The art of the playlist is a lot like conversation, there's a flow state that wants to be achieved by the unconscious mind for the benefit of the collective whole. When choosing our songs, we are likewise choosing our words and tailoring them as best as we can for the context of the desired exchange. Words and music don't really fail us, so much as we fail them, bringing a lack of consonance and composure to our desired function. Long story short: If you're going to throw a shindig, learn how to talk to people, and how to make a solid playlist. They are parallel skills.
The medium for music has changed so much in my lifetime, with the technology getting in many ways more user-friendly, while becoming more hostile to the livelihoods of artists and good representation of their sounds. I am old enough to have recorded records on analog and digital formats, and I understand and share the frustration that many music makers have with the latter's delivery of mass compression and "loudness wars." Good music has raw and bleeding chunks in its execution, tonal shifts and volume spasms. For the last two decades, mainstream commercial music has ignored this central truth, to the detriment of anyone unfortunate enough to hear its dull output. Look up the Swedish invasion of pop music if you don't believe me — the industry is absurdly monochromatic and pop music is largely controlled by a small coterie of boring Scandinavians with computer screen tans. Anyway, I had a get together on Sunday that required a good and laidback unfurling of songs, pleasant enough to hum in the background but with enough verve to engage the odd active listener. I wanted people to hear the songs glisten in the edges, like a dew on the grass that holds the promise of a flowery nectar for anyone piqued enough to draw nourishment. I was looking for a good time, which is a proposition that gets hectic like Jenga or Tetris with every new set of ears. I think I pulled it off because there were zero objections and a few good words about the tunes on tap. And while I won't share the specifics of my backyard playlist here, I will encourage you, dear reader, to share your suggested entries with me. And if you really must know what we were listening to while rolling bocce balls around two cats and a chihuahua, while barbecuing under the gray blanket of a Humboldt June, drop me an email at email@example.com and I will gladly give you a guided tour.
American primitivist, world folklore collector and skilled guitarist Oryan Peterson-Jones returns to Humboldt from his tour of the Uupper West Coast to bring his fine sound back to a local setting for our listening pleasure. The Logger Bar is the venue tonight, the time is 8 p.m. and the show is free, so consider bringing tips for the finger picker and drink pourers.
The Arcata Theatre Lounge is hosting another Nostalgia Crew production, which, at its core, means DJs spinning old school hip hop and club gems while dancers work the stage and music videos make up the backdrop. On deck tonight for the vinyl crew are DJs Pressure, D'Vinity and Statik, while the body movers union will be represented by Queen Sequoyah, Efrain and Bella Rose. The party starts at 9 p.m. and $10 gets you inside.
It's another edition of Disco Night at the Miniplex tonight at 9 p.m. In deference to the high summer spirits, there will be a weenie roast outside of the bar, with a cooler of beer to sell as well. As with previous iterations of this event, there will be grooves spun by DJ Pandemonium Jones and Dacin, as well as some soul-work jams supplied by Imaginal Discs. It's a $5-$10 sliding scale at the door, but as P. Jones, aka my buddy Brian, tells me, his new favorite acronym is NOTAFLOF, which stands for "No One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds." Ah, there's that spirit of solidarity which I do so love.
The summer music series continues at Fieldbrook Winery, where today at 1:30 p.m. you can enjoy the music of local Celtic act Good Company. There isn't a cover charge, but reservations for food and table are suggested in the same spirit as a minimum drink requirement at an evening club.
For those of you with a long weekend due to the holiday, consider hitting the river. For the rest of you, consider reading up on and celebrating a great place with a bloody and complex history on the anniversary of its foundation. I am, of course, talking about Canada's Quebec City, which was founded today in 1608 by the Frenchman Samuel de Champlain and named after the Algonquin word for the narrow section of a river.
I was recently asked by a member of the Opera Alley Cats, a tight and enjoyable jazz group that trades in intimate-setting tunes, what it would take to get their weekly gig at the Speakeasy into the Setlist. Well Brian, as I have written about their ongoing Tuesday residency in weeks past, a tug on my ear by way of a quick reminder works for me. The music starts at 7 p.m., it's free to patrons of the bar and, if you miss this one, there's an encore performance on Fridays at 8 p.m.
Paradise Tax is a surf rock band whose members hail from parts of Oregon and the tropical island of Maui. The group is headlining a show tonight at 7 p.m. at the Siren's Song Tavern, with a lineup of locals who have various styles of complimentary sounds for the bill. Those groups are The Flying Hellfish (nice reference from The Simpsons), Drastic Gnarlys and Miazma ($10).
Collin Yeo (he/him) fought off a crow by the firepit for the last of the macaroni salad on the morning after. He lives in Arcata.