Last week was a weird one for me. The whole Sunday-Sunday run I felt a little out of frame and unusual. Blame it on the Super/Frost Moon. Blame it on that modern vampire-cult the GOP passing a dungeon-crafted tax bill during the witching hour that doesn't even disguise their contempt for basically everyone I know and love, and kicks the bottom rungs out of the ladder, so to speak. Blame it on the heavy-but-thankfully-not-sharp end of the reciprocating saw which I dropped on my toes while wearing thin shoes like some rare genius. Blame it on going to a show I was excited about where the big-name band sounded just terrible (I won't put them on blast here because I left early and maybe they warmed up but all I could think was, How and why were they so [expletive deleted] bad?). I looked around at the news in our little community last week and I saw people suffering far worse than myself: a young hardworking mother captured and detained by ICE, missing people, homicide and traffic deaths. Oofph. I can't pretend to know what to say for those types of horrific situations other than to encourage everyone to keep reading local news, be aware of what's going on and, when you can, reach out and help. A little goes a long way these days.
While soaking my wounded foot, I picked up one of my favorite poetry works: Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, in which the poet imagines the epitaphs of the residents of a small town's graveyard as if they had written the lines themselves from the spirit realm. I landed on No. 207, Lucinda Matlock, whose story is full of music. She describes meeting her husband of 70 years after switching partners at a dance; after reaching 60 and raising 12 kids (and losing eight), she kept herself busy and content while listening to larks in the fields and "Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys." She decided she had had enough at 96 and "passed to a sweet repose" with her final admonition to the overwhelmed living: "Life is too strong for you — It takes life to love Life." This obviously isn't enough for the heavier problems but it helped me out. If you are a little blue, maybe do what Lucinda did: Go to dances and switch partners there; find a new direction. Or maybe just listen to the birds and try singing at the landscape, too.
Since its inception in 2005, San Francisco-based Zepparella has maintained a steady mission with a rotating line-up anchored to founding member and 24-inch kick drum enthusiast Clementine's original vision: an all-female Led Zeppelin cover band par excellence. And no matter what one's personal opinions are about the music of Led Zeppelin or cover bands in general, Zepparella has achieved that; no small feat in the depressingly sexist and ever-shrinking world of successfully touring hard rock acts. When the quartet hits the stage at Humbrews tonight at 9:30 p.m., expect the Led Zep catalog to come alive in the best way possible and maybe catch a glimpse of how fun rock shows can really be ($20).
The short weeks leading up to the winter break are a good time to catch some great musical performances at our local centers of higher learning. Here's one: At 8 p.m. at Fulkerson Hall, you can hear the HSU Singers and Humboldt Chorale perform a concert of vocal music under the title "How Can I Keep From Singing?" ($8, $5 child and senior, free for students). Under the banner theme of what causes one to sing, the diverse set includes songs of grief like the "Lacrymosa" from Mozart's Requiem to more modern arrangements involving Sanskrit evocations of the afterlife, the poetry of Lorca, a Hebrew prayer and a Stevie Wonder tune. Songs in the key of many lives, perhaps.
Bay Area-born quartet Poor Man's Whiskey is pretty well regarded up here amongst the jam and bluegrass community so its 9:30 p.m. après Arts Arcata show at Humbrews should be well attended and a nice diversion for the jam-grass fan seeking sanctuary from the heady downtown art scene ($15).
Local heavy metal promotional machine Angry Hammer Productions is putting on an all-ages "Thrashorama" at Siren's Song at 7 p.m. with Oakland's crust-metal maestros Hazzard's Cure, supported by Santa Rosa's Trecelence, San Francisco's death metal warriors Wrath and local chuggers Death Mode Trippers. Come mosh (responsibly) for $8.
American-born and Bermuda-raised dancehall artist and SoHum favorite Collie Buddz returns to the south county to rattle the Mateel for an all-ages show starting at 9 p.m. with Jamaican reggae artist Jesse Royal opening in support of his first full length album Lily of the Valley ($30).
The Alibi dips its toes into the DJ/dance scene again with the return of futuristic "sex beat" purveyor and mononymous electronic artist Zordon who is here to help you dance up your darkness under the lights at 11 p.m. ($2).
The Deep Groove Society hosts its fourth annual "Rage of Sagittarius" event at the Jam at 9 p.m. ($10). The house-tinged electronic dance fiasco will feature a light show by Fred at Marmelade Sky, performances by artists/Djs/ambassadors of sound Marjo Lak, Eureka's Chris Renz aka Baggadonuts, and Jan Van Lier as well a special performance by Susie Kidd. It should be a big, packed, electro blast.
Tony Roach continues his residency at The Victorian Inn at 6 p.m., crooning jazz and pop standards to the dining crowd while retaining aural fidelity to the proper ambience of a nice meal (free).
Tuesday (First night of Hannukah!)
The Arcata Theater Lounge hosts The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at 8 p.m., featuring former Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson in the titular role as the presumed leader of the aforementioned brotherhood ($25). This can get confusing, as the Black Crowes featured Chris' actual brother Rich on guitar providing a very special texture to its early-'90s southern rock sound, and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood's line-up does not feature Rich. Rest assured, however, if you are a fan of The Black Crowes, or the jammier tunes from the blues-influenced classic rock songbook, you will likely enjoy this Brotherhood. Got it?
Denver's indie rock slash hip-hop slash chamber pop heroes Flobots play Humbrews tonight at 9 p.m. and if you enjoyed last decade's clever hit "Handlebars," you will like its current catalog because Flobots have not sacrificed its creative vision to market fluctuations, corporate overseers, or any of the other depressing elements which tend to crush all of the beauty out of contemporary touring acts ($20, $18 advance). Oakland's Bang Data opens.
The Mad River Brewery Tasting Room has guitarist and prolific local producer Piet Dalmolen putting on a free solo show. Aside from providing production duties for too many talented local bands to mention here, playing lead guitar in Pink Floyd tribute supergroup Money and sitting in on many live jams and tributes in the area over the years, Piet is an extremely accomplished player in his own right, so expect a highly entertaining and well-executed set at 6 p.m. (free).
Oakland/Bay Area group The California Honeydrops bring its mix of soul, gospel-tinged blues and New Orleans second line-inspired street music to Humbrews tonight at 9:30 p.m. ($20, $17 advance). What started many years ago as a trumpet and drum busking duo haunting the East Bay's public transportation system has blossomed into a multi-horned, full rhythm sectioned, soulful party band whose main objective is connecting with the audience. To that end, the band encourages shout-outs and requests and will happily mutate their sets and songs into longer-form jams if the spirit of the crowd demands it. In other words, The Honeydrops subscribe to what American Football fans call the "12th man theory" of fan participation. So if you go, make some noise.
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.
Collin Yeo has two feet, one reciprocating saw and maybe half a brain. He lives in Arcata.