Sometimes things fall through the cracks, plans get waylaid, delayed until it’s too late. Lately, it seems there are plenty of things that grab my attention like a kitty who goes where she’s not supposed to go. You get the picture. I’d arranged for an email interview with Karl Denson, saxophonist for Tiny Universe, a band I’ve been following since the start. Life got in the way.
I first heard Karl in the mid-’90s playing with The Greyboy Allstars, a San Diego band that he co-founded after leaving Lenny Kravitz’ band. DJ Greyboy was known for spinning ’70s soul and funk discs (especially boogaloo) and a live band formed around him to play tunes in that “acid jazz” style. On the side, the various members spun off what they called “sidecar projects.” Guitarist Elgin Park did film work (notably for Donnie Darko), there was (and is) keyboardist Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, and there was (and is) KDTU, as jamband aficionados know Tiny Universe.
Karl’s solo career went stellar a few years ago when he signed on as sax man for tours by The Rolling Stones, so I can promise you’ll hear “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” Wednesday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, as Karl now plays the parts originally done by the late great Bobby Keys. (Karl appears in the Stones’ Sticky Fingers Live album from 2015.) Among others, the latest KDTU includes his old Greyboy Allstars partner Chris Stillwell on bass, Soulive drummer Alan Evans, and slip sliding slide and lap steel guitarist Seth Freeman. A “post funk” outfit from Chicago via L.A. called The Main Squeeze opens the show. Funk is the word for the day.
I got an email from Kate Martin, owner/operator of the Logger with their monthly calendar. (She is the only person who does this, and I wish more would.) She had some newsy notes: “Jerry Wallace is moving out of the area so there will be no more Trivia Night, for now. We are also starting a ‘Think and Drink’ night on the first Wednesday of every month. This event will have representatives from different agencies (NAACP, etc.). The first event on [Wednesday] Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. will benefit Planned Parenthood (10 percent of profits). There will be a rep from the agency and phone numbers to call our representatives. We are even promoting drunk calling. Anything to get folks involved!” I’m not sure what “drunk calling” is – I’m afraid to ask, but this sounds like one of those “good cause” things, done in part to get people out and “active,” but also jus’ ’cause.
Thursday at the Logger, it’s something called “Totally Scubular!” with Scuber Mountain and friends. They explain, “We have ignored your countless requests for mediocre Elliott Smith covers for years now. At our recent Carnegie Hall debut, a rogue group of fans unfurled a banner reading ‘Can you cover the Ben Folds cover of that one Dr. Dre song?’ When Russ took his one-man paranormal performance art to Bulgaria, he was greeted with chants of ‘Можете ли да играе половин сърце David Bowie покриване или две?’” and so on. Amid the fake news, there’s real news: Scuberites Russ, Aber and Kym are joining forces with “some actual musicians” (Cory Goldman, Thatcher Holvick-Norton) playing “half-assed ’90s covers” and some Mountain music. (Not from the Appalachians.) There’s no cover, but tips are welcome. “We want your money, but moreover, we want your love,” they say.
Earlier Thursday, the Jam has something new they’re calling, “Beats and Eats!” It’s basically a happy hour with relatively cheap drinks, $5 burgers and DJ D'Vinity supplying the beats, “playing some Old School Hip-Hop and R&B to keep the vibes up! Your new Thursday after work de-stress hub!!!!!” Excess exclamations or not, sounds like a fun place to have dinner. (They have pizza too.)
It can get a bit confusing, but the Jam is not the only place you find “Jammin Friday,” which does not always involve improvisation. An invite came via “Friday IsJammin” from the swing dancers group that gets together to swing one Friday a month somewhere around the Plaza, most recently in Arcata Core Pilates Studio (901 Eighth St.). Incidentally, you shouldn’t confuse this with a “swingers club,” which is something totally different. (Google it if you don’t understand.) They tell us, quote, “Jammin Friday is moving to the first Friday this month, to accommodate a great live band from Portland, Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners. [They] are also playing the Northcoast Music Fest in March, but we have them all to ourselves on Feb. 3!” (8 to 11 p.m.)
Where? Correction: That would actually be the Redwood Coast Music Festival (March 30 to April 2), which is developing into a cool cross between the old trad RC Dixieland Jazz Fest and Blues by the Bay (indoors, a key difference) with “Hot Jazz, Swing, Blues, Zydeco, Rockabilly, Country” for a “dancer’s festival.” Forgive me if I borrow from their description of JM&TBCC, “Among the finest young roots-oriented acts on the West Coast [taking] the hot jazz of the ’20s and ’30s, combining it with country blues, Western swing, and ragtime to create an irresistible sound that satisfies dancers and listeners alike.” Jacob Miller is the guitarist/vocalist/front man for the 6-piece band, which takes the “Bridge City” name from PDX, a city of bridges.
That same Friday, the Bayside Grange has its Community Winter Dance (at Grange #500) with dinner and drinks at 6 p.m. with music at 7 by Kenny Ray & the Mighty Rovers. I’ve been dancing to Kenny and his wife and various other band members for decades, going back to Roly Poly days, when Kenny fronted a Western swing band named for a Bob Wills classic. Back in the day, they were regulars at the Jambalaya, where they sometimes traded off weekends with Freddy and the Starliners. Unfortunately, Home Cookin’, a direct descendant of the Starliners, is playing that same Friday as part of the Arcata Playhouse’s 10th Anniversary weekend festivities. (See the other story I wrote this week.) When I mentioned this to someone from the Grange, they said they learned about the conflicting show too late and suggested that they were thinking of trying to draw in the younger swing dancers crowd, not knowing that they have another band playing that night. (See above.) Someone else suggested that people could have a home-cooked dinner at the Grange before going to dance to Home Cookin’, but I don’t see that happening. Oh, well. Shit happens,
Also Friday, The Siren’s Song welcomes Eureka’s Peter Good Boy. Who? That would be Chris Hungerford and Tommy Chase, with their “genre-defying project.” I know these guys from the restaurant world — Tommy was the chef at the Vista back in the day, both of them worked at Cafe Nooner. (I believe Tommy and his wife started, then sold the Nooner.) And I know Chris does strange things with cardboard, including making costumes. I have no idea what kind of music they play, but I’m guessing it’s “good.” Note: this looks like an early show. (Always double-check start times.)
It's the first Saturday in the month, so Eureka has Arts Alive! (Their exclamation, not mine.) There's a lot going on, including a show at the Morris Graves Museum that I'm involved in. Humboldt Collects is their second time out for the concept show: to put it simply, a curator assembles displays of things that people collect. Last time my collection of figurines (mostly toys) was among those chosen. There were cribbage boards, Swatch watches, carrot and chipmunk and John Deere tractors related items and other stuff -- you get the picture. I don't really know about the next show except my portion, a collection of other people's photos--portraits and snapshots. There's not really an opening that night, but there's music played by Lyndsey Battle and Cory Goldman, two musicians who I think of as Humboldt treasures. I'll explain that more some other time, for now we'll just say they play kind of folky music on stringy instruments and they're really good.
Sunday night, AS Presents Run The Jewels at Van Duzer Theatre. Many of you may not be familiar with RTJ, but believe me, this is a big deal. The duo featuring rapper Killer Mike (aka Michael Render) and producer/rapper El-P (aka Jaime Meline), considered a supergroup in the hip-hop world. El-P was the co-founder of Definitive Jux, an indie record label based in New York City (ground zero for hip-hop), home of artists like Del the Funky Homosapien, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, Murs and so on. Def Jux was the shit for underground 21st Century hip hop. Meanwhile Killer Mike came out of the Atlanta scene, making his debut with OutKast in 2000, and taking home Grammys with them while recording his own solo albums. RTJ came together in 2013, put out three eponymous (numbered) albums, and became regulars on the mega-fest circuit playing Coachella, Bonnaroo, etc. Lately Killer Mike also made his mark in politics. After running (unsuccessfully) for Congress, he became a high-profile Bernie supporter, opining on many TV shows. He has strong opinions, he's smart and eloquent - a good combination. I suppose you could call this an album release tour since RTJ3 had its “physical release” in January. Expect killer march with a “solid gold” double LP (gold vinyl), gold cassettes or CD versions (boring) and various collectible items like RTJ gold chains and a RTJ app for your iPhone. Running partners for the tour are The Gaslamp Killer, Gangsta Boo, Nick Hook and longtime Killer Mike collaborator CUZ. Why? Just CUZ.
David Lindley plays at The Old Steeple Monday night, a show that is “SOLD OUT,” as the folks in Ferndale put it. I don’t have to say much about the eclectic multi-instrumentalist aka Mr. Polyester. Do you want to find out about shows like this that sell out months in advance? I’ll teach you a trick. Sign up for the mailing list for brownpapertickets.com and you can set it so you get an email when tickets for shows in the area go on sale. (The Playhouse sells tix through them too.) BTW, I learned about something else when I visited Ferndale Music Company owner Paul Beatie in Faceland. He now has a live stream with multiple cameras in the Old Steeple, and while you might think it’s to stream shows, no, it’s to follow the lifestyle of the owls who live there. Who? Owls? Really? Yes, that’s who. Who.