Last week I had the opportunity to chat with a hardworking band that spends a good portion of each year out on the road. Although we briefly talked about the upside of touring the country with a band — seeing many places that you most likely wouldn't see with the family on a vacation, meeting new people, and getting copious amounts of free beer — we pretty quickly got to some of the downsides of touring, like meeting new people and getting copious amounts of free (crappy) beer. Things, of course, get more difficult on the road as one gets older and if one has a family.
One of the more interesting topics was a sort of quantity vs. quality of experience in new places. While on the road, one goes to a lot of places. However, it is generally for very short periods. Get to a town and head over to the gig to sound check, then have an hour or two of downtime at the gig waiting for the show. Play the show, pack up the gear and then head to a hotel (if you're lucky) around 2:30 a.m. and then get ready to shove off around 9:30 a.m. to travel to the next town. Rinse, wash and repeat. Although your quantity of travel is great — maybe six cities in a week — the quality is less so. Good luck feeling like you have any grasp on said town you were in the last night playing for a room of drunk people.
I heard this same idea expressed by Ben Sollee (coming to town Sunday), who says that when touring, rather than being in many places, you're more often between places. You spend most of your time in transit to a place, from another place, going somewhere, whether by van, bike or bus, as opposed to being somewhere. Perhaps the short time on stage is when you're finally here, but once that's done, you think about the next place to go to, which is there. One of the struggles — not specific to touring — is to not let your focus be totally absorbed with the there, but to acknowledge the here. Because, perhaps, wherever you go, here you are. So welcome the below musicians as, for a short time, they have made it here.
You can expect some different flavors of country music tonight at Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. in Arcata starting around 8 p.m. Out from Austin, Texas, and in the alt-country, is Elsa Cross who I'm assuming will be opening up the show. Self-billed "local heartthrobs" and "Mojave outlaw country" rockers — I can get on board with one of those descriptions — Cliff Dallas and the Death Valley Troubadours will most likely close this free show out, so watch out single ladies. I'm still trying to wrap my head around a press release that came my way in advance of the Hard Working Americans, playing Humboldt Brews tonight at 8 p.m. With many a mention of literary figures (Philip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon and John Barth) and musicians (Hendrix, Zappa, McCartney, Iggy Pop, Tim Buckley and others), plus a completely unnecessary hat tip to metaphysics and quantum physics, this press release teetered on the brink of digital annihilation. Whether the release/album review (?) was written by an English professor attempting to "publish" to save his or her job, or a student in said professor's class, I'm uncertain. However, the band is comprised of talented musicians who deserve to have their latest release, Rest in Chaos, described by someone more interested in the music than in his or her own writing. I'm not that person. What I will tell you is that you'll hear some cuts off this album that'll be parts ass-kickin' rock, and ass-kickin' blues (what more really needs to be said?) courtesy of Todd Snider, Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood Band), Duane Trucks (of the extended Allman Bros. family) Dave Schools, Chad Staehly and Jesse Aycock. These are pro players, so bring $35 to get in.
I realize that I failed to say what mode of transportation the previously mentioned bands were utilizing to get to gigs. Since I'm obviously in a cranky mood and know that you care about how musicians get from one place to another, it might bear mentioning that this next artist will be traveling to The Sanctuary in Arcata tonight via bicycle. OK, not very interesting on its own, but in the context of Joanna Wallfish biking more than 600 miles on her West Coast tour, even I have to admit that's impressive. This jazz-trained vocalist has a great voice — and has toured with Wynton Marsalis — and from what I've heard from her new album Gardens In My Mind, she has an equally great sound. Expect to be enchanted. She's on at 7 p.m. and this show has a $5 to $20 sliding scale (they'll probably take $21 if you insist). Free tonight at the Logger Bar in Blue Lake is local Americana trio Kingfoot on around 9 p.m. These fellas are no strangers to the Logger, and you're probably not either. Feel free to leave a tip. For you Johnny Cash fans, head up to the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel at 9 p.m. for James Garner's Tribute to Johnny Cash. Expect to hear, well, Johnny Cash for $15, $10 advance.
JD Jeffries is releasing his album Through The Years tonight at the Westhaven Center for the Arts. Joining him for the album release show will be a cappella group Sweet Harmony around 7 p.m. Rounding out this $5 to $15 sliding scale show is "harpist/singer/songwriter" Howdy Emerson. For those in a Celtic mood, Cafe Mokka hosts local band Good Company doing its Irish-type thing for free starting at 8 p.m. Not far away, at The Miniplex, you'll find an interesting three-band bill with "electronics enhanced, one person bands." All the way out from Berlin is Dubais with fellow out-of-towners (from Portland) Mattress and local electro-mystery-future-cowboy whiz Mister Moonbeam. Music kicks off around 9 p.m. for only $5 and it'll probably get beautifully weird at some point. Back up at the Logger Bar you'll find local Humboldt funk, soul, and blues rockers Jenni and David and the Sweet Soul Band on around 9 p.m. and all for free.
No stranger to biking to gigs, Kentucky native and cellist extraordinaire Ben Sollee plays Humboldt Brews tonight at 8 p.m. I can't recall if he's been to our fair neck of the woods before but something tells me that he has. No matter, he's joined for this early show by locals No Pardon, a relatively new band of the ever-busy Chris Parriera. Parriera downplayed his "chunky" rhythm guitar stylings but praised the "imaginative and other-worldly fiddling brought to you by the musical mad scientist Dr. (Rosalind) Parducci. And undeniably, it's all about that bass, with Amber Grimes holding it down — she pays the band's "gravity bill." It's $15 to get in, and don't forget that it's a bit earlier than usual Hum Brews shows.
With music described as a "dusty slab of Southern-flavored psychedelic swampy groove," it seems fitting that Florida's Daryl Hance Powermuse will be at The Jam in Arcata tonight. There'll be some fuzzy and fat grooves from their third album Wild Blue Iris that will get you shaking around 9 p.m. and for only $5. Wear clothes you don't mind sweating in.
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 email@example.com.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. He gets confused by how much there often looks like here.