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Oct 02nd
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Best Arts, Entertainment & Nightlife

best6_ae_felixArt Gallery
FELIX KULPA
For more than a decade now, Felix Kulpa Gallery been a bastion for art and sculptures. Whenever you walk down Elm Street, just behind Streetlight Records in Downtown Santa Cruz, you can see its extraordinary sculpture garden, with the gallery sitting behind it. And, with gallery manager Robbie Schoen at the helm, FK is now an institution. Santa Cruzans love its funky exterior and sculpture garden, and the gallery contains rotating exhibits, which display the work of predominantly local artists. Upcoming exhibits include the work of painters, photographers, group shows, and a neon show toward the end of the year. “It’s the found art object world headquarters,” Schoen says. “And it’s a little bit dangerous.”  Hours are noon to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. FUN FACT: One of Manager Robbie Schoen’s favorite shows had to do with motorcycle art. | Christa Martin
Runners-up
Artisans, MAH, Motiv

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Billiards
FAST EDDY'SBestOof2010icon
Most associate pool with the drinking crowd, but that’s exactly what makes Fast Eddy’s unique. Yes, it has a bar, but at the same time, its mix of both the over and under 21 crowds is something you don’t typically see at other pool halls. So not only is Fast Eddy’s the place to go for billiards if you’re not of legal drinking age, but it has also carved out a niche for those who just want a more low-key setting. That’s something to get behind the eight-ball for.
FUN FACT: Has approximately 470 balls rolling around the place. | Zach Stoloff
Runners-up
Surf City Billiards, Catalyst, Santa Cruz Billiards

Dance Club
MOTIVBestOof2010icon
Compared to downtown stalwarts like the Blue Lagoon and Rosie McCann’s, Motiv is the new kid on the block. However, in the short time it’s been around, the club has already gained a reputation for hosting some of the best electronic music and local DJs around. Check out those special event nights. FUN FACT: Holds a college night every Thursday, and carries a diverse dinner menu in addition to the nightclub scene. | ZS
Runners-up
Blue Lagoon,  Catalyst, Moe’s Alley

Drum Circle
JIM GREINERBestOof2010icon
When you think “drum circle,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably not organization. Well, Jim Greiner is bucking the traditional drum circling stereotype, using the art as a way to not only to build camaraderie, but also in corporate team building. Greiner looks at drum circling as a way to build energy and relieve stress, in addition to its ability to celebrate life. Also in contrast to the stereotype, Greiner is available for hire at all sorts of events. FUN FACT: Teaches drum circling for corporate environments. | ZS
Runners-up
Westside Farmers Market, Farmers Market Downtown, Planet Cruz Comedy Hour

Improv Troupe
SCRIPTEASE
BestOof2010icon
Here’s the thing: Every Scriptease performance has certain scenes called “strip scenes” that enact the stripping rule, which states that the actor that “flubs” up has to strip when the audience tells him or her to.  Sign us up. FUN FACT: Audiences can be very brutal. | Charlie Price
Runners-up
Um Gee Um, Free Fall, You Had To Be There

Festival
CAPITOLA ART & WINEBestOof2010icon
Held annually in the late summer or early fall (2010’s is Sept. 11 and 12) the Art & Wine Fest not only brings together many local wineries, but also provides plenty of food, live music, and other family-friendly activities. And, of course, the entire event takes place within the confines of the quaint Capitola Village. That’s seems to be plenty for readers to make it the “best.” FUN FACT: Features more than 150 artists and 17 wineries. | ZS
Runners-up Blue’s Festival , Greek, Begonia

Karaoke
I LOVE SUSHIBestOof2010icon
Hands down your choice stage to slam down some sake and sing your heart out, the ’80s classic hits live on in this Japanese eatery’s back room. Everyone’s the next American Idol at I Love Sushi, where plenty of birthdays have gone way beyond the call of duty, adding the “Eye of the Tiger” and more to the usual birthday serenade. You want food and fun? Step up to the mic at the restaurant where the hit songs come barreling out as hot as the wasabi. FUN FACT: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is the most common song the staff hears coming out of the karaoke room. | Linda Koffman
Runners-up
Boardwalk Bowl, Coasters, Bocci’s Cellar

Local Band of the YearBestOof2010icon
EXTRA LARGE
Once again, Santa Cruz is happy to shake its money maker and elect Extra Large as its favorite band. This six-piece funk powerhouse mixes positive attitudes and humor with elements of Latin rock and reggae for an experience that’s larger than life. Along with the band’s own list of original groove-tastic melodies, Extra Large is known for some unusual covers not normally tackled by your average funk aficionados, like Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance,” for example. You never know quite what to expect when Extra Large takes the stage with drums, accordion, flutes, saxes, drums and, of course, that smooth bass that cries out the collective’s motto, “We dare you not to dance!” (extra-large.net)
FUN FACT: Lead singer/saxophonist Russ Leal and percussionist Valerie Leal are married. | Mat Weir
Runners-up
Matt Masih & The Messengers, The Devil Makes Three, Ribsy’s Nickel

Movie Theater
DEL MARBestOof2010icon
With its old fashioned marquee and ticket window, the Del Mar—like many other places in Santa Cruz—hearkens back to an earlier era. But not only is there the nostalgia value, its Friday and Saturday midnight movies have become something of a necessary hazing for UCSC freshmen and high school locals. And then there are always the special showings—in the past featuring everything from Kevin Smith marathons to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Still, locals love the place for the wide variety of indie films that run each year. Pass the popcorn! FUN FACT: The theatre originally opened on Aug. 14, 1936, with the world premiere of the Warner Brothers' film China Clipper. | ZS
Runners-up Nickelodeon, Cinema 9, Green Valley

Live Performances, Music Venue (Dedicated)
THE CATALYSTBestOof2010icon
It’s no secret that Santa Cruz’s music scene is far bigger than the city’s small size, and The Catalyst is where many of the largest touring acts to come through town make their stop. From big names like Snoop Dog and Willie Nelson to popular indie acts like Explosions in the Sky, The Catty hosts them all—in addition to the many local bands that play smaller shows in the Atrium. With two stages, four bars, and one heck of a reputation, The Catalyst has earned its mark in the city. FUN FACT: The Catalyst moved from its first home on Front Street to its current location on Pacific Avenue in 1976. | ZS
Runners-up
Kuumbwa, Moe’s Alley, The Rio

Music Venue (Bar/Restaurant)
THE CREPE PLACEBestOof2010icon
Transforming itself into one of the most sought-after concert spots around, the Crepe Place front room has evolved into a music venue that’s unlike anywhere else in town. Further solidifying Santa Cruz as a coveted spot on the major touring map, it’s become a favorite testing ground for mammoth acts like one little pixie, Frank Black. The intimate locale puts you up close and personal with your favorite bands—local and touring, underground and mainstream—all against a warm setting replete with fine dining, a full bar and friendly staff. Rock out with your crepe out.
FUN FACT: Dave Rawlings recently made a surprise appearance during the Dawes encore by jumping over the sound system to land onstage. | LK
Runners-up
Catalyst, Moe's Alley, Crow’s Nest

Music Venue: (coffeehouse), Hangout for Students
CAFFÉ PERGOLESIBestOof2010icon
Perhaps the greatest coffee shop in the area in terms of people watching, Perg is still relatively new to the live music game. Still, on many a weekend people pack into the small converted Victorian house to see a given local band or acoustic act in a very intimate setting. Also one of the great student hangouts downtown, there’s nothing quite like lazily reading a book with a beer or cup of coffee on Perg’s sunny patio. FUN FACT: Over the past couple years it has begun hosting an open mic night. | ZS
Runners-up
(Cafe/Coffeehouse)  The Abbey, The Ugly Mug, The Crepe Place (Hangout for Students) The Abbey, Red Room, Asana

Nightclub DJ
DJ TOM LGBestOof2010icon
For those who haven’t heard the name Tom LG by now, then apparently they never get out in the Bay Area nightlife. Whether it’s in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Jose or anywhere in between, DJ Tom LG has the whole Bay on lock down with his cache of more than 8,000 45, 33 and 78 rpm vinyl records spanning every genre.  His dapper hat and tie are cool, and he spins original swing music as the hep cats and cool chicks dance in authentic attire at the MOTIV bar and Red Room, dropping rockabilly and good ol’ R&B to sooth the soul on most nights of the week. FUN FACT: You can catch him at the 515 on Monday nights. | MW
Runners-up
Dj Sy-ence, DJ AD

Place to Take The Kids
BEACHBestOof2010icon
Santa Cruz is essentially famous as a beach town—whether it be for its surfing history or historical Beach Boardwalk—so it should come as no surprise it’s the best place around for the family. Moreover, there are just so many options, whether you want to head out to Seacliff, the Capitola Village, or the Boardwalk. Each beach has its own character and unique local shopping, making a beach trip more than just a one-day affair. FUN FACT: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is California’s oldest operating amusement park. | ZS
Runners-up
Boardwalk, Long’s Marine Lab, Pump’d Inflatable Fun Center

Radio Station
KPIGBestOof2010icon
Appropriately located in Freedom, Calif., KPIG continues to be your choice on the dial for its progressive slinging of down-home tunes, entertaining deejays, and the ever-beloved Hog Call. Cutting the fat and getting straight to the meat of good music, 107.5 has been filling your sonic trough with country, blues, folk and rock since 1988. Just as it spreads the Americana words and wisdom of songwriting legends and locals alike, the station is a star in its own right: the inimitable Robert Earl Keen and Todd Snider each lend lyrical nods to KPIG in the songs “I’m Comin’ Home” and “Beer Run,” respectively. It’s no wonder why; KPIG continues to lay it down like no other. And that’s the honest-to-Hog truth.
FUN FACT: In 1995, KPIG became the first radio station in the world to webcast its programs. | LK
Runners-up
KZSC, KUSP, KSCO

Solo Musician
best6_ae_musicianJOE FERRARA
Joe Ferrara is no stranger to being voted Best Solo Musician; he received the nod 20 years ago. Having moved to Santa Cruz in 1976, the 60-year-old singer-songwriter has been a staple around town for the past three decades. Making the most out of a simple stool, a nylon-string guitar, and the same baritone pipes that proficiently belt out folk and rock standards, Ferrara knows how to go with the flow—and it’s gotten your attention. “Sometimes people want to sing along and sometimes they just want to listen,” he says. “Whatever mood the audience is in, I’m happy to go that route.” Having established a residency at the old Grapesteak in Soquel when he first hit town, the veteran now performs weekly at the Shadowbrook Restaurant, and also has a yearly stint singing the national anthem at a Giants game. When out of the ball park and onstage, Ferrara summons a varied setlist for a family-friendly crowd. Still playing some of the songs he performed as a 19-year-old, he reinvigorates classics like Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” and Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Some of the setlist might be the same as his early days, but the singer’s certainly grown up a bit. “I’ve gotten a lot grayer since then,” he says, letting out a big laugh. “Twenty years ago I looked like Frank Zappa with a full head of black hair. Now, I look like Santa Clause on a good day or Einstein on a bad one. Still, it’s tremendously gratifying to be recognized in a community with so many amazing musicians.” Perhaps the reason why he’s still your favorite solo act was summed up by a little boy who recently put a dollar in Ferrara’s tip jar at a gig. He looked up at the grizzled elder and said simply, “You play peaceful music.” FUN FACT: Ferrara’s been ending every set with his original song “There are Times” since 1978. | LK
Runners-up
Dave Kingsley, Keith Greeninger, Jesse Autum

Street Performer
GREAT MORGANIBestOof2010icon
Who knew accordion could be so cool? Well, you did, apparently. And while the Great Morgani has the kind of fashion sense that might get him into the band GWAR if the over-the-top metal act would take on an accordionist, for now, he pleases tourists and locals alike along the streets of Pacific Avenue, constantly changing his ornate costumes. He’s often found near Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting during the summer months.
FUN FACT: Purports to play “everything except ‘Lady of Spain’ and Metallica.” | ZS
Runners-up
Pink Umbrella Man, Accordion Guy, Balloon Guy

Theater Company
SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZBestOof2010icon
In 1981, Santa Cruz fell in love with a new theater company—its very own Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Delivering summer repertory shows, each helmed by a highly respected director, and showcasing the talents of gifted actors from across America, the company has become a town favorite. The upcoming summer season, under the artistic direction of Mario Barricelli, features “The Lion in Winter,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and “Othello,” with a two-show run of “La Ronde.”  FUN FACT: Artistic Director Mario Barricelli recently starred with Olympia Dukakis in the play, “Vigil,” in San Francisco. | CM
Runners-up
Actors Theatre, Cabrillo Stage, Mountain Community

Best of 2010 Index:
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