Let's start off with Sunday. Often on Sundays, I like to stay in my pajamas and refuse to leave the house unless the excursion has to do with walking to the beach. I'm not religious, but a day of rest is a concept I embrace. This Sunday, however, includes a gospel breakfast and two shows so exceptional that I might believe in a higher power come Monday.
Why not start your Sunday morning off with some food, singing and community transcendence? The Gospel Chicks (Jackie Dandeneau, Kristin Kirby and Sienna Nelson) bring their special brand of bluegrass gospel to the annual Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir Prayer Breakfast, May 4 at the Arcata Community Center. The Gospel Choir and the AIGC Youth Choir will perform at 10 a.m. after a 9 a.m. continental breakfast. Tickets are available at the door, at Wildberries, People's Records and The Works. Suggested donation is $15, $12 seniors and students, and free for kids under 5.
Moving into the evening, Vancouver, B.C.'s The Sumner Brothers is on a tour, which will see them play with several notable bands including Chris Hillman (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) and The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit. But first, I was surprised to see, they're playing a house gig in Arcata, specifically at the Sanctuary. The brothers have been featured on KEXP's live sessions series (if you don't know KEXP, it's a public station out of Seattle that highlights excellent bands new and old). The brothers Sumner play that kind of haunting roots music that keeps you listening one song after the other and the kind of country that makes you remember there's a good kind of country: Johnny Cash, of course, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams — you get the idea. Tickets at Wildwood, $8, $10 at the door, show time at 7 p.m.
And here we get to the conflict moment of this unfolding Sunday story — the devil's in the details? Playing at the same time in the same town as The Sumner Brothers is Black Prairie, originally a casual side project of indie folk band The Decemberists, at the Arcata Playhouse — this is a pretty big deal, people! The band's story started in 2007, when Chris Funk gathered local musicians he admired for a chance to write music and play instruments he wasn't using in his role as guitarist in The Decemberists. He invited bandmates Nate Query (bass) and Jenny Conlee (accordion), plus Annalissa Tornfelt (fiddle and vocals), Jon Neufeld (guitar), followed later by Decemberists' John Moen (drums). Black Prairie's sound followed a bluegrass script, but the band's latest effort, Fortune, departs into melodic and, at times, hard-edged rock, which makes sense as it was produced by Vance Powell, best known for his work with The Dead Weather and Red Fang.
These folks can play, obviously, and advance tickets are strongly recommended. They run $20 general, $18 members and are available at the usual locations and via arcataplayhouse.org. Show's at 8 p.m.
Thursday's throwdown and thunder
Leading up to the Sabbath, a few temptations: First, DJs JSun, Touch, Mr. E.W. and The Middle Agent host a free and all-ages All Vinyl Throwdown at the Siren's Song at 9 p.m. Second, if you're not already familiar with the genre of "bongo thunder," you're in luck — Roland Rock will enlighten you at Redwood Curtain Brewery starting at 8 p.m.
"Hi, I represent PlanetRAWK, a progressive/alternative rock band touring in your area in this month. I was wondering if you could please check out the music and flyer and consider adding them to your rotation, news and events." Aw, we're a sucker for a well emphasized "please." For the record, PlanetRAWK is an electronic rock band out of Atlanta best described as "alternative Dirty South rock fusion" touring in support of the band's new album, Kids With Black Faces. PlanetRAWK lands at the Ink Annex with a start time of 7 p.m.-ish and, as it's a Placebo gig, music enthusiasts of all ages can attend.
Another sure-to-be-outrageous LGBTQ & Allies Dance Party/Drag Show sexes up Hum Brews with resident DJ Razorburns spinning dance, club and house for your drag contest soundtrack. Think big. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., cover is $5 and the party is 21-and-over.
Finally, British Columbia jazz group The Marc Atkinson Trio performs in the Arcata Playhouse. Tickets are $18 general, $15 members. Show starts at 8 p.m.
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.