JIVING BY THE SEA: At the end of the swinging San Francisco soul-rock-Big Easy-gypsy-jazz band Royal Jelly Jive’s Humboldt Live Sessions video, singer Lauren Bjelde holds up the feathery blades of a large branch of Pterygophora seaweed. “Ptery, like the Latin root, ‘wings’ — it actually is a winged kelp,” said the top-hatted master diver and smoky-voiced chanteuse as she swayed with the sand-anchored stalk. “The stalk is really thick, so in a current you can really hold onto it when you’re counting fish.”
Bjelde, a student of anthropology who has explored sunken ships and deep reefs, is drawn to the mysterious and murky qualities of the sea. An always-costumed group whose songs robustly pulse with tales of seafarers, wayfarers, and partiers, Royal Jelly Jive loves a bit of whimsy and wild-spiritedness. They are known for their now annual Spirit Ball, where each member dresses as her or his spirit animal, and many of the first songs on their self-titled debut album take direct inspiration from Bjelde’s aquatic explorations. “The ‘Pterygophora’ bass line was literally inspired by a jelly polyp organism floating by,” Bjelde said. “The whole concept of the ebb and flow just on the surface, or the ocean being one drop in a changing thing, it’s a thing that I can get very Zen about.”
With their ocean-loving ways, the very lively Royal Jelly Live make for a great fit at the Cabin By the Sea series tonight, Thursday, May 12, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) at 9 p.m., hosted by Santa Barbara’s environmentally attuned singer/songwriter and concert series founder Erisy Watt; We Are Humans also join. Proceeds for the night’s events help out the Wilderness Youth Project, which connects children with outdoors experiences.
On Royal Jelly Jive’s upcoming album, Stand Up, the effusively festive six-piece takes a more upfront stance toward taking action. While most of Bjelde’s most explicitly conservationist lyrics will likely show up in solo efforts, like her unreleased song “Fisherman’s Lament,” the new album is about enacting change through community spiritedness. “It’s about standing up for who you are, standing up for the community and the people around you, and love,” she said of the new album. Royal Jelly Jive worked on Stand Up at Prairie Sun Recording Studio in Cotati, California, where the legendary Tom Waits — one of the band’s music heroes — laid down tracks before.
If the band were to curate their own party, said accordionist Jesse Lemme Adams, it would have endless supplies of hot toddies (Bjelde’s favorite) and, with surreal costumes and Edison lightbulbs, the whimsy and high energy that is “in the bones of our music and our vibe and energy.” Bring your best dancing boots and costumed attire, as this Jive is sure to be a jamming one.
A DIME A BAKER’S DOZEN: Who says Friday the 13th has to be a bad day? Raise a glass to reversing superstitions on Friday, when The Carolyn Sills Combo, who will get toes tapping alongside taps pouring, plays the S.B. outpost of the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (137 Anacapa St.) from 6-9 p.m. At the Combo’s core is husband-wife duo Carolyn Sills and Gerard Egan, who left the winds of Chicago for the beaches of Santa Cruz, where they founded Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Some may know Egan from his days with the famous Guns N’ Roses cover band Mr. Brownstone. This is Santa Cruz–style country music — imagine a somewhat psychedelic Patsy Cline on a surfboard. With award nominations as one of the top Western swing groups in the country, the Combo — whose new album, Dime Stories Vol. 2, drops May 27 — will make for a plenty enjoyable accompaniment to a round of Hoppy Poppies.