Among the few American songwriters who have profoundly impacted the American Songbook as I hazily define it, most would agree Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan are somewhere toward the top of the list. I wouldn't be alone in putting Paul Simon way up there, too. With his early songwriting career rooted in folk music and two part harmonies influenced heavily by The Everly Brothers — and with some great help from Art Garfunkel — Simon's early output from Simon and Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. all the way through their final release of Bridge Over Troubled Water radically altered the American musical landscape in the span of just five albums. With recorded studio work of just about 161 minutes, Simon and Garfunkel became the voice of much of America's youth coming of age in the 1960s. These were songs of introspection, isolation, quiet and rocky love, and oftentimes a nuanced view of the cultural revolution taking place. As with many groups of the '60s (a la The Beatles) it's amazing what the pair accomplished in under a decade. After Simon and Garfunkel disbanded, Simon's solo work brought the landmark album Graceland, with which he helped to bring "world music" into the pop world. Even in the poet-turned-rock-star shadow of Dylan, Simon had a lyrical laser focus that could illuminate the deepest idiosyncrasis of our souls and express the cautious joys of living. He had a wider musical palate than Dylan with complex arrangements, but gentle enough to slip under the radar. He's still out on the road touring and just released a new album last summer, but before you grab tickets to see him in Bend, Oregon, in June, read on for how you can hear Simon's music celebrated by your neighbors and friends.
You can start your weekend a little early up at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room around 6 p.m. with some swingin' jazz courtesy of locals Fred & Jr. (no relation) and all for free. In Arcata you'll find the Fickle Hill Band at the Redwood Curtain Brewery at 8 p.m. also playing for free. Comprised of talented and long-time local rock musicians, you'll hear some rock standards you know and love, and some great rock/jams from these fellas.
Local guitar-slingin' troubadour Chuck Mayville returns to Gallagher's Irish Pub in Eureka tonight around 6 p.m. He'll play a variety of rock standards and may even take a few requests if you throw some tips into the mix. Just don't request any REO Speedwagon or Supertramp. Or do. Just tip big. Orick-based classic-country band the Redwood Ramblers are at the Mad River Brewery Tap room at the same time and also for free. The Arcata Playhouse tonight hosts a benefit for, well, the Arcata Playhouse, as holding it anywhere else would be kind of weird. The press release states that it's a "hybrid sit-down and dance concert with an open floor and cabaret seating." Starting off this benefit are The Yokels, with Steve Irwin, Glen Nagy and Bill Kerker. These fellas have all been playing together in one form or another since 1977 so they're locked in the groove. They'll take the stage around 8 p.m. Following them up will be fellow supergroup, The Detours doing their Americana gig. You've probably seen all these musicians in other groups as well, but their current lineup is Paul DeMark, Marc Jeffares, Rick Levin, Ron Sharp and Jake Wiegandt. No word at the moment on the ticket price but these two bands can command a lot, so whatever it turns out to be, consider it a deal and a steal. Dead heads can rejoice that Melvin Seals and JGB return to Humboldt for another two-night stand at Humboldt Brews in Arcata. Catch the first gig at 9:30 p.m. — $30 will get you in the door for these jams. I got word that local rock band the Sleepwalkerz will be playing at Blondie's in Arcata tonight. Without an official statement, I'm going to guess that music will start somewhere around 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. and probably for free with a slight chance of a $5 cover charge.
For those who want to keep it old school, today's your day. The HSU Fort Humboldt Brass Band will be kicking out the 1850-1880s brass music jams at noon at the coincidentally named Fort Humboldt in Eureka. The band will be in period piece outfits and it's a free show and all ages so bring the kiddos. Filling in for the night, the String Chickens are at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room at 6 p.m. doing their string thing for free. Jeff DeMark reminds me that there's a benefit for the Arcata High School's Safe and Sober graduation party for seniors tonight. If you're going to do anything sober, I say, graduating from high school should be one of them. The LaPatina Band will be headlining this benefit at The Miniplex in Arcata at 7 p.m. and $10 will get you in the door and will contribute to this good cause. There will be songs and stories and a full bar, so you don't necessarily have to be sober to help the kids stay off the hooch. I was glad to hear a few weeks ago that there was a Paul Simon tribute night happening tonight at the Arcata Playhouse. We've had tributes to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Brown, Joni Mitchell and others that I'm probably forgetting, but I can't think of anyone more deserving of a tribute night than Paul Simon. So you'll hear locals paying their respects to Paul's early writing with Simon and Garfunkel, to his solo work of the '70s and beyond. You'll hear from Joel Sonenshein, Marcia Mendels, Morgan Corviday, Chris Manspeaker, Jeff Kelley, Marla Joy, Leslie Quinn, Jan Bramlett, Kate Juliana, Mango, Mark Weston, Julie Froblom, Russ Cole, Tofu Mike Schwartz, Violet Dinning, Jesse Jonathan, and Robert Keiber all for only $15 at 8 p.m. I've heard good reviews of live performances of Claire Bent and Citizen Funk who will be at Six Rivers Brewery at 9 p.m. It'll be a free show of funk, soul and touches of R&B. Local alt-somethings (myself among them) Strix Vega return to the Logger Bar in Blue Lake with "special guests" at 9:30 p.m. I should probably know who the special guests are but apparently it's a secret or something. It's a free show, so stumble over for some dark alpine jams. Local jamgrassers the Absynth Quartet are at The Jam in Arcata around 10 p.m. and joined by vocal-harmony experts Belles of the Levee. Ticket price is TBA now but I'd expect something in the $5-10 range.
The Absynth Quartet was probably lucky enough to leave all their gear set up on The Jam's stage last night, as Tofu tells me that they're back this afternoon for a special all ages show at 1 p.m. Not sure if there's a cover for this show, but you can finally share with your kids the reason why you occasionally need babysitters for Saturday nights. Later this evening, Jo'burg-born — and now Colorado resident — musician Gregory Alan Isakov is at Humboldt Brews at 8 p.m. Songs that tell the story of travels, long roads, and penetrating landscapes, Gregory is joined by Sera Cahoone who will be opening up this $25 show. Around the same time, The Mateel in Redway hosts rapper E-40, who brings his "streetwise lyrical storytelling" with hints of humor to SoHum. This all-ages show gains support from fellow rapper Kool John. There will be Mexican-inspired fare for purchase and $40 will get you in for this show.
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.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Album of the Week Show on KWPT 100.3 FM Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Sometimes he's scared to look.