Arcata Eye Scene

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

Daniel Lewis: Rock and a Hard Place

Apologies to Daniel for not getting this in the hard copy of the Eye this week. It’s good. ~ JS/Eye Scene Ed. 

I’m not a journalist and I’m not a musician. I’m just a fan of local music. Usually, I’d announce this fandom, by seeing a show and reporting back to you the highlights and my thoughts concerning the music and affair that surrounds it, but this week I’ve been graciously allowed to report on something a little different. The Placebo.
It has been a few years since The Placebo, more officially known as the Humboldt County Youth Arts Program, was stationed in Arcata, but last Sunday at the Jacoby Building the Non Profit All Ages venue met for their bi monthly meeting. “We still have a ton of people working for us in Arcata,” says Dao a volunteer and one of lead organizers for the Placebo, “Now we are having our meetings in Eureka on the first Sunday of the month and on the third Sunday here in Arcata.”

I just recently learned about the Placebo and have never been to their venue, which is in Eureka, but once I found out that their next meeting would be held in Arcata I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out what was in store for the future.

The history of the Placebo sounds like old world gypsy folk tale, where a band of traveling artists are repeatedly moved and removed from housing. Founded by two HSU students in the spring of 1999, the Placebo provides a place for young people to see live music in an atmosphere that is both drug and alcohol free and as well intolerant to intolerances such as racism, sexism, and all around meanness.

Before the meeting began I was able to speak with Dao, a woman who has roots in the founding project 924 Gilman Street Project in North Berkley and now leads today’s meeting. “There has been very little stability.” She says, “I think that Eureka can be a great place. We just found a great place and then we just got shut down. We moved in there in the summer of 2006 and then by January it was closed down again.”

But still the Placebo persists, keeping their equipment at Synapses and having shows at the Ink People, who are the parent organization of Empire Square, Synapses, and the Placebo.”

The Placebo reached the 501(c) (e) status in 2001 and began the official HCYAP title for its non profit work. “You can do a lot more with Non Profit status.” Dao admits “We are covered by the Ink peoples insurance which helps with renting out spaces to have shows.”

Being that the Placebo was just again getting geared up for 2008 I had to wonder where it was all going. ” Having a steady place. That’s the dream.” She says. “Shows are really important and if we have regular shows then we can put on regular workshops. Workshops are general, a lot of art workshops. Stenciling and screening, how to fix your guitar. But what the Placebo really is is what the volunteers bring to it. Whoever comes, you do have to show up at a meeting. We have punk shows because the punks come put the shows on. We could have country shows, we are open to anything. But it’s up to the volunteers to make it happen.”

As the Placebo’s volunteers started filing in and the meeting gave way I couldn’t help but think of what a fantastic concept it was to have a choice. Freedom, if it can be defined, in it’s crudest form, could be defined as choice. But freedom, and choice and everything else worth having takes work. But isn’t that what we all want? To do what we want? Hear what we want? See what we want? And of course, at the Placebo you won’t be getting any alcohol or drugs nor will you be able to be a belligerent ass, but freedom takes sacrifice people.

The meeting continued as PA’s and security was discussed. Upcoming show fliers and forms with detailed operation instructions for volunteers, concerning how to put on a show as organized and unproblematic as possible were passed out.

I walked out of the Jacoby Building feeling a little bit better about the world and glad that I’m here in it.


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