Last week I made a sly appeal to the Fates, suggesting we could all use a little break from the chaos of the front page and the never-ending news cycle of battery and degradation. It's tricky putting out overtures like that because the sincerity of desire and the hope of fulfillment is usually tempered with a natural human fear of asking too much from the gods. Sometimes I imagine the monkey's paw from that classic horror story about cursed wishes coming true, one of its withered fingers curling toward the palm as some evil perversion of my prayers is sculpted into being. Oh, monkey's paw, you are indeed the devil's agent.
I'm opening up with some morbid humor because that's how I process things. The truth is, there have been too many young people passing away lately. I know of two whose deaths bookended July. When I was hoping for peace and communal gathering, I wasn't talking about the peace of the grave and the collective mourning for the fallen. If you are reading this and have friends you haven't checked up on lately, now is a great time to drop a line. If you are a local politician looking for an issue to rally around, harm reduction, drug potency testing, addiction support, therapy and counseling are all woefully inadequate in Humboldt. Maybe you can help fix that, be a hero. If you are a member of the community who was behind the push to suppress those forms of support, particularly those of you in law enforcement, I won't say what's on my mind because it's probably unprintable but fix your heart — your soul is at stake. We have to end the age of punishment and accept mitigation and care instead. People are human and make mistakes; those attributes don't have to be fatal.
Not trying to be a bummer here, I just want to see your pretty faces at shows, not memorials. As I often say, look out for each other.
The Sanctuary is presenting an installment of its Outdoor Minds summer concert series at the Arcata Marsh amphitheater today at 7 p.m. This all-ages gig will feature none other than local American primitivist Oryan Peterson-Jones, who will play a set from his lengthy songbook of human sounds from around the planet.
Sometimes I see a band name out there in the wild and am surprised it was just sitting there for the taking. Vancouver, B.C.'s Dumb has one of those names and the sound lives up to its moniker, as peals of noisy guitar whine over a propulsive, bopp-able beat. The vocals are punky and obnoxious as well, in just the right ways. Altogether, I give Dumb the thumbs up. You can come figure it all out for yourself at the Miniplex tonight at 9 p.m., when local yokels Over Yonder warm up the stage for the traveling Canucks ($10).
Ooh, la la, it's the return of yet another beloved local mini-fest put on by the fine people in the Humboldt Folklife Society. After a two-year hiatus because of you-know-why, the Buddy Brown Blues Fest is coming back to Perigot Park in Blue Lake to celebrate its 20th incarnation. The gates open at 10:30 a.m., and the line-up is a who's-who of top notch, local blues talent, featuring Buddy Reed & th' Rip It Ups, Mojo Rockers, Jim Lahman Band and many more. The pricing goes as follows: $15 for general admission, $12 for Humboldt Folklife Society members, $5 for kids, all reasonable rates across the board.
Here's a couple of 2 p.m. matinee gigs redolent with a certain scent of elegant sophistication. You get to choose between chamber music and the theater. The former is happening at Holy Trinity Church in Trinidad, where classical guitarist Jennifer Trowbridge joins tenor David Powell for an afternoon of Baroque pieces, featuring compositions by Bach, Scarlatti, Couperin and others. Tickets are $15-$30.
Meanwhile, over at Synapsis, it's the first weekend of Kathryn Cesarz and Jesse March's physical theater comedy The Unstrung Harp, an adaptation of the work by Edward Gorey. Having been a huge Gorey-head since childhood, where his Amphigorey collections were among the most treasured items on my book pile, I am very curious to see what these two do with the story of the depressive and muddled novelist Mr. Earbrass, who attempts to write another piece on Nov. 18 during the alternate year in which he traditionally does so. It's an absurd classic and worthy of the stage. It will also be playing next weekend if you really want to go Baroque today ($20).
Two bands steeped in the fusion jazz traditions of the 1970's, with sounds that embrace even more modern, electronic technology, will be stalking the stage at the Miniplex tonight at 7:30 p.m. San Diego's Plexus Play will join Sharp 4 to grind out some hot and sparkling tunes with sounds from the aforementioned jazz fusion to modern glitch and electronica coughing out of the amps and PA speakers. This should be a bouncy one ($10).
Nothing feels more like the old times than settling into a seat in a bar that survived the last 30 months of economic calamity to hear a group of musicians run through the setlist of their weekly gig. Ah, the weekly gig. Few things hum with the mellow resonance of stable times than this institution whose very existence suggests a bankable future in which one can have some semblance of comfort and routine. If you'd like to experience that pleasure, swing by The Speakeasy around 7 p.m. for a taste of The Opera Alley Cats. This jazzy one is, I believe, free.
Speaking of free jazz (as in live monetary investment, not style), the Penner siblings' jazz group Young & Lovely will be doing it up at Old Growth Cellars starting at 6:30 p.m. As far as ensemble groups with an excellent live frisson and natural chemistry, these cats are it.
Collin Yeo (he/him) writes about the Humboldt music scene, where he has love and a great deal of fondness for more of you than you might think. He lives in Arcata.