Well, I made it home. And after 1,700 miles on a circuitous route from here to Escondido and back, I can now say with some authority that anyone who lives south of Willits is completely out of their mind. I did manage to enjoy myself a bit, however. Sleeping in the band room of the Los Angeles headquarters of the band PRESENT was pretty damn nice after an evening of tequila, fried crickets and ratchet music with friends. Ventura also made a good impression. Anyone born in the '80s will remember those cheap muscle man action figures that looked vaguely like Hulk Hogan but bore a generic name on the packaging like "USA Man." Well, that's the city of Ventura, if that makes any sense. A fun and blurry replica of a larger dream.
Anyway, right now I'm gearing up for summer and listening to one of the few pieces of music that can produce goosebumps and/or tears for me: "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Give it a spin on this build-up to the solstice. You won't be disappointed.
Have a magical week.
It's the second Thursday of the month and do you know what that means? It means you can visit Gallagher's Irish Pub after 6 p.m. to catch Mssrs. Zwerdling, Romano, Dayvid and Morden — known in tandem as The Gatehouse Well — as they ply their considerable talents in the service of Celtic folk music (free). And with a new album due later this month, this is the perfect time to enjoy the musical splendor of this talented quartet.
Side Iron is throwing a record release party at the Siren's Song tonight at 7 p.m. and you're all invited. I hear tell there will be a limited run of 7-inch picture discs for sale so maybe marinate on that for a hot minute. Along for the fun tonight on this somewhat stochastic bill of fare are ace rock 'n' rolla weirdos Strix Vega and the gritty and just plain filthy hoedown-ing fellas in Bow-Legged Buzzards. The price of admittance is only $5 — less than four British Pounds Sterling which, on the eve of the asinine double whammy of the coming Trump Mexico tariffs and Brexit, is still quite a steal.
Fantastic local early 20th century jazz and parlor band Belles of the Levee are back as a trio. Tonight, 7:30 p.m. at the Westhaven Center for the Arts you can join Nola Victrola and Bev Twist as they are accompanied on guitar by none other than Ryan Roberts from Absynth Quartet. Admission is $7-$20 sliding scale and there will be refreshments available to augment your listening pleasure.
The Arcata Playhouse is finishing its season with a bang in the form of the Bay Area's turbo-charged acoustic sextet Supermule at 8 p.m. ($18, $16 members and students). Born out of the San Francisco folk and bluegrass scene, this eclectic group of top players — featuring former Humboldt citizen Mike Emerson on keys — is known for unpredictable and virtuosic playing with a group dynamic forged with the twin virtues of cohesion and experimentation. The band is coming through town on a tour promoting its latest release Pretty Little Birds. It's good high-octane Americana, folks.
It's the second Monday of the month, which, apart from signifying that we have exactly 11 more days until the summer solstice, also means there's a group singing workshop at the Sanctuary at 8:30 p.m. Led by Theresa Horan-Sapunar, this song circle is a safe space to practice various song cycles and chants from across the human experience. Bring the kids if they are willing to sing along or remain otherwise agreeable (price TBA).
Blato Zlato is a New Orleans band that specializes in Balkan music, which seems apropos in these highly balkanized times, when once-friendly neighborhoods are rent asunder through disagreements over our deeply stupid American politics. Anyway, the folk music of the Balkan states is exotic and lovely, and Blato Zlato — Bulgarian for "swamp gold" — is well equipped to deliver the goods and then some. Expect some energetic and banging near-Eastern folk music from the Deep South when the band strikes up a chord at the Sanctuary tonight at 7:30 p.m. ($10-$25 suggested donation).
Vancouver, British Columbia, is known for many things. The gorgeousness of Stanley Park with its proximity to a very clean downtown. The beaches and well-appointed homes of the peninsular neighborhood of Kitsilano. The town even hosted me for a while before 9/11, when I escaped America to run away from the nascent stupidity of the early days of the George W. Bush administration. And even though the execrable music of Nickelback drove me back to these troubled states (I'm not joking), I still have a soft spot for my former Canadian home. I can scratch that itch tonight at the Siren's Song with the ghoulish boogie-sounds of Vancouver's own native monsters Zombie Cookout at 8 p.m. (price TBA). Piggybacking onto this bony fiesta of gore is our very own local low-tide treasure Sue and the Namies. So, as the Harry Belafonte song goes: "Back to back, belly to belly/ I don't give a damn, I done dead already/O-ho back to back, belly to belly/ At the Zombie Jamboree."
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 believes the only Christians who are persecuted in America are migrants held in detention camps. He lives in Arcata.