It's one of those great weekends where we have a chance to hear one of our hardworking local bands draw a line in the musical sand and commit its work into a recorded snapshot of time. All that's a silly way of saying, Wild Otis is releasing its debut album called Don't Let Me Fall on Jazz Helmet Records. I had a chance to chat with Humboldt County's favorite bass player Dan Davis over John Barleycorn and tots at the Mad River Brewery this past Sunday. He was very excited to tell me about getting this album out to the world and I know there are plenty of W.O. fans who have been patiently waiting for it.
Wild Otis is, at its heart, a rock band and although it's got streaks of country running through its sound, it's just enough to add that West Coast country flavor without going full-on shitty country. The members have been rocking up here on the North Coast for us about four or five years now, Dan roughly confirmed. As for the name, well, I won't get too much into the story, as this is a family publication (is it?) but let's just say an infamous Mattole joint is responsible. The band's comprised of three guitar players: Norman Bradford, Rick DeVol and Dan Davis (on bass) and Jimmy Moore on the kit. They've been working on Don't Let Me Fall for just about a year now, recording it in two separate five-hour sessions and self-producing it with Piet Dalmolen over at Universal Balance Studios in Arcata. Dan tells me the album was recorded almost entirely live, with the band playing off of each other in the studio, much like they would at a live show. The scratch vocals were overdubbed with a few extra guitar licks put in later but what you'll mainly hear on this album is a band of finely tuned musicians riffing off of their playing and their songs. The album has seven of the band's own songs rounded out by a Neil Young and a Phish cover song (I'll let you find out which ones). What's clear, which you'll know if you've seen this band live, is that Wild Otis is in it 100 percent. These guys love playing and don't half-ass it. They work hard but probably don't consider it work at all. When the task of recording, self-producing and self-releasing an album these days is rightly seen as a Sisyphean task with no "big picture" payoff or validation, it's all the more reason to take folks like Wild Otis seriously. They're the type of people who will keep rowing when others say the ship's taking on water, who keep jamming when it's last call. As many will say, there's no objective reason to release music into the overwhelming digital cacophony that is the musical landscape these days. In the broader sense, it'll be a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing. No major label will hear it. No booking agent will call up to offer representation. But that doesn't keep Wild Otis from giving a shit. So go give a shit with them and check out their album. They'll be rolling that rock up the hill — and perhaps rocking that roll — only to do it again and again this Saturday night and, like Sisyphus, I bet you they'll be smiling the whole time.
Blue Lake has been getting hints of sun here and there through breaks in the fog and rain, so maybe today will be one of those days. Regardless of the weather, The Compost Mountain Boys will be doing their bluegrass thing at Mad River Brewery this evening at 6 p.m. and for free. Two-time Grammy winner and former member of Wings Laurence Juber stops by The Old Steeple in Ferndale around 7:30 p.m. to blow your mind with his famous fingers. If he's been tapped by Paul McCartney to jam, you know this guy's good. He plays a mix of blues, pop, folk and jazz, and is, not surprisingly, a Beatles fan. He's recently released the third album in his LJ Can't Stop Playing the Beatles! series, so expect some tunes from the Fab Four in his show. Twenty-five bucks will get you in for this gem of a show. Coming from the folk/gospel world, MaMuse returns to Humboldt tonight at The Sanctuary in Arcata at around 8 p.m. Catch their harmonies and acoustic-based music for only $20.
It's St. Patrick's Day and it seems like only a year ago we had our music scene chock full of Celtic tunes. Start off your Irish Appreciation Day at Mad River Brewery with Seabury Gould, who'll be on for free around 3:30 p.m. for those of you who have already called in sick to work. At 6 p.m., Cadillac Ranch takes over from Seabury to keep the good times coming. Six Rivers Brewery hosts a two-hour set of free Celtic-inspired music from The Gatehouse Well at 6:30 p.m. Just a half hour later, Good Company and Fingal team up at Siren's Song Tavern for the St. Patty's music, along with a performance by the Academy of Irish Dance, all for free. The RLA Trio is hosting a former-local-dynamite trumpeter Nicholas Dominic Talvola who grew up in Arcata but moved to Europe 14 years ago and has been gigging around out there with some pretty big acts. Welcome him back at 7 p.m. at the Westhaven Center for the Arts with a sliding scale of $5-$20. We're not done with Celtic music yet folks; you'll find Whoops! non-accidentally playing Irish music at Cafe Mokka at 8 p.m. for free — and it's all ages — and later at The Jam in Arcata you've got The Vanishing Pints playing around 9:30 p.m. Not sure on the ticket price for this one but you know it'll be a blast. Rounding out our St. Patrick's Day are big-timers The Meat Puppets who return to Humboldt Brews at 9:30 p.m. These fellas have been on the punk/alt rock SST music scene since 1980 and have blazed their own trail through the changing musical landscapes since then. I hear they may have some more acoustic-based songs this evening, which would be a treat. Stonefield opens this $20 show.
The Mad River Brewery hosts Jenni & David and the Sweet Soul Band at 6 p.m. in the beer garden. As usual, these are free shows. As mentioned above, Wild Otis celebrates the release of Don't Let Me Fall with a CD Release Party at Redwood Curtain Brewery at 8 p.m. Expect to hear most, if not all, of the songs of their new album with some great covers thrown in to boot. It's a free show but do yourself a favor and pick up a $10 copy of this hardworking band's debut. Some alt. metal is at The Alibi from up north — Spokane rockers Mercy Brown are on a West Coast tour headed to the Treefort Music Fest. Fortunately for us, they're stopping by for the night. They'll probably be on at 11 p.m. with local Arcata stoner metal from Ultramafic following. The usual $5 ticket price.
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. He likes working Camus references into a music column.