A lot of important figures in the music world have passed away recently, three that I consider quite notable are saxophone god Wayne Shorter, multi-instrumentalist and hired gun David Lindley, and bassist Steve Mackey, whose work with one of my favorite Brit bands, Pulp, was both melodic and charging. However, the last week has seen the loss of two very different titans of the industry, Seymour Stein and Ryuichi Sakamoto, and I'd like to take a moment to recognize them. Stein was perhaps the last of a dying breed: A record executive who had an ear and a vision that allowed him to recognize and promote greatness when it existed in the most humble environments. He was responsible for signing the Talking Heads, Madonna and The Ramones, among many other acts whose careers, and our uncountable hours of pleasure as members of the adoring international audience, were made possible by this eccentric Svengali. I don't have much positive to say about the money side of the music industry or even the notion of turning music into an industry. But I'll sing Stein's praises as a rare creature like New Orleans producer Cosimo Matassa or Atlantic Records head honcho Ahmet Ertegun, who helped cultivate a diverse landscape of glorious music.
Sakamoto, on the other hand, was simply a musical genius. There's no other way to put it. In his four-plus decades as an artist, soundtrack maker and composer-at-large, he had a supernatural ability to synthesize the cutting-edge technologies associated with electronic music while still tethering his work to composers from around the world who came before him, thus basking in a human warmth that is so often missing in digital production. If you are unfamiliar with his vast catalog of work, I suggest that you start with the title track from his soundtrack for the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a Japanese film about a POW camp starring another brilliant musical mind, David Bowie. Rest in peace, Mr. Stein and Mr. Sakamoto.
For the rest of you, go out into this week and make it a little better with your presence. Ciao.
Heavy, heavy, heavy show tonight at 7 p.m. at Siren's Song Tavern. If you like the extreme end of metal, you'll love the sets by Narc from Sacramento, Washington State's Burial Rites and local chuggers and grinders Psyop Victim (whom I have given my stamp of approval to in columns past), and Grug. For this lineup, $10 seems like a steal.
Another type of heavy show is going down at the Siren's Song tonight at 8 p.m., one that features an artier style of screaming noise. Shively's Blackplate, one of my favorite bands in this wild county, is sharing the stage with two groups that I have only heard online, Cardboard and Monkey Business. However, I trust the judgment of the 'plate's Sean Casement and co., and am recommending this gig to anyone with an ear for the marriage of guitar and vocal anguish ($5).
Two very different gigs in Arcata tonight, both of which will be total burners for the fans of their respective genres. Cal Poly Humboldt's Fulkerson Hall is the setting for a classical guitar duet of technical ecstasy, with local professor Jennifer Trowbridge teaming up with world-renowned six-string samurai David Tanenbaum for a recital of good things at 8 p.m. ($15 general admission, $5 CPH students and children).
Meanwhile, an hour or so later over at the Miniplex, it's the spring installment of Disco Night, where DJs Pandemonium Jones, The Grouch and Dacin will be spinning hot vinyl from the bellbottom era for the first lucky 200 who nab tickets, which are going for $10 presale and $15 at the door, if you can get there in time to score. Bonne chance.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, he is risen. For those of you celebrating in any fashion today, I have two disparate gigs for you, and you can personally decide which among the two is more holy or blasphemous. Over at the Siren Song Tavern at 6 p.m., you can enjoy some old school, punk, power-violence and d-beat tunes in a seven-band (!) lineup, which includes locals Cynicism, Human Soup Hot Tub and Psyborg, along with touring acts Merked, Pillars, Savage and Filth is Eternal. A $20 bill gets you in the door for this minifest and if you are a metal fan, this is the one.
An hour earlier, you can catch a maybe weirder spectacle, when the Arcata Theatre Lounge presents a showing of Jesus Christ Superstar, which somehow seems more demonic. Get in the door for $8 and pay an extra $4 to get a poster.
Mondays are usually quiet around these parts but that's not so in Blue Lake, where the Logger Bar throws a regular Rockers Reggae Night from 7 to 9 p.m. It's free to get in and you should expect OG Jamaican tunes pumping out of the sound system to augment your drinking enjoyment.
Savage Henry Comedy Club presents Shaved Pits, a dog-friendly comedy revue hosted by Nando Molina and Jason Merritt, who both encourage an audience of well-behaved pups and people at 9 p.m. ($10).
Indubious is a Bend, Oregon-based reggae band whose sound is full of the kind of echo-y, sonic noise that saves the genre from boring repetition. The group is centered around the Burton brothers, Evton and Skip, who were both born with the potentially fatal condition of cystic fibrosis but build a fine musical career. They'll be landing at Humbrews tonight at 8 p.m. and $20 will give you a chance to see a bit of their magic.
Collin Yeo (he/him) has been indicted on 34 counts of being a total frickin' badass. If convicted, he faces the Def Penalty. He lives in Arcata.