Describing a band's sound without turning to cliché or meaningless phrases can be a challenge. Press releases ring with adjectives and promises that would also work for wine or new shades of nail polish.
For example, from this week's highlights: "full of grace and style," "idiosyncratic," "an incomparable fusion," "cutting edge" and "fuse together to create a uniquely American approach."
With that in mind, let us look at the slew of shows that await your attention.
Thursday night brims with opportunity, beginning with the Chris Parreira-booked gig at Humboldt Machine Works — aka Robert Goodman Wines' new music room — starring Seattle indie folk band Autumn Electric, plus Canary and the Vamp, a local band styled in the "Roaring '20s Tin Pan Alley, wild-banshee-flapper music" mode, along with the great John Ludington, a man whose musical expression transcends words, although "alien folk genius" comes close. Cover is $7 general, $5 students, show starts at 8 p.m. Bonus trivia — Autumn Electric knits their own hats.
Over at the Jambalaya, Philadelphia duo Pattern is Movement performs what drummer Christopher Ward refers to as an "indie cabaret." The band experiments with pop and jazz blended into looping melody and layered with falsetto lyricism. "It's insane they're making it up here, so don't miss these weirdos! Please bring a friend, make a good night for all of us — it's hard to get beautiful, eccentric music like this up here," pleads booker Phil Kumsar. His band, littlestillnotbigenough, is also playing, as is Arcata band Neighbors, which puts the sync in idiosyncrasy. Cover is $8, show starts at 9 p.m. and is 21-and-over.
But don't worry, kids — the Works has you covered with a line-up including A-town space rockers White Manna, Tacoma-based heavy experimentalists Tacos and HumCo fun punks Splinter Cell. It's 9 p.m., $4, all ages.
A very special Friday
As the Allman Brothers Band signs off with a final set of live performances across the country — New York City, to be precise — fans can comfort themselves knowing that Poor Man's Whiskey will fill Humboldt Brews with "A Special Tribute to the Allman Brothers Band." The old-timey-bluegrass-southern-rock-jam band has sold out the Fillmore, been invited back to the Kate Wolf Festival and generally spent the better part of the past decade establishing both a dedicated fan base and impressive musical cred. Music starts around 9:30 p.m. with a set of PMW originals followed by the tribute tunes. Tickets are $15 and this show is 21-and-over.
Saturday's Songwriter Circle of Death
You can depend on the Alibi for many things. Excellent Bloody Marys. Fantastic fat French fries. (Fat fries > skinny fries.) A steady stream of serious rock and what would once have been referred to as "underground" bands. On Saturday night, the dim atmosphere of the Alibi delves even deeper into the dark with Songwriter Circle of Death II featuring TheBoredAgain, The Weavetone, Randy the West Wabash Bluegrass Samurai and Gabe Rose Hell. All the 'bi standards apply: $5 cover, 21-and-over, music starts a bit after 11 p.m.
Mandolinist John Reischman, guitarist Scott Nygaard, and bassist/mandolinist Sharon Gilchrist blend traditional bluegrass and folk styles with contemporary acoustic music, reshaping old melodies and composing new music with a flair and richness that can be experienced at the Arcata Playhouse on Sunday night.
Grammy winners Reischman and Nygaard have performed together regularly since the early 1990s. Reischman also leads the Jaybirds and is often referred to as "an understated visionary." The show is presented by Playhouse Arts in association with Humboldt Folklife Society. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $13 students and Humboldt Folklife members, and available at Wildberries, Wildwood Music or (707) 822-1575.
Humboldt Brews brings Toubab Krewe to town for an evening of West-Africa-meets-the-American-South with instrumental tunes performed on various instruments including, but not limited to, the kora, kamelengoni, soku, two electric guitars, electric bass guitar, drum set and African percussion. Mountain Standard Time opens around 9 p.m. Tickets are $15. Show is 21-and-over.
Over at the Jambalaya, it's a RWINA Records Showcase featuring Krampfhaft, Akkachar and Jameszoo. Krampfhaft hails from Utrecht, which, I have just learned, is a city in the Netherlands. His name is rumored to mean something along the lines of "convulsive," appropriate for the erratic tracks he creates — think bold synths over speed-addled drums and syrup-drenched vocals. His style lies somewhere between hyperactivity and hyperfocus, with a flair for the grandiose.
Amsterdam-based DJ and producer Chafik Chennouf, better known as Akkachar, boasts a long list of achievements including airplay on BBC1, BBC1 Xtra, Rinse FM and Kiss FM. Beyond that, Subway, a Rotterdam-based dubstep institution, released his debut solo single of "rainbow-flecked low-frequency oscillations" back in 2011.
Meanwhile, Jameszoo, referred to as a "committed crate-digger and cognoscente of avant garde jazz" creates sounds both "colourful and forward-thinking" and "chaotic and experimental."
Music starts around 9:30 p.m., tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and the show is 21-and-over.
What do you need to know about The Rebirth Brass Band other than that the show is at Humboldt Brews, costs $20, starts at 9:30 p.m. and is 21-and-over? These guys are an international phenom. From the streets of New Orleans to points around the globe, The Rebirth Brass Band brings the funk so heavy it obliterates all else in the room. You can't not have fun. Go get your groove on.
We return to the British Isles for an evening of Scottish fiddle music with the Hanneke Cassel Trio at the Arcata Playhouse. Cassel's charismatic fiddling has earned the native Oregonian honors, awards and a stellar rounding out of her trio, which includes Mike Block and Christopher Lewis. Hailed by no less than Yo Yo Ma as the "ideal musician of the 21st Century," Block is a pioneering multi-style cellist, composer and educator living in Boston. For his part, in addition to his work with Hanneke, Lewis has long been a fixture in the Boston indie rock scene.
Tickets are $15 general, $13 students and members. The show starts at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Wildberries, Wildwood Music or 822-1575.
Last, but far from least, a chance to experience killer garage-pop-glam act Warm Soda at the Shanty, where the drinks are cheap and the vibe is forever rock'n'roll. How fun will this show be? I clicked on the band's "Renegade Mode" video and was sold five seconds in. Warm Soda's riffs hook a person from the get-go with direct lineage from way back with The Stones and Ramones to The Strokes and The Hives to Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees — I don't normally like to compare one band to others, but this show is going to be so cool that I feel compelled to pull out all stops.
Along with Warm Soda, lead singer Matthew Melton's other band, Big Tits, falls more on the gritty, new-wave, early- punk side of things. Show starts 9-ish p.m., $5 cover, 21-and-over.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.