Sunday evening found me neck deep in my computer, clicking back and forth between work stuff and Facebook. I'd stayed up late the night before judging Drag Wars — tough gig! — and was struggling to finish a project that should've taken me an hour but, despite my efforts, remained undone after several. My neck hurt. I could feel the obligations of the coming week staring me down already.
That's when reality smacked me in the head in the form of my husband asking if I'd like to join him on a walk out to the beach. Now, I have the good fortune to live within a half-mile of the ocean with a trail that leads practically from my front door to water's edge. There's no excuse to go an entire weekend without trekking out to revel in the awesomeness that is the Pacific — it's like living in the thick of cultural happenings and forever opting to watch YouTube clips instead.
We have it pretty good.
And when you launch yourself out into the world, you're far more likely to experience your own adventures or stumble into a bit of serendipity that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
For example, being awestruck by the shimmering ocean is par for the course. Finding a multitude of unbroken sand dollars, seeing spouting whales — those are special things. But wondering from afar, "What is that?" and discovering a sand-driftwood-debris art project atop a sand berm? That's less common.
And so we met James Aaron Busald. He's not a conventional artist, sure, but to come out to the beach daily and arrange found items into forms that please him — that's making art! Also playing, an essential happiness component. He knows the higher tides accompanying the coming new moon will likely wash it all away within a week, but the pleasure is in the placing of shells, the piling of sand, the stringing of rope debris, all done in between tossing a tennis ball for the gallivanting pups Busald brings to the beach every day.
What inspired him?
We chatted. I asked what had inspired him to embark on this project — named "Natty Dread" after the rope debris adorning the crown. He smiled. "I found a shovel."
I loved this — both how discovering a tool led to this act of creation and this tiny little adventure I was having. When you release yourself into the world, who knows what finding will launch you into a joyous new project that may or may not have a long-lasting existence? Sometimes what you find is someone else doing something marvelous. Or at least charming. And that's a pleasure, too.
So go out.
Michigan's five-piece Greensky Bluegrass is known — and loved — for putting forth a more rockin' version of your traditional string band. Catch them at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on Friday night with Rayland Baxter. Doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 and available at Wildberries, People's Records and The Works. The show is 21-and-over.
Friday: Not bluegrass
Live music fans of any age can, and should, check out Santa Cruz's Mountain Tamer and Arcata-based The Mother Vines at Blondie's — if you like trippy psych rock and surf punk fun. (And why wouldn't you?) Cover is $3, show starts at 9 p.m.
More local music happens over at Hum Brews with Small Axe and the retro garage-rock sounds of Companion Animal, whose super catchy track "Pin Drop" has been adorning Humboldt airwaves. Cover is $5, doors open at 9 p.m., show is 21-and-over.
If you missed The Mother Vines the night before, you can catch them at the Alibi, along with Fortuna "dummy-punk" band The Gnards. Usual 'bi details: Music at 11 p.m., 21-and-over, and a mere $3 at the door.
Big trees, big time
Combine your love of the outdoors with some excellent live music and dancing to The Artists Formerly Known as the Joyce Hough Band, Fickle Heart and FireSign at Rock the Redwoods, taking place at the Arcata Playhouse. Doors at 7:30 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 are available at The Works and Wildberries. Proceeds support Redwood National and State parks.
California bluegrass brethren Poor Man's Whiskey take the stage at Humboldt Brews. If you don't know it already, give the track "Humboldt Hoedown" (from the band's Goodbye, California album) a listen, then share the love starting at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and the show is 21-and-over.
Perhaps you're craving something spicy? A chance to practice your sweet salsa steps? The Latin Peppers will enable you to show off your moves at The Jambalaya, 9:30 p.m. Cover is $8, you must be 21-or-over.
Monday: Free trip
Humboldt psychedelic renaissance players White Manna play tracks off their upcoming fourth studio album, Pan, on the HSU Quad from noon to 1 p.m. The band's reputation for altering listeners' states has garnered them a spot at the Austin Psych Fest – and from there, the world! Enjoy the intimacy we have with them while you can.
More bluegrass! With previous appearances on Prairie Home Companion, at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the International Bluegrass Music Conference and plenty more impressive fests, Pert Near Sandstone can lay claim to functioning as ambassadors of the modern American stringband movement. Which we love here in Humboldt. Show starts at 9:30 p.m., tickets are $10, gig is 21-and-over.
Legend has it that the spark that brought "New World Jazz" act Therianthrope into existence was first fanned as guitarist Dusty Brough and percussionist Miles Shrewsberry waited for the next set at their favorite San Diego surf break. Violinist Fabrice Martinez completes Therianthrope's compelling mix of Indian classical, jazz harmonies, flamenco, gypsy music, relentless grooves and live loops. Hosted at the Sanctuary, doors 7:30 p.m., music 8 p.m., all ages, $5 to $20 sliding scale.
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.