We've reached that time of year when live music options briefly wind down. It's a bit of a shame, since we have also arrived at that time of year when the nights are at their longest. But before you resign yourself to:
a.) once again going through your entire Seinfeld DVD collection because Christmas sucks and Festivus, baby!
b.) catching up on Parks and Rec while spooning Ben & Jerry's Volun-Tiramisu into your face because that trip to Target to pick up "a few things" turned into a holiday shopping nightmare;
c.) getting sucked into Facebook debates with your relatives over the nonexistent "War on Christmas," because dealing with your more immediate family disagreements is even less appealing;
d.) all of the above;
Please know that opportunities for celebration — and escape — still exist. Behold:
Thursday: Singer-songwriter delight
Chicago singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks makes a rare West Coast appearance at the Arcata Playhouse. Intimate, yet roomy; sophisticated, yet never uptight; with great sound and wonderful people, the Playhouse is one of Humboldt's top venues. And Fulks is a fascinating performer, with live performances that feature improvised rearrangements of his original songs, off-the-cuff musical humor and covers of songs by such unlikely influences as Fountains of Wayne and Cher — his 2010 album, Happy, consisted of nothing but Michael Jackson covers.
Audiences don't know what to expect from Fulks. Honky-tonk? Country? Bluegrass? Power pop? The man can handle whatever strikes his fancy. Which leads me to a minor correction: Audiences don't know what to expect from Fulks, but they know it'll be good.
The Chicago Reader has gone so far as to say, "There are many good living songwriters, but then you hear a new Robbie Fulks record, and you can't remember who they are." Fulks' latest effort, Gone Away Backward, is a sparse, acoustic-only effort that echoes the sounds he heard as a child growing up in rural Appalachia. Gone Away Backward also features renowned jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, who will join Fulks at the Playhouse gig, along with Chris Scruggs on bass and Robbie Gjersoe on a National guitar.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with show time at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $13 members and are available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries or by calling 822-1575.
Thursday: Badass girl bands
Maybe the holiday expense and stress means you need a different kind of show. Let's say, a free one. With a couple of wild and wacky bands comprised solely of women. You're in luck! It's the fabulously named Cliterate ("cowgirl riot grunge") plus Blood Gnome ("Japanese noise porcupine covered in melted synth popsicle") in a free, 21-and-over show at the Logger Bar.
Thursday: Sweet bluegrass
Let's say you're looking for a gig that's free, fun and won't keep you up late. In that case, I would like to offer you the much-beloved Compost Mountain Boys, who are bringing their virtuoso bluegrass stylings to the Mad River Brewing Room — for free! Music starts around 6 p.m.
Friday: Get your sexy on
At this point in the week, you need to move your body, shake off the work week and get ready to embrace the forthcoming holiday experience. Two shows are primed to help you do just that. First up, the ever-charismatic Rooster McClintock bring the best honky-tonk in Humboldt to the Central Station Cocktail Lounge. It's free, 21-and-over and gets started around 9 p.m.
Over in Eureka, DJ Zephyr brings Club Deliverance to Nocturnum, featuring "Old Skool Favorites" on vinyl. Think Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, NIN, Front 242, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, etc. Note: If you danced to these bands the first time around, you might find yourself nostalgic for wine coolers and thick black eyeliner. The latter is fine, but we're grown-ups now, so skip the Bartles & Jaymes. (I had to Google "Bartles & Jaymes" to see if they still existed. They do!) Cover is $3 and this party is 21-and-over.
Friday: Hot hip-hop firefighter benefit
Best known for his tenure in the rap unit House of Pain, Everlast successfully reinvented himself in 1998 with the best-selling Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, a largely acoustic, hip-hop-flavored effort in the genre-crossing mold of Beck. Born Erik Schrody, Everlast first surfaced in Los Angeles as a member of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate Cartel, issuing his debut album, Forever Everlasting, in 1990. When the album failed to find an audience, he formed House of Pain with Danny Boy and DJ Lethal. The trio scored a massive hit with their 1992 single "Jump Around." The group never found follow-up success, however, and disbanded in the late 1990s, launching Everlast into his current solo career — which includes a stop at the Mateel Community Center on Friday night. Angels Cut and Redwood Blue open. According to press materials, some proceeds "go to the Volunteer Fire Benefit Organization to help local fire departments and help victims of fire disaster." Tickets are $28 and available through diamondbackpresents.com and mateel.org. Show starts around 9 p.m.
Saturday's soul and sold out
Christmas is a time for many things: candy canes, tinsel, the smell of chestnuts on an open fire and, of course, Matt Jackson's infamous holiday funk and soul set. Yes, Missing Link Records presents, once again, Soul Night, arguably HumCO's most popular dance party. This time around, the theme is "Ho Ho Ho Lotta Soul." As always, tickets are $5 and recommended in advance, the venue is Humboldt Brews, and the show is 21-and-over.
Huckleberry Flint's third annual winter concert at the Arcata Playhouse sold out long before press time, but 'tis the season for miracles, so if you're pining for some delicious bluegrassy alt-folk music, I wish one upon you.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Send your show info and high-res photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.