Arcata Eye Scene

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

Jennifer Savage: The Savage Eye – Sept. 23, 2008

If you’ve somehow missed the hype, here’s one more nudge to go check out Humboldt County, the movie, this Friday, Sept. 26 at The Minor. The film, by Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs (not to be confused with the Fieldbrook mechanic!), chronicles the adventures of Peter Hadley (Jeremy Strong) during his unintentional stay with an eccentric SoHum pot-growing family (is there any other kind?). While the movie is a mostly fine production on its own merits, the excitement lies in the recognition of the names and locales so lovingly documented.

Expect to erupt into cheers whenever iconic vistas and visages appear on screen – like when John Murdock and Brian Swizlo of The Bump Foundation, and Lenny “Nipsy” Pettinelli (Day Go and, oh too many bands to list! He’s one of Humboldt’s premiere keys players) appear as – get this – a jazz band! Also, anticipate the mugs of Tom Conlon, Isaac Mosgofian and Jerry Droz as, respectively, Frank, Mike and Eddie the Loggers in a scene set in, appropriately, the Logger Bar!

That’s just a sampling. The rest of the locals (“Lizard!” the crowd hollers) you’ll have to scan for yourself. (Try not to blink!)

In addition to The Minor, Humboldt County opens area-wide at the Broadway Cinema in Eureka and the Garberville Theatre. You can tell friends and family to check it out (well, depending on how “cool” your family is with the whole drug culture thing) in Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Portland, Austin and Seattle. (See for exactly where and when.)

When I wrote “mostly fine,” I meant it’s a well-crafted and lovingly filmed 97 minutes of character-driven story that essentially satisfied everyone who, judging from the applause and post-showing lobby chat, saw the WildRivers 101 Film Fest premier at the Eureka Theatre. For all their apparent skill, Grodsky and Jacobs rely on a couple deus ex machina moments that challenge even the most suspended of disbelief. But, hey, maybe sultry jazz singers are always strolling offstage to immediately drag the most introverted guy in the club off for some casual albeit life-changing sex. People have probably ended up in Humboldt County through stranger circumstances.

Just go see the movie. It’s a kick.

Oh, Jambalaya, twice you offered shows I would’ve normally attended; twice, the conflicts couldn’t be avoided. Word on the street described the Yer Dog show as “great” and “a lot of fun,” and the Tweakbird/The Ravens/Dorado show garnered enthusiastic reviews (see Josh Duke’s thoughts on The Ravens, B3) – but circumstances demanded my attendance at Humboldt Brews Thursday night and only great tragedy would’ve kept me from Lila Nelson’s CD release party.

About that J.J. Grey. Wow. Yeah. The man has this mojo. Seriously. Sure, certain songs on the first two albums break my heart with their lyrical beauty and the band’s talent appeals in a number of reasonable ways, but Mofro definitely drifts into “jam” territory, which is so not typically my thing.

Except for that J.J. Grey. He makes it so good. So very, very good.
Is it the honey-flavored Southern drawl? Is it the way he plays off the attention as if the woman dancing in worship at his feet somehow still comes as a surprise to this down-home, sweet-grinning charmer of a man? Whatever that spell he casts is, the effect has yet to be coherently described. Much of the conversation at Hum Brews ran along the lines of:

“Oh my god!”
“I know!”
“He’s so… just so… god!”
“So… AHHH!”

Mmmhmm. Whew.
Thank you, Passion Presents.

Just about the only show that could’ve followed the sweaty-drowning-in-honey-lustfest of Thursday night was the CD release party of everyone’s favorite crush, Lila Nelson.

Playing to a packed Arcata Playhouse, Lila served up the charm and humor (“My stomach aches from laughing,” Universalia Jane whispered) that keeps audiences hypnotized in adoration – between songs that often invoke a sense of thoughtful sadness. But, hey! The melancholy is momentary, especially with the addition of a full band onstage. Tim Gray and Marla Joy provided a warm rapport with both onstage banter and their expected stellar musicanship. Erstwhile Rubbernecker Greg Lojko upped the energy on guitar. Lila’s husband Ian Caliendo made everything even prettier with the beautiful sounds of the mbira.

You can feel prettier, too, even if you missed the show. Buy Lila’s new CD, Letter Home, via (click on the “About Lila” link to hear her introduction to the album) or at your favorite local music store as of Oct. 21. (Review at

Happily, at The Venue Project (, you can find watch both the Q&A with the Humboldt County directors and – ideally– Lila’s show in the archives.
Now, if we could just get J.J. and Lila on stage at the same time… The resultant bliss combustion would wash over the world making it a better and brighter place for all.


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