirate radio loves the metal-adaption of hippie music, aka gypsy jug bands, but all jug bands do not necessarily get along with pirates. Then there are the Rastas, the alternative college rockers, the uncompromising DIY or DIE-ers and the wishy-washy whatevers that really just want to be entertained and usually end up at Jambalaya.
Though neutral territory exists, battle lines have been drawn all over the county. For example, a punk may find respite at The Shanty but not the Pearl, and a hipster tends to enjoy The Alibi more than Sidelines. While these territories are marked in common knowledge, recently opened venues are still in limbo. Who will take the Arcata Theatre Lounge, and what cause will finally win Nocturnum?
The battle for the Mateel was won by the hippies decades ago, with a reggae festival near the river held annually in reverence of their victory. The rise of the new moon on Friday, April 24, marks another call to arms, where those deep into the natural world will gather their strength for another onslaught at the not so covertly named "Conscious Uprising." Co-sponsored by KMUD, the event is meant to "reclaim sacred space through ritualistic performance and sonic alchemy," with performances by Colorado's trip hop/reggae act Heavyweight Dub Champion, as well as the all-female conscious hip hoppers Goddess Alchemy Project. The event will also have a gourmet snack bar, psychedelic art show and fully decorated booze bar for those 21 and up. All ages are welcome.
Though Nocturnum is run by a hip hopper, it has not been officially claimed by any genre-loving sect yet, the recreational Rastafari movement remains strong, with a performance on Saturday, April 25, by reggae legend Don Carlos. A former member of Waterhouse group Black Uhuru, Carlos opted for a solo career in 1977 to some acclaim. A few may recall his epically titled 1982 album Them Never Know a Natty Dread. For those who have known a natty dread, the show is 21+, $25 at the door.
On the other side of hippy-trippy is the land of eco-groovy, a movement to be further venerated on Saturday, April 25, with the free, student-organized Sustainable Living Arts and Music (SLAM) Fest. Starting around 3 p.m., the HSU Gist Hall parking lot will be all a-flurry with green-powered booths of sustainable goodies and educational exhibits. Music this year will be provided by SF Afro-beat outfit Albino!, Great American Taxi (featuring Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon) and DJ Party Ben. Throughout the day there'll be an eco-friendly fashion "Trashion" show, sustainability workshops, rock climbing, hybrid-vehicle test-driving and an arts & crafts area for the kids.
Neither hippies nor hipsters, the folk fans ought to be wowed by 101-year-old ukulele player Bill Tapia on Sunday, April 26, at the Arcata Playhouse. Brought to you by the Humboldt Folklife Society, the epic old-timer is said to have been playing since 1916, having jammed alongside Bing Crosby, Fats Waller and Billy Holiday, and was playing licks behind his head some 50 years before Hendrix came on the scene. On a 2005 tour, Tapia recorded a live album at SF's Great American Music Hall and has hit the Top 10 on the jazz chart twice since then. The UKEsperience will kick the action off before Tapia hits the stage alongside Prairie Home Companion bass player Bruce Calin.
Generally connected to the folky Folklife society is the square-dance strummin' Striped Pig Stringband, performing in part with rootsy heartlander Pokey Lafarge. Held at 3 Foods Café on Friday, April 24, the show will be sponsored in part by the café's neighbor Missing Link Records, a newly spawned breeding ground for music lovers of all genres. "Pokey Lafarge is like 'riverboat soul.' It's got a real old-timey vaudeville feel to it. Real syrupy smooth," describes Missing Link co-owner Matt Jackson. On the bulletin board behind him are two posters for upcoming events at The Alibi, aforementioned watering hole of the hip-n-trendy/self-proclaimed rock-n-roll lifestylers. Saturday, April 25, brings The Fire Demons, with Jeff Langdon from The Hitch on drums and Robert Tripp on guitar. That show is opened by Seattle sludge-metal band Micho De Noche and begins, like all Alibi showdowns, late, at 11:15 p.m. A few days later on Tuesday, April 28, will be the 357 String Band -- "Rock and country as shit from Wisconsin," offers Missing Linker Adam Pokorski from behind the counter. "It's amphetamine fueled street-grass" -- alongside the local one-man acoustic punk band Bored Again.
Strix Vega and Common Vice, local alt-rockers you've likely seen at one time or another in The Alibi, will be playing a show at the Blue Lake Casino, a venue typically reserved for smoking inside and singles bingo. That show is on Friday, April 24, from 9 p.m. ’til 1 a.m. and has no cover, so you can save your cash for slots.
Not much of a presence for the B-boys and girls until Friday, April 24, when Maniac Productionz present their Hip Hop 4 Change benefit for the Media Arts Resource Zone, or MARZ Project. Held at the Ink People Center in Eureka, the event will feature performances by Thic Family, DVSB inc., The Mastermindz and Maniac Krew (featuring Lil Maniac, the event's 16-year-old coordinator). Recording her own music for four years now, Lil Maniac has started her own production company, Maniac Productionz (mind the "z"), and is now throwing her second show as a benefit for the organization that got her started. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., that show is all ages and $5 at the door.
If you feel like benefit hopping you may want to lend financial strength to the gourmet food and live music benefit for the Raven Project, Saturday, April 25, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at The Looking Glass House (1436 Second St. in Eureka). Featuring nonstop music by the Anna Hamilton Trio, Karen Dumont, Donna Landry and Spanky McFarlane with Boomsauii, a $40 ticket gets you dinner, entertainment and one complimentary bev.
If this all seems a little intense, you may want to simmer down with one of several shows aimed at the jazzies throughout the week. Saturday, April 25, brings Aunty Em with Susie Laraine, a well-seasoned flute/sax performer, to the Morris Graves Museum of Art. Sunday the 26th brings the last show of the Redwood Jazz Alliance's spring season with Fly Trio, a cooperative jazzy threesome made up of saxophonist Mark Turner, drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier. Held in Fulkerson Hall, tickets are $15 or $10 for students and seniors.
If these performances inspire in you a sense of intellectualism or worldliness, you may want to join other confessed readers and radio listeners up at the university, where you belong, for an evening with David Sedaris on Monday, April 27. Frequent contributor to NPR's This American Life, as well as best-selling author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, Sedaris is a sardonic comic genius not to be missed.
A final note for the film nerds: Arcata Theatre Lounge will be providing both lounge and theatre throughout the week. Friday the 24th features a screening of a surf flick, The Ripple Effect, plus music by LikWefi and Lion Sound at 6 p.m. On Saturday you can catch a showing of the doc Manufactured Landscapes at 4 p.m. or 8 p.m., with a midnight showing of the animated sci-fi tale Fantastic Planet at, well, midnight.