Beatles or Stones? It's a silly question that's at least 50 years old. My wife answered "The Beatles" without hesitating. Yet it's one that haunts many of us music lovers who hold cherished spots for both in our hearts. Would modern music exist as anything even close to resembling itself had John and Paul never met? Absolutely not. Would The Rolling Stones even have become "The Greatest Rock n' Roll Band in the World" had the Fab Four not paved the way and made it safe to write their own songs? Doubtful. I know it sounds like I'm about to cast my vote for The Beatles but just hold on a second.
I recently noticed that when our son is sitting at the computer playing some kind of Star Wars/Minecraft game, he often has headphones on. How kind that he spares us the annoying video games sounds, I thought. Then I saw he was actually listening to The Beatles while he gamed away. Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road, all on loop while playing Star Wars, with its Dark and Light sides. It reminded me of something I heard Keith Richards mention in an Esquire interview: "... The Beatles were the 'Fab Four,' y'know? As I say, that's wearing the 'white hat.' So the only other (laughs) place to go is to wear the 'black hat' (laughs), y'know?" Maybe music isn't that different than the Force. It must have balance. There can be no Light Side without a Dark Side — no white hat without a black hat, no Beatles without the Stones. You may prefer one to the other but perhaps they're both opposite sides of the same coin and necessary for each other's existence. I like to think that's the case as it relieves me of needing to pick one over the other. You've got a chance this Sunday (more below) to mull over this existential question with your neighbors. May the music be with you.
Get your bluegrass on early with the Compost Mountain Boys, who are back at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room at 6 p.m. for free. Tributes are the name of the game this weekend with two such local acts hitting the stage at The Jam in Arcata around 9:30 p.m. I'm going to guess on the order and say that Nirvana tribute Lounge Act will be starting the show off. For some reason, we seem to have a lack of tribute bands for some of the greats from the '90s, but fortunately these fellas are helping fill that void. It might not seem like a Nirvana cover band and a Neil Young tribute would share a bill but not only were Nirvana members fans of the "Godfather of Grunge," Neil appreciated Nirvana and included tributes to Kurt Cobain on Sleeps with Angels. This won't be one to miss. Shakey will play some of your favorite Neil tunes, ranging from the earlier folky days to the whiskey-drenched Crazy Horse sound. Not sure what the ticket price is for this one, but whether it's $5 or $10, it'll be worth it. Hip hop fans will be heading over to Humboldt Brews to catch not just a legend but a founding member of The Living Legends. Recently releasing Three Eyes Off The Time, The Grouch returns to Humboldt to get in your ears tonight. He's joined by special guests Scarub, Pure Powers and Gabe Pressure with 2CoolGang at 10 p.m. Tickets are $30 for this show.
It's the Third Friday Blues this evening at the Westhaven Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. with Jim Lahman, Dale Cash, Ron Perry and Bill Moehnke bringing the blues from the turn of the century to modern day. Sliding scale of $5-$10 for this one. Celtic band Good Company returns to Cafe Mokka tonight at 8 p.m. for a free all-ages show. At the same time and also free, you can get your funky groove on with Motherlode at Redwood Curtain Brewery in Arcata.
More Celtic tunes tonight at Cafe Mokka but this time with Whoops! at 8 p.m., free and all ages. There's a local showcase of music over at The Miniplex in Richards' Goat Tavern and Tea Room starting at 9 p.m. The email mentioned "three of the most obscure and totally unique groups in Humboldt, giving it up for free." So, with that said, help make these three bands less obscure: Melrose Place a new Arcata trio; The Tweeners a Eureka "freak ensemble"; and Blackplate, who are described as "farm fresh rockers from Shively." A few blocks away, Humboldt Brews hosts electronic reggae-dub innovaters Jon Wayne and The Pain, who bring cosmic beats into some psychedelia all mashed up with some roots reggae. Welcome this Minneapolis/St. Paul-based band to our neck of the woods. They're on at 9:30 p.m. and $10 will get you in.
The 142-year-old Holy Trinity Church of Trinidad is having A World of Song Benefit Concert this afternoon to help raise funds to maintain its historic beingness. Former Humboldt State University music instructor Steve Berman — now living in Grants Pass — will be performing on a multitude of instruments such as the oud, hurdy-gurdy, balalaika, charango, pipa, saz and a rather less exotic instrument known as a guitar. He'll perform songs from Ireland, Russia, China, England, Venezuela and Turkey. This show starts at 3 p.m. and reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 677-3456. A $15 donation is asked to help support this old church and a reception will follow the concert. For something completely different, punk rock is on the bill this evening at the Siren's Song Tavern at 6:30 p.m. Local bands Komatose, Dullahan, Cross Contamination and The ChainLinks are supporting MDC (Millions of Dead Cops), who formed in Austin, Texas, back in 1981. After relocating to San Francisco and then Portland, they play "fast hardcore punk music espousing far-left sociopolitical ideals, with singer Dave Dictor expressing his animal rights, gay rights, transgender rights, pro-racial equality and anti-capitalist convictions." Bring $10 for this show and feel free to wear your political convictions on your sleeve. Conflict is on the bill tonight (as mentioned above) at the Arcata Theatre Lounge at 7:30 p.m., as the Beatles vs. Stones–A Musical Showdown attempts to answer the big question. Expect alternating "mini sets" by Abbey Road and Satisfaction (I'll let you guess which band is a tribute to which). The bands not only recreate the music that we have known and loved since the 1960s — at times to microscopic detail — but also play the part visually. Depending on how much you're squinting (or how far back you are) you might be persuaded that you're watching Mick strut around the stage, Ringo bobbing his head to the beat or Bill Wyman standing motionless in front of the amps. Abbey Road may have the more challenging time as far as visuals go, representing the changes The Beatles went through from their Ed Sullivan era "Beatle Suits" and mop tops to the Sgt. Pepper psychedelic military uniforms, to the Let it Be era long hair and denim. It might just reinforce your preference for either band or, if you're like me, it'll just be another reminder that you love them both. While this would be a great show to bring the kids to, it's 21+ and $28 gets you in the door.
Merrick of The Miniplex informs me that Natalie Mering's Weyes Blood is returning to Arcata backed by a full band supporting her fourth LP, Front Row Seat to Earth, which received some praise from the all-knowing hipsters at Pitchfork. Joining this 9 p.m. bill is Fatal Jamz out of Los Angeles and a DJ set from Coastral. A $10 bill for this one.
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.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Album of the Week Show on KWPT 100.3 FM Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Their Satanic Majesties request?