Although we live in an age of alternative facts, I can't sit here and lie to you and say that I'm a big fan of rap music. I'm not one who is necessarily "anti-rap," it's just not my thing. Although I do have a soft spot for some vintage De La Soul and The Beastie Boys — and occasionally appreciate N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton — rap music rarely makes it into my ears. With that said, Humboldt has some heavyweights coming into town this week who deserve a listen. I can't say I've reviewed a rap album before but I found Run The Jewels' latest album RTJ3, although not cracking my desert island discs — which is reserved for mostly progressive rock — very good and very listenable. Many of the lyrics took the spotlight, crafted as they are for our political and cultural times. An album of revolt, resistance, defiance and hope for the underdog, it won't sit well with The Donald or The Hillary, with bottom lines, with shareholders or with the ruling class for that matter; I imagine Killer Mike and El-P would consider the album a failure if it did. When you choose the lesser of two evils, they rap, the Devil's still going to win. So take it from me, far from a rap devotee, this RTJ Run The World Tour is a show to see.
The weekend starts a bit early tonight with the very aptly titled Thursday Night Bluegrass who play ... well, bluegrass, and often on Thursday nights. Fortunately for you, it is Thursday so head to The Jam in Arcata to get your bluegrass in and to warm up for the weekend. Music starts around 9 p.m. and it's free tonight.
It's hard to believe that it's already/only been 10 years of homegrown music and art taking place on the stage at the Arcata Playhouse. To celebrate its tin/aluminum anniversary, the Playhouse has two nights of special shows to mark the occasion. Tonight at 8 p.m. Home Cookin' will take the stage with originals and some rock standards courtesy of Joyce Hough, Tim Gray, Gary Davidson and Fred Neighbor. Recognizing the Playhouse gives back too much to the community to fully mention here, you can give thanks by showing up tonight for the festivities for only $15. In addition to the music, there will be cocktails and light food paired up with a silent auction. Across town, over at Humboldt Brews, dancin' and sweatin' is on the bill tonight courtesy of local bands Diggin' Dirt and The Velvet Touch who'll be playing tonight for $10. Funky beats and touches of soul will be served up starting at 9 p.m.
For a European sound, you'll find some Italian mandolin and guitar music at Cafe Mokka around 8 p.m. from The Fusilli Brothers. It's a free show and all ages, so bring the kiddos along. It's night two of the Arcata Playhouse's anniversary celebrations and the entertainment is grounded by the Tim Randles Trio with special guests co-founder Jackie Dandeneau, Chris Parreira, Siena Nelson, Joanne Rand, Rob Diggins, Patrick Cleary, Julie Fulkerson, Gregg Moore and Bandemonium, among others. Night two of this party starts at 8 p.m. and has a $20 ticket price. At Humboldt Brews, Marmalade Sky presents a Grateful Dead Dance Party that will immerse you in the sounds and sights of the Dead, and all for only $3. 9 p.m.
We've got three radically different shows happening today for our day of rest. An earlier show at the Arcata Lutheran Church starts around 2 p.m. with The Chamber Players of the Redwoods. You'll find this a concert of woodwind, brass and piano music. It's free but donations won't be turned away. Then at 7 p.m. tonight, the Siren's Song Tavern in Eureka hosts two out-of-town bands and two locals. I'm not sure on the order but you'll hear music from The Cambrian Explosion, who are in the psych rock vein and out of Portland, and Paleons, who are from a bit further South (Eugene) and fall in that same general genre. Local instrumental stoner rock will be delivered by Ultramafic and then some "psych rock love punk" from SoHum brought to you by Hera Has A Heart to round things out. It's $7 for this pysch smorgasbord. Up on Humboldt State University's campus, AS Presents Run the Jewels (more information above) who've been receiving great reviews off of their latest album RTJ3 and are on their first full-scale headlining tour. RTJ, comprised of Killer Mike and El-P, will be hitting the Van Duzer stage tonight with support by "Brainfeeder-affiliated hip hop experimentalist The Gaslamp Killer, mysterious underground MC Spark Master Tape and longtime Killer Mike collaborator CUZ." The rap odyssey starts at 8 p.m. and has a $30 ticket price, unless you're an HSU student, in which case $20 will get you in.
A special invite-only house gig is happening as a part of Gregg Moore's Crib Concerts this evening. Cross-country fiddle and guitar duo Hoot and Holler are in Humboldt and happy to be playing an intimate show. To find out more details on how you hear this old time/Americana duo, drop a line to email@example.com to R.S.V.P. and get on the invite list. If you are lucky enough to get to this one, it has a sliding scale of $10 to $25, though I'm not hip enough to know the exact start time.
Grammy Award-winning Humboldt favorite Steel Pulse is at The Mateel tonight. One of the musical groups who joined the Rock against Racism campaign in the U.K. when immigrants and non-white citizens were living in fear of the far-right as it amassed power, this group still lends its voice and its sound to the same cause. The RAR campaign was back in 1978 and you'd be forgiven for assuming that in the intervening 39 years the world had gotten beyond shaking in its collective boots at the mention of "the other." Continuing on in 2017, Steel Pulse's music encourages young people to reject racism and fear wherever they may lurk. "We stand against violence in all its forms. And poverty is a form of violence," says David Hinds. "It may sound like a cliché by now but we believe in love and justice, living in harmony with one another and nature. Our mission is to bring hope into the hearts of people, that things can get better if we unite to do the right thing ... We need to respect each other." I couldn't have said it any better. Get tickets early for this 9 p.m. show and you'll be guaranteed to get in and even save $5. Otherwise, you're rolling the dice and tickets at the door are $40.
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. He gets out to live music all the time. #AlternativeFact