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Where the Grass is Always Bluer



A couple of weekends ago I got an unexpected call from my old high school friend Akshay, a man of many of talents. A Harvard-trained dental surgeon, he is also one of the more skilled musicians I've met. He's classically trained, and is as comfortable playing jazz piano as he is on rock guitar. I'll leave my flattery of him aside for the moment, because this column isn't the place for me to tell you about my more successful friends. Akshay called to catch up and tip me off to mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull (more on her show below) who is coming through Humboldt. Now, I'm not much of an old-timey or bluegrass guy, so if you're a mandolinist and not named David Grisman or Darren Weiss, I won't know anything about you.

I don't recall how Akshay came across her music but he told me how blown away he was by her obvious talent and recommended several videos online. Well, he wasn't lying. She was recently named the 2016 Mandolin Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Awards, and her praises are sung by folks such as Alison Krauss and Bela Fleck, to name a few. Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the White House are all "venues" she's played. So not only was Akshay insisting that I go to the show, he said that he is going to try to leave work — in San Francisco — early so he can drive up to Humboldt to hear her, then nap for an hour or two in his car before driving back home to be at work by 8 a.m. Aside from immediately feeling old at hearing him casually mention the logistics, I couldn't help but feel inspired about live music. If Akshay's willing to drive 10 hours round trip for a show, it's hard for me to consider the Blue Lake to Ferndale trip as an excuse for not going. I'll be glad to hang with an old friend and hear some great music here in Humboldt. I'll also be glad to not be sitting in his dental chair at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.


Start the weekend off a little early and get funky tonight at Humboldt Brews in Arcata. If you make it there, you'll find an eight-piece outfit from Seattle called Polyrhythmics who, as their name implies, will be serving up a dish of complex rhythms with a groove designed to get you to move starting around 9 p.m. and for $15. Bring clothes to sweat in.


It's Arts! Arcata so there will be a lot of music around the Arcata Plaza this evening (and everywhere else). Before — or after — your stroll around the square, stop into The Jam for Jazz Night courtesy of owner P.C. and Friends, who will be starting right around 6 p.m. I've got a feeling this one might be free, but bring a few bucks just in case. You'll be glad you did. Less jazzy and over at Cafe Mokka at 8 p.m. will be local favorites and Celtic-oriented band Good Company playing for free. There's a benefit happening at the Arcata Playhouse tonight at the same time, aiding many of the programs that the organization puts on throughout our community. How are organizers enticing you to come on over and help them out? They've got the Latin Peppers, who will easily get you out of the Playhouse seats and down on the dance floor. Swing and shimmy with good folks for a good cause at this benefit with a sliding scale price of $15-25. Up in Blue Lake you'll find Kingfoot doing its monthly residence thing at the Logger Bar at 9 p.m., joined by local B-Lakers (and bandmates) Jeff DeMark and multi-talented Knick Moore. It's a free show, so go flood the place. Local Pink Floyd fan Elliot politely told me recently that I should write more in The Setlist about local Floyd tribute band Money when it has shows. It's really good, he tells me, and, as one of four band members, I at least feel comfortable saying that three of its members are very talented. They'll all be at Cher-Ae-Heights Casino at 9 p.m. and they won't ask for any of your money. You rock steady fans will want to be at Humboldt Brews tonight at 9:30 p.m. for Yogoman's Rock Steady Revue, where the band will be backing up reggae legend Winston Jarrett, so you know it'll be the real deal. It's $15 for this show. I'm not sure on the time or price of this hip-hop show at Blondie's in Arcata, but YAMS welcomes locals Spaceheads and Coastral, who will be joined by touring rappers Maleik Dion, Mays and Rhys Langston.


The Miniplex in Arcata is hosting Kikagaku Moyo, all the way over from Tokyo. The band will deliver its psychedelia/drone music to us here on the West Coast along with locals Paint Shadows for $10 at 9 p.m. Not too far away — and from a little less far away — you'll hear the five-piece, electric Dusty Green Bones Band up from the Bay Area playing in the jamgrass vein at The Jam around 9 p.m. No word yet on the price. Also from the Bay and returning to Humboldt Brews this evening at 9:30 p.m. is Diego's Umbrella, who've been making stops up here for probably close to 10 years now, if I had to guess. I remember seeing the line somewhere, "There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who love Diego's Umbrella and those who will." It's a good line. The band members are sort of gypsy rockers who know how to put on a great show. Peach Purple opens up this $15 show.


Jazz ornithologists should fly over to Humboldt State University's Kate Buchanan room tonight for a Charlie Parker tribute of sorts. Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa will share his project Bird Calls in ode to the immensely influential above-mentioned Bird. He's joined by a stellar band with Adam O'Farrill on trumpet, Joshua White on piano, and Thomson Kneeland on bass. It starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.


As mentioned earlier in the column, award-winning mandolinist Sierra Hull will be at The Old Steeple in Ferndale at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Again, she's played the White House and Carnegie Hall before, but as far as I know, she's never played in an old church — in Ferndale — before, so this'll be a first. If there are still seats available, $30 at the door will get you in. A family R&B/reggae band is at Humboldt Brews tonight at 9 p.m. With Brooklyn roots and a Jamaican heart: New Kingston — comprised of three brothers and their father — will be playing their style of Big Apple reggae with Sensamotion supporting. $15 cover charge supports this family on the road.

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 protected].

Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. He's never found the other side.

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