There are 12 shopping days until Xmas, but don't start counting those partridges yet, not unless you're part of the Christmas bird count. The "Twelve Days of Christmas" you hear about in song start on Christmas Day and run until Epiphany (the day the wise guys came to call).
What with the proximity to the big day, the entertainment is rolling into full holidaze mode, with diminishing club action amid dancing mice and visions of sugarplums. (What other time of year do people attend ballet performances?)
Up at the Van Duzer Friday, they have *Tomáseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas,*with Xmas stories and all sorts of Irishness — pennywhistles, stepdancing, you get the picture. Unfortunately, Riverdance has permanently spoiled Irish dancing for me, and I can't hear a pennywhistle without thinking of those horrid Irish Spring soap commercials.
I'm thinking A Very Playhouse Christmasmay be more my speed. If you haven't heard about it, it's a holiday-themed music/comedy review going into its second (and final) weekend at the Arcata Playhouse. The director is David Ferney, who runs the Playhouse wtih his wife, Jackie Dandeneau, who is one of three stars of the show. David explains that it's a direct result of Jackie's feelings for the holiday season.
"Jackie loves everything about Christmas," David told me, admitting that he just kind of likes it. "And she's always wanted to do a Christmasy show."
In the show, Jackie is Mrs. O.R. Ganize, an obsessive/compulsive type who organizes a Christmas show with help from her aerobics instructor Babbette LeJoie (Elizabeth Masters), an '80s New Jersey type who David describes as "over-the-top bubbly." Dell'Arte vet Tyler Olsen plays Mr. S.K. Rooge IX, who, as you might guess, is the Scrooge-ish anti-Xmas foil, in this case one who's intent on a politically correct holiday. The interactions of the trio provide a framework for slapstick, silliness and songs, with the always-amazing Tim Randles at the keyboard providing soundtrack and backing. They've also worked in a collection of guests including Tara Caraiso, Sarah Cory, Lewis Armin-Hoiland, theBlue Lake Children's Choir and the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir. (The AIGC will be at the Playhouse Friday night; they're also singing on the Arcata Plaza earlier for Arts! Arcata. And they have their own holiday show in at the Presbyterian Church in Eureka Saturday evening.) The always enchanting Lila Nelson is in the Playhouse show Saturday. Just confirmed for the Sunday matinee, "the lovely and talented Beti Trauth" (David's words), who saw the review last weekend and was recruited on the spot. Come early or stay late for eggnog, hot cider and cookies.
The lovely, talented and tattooed alt. chanteuse Universalia Jane writes: "Jane here to let ya know that we (Universalia Jane and the Jet Set) are playing the Logger Bar with Tanuki (Tanuki is playing last) on the 15th of December. It will start directly after the Dell'Arte holiday show, The Hunting of the Snark, which probably, means around 9:30-ish." I've heard good things about Dell'Arte's musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's strange nonsense poem and about Deric's new band Tanuki. And Jane is just plain great. The combination should make for a fine Saturday night.
More seasonality: The theatrical folks fromShake The Bard are taping Static and Starlight: A Holiday Radio Show by Tim McDermond at the Accident Gallery Friday and Saturday. If you miss it or want to relive the experience, tune to KGOE (1480 AM) or KKDS (97.7 FM) on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m.
The Pearl Lounge celebrates its second anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 15, with a performance by the band that opened the place, Humboldt Time with Michael Curran on drums, Jim Wilde guitar, Sam Maez trumpet, Jimmy Durchslag trombone and Geoff Daugherty bass. If you haven't heard of them and can't figure it out from the array of instruments, Humboldt Time is a jazz band. They also play the night before at Cecil's. "The world tour," says Michael, who's feeling just fine a year after heart surgery laid him low.
Since entertainment at the Pearl veers from jazz to alt. rock to DJ dance music, the second anniversary weekend also includes a Friday night party with DJ Danny and Zanapod.
More jazz? Are you a player? The Graves hosts another Sunday Open Jazz Jam Session on Dec. 17 (starting at 2 p.m.) with a core trio, Al Macy on piano, Shao Way Wu bass, Simon Lucas drums and whoever else shows up. (They're looking for vocalists in particular.)
If you're a fan of the Compost Mountain Boys and have been jonesing for the return of their once-a-month bluegrass-Thursday at Humboldt Brews, well this is it. They're back Dec. 13.
Friday at Humboldt Brews, it's a new band, Humboldt Buds (new name anyway) with master guitar jammer Rubin Diaz, his old friend from Tunesmiths Tim Stretton on keys and a rhythm section with Marty Holland on bass and Mike Meyers on drums.
Saturday Humboldt Brews jumps to another genre with a show featuring the fine local world beat/hip hop/funk fusion band WoMama with special guests Bloco Frimeza adding a spicy taste of samba.
I got a couple of reminders about that show, one from WoMama frontman Jesse Jonathon and another from Bloco drummer Melody Walker. Melody was worried that I was "offended by [her] uppityness" last week re: the trouble at Muddy's (I wasn't) and says she's resigned to an end to music at Muddy's. "Now I'm trying to think of more creative long-term solutions to the ultimate problem of a lack of venues (esp. all-ages) in Arcata, and where the hell the Menstruals will wander along to now." And she wanted me to know about her senior recital this Thursday at Fulkerson Recital Hall (at 5 p.m.). "I'm doing a mix of classical art song and opera, and South Indian classical, plus a pre-looped presentation of Meredith Monk's ‘Panda Chant II.' In the second half of the recital I will be joined by AkaBella and then Bloco Firmeza to do some folkloric singing and playing." Eclectic enough for you?
Anna Banana Hamilton celebrates her 60th birthday Saturday at the Riverwood Inn, singing and rabble rousing with her band The Wild Cattahoulas, named for a breed of dogs that interbred with wolves. Joining in for the fun, local folkies The Hohstadts and SoHum swingers Off the Charts. Happy birthday Anna! (Are you still mad at me?)
Along with an announcement of Saturday's show at the Mateel, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (see calendar section for details), the Mateel sent along a teaser for next year's events, among them a Feb. 8, blast of psychedelic wildness from George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic. Tickets are on sale now.
Now that The Common Vice have moved on from 19th century rock opera, bandleader Lord Brett Baily (of Que La fame) is celebrating the release of a Victorian Modesty as Performed by The Common Vice CD with a gala event at the Jambalaya Friday night (post-Arts! Arcata). They invite you to "party like it's 1899." And as noted on the poster, "In addition to their gracious performance you will be astounded by the musical delights of the stately gentlemen of Strix Vega." Sounds delightful.
TheRubberneckers countdown continues: Friday's show at Big Pete's is their third-to-last performance ever. (Didn't Led Zeppelin say they'd never perform again 27 years ago?) Joining the 'Neckers for the show at Pete's is Ghostwriter, aka Steve Schecter, a country blues/punk songwriter from Oregon/Texas. I dig his song "People," from a recent album he did with Boxcar Satan. It's a bit scary, however, as he growls, "People. You can't live with ‘em and you just can't kill ‘em 'less you want to go to prison."
Saturday night's show at the Alibi is the last rock thing there until next year. What with this being the year of the Portland invasion, it features a doom-psyche-metal trio from the City of Roses called Paranaut along with locals Dragged by Horses. The Arcata rockers have a new album in the can. Deep in the Woods is due out on Chicago's High Wheel Records (home of Walking Bicycles) on Feb. 5, and no, it's not a new CD — it will be pressed on 180g vinyl (that's heavy) and released as an MP3 collection. (For preview tracks check the DbH MySpace.)
The Vista continues its role as home of all-ages punk and/or metal with a four-band show Thursday including This Moment In Black Historyfrom Cleveland, Kill The Switch, Sick Bitch and Instant Asshole (mostly tending toward punk). Saturday they have a more metallic lineup with Slaughterbox, Conducting From The Grave, Killgasm, Fate and Dungeon Master. In between (on Friday) it's something slightly different: a show featuring SHIM from Seattle, a band with a neo-classic rock sound and vocals that are sung rather than shouted. There's a bit of grunge in there, a touch of metal, kind of garage rocky, but not lo-fi. Since no one goes to shows without a local opener (or so I'm told) the earthy Arcata/Manila-folk/punk quartet Henpecker is also on the bill. (Not that they are not worthy in their own right.)
It's the time of year for Xmas parties. The Metro is having theirs at Six Rivers Sunday, Dec. 16, and inviting friends and supporters. Gini (the owner) notes, "Our three in-house Djs: Itchie Fingaz, DJ Red and Masta Shredda will all take turns on the tables and battle for the title of best DJ. (They've been talking about doing this since they were all hired.) God only knows what they'll come up with to play, but no matter what it's gonna be fun!" Hey, isn't that what the holidaze are all about? And as Little Jimmy from Henpecker says, "Merry Max Consumerism!" (Be careful with those credit cards.)