Music » The Hum

Strings, Hills, Boys and Girls

And a little bit of madness



Well, there went summer, Humboldt! And now we turn to fall, heralded by the rain's return, balmy south winds quickening the pulse and the twang of stringed instruments calling to you like sirens to Odysseus' sailors. Yes, it's that time again. Time for String Thing 5, happening Friday night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Here to tell you about ST5 is event inventor Ryan Roberts, best known for being one-fifth of Absynth Quintet (and four-fifths smartass).

NCJ: Why String Thing? 

RR: This is one of those odd questions that music journalists think are so funny to ask. They are not. Instead of answering it, I will ask myself a more relevant question.

RR: After five years of doing the String Thing, what have you learned about the world of music production?

RR: Glad you asked! When we first started this, we had no idea what it would take to line up bands, schedule the night, take care of riders, insurance — it was a little bit of a learning curve! What I hoped to get out of it was some insight into how the other side of the business worked, the booking, the show production, the ticketing promotion side. And it really has done that — it has made the AQ a more professional band because we know what to expect and what should be expected from us when dealing with some of these bigger festivals and acts.

Also I think we can bring an artist's perceptive to the promotion/production side of things and hopefully do some of the things for the artists and audience that we know sets the table for a enjoyable evening. 

NCJ: Why should AQ fans come out to see this show if they've already seen you guys a hundred times?

RR: Really, have they? I doubt that. What you're asking, I think, is "why go see us?" Well, we practiced, that's always a plus. Second, we're playing all the material off our forthcoming album, which you can't hear anywhere else. We're in love with the material and it's incredibly fun to play. If you're into what we do, it's worth checking out. Plus we will play last, so if you're not into what we do, you can come to the show, see all these great artists and still be home in time to watch Matlock. 

NCJ: Do you ever get tired of your fans being so, so drunk? Asking for a friend.

RR: Never underestimate your audience. 

NCJ: What should people know about the other bands on the bill?

RR: Well, The Dirt Floor Band brings the "throw down" from Mendocino and always gets the crowd stomping those snakes. Lyndsey Battle, with Cory Goldman and Brian Hennesy, just put out an amazing album that really shows what kind of talent we have here in Humboldt. ...Caitlin Jemma and our Weight in Gold are going to bring lovely vocals and good down-home country feeling to the night to get us all in the right mood for love. ...And Chris Parreira, local troubadour, has a special line-up of guests for the "also a stage" stage.

NCJ: Where's AQ headed?

RR: I really have no idea. Every time I think I know where we are headed, it changes direction. I have never been right in the past and there is no indication that will change anytime soon. So, hopefully somewhere good, hopefully somewhere together. I know for sure we are headed somewhere, or maybe not.

Doors for String Thing 5 open at 7 p.m. Cost is $15 at the door with advanced tickets available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries and the ATL Box Office. The show is 21-and-over.


Friday's ST5 alternative is over at the Arcata Playhouse, where a run of high quality shows continues with Bay Area jazz/folk singer and guitar player Meklit Hadero. The Ethiopian-born Hadero grew up in the U.S., attended Yale, then became a musical sensation with the release of her 2010 debut On a Day Like. Meklit has served as an artist-in-residence at New York University, the De Young Museum and the Red Poppy Art House, and completed musical commissions for the San Francisco Foundation and for theatrical productions staged by Brava! For Women in the Arts. Clearly a heavy hitter. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $13 members and available at Wildwood Music, Wildberries, The Works or 822-1575. More info at

Whichever Friday night option you choose, keep in mind that on Saturday the Mateel Community Center once again celebrates bluegrass, country and American roots music at the ninth annual Humboldt Hills Hoedown. Featuring the ever-popular Hot Buttered Rum along with country music icon Lacy J Dalton, plus the fantastically gritty Hillstomp, the always stimulating Rooster McClintock, the delightfully talented Striped Pig String Band and bunches more. The hoedown runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $28 advance, available at local outlets and or $30 at the door. 

When I gave a listen to Portland's The Good Sons' "Stab in the Back," I thought, Ramones. The track "Fuck it All Away" slows things down, as if a heroin-laden Jim Morrison had been added to the mix. I like this kinda stuff, especially when it's happening in the corner of the Alibi, which is exactly where The Good Sons will be Saturday night with Humboldt's Dead Man's Tale. Sample The Good Sons for yourself at Usual Alibi details: Music starts around 11 p.m., cover's $5 and if you're under 21, you shouldn't be there.

Oh, no! Another choice to make! You've got the aforementioned bands at the Alibi, but meanwhile over at the Logger Bar a night of all-girl bands awaits. You've got The Brendas with their all-lady Blue Lake alt country. You've got The Lost Luvs with their all-girl alt surf pop. And you've got Cliterate, the best-named group in the history of all-women Arcata punk bands. This one's free and starts around 9 p.m., so maybe you can begin in Blue Lake and wend your way to the 'bi later on.

Now, perhaps all this bluegrass, alt country, punk rock doesn't appeal to you. "Where," you ask, "Where is my genre-bending force of sound using vocal harmony, traditional instrumentation, roots music, lyrical prowess and diverse artistic collaborations to defy cultural clichés and ignite musical rebellion? Where?!" Don't despair! Because on Sunday, Rising Appalachia and The Human Experience present Soul Visions with Saqi and DJ iWon plus VJ Dumps and June Jackson lighting at Arcata Theatre Lounge. Disclaimer: I have no idea what any of that means. But you might! Read more at Doors open at 9 p.m. Cost is $25 at the door with $20 advanced tickets available at People's Records and This madness is 21-and-over.

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