I remember describing irony in a high school English class as something that fundamentally deals with opposites. I was looking down when I said it, having at the time not yet developed any of the obnoxious confidence that I am now unfortunately surging with. One girl in the class took my downward gaze as evidence of me reading out of the book for my definition, which wasn't possible, as none of our textbooks actually offered such a straightforward definition of irony. That might be part of the problem.
There's no shortage of irony in contemporary life. Take the assholes at Silicon Valley Bank, the "venture capitalists" who, having taken advantage of massive deregulation, are now clamoring for a bailout after their institution got gutted by a spooked run when interest rates hiked enough to prove that not everyone with an MBA is actually a genius. Quite the opposite, really.
Or take the dark suspicion that I, a nominal pacifist, has regarding the work required toward actually making a peaceful society. I'll give you a hint, it involves something different than bailouts for the wealthy, something more along the lines of screaming, burnt offerings of our elite class to a fertile harvest god. I am, of course, being ironic here, right?
I'm not a fan of orgies, bloodthirsty or otherwise. I'm probably just thinking about the coming spring, of renewal, of the opportunity for a thriving and vibrant world of pungent life. Of wet fecundity bubbling out of the rot of yesteryear, of sprouts growing out of the black desolation of the fire. We need those blooms, dearly. But more to the point, we need the rot and the fire first to make the grounds ready for the age of blossom. Think about that the next time you hear a politician calling for another war, or an expert economist calling for another capital bailout. Some experiments shouldn't be repeated, and some ideas (and their makers) should be retired. The soil awaits fertile nurturing.
Philadelphia is famous for creating a lot of funk and R 'n' B musicians, particularly in the genre of "blue-eyed soul," epitomized by native sons Hall and Oates. One band carrying on that laidback tradition of pop and rock merged with a basic backbeat and funky syncopation is G. Love and Special Sauce, a veteran act from the 1990s trench days of the alternative jam scene. Tonight at 7 p.m. these playas can be found at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, with special guest Nat Myers opening the night ($26).
Friday, St. Patrick's Day
As I have mentioned here before, I am not a fan of this holiday, mostly celebrated in this country by mixing two of our less savory national pastimes: binge drinking and lying (in this case, about being Irish). Blame it on my former life as a bartender, I have a reflexive revulsion for this green day. But let the good times roll on, Here are three worthy gigs for your consideration. Casa Nada productions is putting on a Goth Night at Synapsis at 7 p.m., featuring Dry Wedding, Dastbunny, Zero One and DJ Datura. A $10 bill gets you in the door. At the same hour, up north at the Trinidad Town Hall, you can enjoy some jazz with RLA Trio featuring guest appearances by trumpet master Nicholas D. Talvola and guitarist Doug Marcum. The entrance fee here is a sliding scale set between $10 and $20.
Finally, at 9 p.m. at Humbrews, Absynth Quartet will be doing its very fine thing for whoever chooses to darken the door and spit out $10 to the warden.
The Miniplex is hosting a night of cool, synthy hipness from Los Angeles, as Madeline Goldstein headlines a gig with More Ephemerol. But wait, there's more. Former Humboldt County musical institution Patrick Tabor, aka Tabor Mountain, will also be on the bill, bringing his high-energy party rock glory back to town for the joy of the assembled masses. DJs Rosé and Mae will also preside. Things should start swinging by 9 p.m. and $10 will secure a spot for you.
Well, the cosmos has decreed that it's a Grateful Dead day in these parts. There's an all-ages matinee show at Humbrews featuring the Magnificent Sanctuary Band, which will be playing songs from the Jerry songbooks beginning at 3 p.m. for a mere $10.
Later that evening at 8 p.m. at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, you will find The Garcia Project, a band dedicated to recreating the sounds of the Jerry Garcia Band, which I guess sounds different than and distinct from the Grateful Dead somehow ($25, $20 advance, $15 early bird).
Monday, Spring Equinox
Well, spring is sprung and, to quote P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster quoting the only poem he remembered by Robert Browning, "God is in his heaven, and all's right with the world." Which means that Savage Henry must be putting on yet another installment of Metal Mondays. This week's gig features F. Emasculata from the United Kingdom, as well as two local groups, Gooseneck and The DTs. Ten bucks seems to be a popular price these days regarding entrance fees, so there you have it.
The Humboldt Bay Social Club has been doing its level best to stick out as a cool spot and, as far as I can tell, is succeeding. There are the regular free Thursday gigs played by guitar-slinging American Primitivist and all-around world traveler Oryan Peterson-Jones (did I forget to mention his gig Thursday, March 16? Shame on me; rewind and go if you are reading this in time). And on top of other live events, the venue is now hosting a regular movie night. Tonight's offering is the SNL-related '90s outing The Coneheads, about which I am curious as to whether it is still decently funny or excruciatingly dated. One could show up at 6 p.m., grab a refreshment and find out.
When people couple up, magic can happen, whether that magic is creative musical excellence (Linda and Richard Thompson's albums come to mind), scientific advances (see: Pierre and Marie Curie) or wild violence (like the exploits of the protagonists of Terrence Malick's Badlands, whose behavior was based on the actions of infamous characters I have no desire to name). In the case of Mark and Maggie O'Conner, I think musical excellence is the outcome here. These fiddling folksters have been ripping it up for the better part of a decade, and it shows in their flawless, collaborative frisson. Come on down to Humboldt's finest cemetery-adjacent venue, the Old Steeple to hear for yourself at 7:30 p.m. ($55).
Collin Yeo (he/him) actually supports a school-to-prison pipeline, assuming that the school is an Ivy and the prison is a gulag. He lives in Arcata.