Here we are, meeting together on the shores of the third season in the northern hemisphere, freshly appointed in our various positions, and shaking off the languorous coma of summertime to gather the power needed to squeeze every drop of warm pleasure out of the encroaching autumn. Our eyes are tuned to the angle of sun as it fires hook shots of shielded warmth and light off of the vulgar terrain to remind us of the passing zenith of heavenly summer. Gather around, my friends, and we will all sing a song of the times ahead, where mulchy forest and browning apples send poems of decay to the straggling blackberries on the vine, feeding us all with drunk and overripe sugars before the hard frost kicks in. Come home and we will all lay out, warm in our fat coats from the dead summer. Come home and we will listen to music that's in the air everywhere.
Thursday, Autumnal Equinox
A lot of fiddling is sure going down this week, starting with Hanneke Cassel's show at the Arcata Playhouse this evening at 7 p.m. Cassel is a Berklee College of Music alum whose musical collage is informed heavily by the sounds of Scotland and Cape Breton. She is joined onstage by her worthy collaborators, fiddler Jenna Moynihan and guitarist Keith Murphy. ($18, $15 students, members and seniors). Elsewhere in the 95521, you can find the soulful roots rock and folk country stylings of The Coffis Brothers, a group of fresh-faced fraternal troubadours whose sound harkens back to the radio age of innocent longing when Buddy Holly was still alive. If that sounds like a thing worth visiting, head over to Humbrews at 8 p.m. If you get there on time, you can enjoy the fantastic opener, Humboldt's own vintage treasure Canary and the Vamp ($18, $15 advance).
I haven't caught a Los Dune Bums show since the pandemic knocked that fine act out of the clubs, so cumbia music has not been in the mix for a while, and for many of us it is sorely missed. I have good news if you feel this way, too, because there's a new homegrown cumbia act ready to propel your body in the right direction with the correct gyrations. Makenu is the name and the location is the Miniplex at 9 p.m. ($10). DJ Amaru Shia will also be on deck to serve up beats at your pleasure.
The age of the supper club may be long gone and over (except for scattered portions of the Midwest) but the Arcata Veteran's Hall has got something tonight resembling that formula of dinner and entertainment. Two Guys with Guitars is an act that covers all its bases in the name, and there will be a taco bar and booze bar to handle the rest of the foundation of your personal Maslowian pyramid of needs. The music is free, but the food and drink have a price tag, and 6 p.m. is the kick-off.
I mentioned earlier that there's a lot of fiddling going down this week, and I now stand and deliver upon that promise to you. Alasdair Fraser is not a, but rather the Scottish fiddler in the world today. He and California cellist Natalie Haas are monsters of the traditional string scene, and if you want to hear the old tyme rags done right, come down to the Old Steeple tonight at 7:30 p.m., pony up the dough ($25, $30 advance) and get yourself a taste.
A half hour later over at the Miniplex, you can find the triumphant return of one of Ellis Wallace's bands, formerly of Arcata, now located in Portland, Oregon, like the gangly frontman himself. I'm of course talking about Drooler, a band that deals in noisy rock confessionals and indie power chord romanticism. Local trio Sugar Boys opens, a group whose songs are a little quieter but with better lyrics, so it's a win/win if you are a fan of dirty sneaker rock in general. It's worth noting this is the final Drooler show before Ellis relocates to NYC, so come wish him well ($10).
Sunny War (what a name!) is, in addition to being a fine guitarist and singer-songwriter, a Los Angeles-based community activist, organizer, and person in good standing regarding any genuine leftist bona fides. A woman of action as well as words and music. You can catch her tonight at the Old Steeple at 7:30 p.m. ($30, $25 advance).
Monday and Tuesday
I have packed some of the other days with shows in this, the first Setlist of the autumn, knowing that today and tomorrow would be a ghost town. I have tried to think of musical things to say about this incoming season of gentle decay, when the lowering sun curls the leaves into beautiful, brown and florid snowflakes, but I have been coming up dry. Blame it on the libidinous downshift of my circadian rhythm, I guess. As far as music goes, I suggest you stick to the blessing of memory for these nights. Remember that Saroyan quote, about how "The person of a man may go, but the best part stays. It stays forever," and apply it to a favorite concert from days before.
Three shows tonight to make up for the dead space in the preceding 48 hours. In quick succession, here's the goods: Tré Burt, a signee on the late John Prine's Oh Boy Records, is bringing his songs to the Old Steeple tonight at 7:30 p.m. ($30, $25 advance). Up in Arcata at 8 p.m., you have two different acts both going for the same price ($20). Le Vent du Nord, aka The North Wind, is a Quebecois quintet that brings the North American French folk sound to the rest of us heathens in the anglosphere. They will be hitting the boards at the Arcata Playhouse tonight for your listening pleasure and $2 will be deducted from the admission for members, students and seniors.
Finally, over at Humbrews you can catch Making Movies, an Americana band, if one accepts the premise that the entirety of the Southern Hemisphere portion of the Americas are included prominently in the mix. In other words, expect some deep grooves and Latin melodies.
Collin Yeo (he/him) can see the skull beneath the skin but still uses a daily moisturizer. He lives in Arcata.