In the event you have been dead for the past year, there is an election coming up next month. We're the most No. 1 country on the goddamn planet but we need to be made great again (go figure). To make America great again — again — we have to vote. And to get many of you to vote, many others of us have to beg your lazy asses to do it. In the old days, it just took booze or chicken. Nowadays, some hope music will do the trick.
I had the chance to speak over the phone with Ani DiFranco, who is encouraging music fans — and anyone who will listen — to Vote Dammit, as her tour is so aptly named. She performs for us in Humboldt [more below] this weekend, but her goal is more than to entertain us, more than to get us thinking — she wants to get us to vote. "I feel like if we all participated, we'd have a different country and government," she said. "Incrementally, we can fix government." I tend to worry about the quality of voters as opposed to the quantity, but these are, in a sense, two sides of the same coin.
Ani is not one to mask her political sentiments, as you fans know. "I sympathize with those who loathe the two-party system," she said, "and would love to vote my conscience every time, but those opportunities are rare. When I vote, I do so for the collective, not for myself." In case you were unsure of her leanings, she added, "Preventing Trump is important for the collective."
She is convinced that as voter ranks swell, the country will become more progressive. The thinking is that a large swath of those who don't vote are those who are most often left behind by our political system: the young, the working poor, minorities and "others" who generally skew to the political left. Whether or not one agrees, it's hard to argue that too many people are currently voting. Or that we should spend precious resources making it more difficult.
Ani also mentioned the importance of down ballot races and local elections. "I'm encouraging people to take all the elections this year seriously, not just the presidency, which is all you hear about in the media."
Are music fans and show-goers somehow less engaged in the political system? Perhaps. Maybe they skew younger and more cynical and therefore less likely to vote. Are Ani DiFranco fans a part of this crowd? Maybe Ani thinks so, but having folks on hand at her show to register voters — she will — can't hurt. Again, I worry about the quality of our voters (not to sound fascist or nuthin') but raising people's critical thinking capabilities is no easy task, nor should it be a requirement to vote. So I can't see a problem with taking the first step and encouraging others to take advantage of a constitutional right. A lot of us vote emotionally anyway, and what's more emotional than [good] music? Maybe Ani's onto something here. So check her out, and for Jah's sake, vote, dammit. If you have extra time, I ask you to vote smartly. Dammit.
David of the Arcata Playhouse is excited to have Patty Larkin in town tonight at 8 p.m. This acclaimed-singer-songwriter will play songs from 2013's Still Green, which shines a spotlight on her powerful, honest voice. Hear them live tonight for $18. This month's Elevate concert at Humboldt Brews will feature electronic master Sacha Robotti from San Francisco's Dirtybird Records. Weather aside, wear clothes you don't mind sweating in as local DJs Marjo Lak, BaggaDonuts, and Jsun will be starting off this 9 p.m. show. Bring $15 to get in.
Many of us are familiar with the joyous sounds of Bandemonium from parades and festivals. Bandleader Gregg Moore spent decades in Europe composing for theaters and circuses before returning to Humboldt. Hear these worldly roots via Calliope at the Westhaven Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. You'll hear sounds that "accompany the pratfalls of the clowns, the tension of the tightrope walker, the coordination of the jugglers and the agility of the acrobats" so your imagination will get a full workout for $5-$7. With no circus influence I'm aware of, local Pink Floyd tribute Money (myself included) will be in the Wave Lounge in Blue Lake Casino at 9 p.m. playing hits and psychedelic deep cuts for free. For something a bit funkier and rollicking, funk masters Motherlode will be joined by fellow locals The Velvet Touch at The Jam tonight at the same time for $10. Eureka's Siren's Song Tavern hosts Roland Rock and International Trash, who I'm told are not only both local bands, but both bands with a father on guitar and his son on the drums. That doesn't happen every night. This one also starts at 9 p.m., cover TBA. Arcata's keepin' the funk flame burning tonight as Humboldt Brews has The Funk Hunters on the stage with special guests DJ Tyler and Dubcowboy around 10 p.m. for this $15 show.
The Local Beer Bar in Eureka isn't a normal venue for music, so it is perhaps fitting that it's hosting a not-normal musician tonight. The "One-Man-Psychedelic-Acoustiloop musician" also known as Holus Bolus will be creating the sound of a full band with only his guitar, drum-kit, and electronic helpers. He'll start the sounds around 7 p.m. for what I'm thinking might be a free show. In the event you missed Calliope last night, it makes an appearance at the Fortuna Monday Club around 7:30 p.m. for just $10. You'll find some "anti-hipster" sounds — which the goddamn hipsters will eventually appropriate — with locals The Sturgeons, who release their first album tonight. Joining them for $5 at The Miniplex in Arcata at 9:30 p.m. are fellow locals Peach Purple.
As mentioned above, singer/songwriter/activist/hell-of-a-nice-lady Ani DiFranco hits Arcata tonight at the Van Duzer Theater around 8 p.m. She'll play some of your favorite songs of hers, and she told me some new songs from her upcoming release called Binary (I hope I heard that right on the phone). Expect some politics, great music and, well, Ani. She's joined by HeadCount, which will be helping people register to vote. $46 for this show tonight. I've been hearing more and more about this new — to me? — genre called country/hip-hop. I won't pretend to be familiar but making their Humboldt County debut tonight at the Mateel in Redway are The Lacs, whose press release claims are the "originators of this now-popular hybrid of music." They are on the road promoting their latest album Outlaw and they'll be joined by southern hip-hop group Hard Target & Crucifix at 9 p.m. A $30 cover charge for this one. In Arcata, The Miniplex has Memphis punk rockers Ex-Cult promoting its new release Negative Growth. Joining this 9:30 p.m. $5 bill is Power, all the way up from Australia. Give the band a nice warm welcome to the Most No. 1 Country in the World.
I was chatting with a friend — and, I feel safe to say, employer — recently about how many Center Arts shows I've mysteriously never gotten the energy up to buy tickets to, and then immediately regretted. Well here's one of them tonight. Brian Wilson — the Brian Wilson — is playing a sold out show at the Van Duzer Theater at 8 p.m. So if you are lucky enough to have tickets to hear him recreate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, feel free to let me know how awesome it was. I'll be listening to it on my headphones wondering why I never bought tickets.
Another talented singer-songwriter hits the Arcata Playhouse tonight. Chris Smither can count Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Jorma Kaukonen as fans, so you know he's got something going on. A lover of folk music and the blues, he plays an intimate show at 8 p.m. for a sliding scale of $15-25 at the Playhouse.
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. America never doesn't stop being the most No. 1.