I've done this gig long enough to know the post-holiday hub is the absolute doldrums when it comes to live music. So, bear with me for the next few weeks, please. It gets better, I promise.
On another note, I'd like to mention the tragic passing of Lola Mitchell, aka Gangsta Boo, on New Year's Day. During her time in the legendary Three 6 Mafia, plus her solo catalog of mixtapes and guest spots, she reinvented what rap was to a generation (my generation, to be specific), of fans from the Deep South and radiating out across the country. I know my teenage ears were never the same after hearing Tear Da Club Up '97. She was a woman and an artist who was every bit as game changing as any of her contemporaries, during a massive growth period for rap and hip hop. Her premature death is an awful loss. RIP.
For the rest of us, let's all try to stay dry and not too shaky, eh? This newborn winter is just getting started and already it's being a wild child. Stay safe out there.
As I warned in my preamble, tonight is, like this author and many others during January, dry. However, all is not lost, as today happens to be the birthday of the late Italian polymath Umberto Eco, whose essay on "Ur-Fascism" is a quick and timely read for our current age. One of my great joys is pairing reading with instrumental music. As I write this now, I am listening to Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 1. There's a good rainy night activity.
Boat Cop is a power trio whose fast and heavy sound falls somewhere between Motörhead and Discharge, with country and alternative textures thrown in. This is high praise from me, as those are all very good things in the Book of Collin. The group's self-titled six-song tape, released last Halloween, is a noisy mess in all the ways that remind the listener of true underground music. Tonight at 8 p.m., you can catch 'em at the Siren's Song Tavern with Los Drastic Gnarlys, a local Latino punk act rumored to put on a great show. As with many shows at the jolly olde Song, I have no idea what the cover charge is, so bring some ducats.
Another subject that has multiple chapters in the Book of Collin is the early work of director Sam Raimi, whose low-fi horror masterpiece Evil Dead changed the face of splatter cinema forever. Everyone will tell you that the sequel Evil Dead 2, which is really just a bigger budget remake of the first one, is the superior film. Sadly, those people are wrong, and blinded by the comedic camp theatrics of number two. However, I can't say no to a midnight movie and no matter how I feel about comparisons to the original, I understand that the venues have to listen to the voice of the public rather than critics like myself. So, the Arcata Theatre Lounge is the place to be to see Evil Dead 2 tonight, but get there around 11 p.m. to secure a seat and watch the pre-show. ($8).
One of the surefire ways for me to generate controversy and emails in this job is when I say that one particular local Grateful Dead tribute band is the best in the county. There is almost always someone sending me admonishment and venting spleen over my choice of this band, rather than that one. However, what the reader fails to take into account is that I do not care whatsoever about my arbitrary designator here and I am really just doing a longstanding bit. It all sounds pretty similar to me. Anyway, Rosewater, by far the best local Grateful Dead tribute band, is putting on a big one at Humbrews tonight at 8:15 p.m. ($20). The drummer's original act Ronny 2 Shoes is opening the night.
Fifteen minutes later and all the way across the bay at the Shanty, you can catch Radio Clash, the post-punk and goth dance party that used to rage at the Alibi back in the day. Join DJs Green Beans, ToneChange, Ratrace and Zero One as they play the hits from one of the best eras of music in my lifetime. Free to get in the door.
Another quiet night out there in the floodlands of earthquake country, however, this is still a significant day in music history, as it's the 88th birthday of Elvis Aaron Presley. No matter how you feel about the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and recent appraisals of his legacy haven't looked too kindly on his massive success owed to his whitewashing of Black American music, to completely disregard his effect on the world would be stupid and absurd. He was there, born at the right time for what he did, and the world of popular music is forever changed because of that. The clownishness of his later years are an easy target for mockery, God knows I'm a fan of laughing at his bacon-sweaty antics, but he does have a haunting presence as well, perhaps seen nowhere more starkly than in his early Sun Records pressing of Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Moon." Maybe give that a listen and look at Friday's waning Wolf Moon.
Last quiet night of this week, I promise. Today marks the 162nd anniversary of South Carolina cadets firing upon the Star of the West, a resupply ship headed for Fort Sumter. This event, over three months before the actual shelling of the fort by the Confederacy, can be seen as the first volley of shooting in the Civil War. I'm instantly reminded of the excellent documentary by Ken Burns and its main theme, Jay Ungar's gorgeous "Ashokan Farewell." Give that a listen tonight, if you like.
The Value Combo, presented by Stephanie Knowles, is a show at Savage Henry's Comedy Club at 9 p.m., where comics are given two different prompts and a few minutes to work out an act based on them. Sounds like a fun time to me and $10 is a reasonable ask from the club to help keep the lights on.
Pacific Witch is a surf rock band from Sacramento, that California city so well known for its breakers and beach culture. If you'd like to see what the Central Valley has to offer to the world of reverb and twang, roll through the Siren's Song Tavern at 8 p.m. As I have lamented before, I have no clue what the door is going to charge, so grab a pouch of dubloons when you disembark from your ship.
Collin Yeo (he/him) now lives in 2023.