Allow me to take a quick moment here to thank Monica Topping for writing the Setlist these past two weeks while I was out of town. I am rarely out of town, and the few times that I am, I tend to bring work with me. So having some time off (a vacation I've heard it called) has been quite refreshing, and I owe part of this odd, fresh feeling to my editors and Ms. Topping. With that gratitude expressed, let me wander down a more misanthropic path; one that hopefully resolves on a more optimistic coda.
Not that it's important, but I write these words while sitting on an airplane hurtling toward California. As you may have inferred above, I don't fly often. Due to that, I quite forget how a bunch of people stuffed into an aerial metal tube carry on. Before I begin complaining about my fellow Icaruses (Icari?), I do realize that in light of our ability to enter the stratosphere and enjoy the gift of god-like flight, this should be taken with a grain of salt. What I am reminded of, however, is our general desire to connect with other people. This sounds quite generic and lovely, I know. It's a little less lovely when you are not the one connecting, but rather a forced spectator to another's blossoming connection in the row behind you. When you have to suffer through hours of the inane chit-chat, small-talk and never ending how-do-you-dos of two strangers whose paths never again shall meet, it is completely understandable why the baby in row 24 is screaming its head off.
So I'm not as much of a "people person" as I used to be, but that's why they serve drinks on planes; to keep folks like me sedated. That's not to imply that connecting with someone — a stranger you'll never meet again — isn't worthwhile. Just keep it down and remember that your Al Pacino voice isn't always necessary when you're explaining your past cigarette addiction or fondness for salmon jerky to someone less than a foot away. For the rest of us, that's why we go to music shows. We get to become something greater than ourselves when the sound waves wash over us. It's still great in headphones, but it's nothing like the experience of the primal and rhythmic pulse rippling and spreading itself through the air as you and the crowd react and join voices during the chorus. The best part: If the band's loud enough, you won't have to hear someone jibber-jabber endlessly about how this winter sure is wintery and the detente or escalation of the War on Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, should you need a break from the loving joy/madness of family, there are local musicians who are waiting for you and won't be asking for any of your leftover cash. At the Speakeasy, catch the jazz and funk vibes of the Eureka Pizza Council holding down its Friday night spot at 8:30 p.m.
Also free and funky is The Getdown, who will be at the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel at 9 p.m. and playing late. Remind the kids that the least they could do for you — after converting your recent paychecks into toys they'll tire of in two weeks — is to let you have a night out.
Blue Lake's got the action. You can sing along to hits from the '70s, '80s, '90s, and current millennium with The Undercovers at the Logger Bar. From Blondie to Gnarls Barkley, catch these fellows at 9 p.m. for free.
Down the way at the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel, Rohnert Park Casino blues-rockers Twice as Good will be giving one of our casinos a try. I'm unclear what they're twice as good as, but it's statistically feasible that there are many bands that are either half as good, or perhaps twice as bad as they are, so I buy it. The show is at 9 p.m. and twice as free.
There's plenty going on as the weekend wraps up. You can check out guitarist and singer-songwriter JD Jeffries at Trinidad's Lighthouse Grill for free at 5 p.m.
Also free is Jazz Night at Blondie's in Arcata around 7 p.m., for you cool cats.
Apparently no bands want your money. as the Deep Groove Society will be playing for gratis at The Jam in Arcata at 9 p.m.
Buddy Reed is doing his thing for you as he does every Tuesday at Libation off the Arcata Plaza. Thank the guy, he's doing it for no cover charge starting at 7 p.m.
Nahko & Medicine for the People — a fellow who sounds far more talented than his press agent — will be at the Mateel Community Center at 8 p.m. Playing to Humboldt County's fascinations with "exotic" and authentic cultures, the press release highlights Nahko's pride in his "Puerto Rican, Native American, [and] Filipino bloodlines." He was also "disillusioned by the world around him as a teenager," I am informed. At least everyone else has that in common. "Inspired by... Bob Dylan" it goes on. Well, that I can get behind. As someone pretending to be a writer writing about music, I am almost always uninterested in a musician's bloodlines or high-school moral awakenings. What the musician looks like... not interested. What the music sounds like... that's the good stuff. Anyway, I digress. He killed it last summer at Reggae on the River with his blend of hip-hop and folk-rock, so many are excited by his return. Joined by guest Dustin Thomas, tickets are $30. Go pack the place, and welcome Nahko back to Humboldt.
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 normally hides his crankiness better.