If you're familiar with Cory McAbee, it's probably because of The Billy Nayer Show, a 20-year collaboration between songwriter/autoharpist/filmmaker McAbee and drummer Bobby Lurie. By mutual agreement, Billy is currently on hold; both musicians have moved on to new adventures. For McAbee, it's a semi-solo project he calls Captain Ahab's Motorcycle Club. McAbee says the name signals a juxtaposition of outsider imagery with Ahab, a man "outside the law — a total outsider, a Quaker with a heart full of vengeance fighting God and nature."
The "club" he explained, is "a global collaborative, beginning with graphic design — there are artists all over the world doing chapter patches — that's the beginning. And I wrote a collection of songs with simple tracks, mostly autoharp." The components are posted online for free download and manipulation. "People are able to do their own mixes or contribute additional tracks," he continued. "While I'm on the road I perform to these mixes."
The end goal is a feature film with the working title, The Embalmer's Tale, based on the story of Abe Lincoln's embalmer. He secured funding from the Sundance New Frontier Story Lab for the film, which will have its own songs and music, again open-sourced and collaborative. "The music I'm performing now is for the clubs and to get people working together."
You're invited to join the club by coming to hear Captain Ahab's Motorcycle Club on a tour with That 1 Guy that hits Humboldt Brews Tuesday, May 7. That 1 Guy is Mike Silverman, a one-man band based around a mind-boggling instrument Silverman made himself called the Magic Pipe. It's somewhat akin to a stand-up bass, but made with metal pipes and with sounds run through intricate electronic effects. The title of his spring tour, "An Evening of Musical Magical Wonder the Likes of Which Ye Haven't Yet Seen," pretty much says it all. As McAbee explained, "It's an amazing piece," incorporating video projections triggered by the Magic Pipe. This all may sound strange, but trust me, this will be a show you will not forget.
Looking for variety? That other campus station, KRFH, presents its annual music mini-fest, Lixxapalooza, on Friday in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room, showcasing a dozen all-local bands, most of them unfamiliar to me. It starts at 5 p.m. with Kyle followed (supposedly in this order) by G.G., La Musique Diabolique, Green & Lilac, Buddy Reed, Table Salt, Spirit Makers, Am I Wrong, Sleepin' Jesus and The Dudes, Diggin' Dirt, Farmhouse Odyssey and Liquid Kactus. If you want to come late to support your friends, keep in mind that until the last two, each act gets a half hour. KRFH fave Farmhouse Odyssey goes on at 10 p.m. The funky Liquid Kactus, the station's unofficial house band, starts at 11 p.m. Tune in online at krfh.net — the whole thing will be streamed live.
Friday's "Finals Freakout" at the Arcata Theatre Lounge is a triple bill with Lorenza Simmons and Bianca Mankai from Vidagua, the awesome funk 'n' soul big band Motherlode and Naïve Melodies, Humboldt's premiere Talking Heads cover band.
Portland band of the week: Pierced Arrows, playing Thursday at the Alibi with local "mega pop" trio The Wild Lungs. Pierced Arrows features the husband/wife guitar/bass team Fred and Toody Cole from the legendary PDX band Dead Moon. It was an influential force in the dark, punk/country alt. rock world from 1987 until 2006, when the band disbanded, then reformed with new drummer Kelly Halliburton and a new name.
Portland-based soul rock trio Otis Heat plays at Blue Lake Casino Friday. The band's explanation of its name seems slightly mythic. It traces the band history to a 2008 car crash and the rescue that followed, undertaken by "an elusive drifter named Otis Heat." Supposedly, singer-bassist Sean O'Neill ran into guitarist Mike Warner (or vice versa) and they ended up in adjacent hospital beds, discovered a mutual interest in funky groove rock and formed a band, naming it after their savior. True or not, it's a good story, and the band sounds pretty good too.
Saturday, the Wave shifts into tribute mode with Silver Hammer, my favorite band in Saturday's Rhody Parade, who rocked The Point float with Fab Four tunes circa 1964. (The band also draws on the rest of the Beatles' awesome songbook.)
And speaking of tributes, Mojo Child, a Doors tribute out of Redding, lights your fire Friday and Saturday at Cher-Ae Heights.
Between the name and the fact that I was introduced to the band by Dead publicist/historian Dennis McNally, I assumed Boris Garcia was another Dead-ish jamband. Jam is certainly an element, but there are also shades of cosmic country/Americana with some fine pedal steel, a touch of jamgrass and some straight-ahead guitar rock — and the songwriting's good too. Check the band out Thursday at Humboldt Brews after a set by local jamrockers The Rezonators.
Thursday at the Logger Bar, Bayou Swamis guitarist Jeff Landen goes solo, shifting toward the blues, especially when playing his new (to him) Weissenborn lap guitar, a slip slider's dream.
We've delved into the history of Jerry Joseph before: A one-time local, he relocated at least a couple of times, forming Little Women and Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons along the way. He's currently on tour with Jackmormon drummer Steve Drizos and Walter Salas-Humara, a founding member of New York indie band The Silos, now working solo. Expect stellar songwriting all around. Their tour brings them to the Jambalaya Saturday.
Stoner folk singer/songwriter Todd Snider plays Sunday (Cinco de Mayo) at Humboldt Brews, joined by members of Great American Taxi. The pairing should come as no surprise to Snider fans since GAT backed him on last year's Time as We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, Todd's tribute to one of his music heroes. That record came out at around the same time as Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, a collection of Snider originals, so expect a multi-faceted set list. Also on the tour, Texas-born, Nashville-based fiddler/guitarist Amanda Shires.
Bassist Drew Mohr is one of those guys who plays in so many bands, well, he loses track of how many. His latest upcoming gig report includes a return visit to the Jambalaya by his latest, The Soulsapiens, on Thursday, with the band's inspiration, Matt 'n' Adam, spinning old soul to open. Friday, again at the Jam, it's Zigzilla and The Serial Thrillas, a hip hop thing with Zach "Zigzilla" Lehner from Area Sound rapping and Lauren Smith supplying more vocals (Drew on bass). Sunday, Mad River Brewery has a multi-band Cinco de Mayo show with The Vanishing Pints incongruously playing punky Irish tunes, a resurrected Papa Houli and The Fleas bringing back that tropical uke/ska/reggae/rock, and Drew playing in the pan band Steel Standing.
Speaking of steel pan, the Humboldt Calypso Band plays its year-end concert Saturday night at the Van Duzer, part of a showcase for the percussion portion of HSU's vibrant music department. Also on the bill: the World Percussion Group with traditional West African drumming and Cuban folkloric music, and the HSU Percussion Ensemble playing a dizzyingly eclectic set including a piece by John Cage and a Mr. Bungle cover.
If you've been following the CR brouhaha, you know that that school's music program is on the chopping block, in particular the performance portion. Is it worth saving? See (and hear) for yourself Tuesday when the College of the Redwoods Jazz Orchestra plays big band swing tunes and breaks up into smaller ensembles for cool jazz for its end of term concert on Tuesday at CR's brand spanking new Performing Arts Theater. Is music important? I think so.