Hello. How are you doing? It's been a real one, hasn't it? Welcome back to the Setlist. I'm your host, Collin Yeo. You might remember me as the bald guy who brings you thrilling descriptions of our county's nightlife while griping about living through the doomed pantomime of a dying empire. I'm letting a lot of that latter stuff go now — well, in a minute — largely because the last year has brought the complete validation of the fact that we need the sort of strong material improvements to our society that I wrote about endlessly, while also showing that none of that is going to actually happen in time to save us. There isn't an institutional left in our country, just an easily-defeated and co-opted grassroots. In my own ostensibly progressive town of Arcata, the majority of the city council refused to legislate a hazard pay raise for the grocery store workers who faced unbelievable stress and unprecedented pressure to keep the community fed. This country is bent and twisted by money in a way that might be singularly unique in world history. We live in the age of pretty words and ugly actions.
And so, while I still have them, I am going to use my words for more light-hearted fun and distraction. I want us to do the best with what time we have left before whatever the forces of moribund centrism, right-wing fascism and climate change bring something down the pipeline that will make COVID-19 look like a mild inconvenience. There is an existential freedom in seeing the horrors of the world and still enjoying a good song and dance. And you, dear readers, are all excellent singers and dancers, and true lovers of the musical arts. So let's have some fun.
What better way to celebrate the soft-opening return of my weekly live music column than to promote ... a comedy show. But this isn't just any comedy show, it's more like a Tonight Show vibe. I am of course talking about Just Joshin', the weekly comedy showcase at Savage Henry Comedy Club hosted by Josh Barnes. Expect a new cast of comedians performing their tastiest bits and make sure to catch the post-set interviews conducted by the host (9 p.m., $5).
Rapper Chali 2na made his mark in the world as a member of the visionary Los Angeles crew Jurassic 5, a group that was among the vanguard of alternative hip hop acts that expanded the possibilities of the genre in the 1990s. Tonight he teams up with Scarub, another L.A. chap with a long CV stretching back to the turn of the century, to bump the house at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Doors at 9 p.m. ($30, $25 advance). Joining the night's entertainment is Rashaan Ahmad, Nac-One, local funk vets Object Heavy, Eli Fowler and DJ Just One. Booyakasha!
OK, it's the day of the slightly delayed Arcata Bay Oyster Festival and before we get any further into the mix, let me extend my sincerest sympathies to all my friends in the local service industry, especially the bartenders out there. If you know, you know. This year the bivalve and day-drinking celebration will be based in the Creamery District, an interesting geographical term for an area that is smaller than a city park and doubtless still has other locals besides myself cocking an eyebrow at its rather recent and somewhat forced application. If you want to enjoy a lot of spectacle, including live music, that's your destination.
However, if you're like me and your tastes tend towards more intimate crowds and moonlight rather than sunlight, I suggest that you head to The Jam at 9 p.m. to check out veteran touring outfit Igor & The Red Elvises ($10). An act built on the shoulders of Russian American frontman Igor Yuzov's love affair with the kitschier side of American music. The result is a hybrid of rockabilly, lounge and funk. I've been snobbish about this group when it rolled through town in the past but after a year in the isolation tank, seeing the name on posters again has me a little verklempt.
This is the last Sunday of June and the summer unfolds before us like a rippling mirage on the road ahead. I'll probably spend part of it in sunny Trinidad, checking out the Artisan's Market, for a couple of reasons. One, I told myself during lockdown that I would try new things, no matter how small, once the option became available and two, a duo called No Big Deal is playing for free from noon to 3 p.m. I have never heard No Big Deal and I know nothing about No Big Deal, so I will listen with fresh ears and an open palate.
And there it is. I promise as conditions change and more music is booked (I'm hearing about some exciting engagements in the coming weeks), the dates will fill up a bit more. This is an interactive format, so please do drop a line if you have a mighty good gig you wish to talk about. Good fortune and health to all of you, dear readers. It's nice to be back.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.