I mentioned in a recent tagline that I've been getting into the works of the Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It's a fitting coincidence I'm lately drawn to the comical and grotesque "The Fight Between Carnival and Lent," which balances a wild pageant of characters from the lands of the sacred and the vulgar in a busy town scene. There's a lot to take in, with many places where the solemnity is broken by the raucous bacchanal, which has an edge of nervousness because the party must eventually end. And, as we all sit in the tumult of a presidential holiday giving way to debates and more primaries and the fear of what's coming in November ticking in the background as the cable news screams the danse macabre song of the flu-masked spectre of the dreaded coronavirus, it's worth taking a moment to look at Bruegel's little town. A small place beset with the bigger themes of the world at large. Some folk dance and play, and some prepare for the coming days of fasting. But they all manage to occupy space in the same picture.
Let's go see where we fit in.
Not every near-weekend night around here has much action in the winter. Thankfully, the Basement usually has Thursdays covered. Tonight's music at 8 p.m. is coming courtesy of The Low Notes, a guitar, keys, bass and drum combo featuring a mix of standards and originals, as well as both a Douglas and a Doug (free). Should be a good time in the proper setting.
Brooklyn's prolific touring act A Deer A Horse is bringing its heavy and dirge-y doom-pop sound to the Arcata Playhouse for a show put on by the migrant Outer Space production team at 7:30 p.m. ($6-$20 sliding scale). In on the scheme this evening is the recently transplanted Oakland duo Silence in the Snow and the ever delightful Sue and the Namies.
Speaking of super-fun local bands, I could hardly forgive myself if I missed a chance to rep the latest from my favorite hard rock cumbia band Los Dune Bums. Tonight at 10 p.m. the boys will be playing a local showcase at the Miniplex with a little help from Big Lagoon and Grag, whose lovely stringsmith Zack just had a birthday last Monday. So everyone say it with me please: Happy birthday, Zack! There's no cover for the show so maybe buy our boy a drink or two if you roll through.
It isn't Mardi Gras today, it is in fact the Samedi avant Mardi Gras aujourd'hui. However, don't let that stop you from having a good time. At 8 p.m. over at the Ten Pin Building, The Paula Jones Band will be throwing a Mardi Gras Party as a benefit for the Arcata Playhouse's arts programs ($20, $15 for Playhouse members and students). Expect a lot of dancing and soul and R&B sounds and grooves. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Unfortunately, it looks like the International Guitar Night show up at Fulkerson Hall at 7 p.m. is sold out. At least, that's what the Center Arts website tells me. Bummer — this one looks cool. If you haven't already scored tickets to see some masters of the ax from Finland, the Canary Islands, Hawaii and the United Kingdom do their thing, I can suggest one of the greatest musicals from my childhood on the Arcata Theatre Lounge's big screen: Jim Henson's Labyrinth with all the Muppets, Jennifer Connelly and sick David Bowie-penned songs the heart can bear at 5 p.m. ($5). Words can't cover how much I love this movie, its soundtrack and the excellent score by Trevor Jones.
It's Black History month and on this day 156 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts Rebbeca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman in America to receive a medical degree. It's fitting to mention this educational milestone because Humboldt State University is hosting bestselling author, educator and lecturer Lawrence Ross at 6 p.m. to give a free talk about his book Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses in the Kate Buchanan room. Tickets are available by calling the campus ticket office at 826-3928.
Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
OK, the apotheosis of carnival season is happening today. However, we simply don't live in a part of the country where it means much of anything. So while I probably can't successfully tell you to ignore the often vacuous and infuriating Democratic Debates airing at 5 p.m., I can suggest that you can kick out some tunes from a less televised age by participating in the Old Time Music Jam over at the Logger Bar tonight at 8 p.m. Bring a music-maker and settle in; it's free.
It's the beginning of Lent for some of us, a period of time where we in the present become deeply aware of the coming future in a play whose action streams reverently into the distant past. A trinity of intersecting time zones, if you don't mind. If nothing else, this is a good time to consider the values and boundaries of our highly mutable world. A good place to get some mileage out of the mystic roads of local history tonight is The Old Steeple, where it is Ferndale Museum Movie Night ($10/ $5 museum members). There are four short films on the menu, collectively titled Ferndale Fair Classics, which were shot by Jack Tipple Sr. and Standard Oil of California between the years of 1940-1951. Seems like a good time to me.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters: send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collin Yeo lives in Arcata and prefers he/him pronouns. He has decided who he is in the Bruegel painting and it is the weird smiling creature in the second-floor window beneath the window with the dove. Can you find him?