As perhaps some of you with teenagers are accustomed, I occasionally have the pleasure of listening to pop radio stations while playing chauffeur to a 13-year-old. I know these radio stations serve the vital function of connecting the youth to new music that's coming out and, although the radio industry is not the powerhouse it used to be, it still provides invaluable support to artists. What I have to wonder about — being a cranky old man — is the shelf-life of much of this contemporary music.
A couple of weeks ago I was providing the above-mentioned taxi service and a pop song came on. As usual, I had no idea what the song was or who performed it. My daughter said something like the following in dramatic fashion: "I can't believe they're playing this song on the radio!"
I, too, could not believe "they" would play that song either, but for a different reason. Intrigued, I asked, "What's wrong with them playing this song?" to which my daughter responded, "Well, it's like a year old!"
I decided it wasn't the right time to remind her that part of my living is made by playing songs that are all over a year old — from the 20th century, no less — but what I found interesting was the subtext that these songs are all disposable and quickly provide diminishing returns to my daughter and, I'm assuming, many other fans.
It may be on the top of the charts today, but unlike a Twinkie, the rot sets in immediately. Is longevity the mark of great music? Or even art? Not every song needs to be "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Like a Rolling Stone," but when you have an entire genre that is meant to be discarded and forgotten, is it fair to say it's more of a consumer product than art? Of course, those terms don't have to be mutually exclusive. If you can make art that sells, more power to you. In the meantime, I'll keep the dust off of "Waterloo Sunset" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" because even though they're old, they still have a lot to offer, and always will.
Jazz is the name of the game and you have two very good options. If free and being able to drink local beer during the performance are requirements, then swagger over to the Mad River Brewery to hear locals The Low Notes. They'll start playing around 6 p.m.
If tributes to sax giants Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins are your bag, head over to HSU's Fulkerson Recital Hall at 8 p.m. Ex-Californian Michael Blake and his band Tiddy Boom will be paying homage to above-mentioned legends. With the band name a word play on The Pres' preferred drum beat, expect tunes that take some of the characteristics of each famous horn player and blend them together. Having worked with the Gil Evans Orchestra and Medeski, Martin and Wood, and contributed to the Get Shorty soundtrack, Michael is a player who knows his instrument. $15, $10 for HSU students.
It's Arts Arcata so there will be a lot of music happening all over town. Should you want to scoot up the 299 to Blue Lake after the Arcata happenings, you can see Kingfoot return to the Logger Bar at 9 p.m. for free. Starting off the show will be the fabulous Lyndsey Battle.
In Eureka, you can catch the sonic treat that is Mister Moonbeam open for fellow locals Cliff Dallas & The Death Valley Troubadours at the Palm Lounge. I'll admit it's been a while, but the last time I caught the Moonbeam, he had a sort of psychedelic-powered motorized stage rig that was part Willy Wonka and part Magic School Bus. The country stylings of the Troubadours will follow; it's a free show starting at 9 p.m.
Back in Arcata, you can hear "the best guitarist in Nashville" — so says Guitar World — JD Simo of SIMO, at Humboldt Brews at 9:30 p.m. Backed by equally talented bassist Elad Shapiro and drummer Adam Abrashoff, SIMO is red hot. The guitar takes center stage and delivers the classic '70s tone enshrined in many of our minds. JD had the honor of recording his latest release, Let Love Show the Way, with Duane Allman's guitar, which seems like a great fit. Imagine if Joe Cocker played guitar the way he sang, and sat in with either the Allman Brothers Band or Deep Purple. That might be close to what you're in store for tonight. Joining SIMO is Glorious Sons. Bring $10 to get in.
The Fortuna Monday Club hosts locals Good Company for some toe-tappin' Irish airs and ballads. There will be violins, flutes, pennywhistles, mandolins, and dimbek and bodhran all creating the sounds of the Celtic land. Concert time is at 7:30 p.m. with a $10 cover charge.
The anything-but-Celtic funksters of Motherlode will be delivering a rare free show in the "sea air" of Blue Lake. Around 9 p.m. at the Logger Bar, get your local funk and groove on.
Farm-Aid rockers Insects vs. Robots will be making a stop in Arcata following a gig in Medford and before they hit up San Rafael. Expect songs from their new release Stupid Dreams, and tunes dealing with laser beams and the implosion of the Earth. A perfect soundtrack for an election season. Joining them at Humboldt Brews at 9:30 p.m will be local rockers Cold Blue Water. Last time I saw CBW, they delivered an insanely impressive medley of classic rock standards, and I hear they've returned from recording sessions at Robby Krieger's studio in L.A. $10 gets you in.
I've had the pleasure of meeting Dee Hemingway recently, and from what I've heard from her many fans around town — and recordings online — Dee can sing. Witness it for yourself as she'll be at the Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad with Eric Hann at 5 p.m. performing for free.
Based out of New York City and Seattle, The Tipton Saxophone Quartet will be at The Arcata Playhouse at 8 p.m. Featuring a quartet of saxes (as the name implies), the TSQ is rounded out by drummer Tarik Abouzied, who compliments the horn-heavy lineup. In existence for close to 20 years, the band knows how to deliver an engaging live performance; plus, when's the last time you saw a sax quartet? $18 for this one.
Sticking with the Arcata Playhouse, you can catch cult-status superstar Jonathan Richman tonight at 8 p.m. Jonathan's early work with the Modern Lovers would foreshadow the punk movement, but wouldn't pigeonhole him into that genre in the slightest. Clever, insightful and occasionally goofy lyrics have cemented him into the hearts and minds of millions. You've seen him in Something about Mary — see him in the flesh for $22 at the Playhouse.
One of Humboldt's newest venues — which is landing some pretty impressive acts as of late — The Old Steeple in Ferndale brings you, "all the way out from Iowa", Greg Brown. The singer-songwriter has visited Humboldt County many times, but tonight — assuming you already have a ticket to this sold-out show — you'll have a chance for an intimate performance at 8 p.m.
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. Art gets old, but it never dies.