Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

Josh Duke: Bonus Tracks – Oct. 9, 2007

Saturday night I piled into the wayward musical bus once again for yet another audacious journey into the sonic landscape of Muddy’s Hot Cup, hopefully yearning for talent to emerge after an absence from local shows. I had only covered out-of-towners these past couple weeks and, as my girlfriend’s cries echoed in my ears, I thought, yes, I have been neglectful. Rushing out the door to dote upon my beloved local scene, I rejected the wiles of Common Vices and nonexistent reptiles, and rushed straight to Muddy’s to bask in scene splendor, hosted by Universalia Jane.

But as I walked inside Muddy’s, I witnessed not Jane, but what looked like a jam session of barflies doing their best to hold a beat together. Completely unamped and without microphone, they strummed along, yelling and hollering over their guitars and banjos about one thing or another. Inquiries about the name of their band only produced a long list of surnames as though they were some shanty town supergroup of names I should feel privileged to know about.

The only names I did recognize were Matt Jackson and Michelle Woo, who did well enough on bass and cello – but I’m sure, with enough practice, they’ll achieve that Neutral Milk Hotel sound they strive for.

But I was starting to get antsy. Jane still wasn’t taking the stage. I wanted to see a band, not a string of last names.


My wish was again delayed and replaced with Tanuki, the newest musical endeavor featuring Deric Mendes of SWOD, Matt Jackson and Brian Godwin, formerly of Strix Vega.

After some research, I found that Tanuki can mean several things:
1. A form of wild badger in rural Japan.
2. The most worthless power-up in Super Mario Bros.
3. A Japanese folklore deity that resembles a raccoon, who mischievously putters about with its giant shape shifting testicles.

I’m not sure which one Deric is aiming for, but whichever one it is, I’m sure it colors the backdrop of his intent. And while they started off looking tense and rigid, they eventually loosened up, played something else besides the usual D-G-A fare, and belted out a falsetto that walked a fine line between making me wonder if I left the tea kettle on for too long, or if we had found a long lost Gibb brother.

Then Jane came on stage, in all her glory, alleviating my anticipation. Her partner in crime, Jet Set Jay, mounted his drum throne, ready to do more than just keep time. But hearing the two of them invoked strange, conflicted images in my mind.

During some songs, I thought of smokey lounge acts and sequined dresses while laying on top a grand piano. Others reminded me of a haunted carnival set up in the parking lot of the Lilith tour. And yet others still, like “Teetering Heights,” brought up images of Tori Amos trying to sound like “When Doves Cry.”

But her voice is more operatic than it is emotive, and I felt she shone more with the sounds of a genuine piano. All that synthesizer jibber-jabber was much too muddled and reminded me that I had something or other to do outside, away from the stage.

So this weekend was a mixed bag. We had acoustic ramshackling, enormous testicles, and a singer who isn’t content with the sounds a piano provides.

But I guess I can’t complain, it’s good to be back.

When you send feedback regarding Bonus Tracks to, please note, your comments do not go directly to Josh Duke, but are transmitted via the Eye to our columnist. So please refrain from any “your mama” insults.


1 Comment»

  Monica wrote @


Sorry… I just had to shake the image of Josh in a sequined dress, laying on top of a grand piano. Am I the only one who imagined that? Yikes.

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