It's not often that I'm impressed with the trajectory of humankind. I wonder if we've hit a plateau and just can't biologically evolve in any significant relation anymore to the technology we've created.
The quantity of experience, and the quantity of stimuli that surround us in the 21st century is really mind-boggling, if we take a moment to think about it. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when we contemplate how we can collectively grasp many of the secrets of the cosmos, the interplay and inner workings of the fundamental micro-realities of life, and simultaneously ponder the scenario of a potential nuclear holocaust and realize that our fascination with the concept of more might just might make this third rock from the sun inhospitable to our future existence.
Let me pull back a little bit before true melancholia sets in — this is a music column after all, right? Isn't it often the simplest things in life that bring us the most joy? Time with friends and loved ones. A swim at the river. A beer on the porch. A baseball game. Music. I'm reminded of this when I hear my son picking out the fact that the Crabgrass band is rockin' "Purple Haze," or when he and his karate mates are critiquing Billy Joel's "The Entertainer" yet praising "Movin' Out." Or when they mention Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and can recite the lyrics from memory on the spot.
It's the small and simple things that imbue this whole experiment of life with meaning. Will we all blink out of existence some day? Sure, but there are still a million reasons to smile and sing along the way.
Although the Folklife Festival is now behind us, that doesn't mean you won't have plenty of opportunities to hear from bands that you caught during said festival. If you heard The Compost Mountain Boys during the Bluegrass and Beyond night of the festival and were looking forward to hearing them again, tonight's your night. Head to the Mad River Brewery Tap Room at 6 p.m. this evening to hear them for free. They'll be playing until about 8:30 p.m. or so, and dancing in the sunshine is permitted. Fellow Folklife-alum, Safari Boots will be in Arcata at the Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. at 8 p.m., also for free. These Boots are a local, yet international, group with John Howarth from Buckinghamshire on guitar joining locals Glen Nagy on bass and Charly Eitel doing the percussion thing. Their email states that they play "Soukous, mbaqanga, rhumba, plus a touch of blues and a hint of eastern scales." At first I thought those were the names of exotic instruments, but after some quiet reflection, I'm guessing they're descriptive of the types of music the band plays. Give it a listen, it's free and there will be great beer around.
The country-rock sounds of Cadillac Ranch are yours for the hearing at Mad River Brewery at 6 p.m. and for free. Good Company returns to Cafe Mokka at 8 p.m. bringing their Celtic tunes to your ears while you sip hot chocolate or a cappuccino while digging the enchanted frog ponds. This one's free and all ages as well. Dancing and hits are on the menu at the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel's Wave Lounge at 9 p.m. tonight courtesy of local rockers Dr. Squid and, also, for free. The Alibi in Arcata welcomes Visalia hard rockers Slow Season to town around 11 p.m. They're joined by local heavy dudes Lord Ellis, who I haven't seen play in a while, so tonight's a great opportunity for this rare sighting of the beast. Show's only $5.
Jenni & David and the Sweet Soul Band bring their funky blues to the Mad River Brewery at 6 p.m. and for free. I'm a Blue Laker, and can vouch for the ability to hit the river, soak up the sun, dry off and head to the brewery for a cold one and some food and music, all while the sun's still up. The sun's been setting around 8:45 p.m. a lot of these nights, so there's plenty of time to get your vitamin D and then vitamin Beer fill. If the river and sun sound like too much effort for you Arcatans, not to sweat, Blase and The Stellar Jays are at Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. at 8 p.m. and also playing for free. Trinidad's Cher-Ae-Heights Casino hosts double father-and-son duo Doug Fir and the 2x4s at 9 p.m. The show is free, but feel free to show the band your appreciation by clapping after songs. That's when you smack your two hands together to make sound. Stomp your feet or jiggle your keys if you don't want to put the beer down. The Wave Lounge in the Blue Lake Casino has swing and jump blues from locals The Uptown Kings happening at the same time and for the same price. Back in Arcata, string band The Rumpke Mountain Boys are stopping by Humboldt Brews at 9:30 p.m. Out of Cincinnati, these fellas are proud of the "trashgrass" moniker they've earned and all four band members are songwriters. They tend not to put together setlists ahead of shows, and instead flow and improvise depending how they and the crowd are feeling that night. They put out their album High Time, Low Tide last year and will most likely have some copies around if you dig their sound. $10 gets you in the Hum Brews doors.
The JD Jeffries Band will be at the Trinidad Artists Market at noon today. The band has a relatively new lineup with JD on guitar, Devin Paine on lead guitar, Teri Lockhart on bass and her son Korry on drums. Check 'em out for free this noon and afternoon.
Jazz will get you through the first half of this week at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room in Blue Lake. Tonight you'll find jazz guitar and vocals courtesy of Blue Lotus Jazz for free and at 6 p.m. It's all ages so bring the kiddos down, just keep them away from the adult beverages.
Jazz again tonight at the Mad River Brewery; tonight from the RLA Jazz Trio with Paula & Don. Same gig as last night, 6 p.m. and free.
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.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Album of the Week Show on KWPT 100.3 FM Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Excuse him while he kisses the sky.