By Collin Yeo
Having gotten slightly verbose and heavy in last week's introduction, I am going to leave this one a tad lighter. This week I'll be looking for themes to some evenings while making occasional rude personal connections to our local geography and generally stinking things up with what I'd like to think passes for cleverness but is probably an entirely different force that has helped keep me single. Anyway, our days lately have been bright and the nights have been clear and I have enjoyed watching the Christmas lights slowly fill out the landscape below my small hillside perch. Each evening as I sit on my deck and adapt an entirely unearned lordly mien while looking out over my imagined peasants and chattel down in the tsunami zone, I think about what a great and boring place we live in. We have a dynamic climate rather than harsh seasons (for the most part). We are a bedroom community with no attached metropolis. You couldn't set a Tolstoy novel or a Ridley Scott movie here, but I still love Humboldt's low-key epic ways. As Philip Larkin once ended a poem, "'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.'" And while something (and much more) often does happen here, I can't imagine a better place to also experience nothing. Enjoy yourselves either way.
Let's start the week out right with an often underappreciated medium for discovering the beginning ticks of the needle for our local music scene's seismographic chart: The open mic night. I know, I know, but hear me out. For every hackneyed version of "Wagon Wheel" or mumbled recitation of poetry which should have stayed locked in a diary like some banally evil Necronomicon curse or piece of songwriting which belongs on Soundcloud with a listen count provided by the artist only, there are many more surprisingly nimble players and performers. Here are three venues ready to take you on a kaleidoscopic tour of our hometown heroes where the only entrance fee is an open mind (and ears): Old Town Coffee and Chocolate has their songwriting soapbox at 6:30 p.m. with host Mike Anderson, Blondie's offers you an egalitarian emporium of expression at 7 p.m., and Central Station hosts an ad hoc episode of "McKinleyville's Got Talent" at 9 p.m. Come one, come all.
As Robert Smith of The Cure sobbed into my Walkman-covered ears repeatedly circa 1996, "Friday I'm in Love." Nowadays, when it comes to music I might perhaps know disco from Crisco but I am still pretty unsure about love. However, these two dance parties seem like a good place to start looking for some kind of love, be it an ineffable metaphysical construct or just an ass-shaking good time. The Outer Space hosts a "Queers in Space" dance party at 7 p.m. DJ Zev presides over the line-up, which features the punk beat of Slop, heavy dance music of Muy Perraz and dreamy beat-scapes of Bat Boi ($5).
Across the bay, Siren's Song has a "Winter Wonderland" edition of Goth Night starting at 8 p.m. Host DastBunny will be overseeing DJs Crazy Legs, Kandala and Wrye, as they spin every wavelength of dark rainbowed romantic dance rondeaus from the sullen spiderwebbed songbook (free). Let the red blood, heart-beaten thump of emotion and decay take you away.
This week, Saturday night's alright for psychedelic shows. At 9 p.m. the Jam has the poppy sunset sheen of Paradise Inc. (featuring local gun-for-hire guitar hero Leo Plummer of Object Heavy fame), the cactus, mezcal and clapboard liturgy of Opossum Sun Trail and the jazzy weirdness of Foxtrot ($5).
Roger Ebert had a rule which basically stated that any movie featuring Harry Dean Stanton couldn't be entirely bad. I feel the same way about any local show featuring local treasure Mister Moonbeam but this show at the Siren's Song (also at 9 p.m.) ought to be much better than that. The bill is filled out with Deep Dark Light, the drone and ambient project of the aptly-named Robert Tripp who recently joined White Manna on its European tour playing keys. Headlining will be Die Geister Beschwören (German for "call up the ghosts"), the solo primitive folk project of local night-tripper Oryan Peterson-Jones, who also plays in the psychedelic outfit Datura Blues ($5).
Friends and family have given me grief for not including enough (or any) McKinleyville venues in this column. As a native son of Dow's Prairie, I feel compelled to remind them that I still have the homegrown attitude and nascent fuck-you-a-tiveness of that place trapped in my character (Mack Town, I owe you NOTHING). But on a more reasonable note, while my beloved hometown has come a long way from the days when "horses had the right to vote," there is still a relative dearth of music venues in that lovely and unincorporated land of Nod. However, I am happy to say that by the end of this week's edition, I will have mentioned three McKinleyville music options. The Clam Beach Inn is one of my personal favorite bars, as it is an old neighborhood haunt, and at 6 p.m. it will host a set by guitarist Anna Hamilton (free). Come out for an evening but stick to the roads: We have coyotes, bears and mountain lions. Oh my.
Sushi Spot, McKinleyville's busiest restaurant (every time I have ever gone, anyway), has the musical stylings of jazz duo Anemones of the State tonight at 5 p.m. The music is free for those who can catch a table.
Elementary school concerts are fun, as far as memory serves. I might be childless but, as the eldest of three boys, I have fond memories of my younger brothers innocently running through Christmas standbys with their classroom cohorts while I obnoxiously cackled and my mom told me to shut it through her pursed lips. If I ever actually performed at any such function I have pushed that memory far back in the gray cholesterol of my brain. However, I have one magical memory of getting to work the lighting behind the scenes for my fifth grade class' holiday show. Being a kid can sometimes be great. Celebrate that greatness at the Fortuna River Lodge when South Fortuna Elementary puts on its Holiday Concert at 6 p.m. (price TBA).
If you missed the last three shows come to the Arkley Center tonight at 7 p.m. for this year's last performance of North Coast Dance's rendition of Tchaicovsky's The Nutcracker ($25 adults, $15 children). Pictures can be taken tonight with Clara and the Nutcracker himself. Personally, having broken my aunt's decorative nutcracker trying to get the meat out of a tasty walnut one Christmas and getting in a lot of trouble after hiding the corpse in a shallow grave of discarded giftwrapping, I think I will eschew the pictures. But to each their own.
Wednesday (Last Evening of Hannukah)
Krampus is the dark abusive Old World twin of Santa Claus who delivers corporal punishment to wicked children during the yuletide. "Krampmus" is a portmanteau word of Krampus and Christmas, presumably invented by the good people at the Miniplex who are staging a Krampmus Holiday Revue tonight there at 7 p.m. The show features the weird-sisters synth sounds of Blood Gnome, the dazzling musical wizardry of Dr. Foxmeat's Monochromatic Rainbow and the live soundtrack projector stories of wildly talented cartoonist Violet Crabtree's project The Comix Trip. Additionally, there will be sets by stand-up comedians Dev Elizabeth Richards, Matt Redbeard and Talvi Fried ($10, $6.66 advance). There'll also be a "mall Krampus," upon whose lap you can sit and get your picture taken while presumably asking for what you absolutely do not want for Krampmus.
Collin Yeo dreams of getting in a fender bender while driving a circus car stuffed with clowns. The ensuing police report will be the basis of a novel which will have nothing in common with the great works of literature.
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 email@example.com.