Sixteenth century English poet Thomas Tusser, writing in his book on rural life in Tudor England, Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie, gave us perhaps the first written version of the adage "April showers bring May flowers." Sitting here late at night at the end of the month, listening to the rain come down on the roof, I wonder what November showers bring? Fatter rivers, slick roads, and clothing choices based on practical rather than stylish principles, all come to mind. Indoor congregations of people fighting off the dampness and cold, inside and out. I close my eyes and think of those untitled Cy Twombly pieces, with the illegible scribbles filling up notebooks and stark gray blackboards with the hidden language of pre-verbal meaning. I think of that line that I adored as a teenager from David Bowie's "Five Years": "And it was cold, and it rained, so I felt like an actor." Here's looking at you, kid. I consider my amateur mycologist friends gleefully rubbing their hands together and imagining a chanterelle score that would give bloom to a dinner party of Roman proportions. I like to think about the rain as a different character in different seasons, capable of tragedy and comedy in equal doses. When I lived in Brooklyn, I had a friend who said that talking about the weather is the lowest form of conversation, but he mostly just talked about money, so I forgave him for his poor insight. I'd like to live in a world where we talk mostly about the weather and eliminate money as a concept altogether. But we might have to go through some real rough shit for that to happen. A "hard rain," as it has been called. So for now, I'll stick to thinking about the stuff hitting the roof and thankfully not my head. If you encounter someone without that luxury, please give them a little help. "Make it rain," as they say. Be well.
New venue alert, for this column, anyway. Here's a cozy restaurant gig to ease you into the last month of the year. The Boardroom in Ferndale is hosting Deckhands, a mostly acoustic trio featuring guitar, mandolin and pedal steel. If you'd like to know more about the band's sound, roll through at 6 p.m. to get the goods in person. No cover.
For the last three decades and over the course of nine records, the Young Dubliners have been committed to producing a sound that marries traditional Irish folk tunes with contemporary rock. The result is a career with solid cult-status, and a fairly loyal and enthusiastic fanbase, won over by constant touring in the pre-COVID world. Once more out on the road at an ebb of the pandemic, the group will be playing Humbrews tonight at 9 p.m. ($25).
The Eureka Symphony is presenting its Winter Festival program at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts tonight (and last night) at 8 p.m. I'm always happy to juice up the Symphony's performances and this one looks like a real corker, with pieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Samuel Taylor-Coleridge and more. There will even be a rendition of Alan Silvestri's suite of music from the score to the beloved holiday film The Polar Express. Tickets range from $19-$49, and rush tickets are available at the box office at 7 p.m. sharp for $15, $10 for students. As with previous symphony performances, proof of vaccination and a mask are required to attend.
The Cal Poly Humboldt Wind Ensemble is putting on a matinee performance at Fulkerson Hall today at 2 p.m. ($10 general, $5 children, free for students). The program will be heavy on American composers, and will include pieces by Aaron Copeland, John Barnes Chance, William Schuman and others. I like a good wind ensemble, beyond the mildly humorous evocation of airflow in the name, the sound is really quite arresting. Interestingly, proof of vaccination and booster is required, but not mask wearing, which is instead strongly suggested. I suppose it would be a bit difficult to play the euphonium or bassoon with that particular pandemic accessory in place.
Los Angeles' Goon has been around for less than a decade but in that time has built a unique, nocturnal sound around a line-up that includes a member of indie rock minimalist masters Spoon. The sound, like the name Goon, seems so catchy and obvious I'm surprised it hadn't been snatched up already: Thoughtful songs built around grunge-y post rock that isn't distorted so much as it is ground-up enough to be sublimated. Like if the radiator in Eraserhead picked up the signal from a long gone, early-'90s college radio station. The northern chunk of the West Coast gets repped tonight too, as Vancouver's poppy Bridal Party is along for the ride. As to a local opener? Well, that remains to be seen, but with the relatively early 8 p.m. show at the Miniplex, anything goes ($15, $12 advance).
Now is as good a time as ever to remind you of Word Humboldt's excellent and ongoing open mic at Northtown Coffee at 6 p.m. You really do get the entire range of what's possible out there, from the truly sublime to the edge of cringe, and the cost is nothing but your time, an open mind and an ear or two for listening. You might even find inspiration and a desire to become one of the chorus of voices speaking truths about their section of the vast pageant of life.
Hawaii's Jake Shimabukuro is about as close as one can get to complete mastery of the island's famously understated instrument, the ukulele. In his hands, the diminutive, four-stringed campfire and beach accessory becomes a thing of wonder, as his fingers pick and strum away at chord voicings and melodic passages that seem out of this world. He's the real deal, folks. Tonight, he'll be presenting his Christmas in Hawaii program, along with a bit of help from some musical friends at 7 p.m. ($29). I have a feeling this family-friendly event will probably sell out, so bear that in mind when you consider the timing of your ticket acquisition.
Collin Yeo (he/him) welcomes this Advent season and holiday month with about as much enthusiasm as possible. He lives in Arcata, where the death of 2022 will be a welcome event in his home.