I'll cop to it: I view the world materially and holistically. Things are connected. And I don't just write about music for a living, I also build things. I come from carpenters and I can recognize designs and patterns. So when live music goes away for more than a year because of a disastrously unprepared pandemic response, that's in my wheelhouse. When 93 percent of the west is in a drought and my hometown's real estate is suddenly massively outpricing the locals, I understand that's going to affect the music scene quite a bit. I don't know how to break it to some of you but musicians are not the most financially stable people. When I am in the bookstore and I hear an elderly retired lady talking with genuine fear in her voice about being on a fixed income and not having rent control or security so she's not sure if she can afford the books she wants, I listen to her and I report back to you, dear reader. Why? Because as a fellow Humboldtshevik and media consumer, she is my constituency. I genuinely care about the poor, marginalized and working class — those are my people. I spend a lot of time thinking about whether we will discover positive collective action before it's too late. And while most of you who I interact with understand and appreciate my passion — even if you don't agree with my (mostly anodyne) public opinions — I have to tap the sign here and remind a vocal few to just skip the intro if you don't like it. Whining is beneath the dignified citizen. Look on the bright side: If the worst thing that you have to endure in your week is a dose of my (mostly anodyne) politics sullying your otherwise delightful calendar, then you are in the rarified air of convenience and pleasure kings and queens of antiquity would envy. Cleopatra, eat your heart out.
So to all of you, have a lovely week and, for heaven's sake, look after each other.
One of the things about this gig that might not be immediately apparent is how much of a shifting target it is. Venues and bands come and go (nowadays more than ever, sadly) and what was once a vibrant and shimmering scene spot is now a desert. However, new oases — that's a first for me, writing "oasis" as a plural — crop up and often in the most unexpected places. For instance, I have been paying close attention to future farmers market gigs, as live music was sorely missed in those wonderful spaces. So expect more talk about those shows in this space soon. Today at the McKinleyville Farmers Market, you can catch Oryan Peterson-Jones, known for his lengthy discography with Datura Blues and Die Geister Beschwören, Peterson-Jones is performing solo today (3 to 6 p.m.). I am told that he has been working on dark Americana-style finger picking á la the work of John Fahey and the Takoma Records catalog, so this should be a nice acoustic set.
There's a fun hip hop mash-up over at the Siren's Song at 8 p.m. First of all, the night's show is billed as Back 2 Business, so I expect a celebration of a return to form for large line-up shows. In that spirit, it's worth noting that there's a magician working the crowd tonight as well, a certain Marciano the Magnificent, so let's not pretend that the age of carnival spectacle is dead yet. Beyond that there's a crowded house full of local luminaries featuring Johnnee Angel, 2Tank, Primo, Wess Vega, Sistah Heather, Travii Bandz and my brother Ruffian with Alexander the Greatest, who will both be promoting their recent pandemic project mixtape release Lost Coast Cosmos. But before I hear a word about nepotism, I'd be here even without some shared DNA: I'm a sucker for these sorts of oddball extravaganzas ($8).
Another new venue has appeared on the Setlist's docks and I am ready to break the christening bottle and toot the heave-ho horn. The Gyppo Ale Mill in Shelter Cove has been steadily booking live talent for its summer weekends and the time has come to share some of the good news. The Happys are a Bay Area band with a free and easy, dude-rock vibe that ripples with energy and barre chords. The band will be performing a free show at "California's most remote brewery" today at 6 p.m. for those of you lucky enough to survive the hairpins and corkscrews over the King's Range.
Dell'Arte has been holding its Baduwa't Festival since Wednesday, but today is the "mini-music festival" portion of the events so I'm on the case. Baduwa't is the Wiyot name for the Mad River, which will hopefully still be flowing merrily away a few blocks from this bountiful gig of good acts. A $20 bill gets you in for the day and, starting at 3:30 p.m., you can enjoy music by Tropiqueno Band, Los Perdidos, Johnny Kadingo, Greenhorns and, I am told, more. This is week three of me reporting on Sunday Blue Lake gigs and, frankly, I am happy with the emerging tradition. I love that town and I am hoping that a little music will bring back some life to its idyllic streets.
Birmingham, England's Pato Banton has been in the trenches for 40 years singing and toasting on second gen reggae records from dear old Blighty. His style is like many of his generation, a heady mix of roots, rock and reggae squeezed through an English beat filter, and although I haven't experienced it personally yet, I am more than willing to bet that his live show is lit. You can find out for yourself at 7p.m. at the Mateel this evening when the man takes the stage for a free all-ages show. There will be alcohol for those of you granted legal sanction to imbibe and donations are welcome.
Collin Yeo (he/him) enjoys the company of gray cats. He lives in Arcata, with two of the little fiends.