Inspired by the use of the first half of the old adage "In like a lion, out like a lamb" employed by the Eureka Symphony for its concert series this Friday and Saturday, I started digging around online to find the origin of this March proverb. I didn't get very far, as I am an easily distracted fella, but one of the first articles I found was from 2015 in the online edition of the Paris Review by daily correspondent Sadie Stein. While you can repeat my Google experiment yourself and read Ms. Stein's excellent and brief piece on the history of that bit of folk wisdom, I would prefer to move on and discuss a source given mention in the article itself that delighted me. Sadie digs deep and references a book from 1732 by Thomas Fuller entitled Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs, Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. She helpfully links an archived PDF of the book, which I spent a good amount of time enjoying for its certainty of tone and oddness of character. For example, Fuller informs us that a "Goose Quill is more dangerous than a Lion's Claw," a fun variation on "the pen is mightier than the sword." A later saying rails, somewhat inelegantly, against mediocrity with the phrase "A very good or very bad Poet is remarkable; but a middling one, who can bear?" I can dig it. However, my favorite part was not folk wisdom at all but an opinion from the author's opening remarks: "Adages and Proverbs are to be accounted only as a Sauce to relish Meat with, but not as substantial Dishes to make a Meal on; and therefore are never good, but upon proper Subjects and Occasions, where they may serve to give a lively Force and pleasant Turn, to what is said; but to apply them wrong, or crack them off too thick, like Sancha in Don Quixote, is abominably foppish, ridiculous, and nauseous." Well, that would go far to explain in part some of my less popular social habits. Anyway, endless sentences aside, Mr. Fuller makes some good points from almost three centuries ago. Have a nice lion's week in March, no matter how much lively Force you encounter and how wrongly it might be applied.
Chris Thomas King is Louisiana blues royalty. The son of Tabby Thomas, an early innovator of a type of music called "swamp blues" from southeastern Louisiana, King is probably best known in America for musical roles in the films Ray and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he plays a bluesman who claims to have earned his chops through damnation. The man himself earned his skill by playing the blues his entire life, innovating his early sound with a rap fusion record. These days he plays more traditional fare and is widely considered one the greatest living bluesmen. Find out for yourself when he hits the stage at The Old Steeple tonight at 7:30 p.m. ($25).
There are many good shows tonight from just north of Elephant Rock to downtown Eureka so let's get into it. At 7 p.m. local string jazz trio Belles of the Levee ply their early 20th century wares at the Westhaven Center for the Arts. With cost of admission being a sliding scale from $5 to $20, you have no reason not to go.
The Eureka Symphony begins its two-night program of music at the Arkley Center appropriately called In Like A Lion tonight, with pieces by Vivaldi, Dvoák and The Flute Concerto in E-Minor with guest flautist and Eureka native Paula Thomas — for my interview with her, check out www.northcoastjournal.com. The music starts at 8 p.m. but at 7 p.m. there is a musical notes lecture that is very likely worth your time ($19-$49).
And finally, tonight at 9 p.m. at The Logger Bar there is a free show put on by local electric country act Barn Fire who plays a high octane set of outlaw tunes with an occasional sweet one thrown in for flavor.
The early days of dancehall were truly sparked by a 1973 record called Screaming Target by a young Jamaican dee jay and "toaster" Big Youth. Well, the man himself might not be so young anymore but that record is no less timeless and incendiary and Big Youth's career has included many more gems since. Come celebrate with the OG screamer himself tonight at Humbrews at 9 p.m. ($20).
Young and fresh talent is on display tonight at Fulkerson Hall as the Humboldt State University piano students play a free recital to showcase the pieces they are currently plunking away on. I have been to a couple of these over the years and am never not impressed by what the kids can do with a few hundred hours of constant practice. The show starts at 5 p.m. so you still have time to go home and watch the Oscars if you are that way inclined.
It's my birthday and if I don't spend it wallowing in the existential slump that I have traditionally indulged in for about 60 percent of my bee-days since I hit 18, I will very likely want to go out and do something. And I could certainly do a lot worse than heading up to the Van Duzer Theatre at 8 p.m. and catching David Rawlings as he emerges from his famous position as Gillian Welch's secret weapon and all around best sideman ever to front his own string band. Featuring former members of Old Crow Medicine show and The Punch Brothers, as well as Welch herself, this group is hot, hot, hot ($36).
Micah Nelson, Willie's youngest son, tours under the name Particle Kid and will be playing Stone Junction at 9 p.m. tonight. His music sounds like mild psychedelia with some modern experimental touches thrown in the mix. His song "Everything is Bullshit" is a bit rambling but ultimately enjoyable. Local jam-rock blues favorite Cold Blue Water opens and for $10 it sounds worth the trip to Garberville to me.
New Orleans is known for its musical innovation, as well as the grinding hustle of its musicians' lives. It's the yin and the yang to the reality of the lifers: No matter how talented or visionary you are, you gotta hustle and play night after night. One band that epitomizes that ethos is The Nth Power, a supergroup soul trio of working players centered around the powerful drumming of Nikki Glaspie, human rhythm machine for Ivan Neville's funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk, as well as a touring drummer for hire for Beyoncé. I've seen Glaspie play many times with a variety of acts and she always brings the fire. Expect nothing less from her soul act, with bassist Nate Edgar of John Brown's Body-fame and guitarist-singer Nick Cassarino. For $15? At 9 p.m.? This show is an easy one to figure out.
Full show listings in the Journal