Dig Deep for Bonnie Raitt tix

You’ve probably heard by now that Bonnie Raitt is coming to town. The concert isn’t until next year — Sunday, March 18 to be exact — but tickets are already going like hot cakes, even though they are not available to the general public.

And people are already complaining about the ticket prices.

“Unaffordable for the common person, no doubt,” as my friend Michael Welsh put it when I mentioned the show on Facebook.

I pointed out, “She’s an uncommon talent,” and Michael agreed. “Truly. Great voice, and fantastic slide guitar player. And a wonderful anti-nuke and environmental activist. I’ve seen her several times, including sharing dinner with her and Holly Near. Both are heroes of mine. Still, can’t justify the price of most CenterArts shows.”

Another friend, Harriet Watson, noted, Don’t think the acts are making out really well, nor are the venues, and prices are high for the fans. Not sure how all of it works.”

Harriet volunteers as an usher at some shows, since many shows are outside her budget, and she’s feels in some cases, the experience of hearing someone you really like is worth it.

I won’t pretend that I know how it all works either, but as someone who’s watched the concert business over the years, I’d have to say the local prices are not really out of line if you take in account the size of our venues. Our top halls, the Van Duzer and the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, both seat under 800. Compare that with much larger venues in big cities and you’ll see that Centerarts is usually not out of line.

With the music biz gone over to streaming, where artists today rarely get a fair shake, everyone relies on money from touring, so it’s hard to blame anyone for wanting their fair share.

This morning (Thursday) I call the CenterArts box office to see about perhaps buying tickets for my wife as an Xmas gift. The surprise factor is gone and there are twists in my plans so I’ll tell it’ll cost us $89 each, and I can’t buy one yet since I’ve never been a season ticket holder. Also, I was told it’s likely that only balcony seats will be available by the time those are available to the general public tomorrow.

It seemed surprising that season ticket holder would snap up that many seats in a day so I asked what’s the deal. It turns out half of the main floor is set aside for what was described as “fan club members” who signed up on Bonnie’s website. A quick check online painted a different picture. You don’t have to join a club, you just pay premium prices for premium seats and avoid scalpers. As they explain it…   


“We want to first give a huge THANK YOU to the fans for being supportive of our efforts to deter scalping of tickets to Bonnie’s concerts. Our goal is to stop scalpers in their tracks by hand-selecting a certain number of THE BEST seats for each concert and making them available for box office pick-up only on the night of the show. This will prevent scalpers from buying these prime seats in advance and reselling them to fans at inflated prices.  And while we know this means you may have to plan a little extra time at the box office the night of the show, we’ve made arrangements for extra designated staff (as needed) to accommodate this relatively small number of tickets, and you can feel good about paying face value for some of the best seats in the house. We’ve worked to keep prices reasonable and are grateful for your patience and support as we explore this solution. If you want to pay more for great seats, then we have an option for that too — and the amount above face value will be donated to CHARITY!”

Those all-caps letters mean more for those super premium tix, yes, $203.50 each. “At nearly every concert, Bonnie works with The Guacamole Fund to offer terrific, hand-selected seats to benefit local non-profit organizations working on issues of safe and sustainable energy, environmental protection, peace with justice and beyond.”

So, if I want a pair of tickets with a side of organic guacamole it’ll run me $407, plus whatever for tacos somewhere. That may be a little too rich for my blood.     

Did I mention there’s an opening act? Jon Cleary is a Brit now living in New Orleans who has playing with Bonnie’s band. He sounds pretty good with more than a hint of Professor Longhair in the mix.

Well, what do you think? Are you going to snap up those tickets before they’re gone? Good luck. Say hi to Bonnie for me.


The Hum Birthday Edition (mine)

Saturday is my birthday. Years ago on a Dec. 9, my mom gave birth to me. That occasion seems like as good a time as any for some Humming. 

The season greetings above came from the Dorans as an Xmas card. It was a line drawing that my artistic dad drew. He actually did one every year, tracing the growth of our family. This one’s from the year I was born — I’m that squiggly line that looks like a new baby.

My dad kept up the tradition for decades, adding my little brother to the brood, eventually watching the kids move away and leave the folks to age, the way we all do, until he was gone. The tradition died with him and for awhile my mom mailed out other homemade cards instead to her remaining friends. Eventually almost no one sent out actual Christmas greetings aside from the occasional traditionalists. (The world’s gone digital.)

Okay, enough of Xmas stuff, here’s some things going on Saturday in the north part of Humboldt where I live. (One day seemed like enough work.)

We’ll start at the Van Duzer, where CenterArts presents Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, showtime, as usual, 8 p.m. The Postmodern Jukebox is “an ongoing musical project spearheaded by pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee,” described by C-Arts as a “genre-busting, rotating collective of musicians and vocalists,” and “a viral sensation with millions of views on YouTube,” like this cover of “Royals” sung by Puddles, a clown. (I’m not sure if he’s on this tour, but I love this song and so does Lyndsey, who once taught it to a bunch of young uke players.)

At the Old Steeple in Ferndale Saturday (at 7:30pm), some cowboy music and more from Sourdough Slim  and Robert Armstrong, an artist/cartoonist who used to play in Robert Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders.

Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong have had the pleasure of sharing their lively roots music with audiences at Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center to concert halls, festivals and fairs around the country. With a repertoire of western classics, country blues, vintage jazz and string band favorites from the 1920’s and 30’s, they share a passion for America’s rich musical heritage and they know how to communicate that feeling to an audience. You’ll hear raucous and often heartfelt singing accompanied by a dizzying array of acoustic instruments including accordion, guitar, banjo, ukulele, jug, national steel, musical saw and harmonica. All dished up with a hearty dose of vaudevillian stagecraft making for a delightfully entertaining experience.

And here’s a strange inexplicable cartoon by Mr. Armstrong:



Charlie Parr is back in town. I saw his last time he came through on a road trip from Minnesota. He’s a amazing picker on guitar and banjo and delivers his rough hewn tunes with soulful passion. He’s at Humboldt Brews on a western tour with a new album, Dog, and another songwriter from Minnesota, John Mark Nelson, who has a new album of his own, Four Days Away.  He was “writer, arranger, producer, engineer, performer” for the record.

Charlie’s sings about, well, dogs, among other things. “I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks,” he says regarding the inspiration for the song. “I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I’ll learn something. So I follow the dog.”

(Note, the second one is not a song from “Dog.”)

Here’s a piece from a PBS station about John Mark Nelson…

David Powell-Schubert

This afternoon while I was working on this post, I was listening to the KHSU Magazine when an item came on about an unusual classical recital Saturday. You can listen here. The NPR news,  Ted-X and the calendar comes first then (at 18:05 or so) it’s an interview with tenor David Powell and puppeteer James Hildebrant.

James has done shadow plays and other puppetry (think giant puppets). He’s worked for Dell’Arte and the Arcata Playhouse (and more). You might know David from his work at Dell’Arte, where he sings this and that and acts.  

-David began his operatic training at Humboldt State University. He then continued to the Boston Conservatory and studied privately in New York with Julliard faculty. He has had the opportunity to perform across the U.S, but the beauty of Humboldt County continues to lure him back. He is currently completing his Master’s degree in Physical Theater, preparing for a study trip to Bali, and working with local theater companies.

The show is a collaboration based a song cycle in German illustrated with a shadow play about a love story. It’s at 8 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 625 15th St. Eureka. David says the sound there is quite good, and the show sounds fascinating if you’re in a classical/operatic mood. 


Or there’s the annual Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir Holiday Concert! It starts at 7 p.m. at the Arcata Presbyterian Church, 11th and G Streets. This will be the first concert performed there since the devastating arson fire of September 16. “We are doing the Hallelujah Chorus, gospel style too!” says Janine their publicist.

All Seasons Orchestra Holiday Concerts 2017 Poster

Keeping in a classical concerts at churches theme, we have the All Seasons Orchestra playing the first of three holiday shows at the Later-day Saints (Mormons) Church in Mickeyville. I’m planning on seeing the orchestra when they play closer to home (a block away from where I sit right now), so I’ll wait for next weekend.

Out in Blue Lake that day, my buddies, The Detours play honky tonk style at Mad River Brewery Tasting Room from 6-10 p.m. Saturday in what they call the “beer garden,” (shown below).


There’s no actual garden, I think that just means the bands play outside, but they have space heaters and if you’re sitting in the right place it’s warm enough, but dress accordingly. BTW, the band’s guitarist/graphic artist, Rick Levin, usually posts something on my FB page right before the show or when ever he gets around to it. He finally got around to it the day of, with a holiday theme.

detours Xmas.jpg

You heard about ugly holiday sweaters right? Well, this is ugly holiday cowboy boots. I honestly doubt that Rick owns these, but you never know.

If you want to hang around until The Detours are done and turn your night in Blue Lake into a twofer, you can head down the road to The Logger for yet another birthday party, this one with Wild Otis and a “special guest.”


I know all the band members, Norman Bradford and Rick DeVol on guitars and vocals, Dan Davis on bass and  (usually) Jimmy Moore on drums. Jimmy won’t be there Saturday, thus the guest and the birthday angle. They explain,

Please join us for a night of rock and roll with special guest drummer Jay Forbes.
To make this evening of music extra special IT IS JAY’S BIRTHDAY! Come share your love of Jay Forbes, your love of Wild Otis, or both!

They rock and will undoubtedly have a great party. I’ve been offered a drink if I show. We’ll see.

At The Siren’s Song Tavern on my birthday, the heavy metal heads of Angry Hammer Productions presents a party for someone else having a b-day with a THRASHORAMA!!!!!! “A special celebration of the escape from fetus jail of Liberty Williams with some Killer California Metal of variatas styles.”

with: Hazzard’s Cure – Oakland Metal Crust
Trecelence – Santa Rosa Thrash
Wrath – San Francisco Death/Thrash
Death Mode Trippers – local metal (who haven’t put together a B
andcamp page yet).“In Honor of Liberty’s birthday, on this night you will mosh in a circle pit. None of that ping pong stuff. The mosh pit is not a wrestling ring or a karate dojo, y’all know who you are. Liberty wants one thing from you and that is circle pits. Action figures will also be accepted. But if I catch you doing any of that other shit I will refund you and kick you out.”Saturday, Dec. 9th ~ $8 ~ All ages ~ 7:00pm ~ Siren’s Song Tavern ~ 325 2nd St. Eureka
Back in Arcata…

Don on that gay apparel and get ready to have your bells jingled at Club Triangle’s annual HoliGAY Show. Featuring Club Triangle veteran, turned Las Vegas Showboi, King of Glitter and Fantasy Maker, the one and only… Tucker Noir

Hosted by Humboldt’s Queen of Magic & Mystery: Mantrikka Ho.
Featuring Performances by:Fuscia Rae, Aiden Pleazure, Amber Lust, Hugh Johnson
Aaron SpaceMuseum, Mr. Mustacchio, Tabitha Diva, Amethyst Lovelace, Nora Pinephrine, Corvi Dae, Oliver Klosov, Miss Trish, Muscles McKnucles, Coyote Free Pile and the Night Sweats
Beats by Club T’s Resident DJs: DJ Joe-E and DJ Anya
Visuals by: 
Marmalade sky

Live Stream and Videography by: Juan M Carrillo. Lights & Sound by: Lost Coast Light & Sound.Tucker Noir Graphic Image by: James C Coffelt. 

$15 | 21+ | Doors at 9pm | Show at 10pm |


From Francois comes an invitation via email: Looking for some “past-future electronic sex beats”? It’s Zordon  @ The Alibi Saturday, December 9th ~ 21+ / 11pm music / $2 cover… Not sure what this means, but it sounds a little too kinky for this clean old man.

Okay, I was going to steer clean of Xmas, but it’s time once again for SantaCon.

santaconEKA 2

The first I heard of SantaCon was on a trip to see Portland to see my son. My wife and I are thrift store fanatics and had stopped somewhere along to way to shop. I came away with a copy of a travel book titled, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk, who you may know for his novel Fight Club, which made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

Along with a guide book that included the Velvet Painting Museum and various sex clubs in a town full of stripper bars, A Walk in PDX gave some personal history Chuck-style including an account of an Xmas event held by the Cacophony Society (he was a member) that was basically a drunk/stoned gang of folks wearing cheap Santa suits and going on a makeshift club crawl. “Rudeness and intoxication” were welcome. (It was also known as the “Santa Rampage.”)

SantaCon hit the country like the plague. Humboldt caught up a couple of years ago (maybe more). The local FB page says, “It’s that time of the year! Santas, Elves, Helpers, and Hanger-on-ers, dust off those suits for the annual bar crawl. We’ll be collecting cash donations for Food For People… we’re pretty awesome in that way.” (They actually took over $700 bucks last year so they must have been “good.”)

It starts at the Shanty, not certain what time, but at this point they’re saying 12:15 p.m.

Here’s the guidelines, for those willing the stay between the lines:

1. Santa does not make children cry. Really, if you see kids, don’t do anything to freak them out. Give them a nice smile and possibly a gift of some kind (toys, candy etc). Parents and tourists are a different matter altogether – adjust your behavior based on their attitude.

2. Santa dresses for all occasions. It’s December. Smart santas wear multiple costume layers. Dress to maximize merriment whether singing Christmas carols in the snow, or swinging from a stripper pole in a hot nightclub.

3. Santa doesn’t whine! We will be outside a lot and commuting mainly on foot – bring enough “snacks” to keep your pie-hole filled until we get indoors.

4. Bring gifts: NAUGHTY gifts to give grown ups; NICE stuff to give kids. Throwing coal at people is discouraged no matter who they are. YES THAT INCLUDES POLITICIANS. But giving out coal might actually be appreciated.

5. Watching santa get drunk and rowdy is fun. Babysitting santa while he vomits in an alley is not. Don’t be that santa.

6. Make sure you always pay for your beer and tip the bar staff. We want to be able to do this again so be polite and cultivate the goodwill of the local community.

7. Please pay for your drinks as soon as you get them. Santas get tired of waiting on other santas to clear their tab before being able to move on. This entire adventure should be cash only.

8. “No santa’s left behind!” Don’t think only of yourself – Santa is not inconsiderate of his fellow santas like that. Pick a few people you know and keep an eye out for them when it’s time to move to the next location. If you don’t see them, speak up so other santas know to wait a moment. Every santa should have at least 2-3 other santas they look out for and 2-3 that look out for them in turn.

9. Stay with the group. It’s not just a case of “the more, the merrier” – Santa is safer with large numbers of fellow santas and what one santa can’t achieve (or get away with) is a possibility for 50 or more!

10. Dress up! You don’t have to dress exactly like Santa. In fact, unusual interpretations of Santa-ness are much appreciated, both by those we bring joy to – as well as your fellow santas: elves, reindeer themes etc. are fine as well!

11. Please remember that this is all about having fun. Most santas like to take their fun with a little alcohol which is fine. What is not fine, however, is getting completely sh#t-faced to the point that santas end up being abusive or violent. Remember that there is no “bail fund” for incarcerated santas and if you cross the line you’ll be on your own.

12. Santa doesn’t drink & drive and neither should you. If you’re going to drink you must make sure that you can get safely home without driving yourself. Check public transport, carpool with a designated sober driver, make arrangements to sleep over at someone’s place etc. Organizers sometimes try to coordinate transportation to get santas safely home. Check the message boards and groups for your local SantaCon to find out if this is being done in your area.

13. You MUST address everyone as “Santa.”

14. You SHOULD “ho-ho-ho” like Santa.

15. You OUGHT to give out gifts like Santa.

16. You MIGHT want to drink like Santa

17………………………Read these guidelines one more time.

18. If you have reached this rule, it means you didn’t get locked into a loop reading the guidelines over and over again as per the previous rule. You are therefore intelligent enough to take part in SantaCon!



And don’t forget we’re celebrating more that Xmas.

have a good day…

The Village?

There’s a meeting of the Arcata Planning Committee tonight and it should be interesting. There are two hot items on the agenda, “A” and “B.”
First they’re dealing with marijuana, which will henceforth be known as “cannabis,” and some business with cannabidniz: mostly legalize around the “Commercial Cannabis Activity Permit” and the coming “Cannabis Innovation Zone,” where people will process pot one innovative way or another. It may come as a surprise, but there will probably be little discussion and not much controversy.
The controversy will come with item “B,” officially considering the “Draft Environmental Impact Report and a Recommendation to the City Council for Approval of the Required Permits and Development Agreement Terms for the Village Student Housing Project at 2715-2920 St. Louis Rd.; File No. 156-179-GPA-ZA-PM-DR-PD-DA-GPC.

If you have some time, you can read the agenda packet by clicking on the link and reading tons of material, including the letters submitted pro and con. I have to admit, I have not read the whole packet and probably won’t. It’s 569 pages long, and I have more interesting books to read. Nevertheless, I’ll share some of my so-called thoughts. This topic has generated a lot of discussion on Facebook (click here) and via Nextdoor, with lots of questions raised by concerned citizens.

The organized opposition on (Facebook anyway) is an anonymous group, “The Village: Changing our Neighborhood – Arcata.”


I learned about it via my friend Greg King, a politically active type, who began a post (with a link to the opposition’s page) with a brief salvo describing the project as “A terrible proposal in a city that appears increasingly willing to accept them.”  The discussion that followed brought up a lot of issues and got me interested since the proposed “Village” is basically in my neighborhood. I own a house close the HSU, on the other side of the campus.

For those completely new to this whole thing I’ll offer a quick overview. The Village is a housing project proposed for some land off St. Louis Rd. a ramshackle place known as the Craftsmans Mall.


The company behind the proposal is known as AMCAL (I don’t know what the acronym stands for). They are in the business of building big housing projects, because, as they explain, “College enrollments are growing rapidly but student housing has not kept pace. Recognizing that it could translate its multi-family skills to developing topflight student housing and give schools a competitive advantage, AMCAL entered this market in 2012 and is already a preferred provider among California universities.”


The student housing problem was covered well by some HSU students who wrote a cover story for the North Coast Journal (read it here) called “Homeless State University.” The lede: “HSU’s enrollment push collides with Humboldt’s housing crunch, leaving students in the lurch.”

Forgive me if I gank part of their description, but they summed it up well. “In May, [AMCAL] submitted plans to the city’s planning commission for The Village — four buildings to house 800 students in 240 units at a cost of around $55 million. It would take between 18 and 24 months to construct. But the project will require the approval of the city of Arcata and cooperation from HSU and, at least for now, none of the parties seems to be talking to each other.” That was months ago. The “talking” comes tonight.

Kevin Hoover at the Mad River Union has been following this for awhile. I learned a lot from his piece  ‘The Village’ student community – last call for Craftsman’s Mall?

Now the student housing problem is not new, not at all. In fact I wrote a cover story for the Journal in 2004 that detailed my involvement in what I called, “The Battle for Bayview.


Our admittedly NIMBY battle sounded a bit like the resistance happening now. We pushed back a housing project ironically also called “The Village.” That project was eventually built somewhere else, on the other side of 14th Street on land owned by HSU. When you look behind what are affectionately known as The Gates, you’ll see a soccer field and a collection of apartments, known as the College Creek Complex. Under the original (thwarted) plan, my house was to be demolished and replaced by a soccer field.

At that time, the University asked us to come up with a better place to build the housing project. One of the suggestions made by my neighbor Mark Wheetley (who later became a city councilman) was to build it on some other underused property, for example, off St. Louis Road, where the new version of The Village is proposed.

Now there are a lot of issues in play here and I don’t mean to oversimplify things, but I think it’s time to be happy someone wants to help Arcata with a problem that isn’t going away. We need more more housing, and not just for students. I don’t think we need to go overboard and roll out some red carpet for some corporation coming to our town — we need negotiate mitigations — but we don’t want to slam the door in their face. Think about the future and keep an open mind.

BTW, if you do some research and/or read some of the material posted about the issues, you’ll find that “The Promontory” in Monterey was eventually sold by AMCAL to Cal State University Monterey Bay. (Food for thought.)

The other day a group of students had a protest/sleep-in related to student housing. I’ll let this guy explain…


Here’s another more sketch, someone’s plans…



Iris Dement ~ sold out Sunday (but you might be able to go)

The Old Steeple website says the Iris Dement show Sunday is “SOLD OUT” (in all caps). I’ll assume you know a little about the songwriter, but in case you don’t, we’ll start the way her website begins, with a quote from some unnamed NPR writer:

“Iris DeMent makes music that celebrates humanity’s efforts toward salvation, while acknowledging that most of our time on Earth is spent reconciling with the fact that we don’t feel so redeemed. Grounded in hymns, early country songs, gospel and folk, DeMent’s work is treasured by those who know it for its insight and unabashed beauty.” NPR

Earlier this year the Americana Music Association awarded Iris a lifetime achievement award, specifically the Americana Trailblazer Award, for work spanning 25 years beginning  with her debut album “Infamous Angel.” I think I first heard her when a song from that record, “Our Town,” was used on the TV show Northern Exposure.

She played at the Americana trade organization’s annual event with her old friend John Prine delivering Mr. Prine’s classic “In Spite Of Ourselves.”

What else has she been up to? Writing protest songs and doing her part for one cause after another.

I suspect it’s going to be one of those shows people will be talking about for awhile. Call 707-786-7030 if you want to get on the Old Steeple’s waiting list for Sunday’s show, or get ahold of me, since I have an extra ticket waiting for me at call waiting. (It’s not a freebie. I’m paying my way and I expect you to do the same.) 

If you’re too late, you can always hear Iris’ husband, Greg Brown, on February 28th when he plays at the Old Steeple. That will be another sold out show so plan ahead. I may get a ticket tomorrow night. He’s been writing protest songs too… 

Post show addendum: Someone wrote, “Everybody is wondering what or where that ticket came from?”

Well, the “ticket” was just a place on the waiting list. Last time I went a show at the Old Steeple, Paul, the owner, mentioned that there were some tickets left to Iris’ show. During intermission, I was in the Ferndale Music part of the building, where I talked briefly with the artist who was playing. When I asked the Steeple folks about the tickets, I found they’d sold them when I was talking, minutes earlier.

The woman asked if I wanted to get on the waiting list. I said sure. I was first on the list. They called me when the tix came available due to someone cancelling, then called again to remind me that the tickets would be at the door waiting.

As it turned out, I did not go to the show. My date didn’t want to go for reasons I won’t go into here, and I used this column to find someone who offered to drive us down to Ferndale. We talked that afternoon just after there was a flurry of heavy wind and rain and decided to bail on our reservations. It’s a long dark drive down there.

I called the venue and they said there were plenty of people who wanted the tix and thanked me for warning them that I wouldn’t need them. That’s probably more than you expected in answer to your question, but there you are. I missed out and stayed home and watched Mudbound on Netflix…

Some things I found at the Sanctuary

You may know the Sanctuary as a music/arts venue or an art workshop “committed to creative growth through the arts and engendering a spirit of community,” some sort of “grassroots experiment in sharing.” (All at 1301 J Street in Arcata.)

Duke adds, “Taco Tuesday Potluck and weekly Open Labs 🙂 Amazing Place, Venue, Arts, and Folks…”

Did you know they also have a record label? Sounds of the Sanctuary has three albums out, all three connected to Daniel Nickerson in some way. He recorded all of the projects, one as a player another “dreamed up, written, & recorded by Daniel at the Sanctuary for the inaugural Summer CSA. 

More on that later…

The space once looked like below, apparently last time a Google car came by in 2012, it was still the Arcata Church of Christ.

1301 J Street in Arcata

It looks way different now.

Whale of a time (Sunday)


I got a call last night from my friend Steve Lazar, the Postcard King. He was hoping I’d help get the word out for this special historical film screening/lecture happening Sunday at the Miniplex in Richard’s Goat about the history of whaling in Humboldt. He said he’d send me some postcards, which fortunately didn’t take much time since it didn’t involve any stamps or the Post Office stuff like that, because, well, we live in a digital era, where, for better or worse, we can send instant postcards via FB-Message.


I have to admit, I don’t know much about local whaling, and IMHO, it was sad that these giants of the ocean were once hunted. Without going off on too much of a tangent, I think it’s possible that they are smarter than us. The fact that they don’t walk on land or have opposable thumbs or other things that supposedly make us superior never gave us the right to kill them. What do suppose they think of us?


Anyway, returning to my conversation with Steve, he had his Historical Society friend Morgan send me an email with some P.R.


As a fundraiser for our digital archive project, Historical Society staff will present archival film footage of whaling crews on the high seas in pursuit of whales off the Humboldt coast. Film footage includes shots of the Eureka whaling station at Fields Landing, the last operating whaling station in the country. Recorded in the 1940s, the original reel-to-reel film will be shown using a vintage projector.
Running vintage cellulose film on an original projector is dangerous business, but not to worry – this film has already been preserved digitally. This screening is a fundraiser to support the digitization of other valuable resources unique to the Humboldt County Historical Society collection.
Historical Society archivist and historian James Garrison will provide live narration and historical presentation about the Eureka Whaling Station at Fields Landing and the history of whaling in Northern Humboldt. There will be two presentation times, one from 4-5pm and one from 6-7pm.

There will be ready-to-frame photo-prints for purchase. All profits from photo-print sales will directly fund our digitization project.

Thank you for helping us spread the word!

Best Regards, Morgan Harvey

Humboldt County Historical Society Research Assistant

A little more about the whaling station at Fields Landing can be found on the H-Society website. The station opened June 1940, with the ship “Gleaner” bringing in the first whales. “From the start the station was promoted as a tourist attraction. Sightseers paid a small admission fee to watch a whale being butchered. Local newspapers announced when a whale was on deck, and people arrived dressed up to have their photographs taken with the dead whales.”


“This girl is standing in the mouth of a Finback Whale, her hands resting on in the baleen plates in the whale’s upper jaw.”

Again, knowing as much as we know now about whales, it’s hard to imagine what’s going through the heads of people posing with freshly butchered whales, but whatever.

Here’s a clip about whaling further down the Pacific Coast. Steve wanted to save the rare footage of local whaling figuring it should be a surprise when (and if) you see it Sunday. Maybe I’ll see you there…

Thomas Mapfumo: Voice of the Revolution revisited

Fifteen years ago I did this interview with Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo, aka the Voice of the Revolution. A headline about what’s going on in his homeland made me revisit our chat. It took a long time to dislodge the despot who ruled Zimbabwe, but it looks like Robert Mugabe may finally be gone.

When Thomas Mapfumo began his musical career, the country he lived in was called Rhodesia. During the armed struggle in the ’70s to drive out the colonial government and establish Zimbabwe, the songs he wrote and recorded were an integral part of the revolution. He called his music chimurenga, using a word from the Shona language that means struggle.

The music he makes with his band, the Blacks Unlimited, combines the sound of the mbira, a traditional Shona thumb piano, with horns and electric guitars. Mapfumo is still singing songs that comment on the corruption and injustice he sees in his homeland and elsewhere.

Before he came Humboldt County, I called him at his home away from home in Oregon. He was working in a studio there writing new songs dealing with the issues of the day…

What are you writing about now?

There are a lot of issues. We sing about the problems that the world is facing today. As you know there are so many disturbing situations that we hear about like the situation back in Zimbabwe, the situation in Palestine, these kinds of situations are all over the world. There are a lot of people who are not very free in this world. They don’t have their freedom. They don’t have a voice. We as musicians, through our music, we can be their voice.

When you were growing up, you lived with your grandparents in the country, in a somewhat traditional Shona home. Does what you do with your music connect in some way with traditional Shona music?

Music back home played a very important role. Sometimes you would have music for the workers. The workers in the field would have music to encourage them, to give them enough strength to work. There is music for fairs and music for when you gather because someone is dead. This is a different type of music. Another is music for when people are partying, gathered together enjoying themselves, drinking beer, drumming and singing, things like that. There are some traditional ceremonies held where the elders gather and there is mbira music going on, and then some medium spirits are also there. That is the work of the music, and as I say before, music also has a very important role to play concerning politics.

When you were fighting to establish Zimbabwe, the music you made was part of the revolutionary struggle…

We would write songs that would encourage fighters, those who were fighting from the bush, fighting for freedom. That type of music actually motivated them to fight fiercely.

This is what you call chimurenga music?

Yes, Chimurenga means struggle.

I understand there was an earlier revolt or chimurenga at the end of the 19th Century.

Chimurenga Chekutanga was fought by Mbuya Nehanda. She was a medium spirit and she was actually arrested and executed by the white regime.

The revolutionary struggle in the ’70s, Chimurenga Chechipiri, was led by a group that called itself the Patriotic Front… Were you aligned with the Patriotic Front?

I was part of the struggle, but not part of the Patriotic Front. I was one of the oppressed, so actually it was very, very important for me to join the struggle and fight together with my people, but I wasn’t affiliated with any political party because I stand by myself.

When the struggle was won, there were elections and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. How did your role change?

My role at that time was to unite the people. All of Zimbabwe’s population, blacks and whites should be seen walking hand in hand, doing the same thing at the same time like brothers and sisters. Some of the white people were born there, they grew up there, they don’t have no other home to go to. They are Zimbabweans as well, and to see them being harassed because of political reasons, I did not think was logical.

I assume that stance was not universal, that there were blacks who wanted to see all of the white people gone.

That’s right. In any society, you find white people who don’t have a good mind, who think all black people are bad, and you can also go to the black side and find people who think all whites are bad. Those kind of people, they must be discouraged. You know we are all the same in the eyes of God and no one can change that.

When the Patriotic Front won the war and change came in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe of ZANU took power. I take it you are not happy with what happened later. What went wrong?

The thing is, they say ZANU liberated the country, that ZANU and ZAPU liberated the country, but I don’t think so, because everyone was involved in that war. They should say Zimbabweans liberated themselves.

And there was a struggle for power between ZANU and ZAPU, between Mugabe and Nkomo…

That’s right. They pretended to be together for the struggle when they formed the Patriotic Front. But when the war ended, Mugabe parted ways with Nkomo because he knew he had an advantage over him because Nkomo came from Montebeliland. He was not Shona and Mugabe knew very well that the Shonas were the majority. Most of the people who were in the Patriotic Front were from Shonaland and he knew he had the support of the Shona people. He was very ambitious and wanted to be the president. He wanted power.

Is this a classic case of the corruption that come with power? I remember a song you wrote years ago, “Corruption.”

That song was about Mugabe and his ministers. After about eight years we started noticing that there were a lot of corrupt people working within this government. This is the reason I wrote the song, I wanted the people to know that it was a corrupt regime.

How did they respond to your criticism?

Well, some people said the song should be banned from being played on the radio and they don’t play it any more. Some said, ‘Give it a green light. Let it play, because this man is singing the truth.’

And since the government runs the radio stations your music might not get airplay…

That is very true. It is government controlled radio. Now after they banned “Corruption” they also banned this other song, “Chimurenga Explosion” and they have banned my latest release, “Chimurenga Rebel.”

What sorts of things are you commenting on at this point.

I was commenting on a lot of things, like these people when they were campaigning for the presidential elections, a lot of people were beaten. These youths from the ruling party, they call the militias, they were going ’round from house to house asking for ZANU-PF membership cards. If you don’t have a card you are suspected to be an MDC supporter. They beat you up. The police were doing the same thing, the soldiers were doing the same thing, harassing the opposition supporters wherever they see them. When it came to the election results, it was laughable. You cannot believe it was done by a man with President Mugabe’s status. He’s not supposed to act that way he did. It was clearly a fraud. The elections were not free and fair. They claim that they won the elections, and now they want to sit down with the opposition, with the MDC and work out the problems, but they are the ones who created the problem.

Does other popular music in Zimbabwe have a political edge? I’ve heard Oliver Mtukudzi, and he sings about AIDS and some indirectly political things.

A lot of the music played by these youngsters is what you call it — music about love, bedroom love — they sing about their girlfriends and things like that. There are not a lot of bands who try to do political music. Some of them are afraid to stand up and speak out.

Because it is dangerous?

Of course it is really dangerous. Like what I was telling you about the youths going house to house looking for people who have no membership cards.

Do you have one?

I don’t. I don’t need it.

I assume you famous enough that they would not attack you personally, at least not physically.

I’m a big name myself and a lot of people support me. So you have to think twice before you do anything with me.

So your recent songs are a comment on what happened with the election and after?

Yes, they are. I really have to comment. What we need now is unity among our people. Some in power are trying to run away from the accusations. They know very well that there are a lot of questions that must be answered. They know they have a lot to answer for, but they are trying by all means to hang onto their power. As I said before, we musicians speak as the voice of the people. It is my role as a musician to speak out.