Music » The Setlist

In the Beginning

Arcata, birthplace of brilliance



This week brings us the goodness of two women who launched from Arcata to find smashing success elsewhere, and are returning to play hometown shows; plus, an anniversary of A-town's delivery from a Footloose-like existence. Read on...


Local girl returns #1

Rose Armin-Hoiland presents "Gotta Have a Song" — her first show in Arcata since relocating to Oakland in 2012 — at the Arcata Playhouse. Born and raised in Arcata, Armin-Hoiland sang before she talked and began performing in choirs and musical theatre shortly thereafter. As a teenager, she formed a jazz trio with high school friends and, at age 15, started a four-year run as a headliner at Arcata's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. At age 18, Armin-Hoiland began collaborating with local musicians, including Darius Brotman and Aber Miller, to play clubs, weddings, theatres and benefits. During all this, Armin-Hoiland longed to join the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir — a goal she achieved three years ago. The choir leaves for a three-country European tour this July and the Playhouse event is the main fundraiser for her trip. "Gotta Have a Song," mixes soul, jazz and funk, and features musicians from both Humboldt County and the Bay Area, including Aber Miller, Drew Mohr, Miles Lathan and Joel Armin-Hoiland. Tickets are $21 general, $16 members, and the show is all ages. Advance tickets on sale at Wildberries.


Local girl returns #2

Remember when we talked about this show a few weeks ago? To recap, expect emotional and startling jazz standards from the 1930s to 1950s interpreted by singer Brisa Roché with Steve Smith on piano and Baron Wolfe on bass. Roché was born in Arcata and raised by an artist mother and adventurer father. She left home with her guitar at 16 to bask in the glory days of Seattle grunge, traded her acoustic for an electric and began broadening her repetoire. After the death of her father, Roché moved to Paris and plunged into the masculine jazz world as a bandleader and frontwoman, cutting her teeth five nights a week in the stone "caves" of St. Germain, where she was discovered by Blue Note and signed to EMI in 2004. She has collaborated with Nick Zinner (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Rosemary Standley (Moriarty), Toby Dammit (Iggy Pop) and the renowned King Khan. Show at 8 p.m., doors at 7:30 p.m. at the Arcata Playhouse Tickets at $15 general, $13 members and students, and are available at Wildberries or online at

In which we celebrate Arcata's return to the light

Gather 'round, children and transplants, and let us tell you of the dark days of yesteryear, 2001 to 2003 to be precise, when the fair city of Arcata was under siege by a police chief who dreamed of creating his very own Bomont — a town where dancing was outlawed and live music was a thing wrought from demon hands. The citizens of Arcata despaired of ever knowing the catharsis of being in a dark bar delivering themselves to the gods of rock 'n' roll.

And then, lo! The heavy-handed police chief resigned and Alibi owner Justin Ladd hied to City Hall to acquire a live music permit — and it was good. Thus, Ian Hiler began booking bands — and it was also good. 'Twas Thursday, June 12, 2003, that the Alibi hosted its first night of live music, with mountain-metal masters The Hitch and garage kings The Letdown. Exactly one year later, Dragged by Horses opened for the Japanese psych-blues band DMBQ. Now Roshawn Beere and Steve Bohner, former members of The Hitch, and Pablo Midence, former front-man for Dragged by Horses, comprise three-quarters of Lord Ellis (with Andy Sorter filling out the band on electric piano). And it is this very Lord Ellis that opens the 12-year anniversary celebration at the Alibi on Saturday at 11 p.m., $5, 21-and-over.

But these aristocrats of heavy sound are not the only historical artifacts, nay! The past continues to spin into the present. It was on March 18, 2004, that MooM — featuring Colin Begell on guitar and vocals, Andy "Boom Boom" Powell on bass, Ryan Brodie on lap steel and Brian Godwin on drums — debuted at The Alibi. And MooM begat Rasper begat Strix Vega, who descended into the Alibi on June 25, 2005, and it was most wonderfully good. In 2007, Jay Forbes, he of the perpetual smile, replaced Godwin and the band continues to bless the faithful and uninitiated alike with spacy instrumentals and heartwrenching alt-folk. And it is this very Strix Vega that will shepherd the anniversary celebration into the wee hours, the magic hours, the hours at which we can only imagine that bitter old police chief tossing in his bed, nightmares of people having fun undoing him. And thus we give thanks unto Hiler for serving as the tireless conduit to so much fantastic, heavy, wild, beautiful, rockin' bands all these years.

Ever onward...

An instrumental cause

The good people at the Sanctuary want to start the Humboldt Folk Music School, so they're throwing a benefit featuring the divine and beautiful Mad River Rose, Kinetic Paranormal Society, Belles of the Levee, Bayou Swamis and Norton Subtonic with a community potluck at 6 p.m., performances starting at 7 p.m. Admission is a sliding scale donation of $5 to $20, all ages.

Your principal source of funk

In non-Arcata shows, hey, Blue Lake! Unwind your minds and rethread your heads 'cause Motherlode's bringing the funk to The Logger Bar. For free. Riffs laid from 9 p.m. on. Be 21-or-over.


Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to [email protected].

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