Some of my luckier friends informed me how awesome this recent Desert Trip Festival was down in the hotlands of California. They shared because they know I'm a music fan and this festival had some of my all time favorites (Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Roger Waters) but mostly they were just rubbing it in my face that I missed this event of a lifetime. To be honest, I'm not much of a music festival guy — assuming I can afford tickets in the first place — as they tend to be too crowded, sometimes too hot and often too douchey, thanks to, you know, people. But this did get me thinking about what else I could have asked for in a festival lineup.
A day or so later, I was at the bank and struck up a conversation about said festival with an employee. We eventually got to speaking about how she was actually on her way down to Sacramento with her 20-something year old daughter to see a concert that weekend. She wasn't particularly enthused about the headline, but was glad to get to spend time with her daughter. I started to wonder what concerts my daughter would want to see — she's barely a teenager — when she's a year or two older, and if she would want her parents to come with her (doubtful). I then started to even wonder if she would even want to see a live concert. I don't mean to generalize and sound like an old man here — I do — but she and much of her generation interact with music as a digital and oftentimes disposable product (they're not the first). Music exists now almost exclusively in the realm of YouTube and Spotify for many. Songs and artists provide short-term enjoyment which then disappear after a shelf life of about two weeks to be replaced by the next hit song. I don't mean to sound too pessimistic about all of this — I do — and I realize these are age-old observations one generation makes about the next, but if one doesn't build long-term relationships with musicians, songwriters and bands, why would one travel anywhere to hear them play live?
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she and her friends will get the bug and get into live music the way many of their parents have. Sure, they may not follow a band around Grateful Dead style but maybe they'll get hooked on feeling the air vibrate the way their ancestors did. I hope so. And I know when they're ready, Keith Richards will be ready for them.
Up in sunny Blue Lake — even through it rains occasionally — you'll find one of Humboldt's longer-running bluegrass bands The Compost Mountain Boys plucking away at the Mad River Brewery Tasting room around 6 p.m. The show is free, but the beer is not. That's still not a bad deal. In Arcata, a band hailing from Europe (East Bohemia? Prague? I'm not totally clear) will stop by Humboldt Brews to play some tunes and plant some trees. With the fitting name Please the Trees, these folks will no doubt be blown away by the ancient beauties we take for granted on a daily basis. Supporting Robert Plant last year (Plant + Trees?), PTT will be doing a bit more than just jamming in Arcata. In each city it plays, the group plants a tree and records the photographic evidence on Facebook. The challenge may be finding space to plant a tree here. PTT will be supported by Annie Girl and the Flight around 9:30 p.m. for this $10 show.
As any of us with kids know, Halloween, ahem, Samhain is right around the corner. Helping us celebrate this old Celtic end-of-summer holiday are the Crested Hens, who will be playing Celtic tunes and Celtic-inspired originals at Gallagher's Irish Pub in Eureka at 5:30 p.m. for free. Music from what we may call the Western Edge of Western Music will be performed at The Old Steeple in Ferndale tonight at 7:30 p.m. Led Kaapana and Da Ukelele Boyz bring us some feel-good-sand-between-the-toes tunes from the Hawaiian islands. A master of the slack key guitar, Led has four Grammy nominations under his belt and will be bringing us some musical sunshine this evening. Order a Mai Tai at The Palace before (or after) the show for the full experience. A $30 ticket price for this one. Local musical jack-of-all-trades Chris Parreira tells me that New Orleans-based musician Luke Winslow-King is stopping by the North Coast Repertory Theater tonight with his trio at 8 p.m. With a vast knowledge of Mississippi Delta blues, trad jazz, and some hints of rock 'n' roll, LWK (as the press release abbreviates) is out on the road supporting his recent release of I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always. Sounds a bit bluesy, don't it? $15 will get you in to this one. Also at 8 p.m., the Real Vocal String Quartet will be playing two nights at the Arcata Playhouse. A Bay Area based quartet — as the name implies — that counts classical, jazz, and rock as influences, will be performing songs from its newest release, Slacker Ridge. The quartet will also be sneaking in a few Led Zeppelin and Pixies covers, so that should be a real treat from members who have recorded with and played with Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, Dave Grisman, Billy Joel, Wilco and Donovan. $18 ticket prices, and if you can't catch 'em tonight, you've got another chance Saturday. The Jam in Arcata hosts Life During Wartime, which should give you Heads fans a tip off. Based out of Portland — from what I can tell — this Talking Heads tribute band is heavily influenced by Stop Making Sense and occasionally covers that live album. Will it do so tonight? There's only one way to find out. Show time's around 9 p.m. and cover charge is TBA. Another band pulling a two-night residency here in Humboldt and smartly so, may I add, are favorites Melvin Seals and JGB who will be at Humboldt Brews around 9:30 p.m. Anyone from the extended Dead family is always wise to make a trip through Humboldt when on the road, and if you've seen Melvin and JGB before, you know you should probably snatch up a $30 ticket before this one sells out.
Did you miss the Real Vocal String Quartet at The Arcata Playhouse last night? Did you miss Melvin Seals and JGB at Humboldt Brews? Good news is both groups are playing again tonight. Same Humboldt time, same Humboldt venue, and same Humboldt price (see above). Oyster Bay, New York, groove-jammers TAUK are in town tonight and I've been hearing some buzz about the band from some of my friends in that scene. It's instrumental rock-fusion of sorts sneaking in some ambient, hip hop and progressive rock into the sound. My pal Tomek of Helekinetic, who is opening up the show, tells me (if memory serves correct) that TAUK is "kind of a softer STS9 with some funky shit and jazz touches a la Steely Dan." Sounds cool to me. Doors open at 9 p.m. and $20 will get you in for this groovefest at the Arcata Theatre Lounge.
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 email@example.com.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. He's never been to a proper music festival.