Arcata Eye Scene

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

The Savage Eye, Nov. 25, 2008 – Love and hate, Arcata-style

Ukesperience is the kind of band you wish you could take home and have as your very own house band. Imagine, some gentle ukelele music awakens you, the drums come in during pancake-making, the guys sing you out the door to work, then back in when you arrive home, bucking your spirits with a rousing tune and glass of Nob Hill while the kids settle down with their homework. Wouldn’t that be lovely? At the least, it would make a fine reality show.

Jeff DeMark served up his own entertaining reality show, with Ukesperience backing, at Muddy’s Hot Cup Saturday night. Whereas Jeff’s more practiced performances mix humor and poignancy in calibrated doses and sustained themes, this time felt more whimsical, slightly manic and unstoppably funny, making Ukesperience’s support a natural fit.

While Jeff’s stories would also hold up on paper, or recorded, the live telling allows for the richest experience. Whatever he’s relating – when his mother convinced him to get her high, a show promoter telling him about Tiny Tim’s unmatched performance at a “rock dinosaurs” festival – Jeff’s reliving it and pulling the audience into his gut-busting version of that particular memory. Ukesperience’s soundtracking smoothed the path and lined it with gold.

Evidence supports the idea that humans have been compelled to share and listen to stories for the entirety of their existence. (At some point, TV became the primary storyteller of our time, now perhaps YouTube fills that role.) Ideally, in witnessing the same moments or relating to another’s stories, our own lives are enriched. Jeff and Ukesperience gifted the audience in this way Friday night, inspiring laughter and appreciation with little more than voice, wood and string.

(If you missed the show, check at thevenueproject.com, where it may show up in the archives. Ukesperience’s next show is Wednesday, Dec. 3 at Humboldt Brews.)

The storytelling continued later that night, albeit in most unusual form, with the antics of The Metal Shakespeare Company at the Alibi.

Before Lord Simms and his compatriots, however, Humboldt County’s own thirtythreeandathird assaulted a willing crowd with their own “instrumetal” onslaught. The vocalist-free group nonetheless managed to hold most of the audience in head-nodding sway. Ex-The Hitch, –SWOD and current Magnum drummer Steve Bohner voiced his appreciation for the band, saying keeping people’s attention without a singer is a lot harder than with. (Techically, the quote was something like, “Awesome!”)

And then the men in tights took the stage, Lord Simms’ thighs no doubt well-honed from all the nights of leaping, lunging and prancing that performing Shakespeare-based metal songs requires. Bursting into what would be their radio hit if they had a radio hit, “To Bleed or Not to Bleed,” The Metal Shakespeare Company established their intention to rock and rock hard. Riffing on the Bard with riffs straight out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the band thrilled what had to be the largest gathering of Iron-Maiden-T-shirt-wearing-former-English-majors in Humboldt ever. It was wonderful.

Also on the “wonderful” tip – and it has been a great month for music in these parts – the Nov. 10 Humboldt Folklife Society-hosted performance of Peter Mulvey at the Arcata Playhouse. Lila Nelson once again sent everyone into crush spasms during her opening set, and a high point of the night arrived in the form of Lila joining Peter for Jolie Holland’s “Old-Fashioned Morphine.” Why mention something that happened over two weeks ago? Because, dear reader, thanks to the foresight of Mike Dronkers and our ever-advancing technology, you can hear Peter’s post-show in-studio podcast. Search for “live at KHUM” in your iTunes store or track it down through khum.com. Totally worth it. I’d  heard of Peter Mulvey for years, but not actually heard him, and was absolutely shocked that I’d been missing out on someone so smart, witty and talented. Don’t let that happen to you.

Amazingly enough, the same week I belatedly discovered Peter Mulvey, I found out about Zach Gill. I know – where have I been and what I have been doing all these years? Yeah, sure, I’ve read about Animal Liberation Orchestra and heard the song about not being your monkey, but I had no idea about Zach Gill until he showed up with Mason Jennings (of whom my fanhood is well-documented) to play first at the KHUM studio and then at the Van Duzer. He plays a gazillion instruments bouncing from one to the other like some sort of half-human, half-gazelle that’s also equal parts virtuoso and comedian. (Just hold that image in your mind for a moment. Okay.) Maybe Mike will also pop that in-studio up for podcast… hint, hint.

But enough about the past – the future isn’t completely unwritten after all. We know, for example, to expect The Whore Moans at the Alibi this weekend. Mikey from Seattle band The Cops first turned me onto The Whore Moans when I was looking for some new bands to feature on my KSLG 94.1 FM feature “North by Northwest” (local and regional music for an hour, Tuesdays at noon).

The name is a play on a tacky old punchline (How do you make… don’t pay her), but the band’s music is no joke –kickass, scrappy, loud, abrasive rock and roll. Not all the songs are as catchy as I’d like them to be, but the ones that have a hook are utterly  addictive. This is quintessential Alibi material, except The Whore Moans are big enough (airplay on Seattle’s KEXP, among others) that I’m (happily) surprised to see them playing our cozy club. (myspace.com/thewhoremoanssuck.com)

In the midst of being grateful for all this live music, a recent conversation with a couple out-and-aboutters at the Alibi turned to Things We Hate. (Perhaps this is antithesis to the Thanksgiving spirit, but I always feel weird about having a day that celebrates the European invasion and subsequent massacres of the folks who already inhabited this country. Besides, we practice good food, get-togethers and gratitude all the time – don’t you?)

Here’s what came out of that conversation:

One of us really hates when people cut the corner when crossing the street, otherwise known as the “elliptical L” maneuver. It makes him so mad!

A certain dater-hater is infuriated when couples sit next to each other when eating out, leaving the other side of the table empty. That is so annoying!

He also hates being re-gifted. Tacky!

Hatred of hippies has not abated – or rather, “hippies” as redefined by the great, unwashed mass of aggressive spare-changers on the Plaza.

Fake hippies. We hate them. Pretty much about the same as we hate fake Rastafarians. We also hate people who move to Arcata and then complain about hating hippies. D’oh!

Cocaine. We hate cocaine because the rainforest is being destroyed by the demand for cocoa leaves. Save the rainforests! Buy local – do meth instead.

Oh, we totally, totally hate people who finish a cigarette and then flick the butt on the ground. What are you thinking? Why does that form of littering somehow seem okay, you grody, stinky polluter, you?!

Bumper stickers are really stupid, unless they’re for a band we like. Or the roller derby. Or Greenhouse Boardshop. OK, so some of them are all right. But the ones ripping off Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes? We hate those!

Jennifer Savage has almost finished her seventh year of editing the Eye’s Scene pages, a job which she most assuredly does not hate. Send your own hate mail – or love notes – to fun@arcataeye.com.

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