Trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in the Friendly City! With a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool, that stands for pool. We've surely got trouble! Right here in the Friendly City. Gotta figger out a way to keep the young ones moral after school! Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble...
... with apologies to Meredith Willson'sThe Music Man.
While the scamming "Professor" Harold Hill of The Music Man warned of the danger of billiards corrupting the youth of River City, and offered musical instruments as an alternative, the town fathers of Fortuna (well, City Manager Duane Rigge and Police Chief Kris Kitna, anyway), don't seem troubled by the pool tables at Out of the Sun, the youth hangout just off Fortuna's main drag. They're worried about rock 'n' roll, heavy metal and the troublesome rhythms of hip hop.
Last week, city officials sent a letter to Tina and John Taylor, owners of the indoor game space/pizza parlor/music venue, terminating Out of the Sun's permit to have bands play there.
"The city realizes that you and your husband have taken numerous steps to keep night time activities to a level where young people can have fun and yet the neighborhood is not seriously impacted," the letter notes. "Nonetheless, a determination has been made by the city manager in consultation with the chief of police that continuing problems arising from the nature of the bands, the numbers of young people involved, community complaints and required police intervention has reached a level that cannot continue."
The Taylors, who have two kids, ages 7 and 11, opened Out of the Sun about a year and a half ago, at first just as a game room. A DJ dance thrown for the local middle school was followed by a request by a band to play there. "Next thing we got a call from another teenage band from Fortuna wanting to do a show. We started doing it once a month, and the demand grew," said Tina.
She sees the venue as an alternative for kids who might otherwise by getting into trouble at private parties. "We don't sell beer or wine here. We don't allow anyone to attend our shows if we think they're intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. When we created this place, we wanted to make a place for kids to come, a safe environment. A lot of them have nowhere else to go. A place like this keeps them away from drinking and doing drugs. For some of them it's an escape from drugs and violence at home."
Word spread beyond the local bands that played there. A number of touring bands prefer playing all-ages shows, and not a lot of venues offer the opportunity, particularly for heavy metal and hip hop.
"After we'd done a few shows we were contacted by the city and told we needed a permit," Tina recalled. "We went down to apply, but they didn't really have one. The police and the city worked together to create a music permit for us. It says we can have live music up until 11 p.m., and sets a few other conditions. It doesn't say anything about how many shows we can have or what nights."
Recently the venue has hosted music nights Fridays and Saturdays to great success. Perhaps too much success.
"I think you could say they outgrew their carrying capacity," said Liz Shorey, of Fortuna's Planning Dept. "We sympathize," she added, noting that she has taken her own teens there and found the place safe - "a good thing."
While Out of the Sun is in a commercial district (right downtown, in fact), there are neighbors - a house right next door - and you know what happens when kids get together. The neighbors complain. Or at least one neighbor complained.
"We've never had a fight or any problems aside from a few times when the neighbors asked us to turn it down," said Tina. "We've always been respectful and adjusted the P.A. when that happened. The main complaint seems to be the number of kids here. For our biggest shows we had about 150 people. We're 3,000 sq. ft., so the fire department rated us for 299 capacity."
The kids? They're ready to take action. The word went out immediately on MySpace and over the radio. A flyer making the rounds proclaims, "Save Our Scene. Storm the halls of power!" and suggests kids show up at the Fortuna City Council meeting Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m., to demand the resumption of live music at "Fortuna's only all-ages venue."
Shorey notes that, "If there were mitigating measures, we might reconsider," the permit, but she is not sure that a youth protest "is the most effective way" to facilitate that.
By chance, Monday's city council meeting is the first that will be broadcast live on cable (Access Humboldt Channel 10), so you can watch if you can't make it down. They're even having a little open house/reception an hour before the meeting, complete with refreshments, to show off improved lighting, acoustic panels and an upgraded sound system. Hmmm, do you suppose they could have shows there?
We're already up to the fourth show in the Arkley Center's season, this time bringing in the classic Motown vocal group,The Temptations, for shows on Saturday and Sunday, March 3 & 4. What does one need to say about the group that sang "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and many other hits at the height of the Motown Era in the mid-'60s? That then shifted to psychedelic soul for numbers like "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball of Confusion," "Just My Imagination" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" in the early '70s? You might wonder what the current Tempts have do with the combo that formed 45 years ago in Detroit. There are a couple of constants in the band's history: They've always had five stellar voices - and the baritone of Otis Williams has always been one of them.
This Saturday at Humboldt Brews, it's the multi-faceted Absynth Quintet plus the John Howland Trio, who I saw there about a month ago opening for Nucleus. What does JHT play? "I'd say it's songwriterish, but we also tend to jam, like Ben Harper and Jack Johnson mixed with an Allman Brothers kind of thing," said Howland calling from his girlfriend's place in Berkeley. Guitarist Howland and drummer Brad Harbidge left Berklee (the school of music) for Berkeley a while back. The band plays regularly at the Starry Plough, and lately they've been trading shows with Humboldt bands, bringing Nucleus down earlier, and soon, Absynth. Want to see Absynth Q in a more intimate setting? They have two gigs at the Lost Whale this coming Wednesday and Thursday.
Also on the jammy side: Raq, a classic jamband from Burlington, Vermont, at Humboldt Brews Friday, March 2. And TapWater, out of San Diego, at Six Rivers Saturday, joined by that local jammy/grassy outfit The Bucky Walters. (The B.W.'s also play Friday at Muddy's, a benefit for the Arcata Educational Farm.)
In the old timey zone we have Wrangletown at Muddy's Hot Cup Saturday, joined by The Trespassers, described by Matt from Wrangletown as "an out-of-town band." He adds: "Should be a fun time considering the boys don't get out too often, just been playing a lot in the hills."
Seattle's hyperactive rockers Iceage Cobra are back at the Alibi Saturday with The Heavy Hearts, another Seattle band, more in the alt. rock vein. Sunday at the Alibi it's a Panache show with Yip-Yip, a strange, synthy electro-pop duo out of Florida, plus The Spiderfriends from McKinleyville.
That same Sunday at the Boiler Room, a hip-hoppy duo from Brooklyn called Bunny Rabbit, whose pink MySpace describes their oeuvre as "healing & easy listening/regional Mexican/melodramatic popular song."
Something different? Earlier Sunday,Eliyahu and Qadimperform traditional Hebrew, Arabic, Greek and Turkish music at Temple Beth El in Eureka.
Coming Monday, March 5, to Six Rivers, swingin' rockabilly by Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics, featuring Deke on his awesome double-necked guitar.
Monday also marks the return of a flash from the past, the Jambalaya Blues Jam, now hosted by the Humboldt Blues Assoc., this week including Andy Widman and Rich Ross on guitars, Dale Cash on bass and Paul DeMark on drums, plus harpist Doug Vanderpool.
The next night at the Jam, Tuesday, Humboldt Free Radio presents two alt. pop bands from the Pac NW: Two Ton Boa from Oly and 31 Knots from Portland. (BTW, the Jam is a full-on bar again.)
Wednesday at the Alibi, another Panache thing -- the return of Japanoisers Green Milk from the Planet Orange, joined by Alt. Tent. recording artists Akimbo, offering a heavy dose of post-hardcore metal madness.
CenterArts has four major shows coming up, with classical pianist Peter Serkin on Thursday March 1, the amazing acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke on Saturday, March 3, and a blast of mostly Texan Americana on Tuesday, March 6, with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Guy Clark and Joe Ely in something they call a "songwriter-in-the-round" performance. Sorry, but that last one has been sold out for a while. The others are not.
Next Thursday, choose between a CenterArts show with Celtic neo-trad band Altan at the Van Duzer; a Passion show with the all-star jamband Banyan at Mazzotti's (with Steve Kimock, Stephen Perkins from Jane's Addiction, bassist Rob Wasserman and Willie Waldman, who plays drums for Snoop Dog); and a People Productions swing/blues show at the Indigo with Little Charlie and the Nightcats.
The people of People Prod. will also be in Eureka Thursday, March 1, to appear before the Planning Commission regarding the Reggae permit. Both sides in the SoHum not-so-civil war are marshaling forces for the meeting - to what end, it's hard to say. I'm thinking the real decision comes the following Monday, March 5, in Judge Watson's court, when he takes on the Mateel's request for an injunction to stop Reggae Rising. Check the dueling fests' websites and you'll see that both have announced teasers for tentative lineups. For links and more on all this check rotrblog.blogspot.com. One love.