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Make It So



Cicero, writing a couple thousand years ago in a now dead tongue, wryly noted the habit among the wealthy men of Rome of copying the ostentatiousness of a great man's sumptuous villas, while showing no interest in imitating his fine personal virtues. Ain't that the rich for you? Then, as now, money could not buy one's way into virtue or moral splendor. It can, however, buy a bunch of sprawling McMansions with lurid and gaudy home furnishings. I'm thinking about the wealthy power games of the Roman elites because I have just finished another world-building, high fantasy summer reading book full of violence and palace intrigue, and those always have the stamp of the classical world. Few places in human history balanced shocking violence and conquest with the patina of civility like ancient Rome, and few Romans lived a life more "in the shit" of that balance than Marcus Tullius Cicero. He's good to check up on from time to time, I keep a copy of Di Officis next to my bed. In a way, all history is a form of high fantasy, as no land is more remote, fantastic, or unknowable than the past. Contemporary life is too blurry to catch all the nuance — it's like taking in the scenery from a highway and calling it a vacation. We need to slow down and reconsider events before understanding them.

That's why it's such a joy to experience live music, because while most times you are making pleasant memories, occasionally you are witnessing history being made. Win/win scenario there. Go have at it.


Scott Pemberton O Theory or SPOT for short, is a Pacific Northwest power trio that works as a very tight and musically adept showcase for the titular frontman's unique blend of jammy, outer space jazz and blues grooves, played with a high degree of idiosyncratic fretboard stylistics. The group is coming through Arcata again, a town that hosts it fairly often, to tear it up at Humbrews tonight at 9 p.m. Come through if you've got $15 to spare and the desire to see some really great guitar playing.


The Rebirth Brass Band is a beloved institution and horn player's career-starter from my former home of New Orleans, as well as an extremely potent live act that will be in our county tonight, specifically, Humbrews, 9 p.m. ($30). Started in the early 1980s by the Frazier brothers, Rebirth has served as an international ambassador for the best kind of New Orleans marching street jazz. Funky and full of energy, this group is always a good time, but be warned: You get what you give and if the musicians are a little road weary, they can sometimes hold back the best gems for a lackluster audience. So, if you show up, come out ready to dance and holler, no holding back, ya hear? Trust me, you'll want to get as close to the hometown performance as possible.


Another summer has come without the giant pilgrimage to the Eel River to celebrate the music of Jamaica. However, the legacy of that famous festival lives on, in fact, it's still in the name. Reggae Legacy this year will be a weekend festival in the house where it all started, the Mateel Community Center. Today is the opening, with an emphasis on international talent, whereas Sunday will be more focused on local artists. Come join Jamaica's seminal band The Wailing Souls, Trinidadian singer Marlon Asher and Mystic Roots (who are from, where else, but Chico), for a nice fat dollop of reggae music. The doors are at 5 p.m. and tickets are $35, $30 in advance.


Gill Brothers Band is a slide-rockin' quartet that sounds like the soundtrack to a documentary about early '70s pony cars. Tonight, the brothers Gill make an appearance at the Siren's Song Tavern (9 p.m.), where the fellas will be joined by locals The Corduroy Gangsters and The One Man Dan Band, aka Daniel Nickerson previously from the Sanctuary, now roving around Humboldt in parts unknown. The show's free but consider kicking the touring band some cash for a little van juice.


Oh boy, I have been waiting for this. The triumphant return of one of Humboldt County's finest purveyors of dark western psycho-daemonium, Opossum Sun Trail. Sadly, Dieter, Nola and co. will not be moving back to the 707 but are merely stopping into Humbrews for a tour show. However, what a show this is gonna be because not only is my favorite local heavy weirdo power trio The Sturgeons on the bill, but two thirds of the boys are debuting their Alice In Chains cover band We Die Young at 8 p.m. ($10). What more could you want?

Yet, if you find yourself stuck across the bay — would you believe it? — at the same hour there is another incredible and heavy show going down at the Siren's Song? I wouldn't lie to you and I am, of course, referring to yet another favorite trio of mine, the mighty Black Plate, who will be joined by Oakland's Crystal Logic for half the price of the other show. This is a tough choice, a real head scratcher for any head banger out there with the desire to have their frontal lobes tickled by the immaculate sonic vortex of pure guitar bliss.


To quote the late Ronnie Van Zant, Tuesday's gone with the wind. Best forget about it and seek your fortunes further on down the week.


Great news for the all-ages, DIY crowd: The Outer Space is back. The long homeless venue, having lived on as more of an idea than a location, has once more found a home, this time at 837 H. St. on the Arcata Plaza. The inaugural show features returning bedroom-pop act Bellows from Brooklyn, as well as local acts Blood Hunny and Think Tank. I am told that one of the more eye-catching novelties of the new pad is that it's in a former bank vault, with a vault door and everything, so if the opening night excitement, music or the gift shop full of local artists' wares isn't enough of a draw, at least come for the old-fashioned burglar-proof tech. The show's at 8 p.m. and although I'm not sure of the cover, I'd bring some cash for the bands.

Collin Yeo (he/him) copies neither virtues nor villas in his life. That is to say, he isn't rich. He lives in Arcata.

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