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Jul 23rd
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Love Your Local Band

Music - Love Your Local Band

HAJI P.

HAJI P.

What do you get when you cross fresh beats with intelligent rhymes that mix humor into the trials and tribulations of real life? Santa Cruz’s Haji P. Born in Hawaii (no, he doesn’t know Obama), Haji grew up alternating between Oahu and New Jersey, and attended college in Wilmington, N.C., where he formed hip-hop duo Brown Co. with friend and fellow artist DunDee; he finally settled (for now) in Santa Cruz in late 2007. Last February, Haji released his second solo album, Neighborhood Kid, in collaboration with DJ MF Shalem. Even though it’s riddled with witty metaphors and addictive beats, and follows a Brer Rabbit-style storyline, Neighborhood Kid is essentially a down and dirty look into a life dealing with racism (“You’re gonna burn my church but you can’t just give me a cup of Kool-Aid?” he raps on “Neighbors”), along with the other, normal pains of life like dating—all the while trying to stay as normal as possible (“You ain’t got to knock on my door, I’ll be sitting on my front porch,” he assures on “Porch Swing”). “It definitely took a minute getting used to the Bay,” he states with a constant laugh and tongue-in-cheek demeanor. “The minute I got here I was like, ‘Yo, this ain’t the same! There’s no biscuits, no racism, what am I going to do?’” But unlike most rappers today, Haji P. is the real deal, staying as close to the truth as possible and continually practicing what he preaches. Along with writing rhymes, Haji works at the Boys & Girls Club and is currently legitimizing a nonprofit children’s charity called “Neighborhood Kid Foundation.” Despite all his community work and creative work, don’t think that he lets it all inflate his ego: “I’m not a saint, I have my troubles, you know? Whatever the situation is, I gotta make the best of it; if it didn’t kill me, I’m lucky. I write it down and make it into something entertaining.”


INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $6/adv, $8/door. 423-1338. Hajip.com.

Music - Love Your Local Band

Noise Clinic

Noise Clinic

There can be beauty in chaos, melody in meltdowns, and bliss in torrential sonic attacks. Just ask Taito Reed and company. When you want to investigate the old adage “There is light through all the darkness,” hit up the former Junk Sick Dawn frontman’s latest project, Noise Clinic. Balancing structure with floods of improv, pitting screeching elements of jagged rock against classical strings and random found sounds, spewing shouts and spoken word, singer/guitarist Reed, violinist/singer Sayaka Yabuki, drummer Rick Walker, and bassist Joe Gabent eschew the norm. The quartet, made up of veteran musicians long steeped in the local scene, lands itself in an ambiguous state where the aggressiveness of punk coalesces with quiet poetry.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Project Felon

Project Felon

Despite the moniker, Project Felon is the brainchild of two friends who share a simple love for hip-hop and good times, Playz and Kevlar. “We’ve made mistakes in the past,” explains Playz, “but we’re beyond it. I’ve got kids, they need me and that’s as real as it gets.” Kevlar adds in agreement, “A lot of the time people live in the past and let that determine their future. It’s all about making the right decisions.” With that mantra in mind, Project Felon has been working hard trying to establish Santa Cruz in the hip-hop world. Armed with Playz’s rhymes and beats, along with Kevlar’s freestyle flow, Project Felon’s live performances have earned the duo everything from radio interviews to television spots.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

DJ Tom LG

 DJ Tom LGOn nearly any given day of the week you can find DJ Tom LG (Lakos-Galleguillos) dressed to the nines, spinning big band swing and jazz (Sides Speakeasy Monday nights at the 515), early R&B (The Red Light Night, Fridays  at The Red), and ragtime and rockabilly (Atom & Eve at Motiv every other Wednesday); plus a plethora of added gigs all as unique, original and classy as the vintage attire that people wear to dance to his sets. All of this makes him one of the hardest working DJs on the scene.
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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Inciters

The Inciters

There’s nothing like a little volcano ash to make a band bust a move. That’s what happened to Santa Cruz 11-piece soul ensemble The Inciters, when it got stuck in Germany this April because its plane home was grounded due to a headline-making volcanic eruption in Iceland. The band thought it had finished its European tour, but with debris looming overhead and dues to pay for last-minute room and board in Hamburg, it was show time. “We had to hustle,” founding trumpeter Rick Kendrick begins, “we were all broke, running out of money at the end of a tour, and having to pay for all of us to stay at a hostel.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

On The Spot Trio

On The Spot Trio

For a lot of bands, there’s one definitive show that changes everything; an inextinguishable fire is lit and there’s no turning back. Call it something in the stars, call it the apex moment when all the hard work culminates into one triumphant display of maturation, call it Fate casting down her signal to say, “I’ve been watching you and I’m here to help.” For Santa Cruz’s burgeoning Hammond organ trio, On The Spot, that gig was last September at San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room. Three years since first assembling, having joked around from the start that someday Soulive would be sitting in the crowd at one of their shows, guitarist Danny Mayer, organ player Kris Yunker, and drummer Emery Nelson were invited to play—insert jaws dropping here—a Soulive after-party.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Your Music Olympicks

Your Music Olympicks

Tin and aluminum are the traditional gifts for a 10-year anniversary, but Your Music Magazine is seeing gold, silver and bronze. For a decade now, YMM has been sponsoring Your Music Olympicks, a battle of the bands bringing out some of the hardest hitting unsigned local musicians from the Bay and Sacramento. Each year bands compete to earn the title of “best band” not only by earning points at specific YMO events based on audience vote, but individual members can also raise their band’s standing by winning in categories such as Best Vocals, Best Guitar Solo, and more.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Blackbird Raum

Blackbird RaumThe beautiful thing about music is its versatility. A song can be a story, a dance party or a soapbox for the band; a couple of minutes mixed with various instruments to communicate a smorgasbord of ideas. Nobody understands this better than the members of Blackbird Raum. By fusing harmonizing vocals singing allegorical lyrics with accordions, banjos, washboards, mandolins, a washtub bass and even saw blades, the quintet creates pure, fast-paced Americana. The origins of the ensemble started around 2003, when accordion player Zack and banjoist Caspian met while drifting on the open highway and bonded over their similar anarchist ideology and love of punk music. “A lot of the music we’re playing is about a time in our life when we were traveling around riding trains and squatting,” Caspian explains. “We couldn’t play traditional punk, so we took random instruments and taught ourselves how to play them.” The founding duo went on to play streets and house parties wherever they went, later adding Mars on mandolin/saw, David on washtub bass, and a then 15-year-old named K.C. on washboard. Since then, Blackbird Raum has continued traveling the dusty roads, playing for anyone who will listen, whether it’s a huge show like the Northwest Folklife Festival or passers-by on Pacific Avenue. Last year saw the release of their second full-length, Under the Starling Host, a compilation of songs channeling ideas of environmentalism, community and fighting for your beliefs. Taking their name from the Hermetic demon, Raum (a crow that adopts human form in order to steal from the rich), with antiquated instruments in hand, these vagabonds create something entirely new out of the ancient. “I feel there’s truth to us calling this demon when we play,” says K.C. “Our music promotes ‘out with the old and in with the reality,’” Zack chimes in. “There’s more to this world than what our society has to offer. The truth is out there.”

INFO: West Coast tour kickoff show on May 21 TBA. Myspace.com/blackbirdraum.
Music - Love Your Local Band

Audiafauna

Audiafauna

“None of us have ever played anything like this before,” singer Kelly Koval says of her five bandmates in Audiafauna and the surprising folktronica sound they’ve stumbled upon. “There’s no real lead instrument,” she continues. “It all just builds into one. We are one big instrument.” And as one big instrument, the 22-year-old and her cohorts are making one big impression. A fresh mosaic of acoustic strings, electronic soundscapes, dreamy vocals and brash hip-hop nuances, Audiafauna combines the classical with the cutting-edge—and it’s making plenty of ears perk up around town.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Vibrant EYEris

Vibrant EYEris

Vibrant EYEris isn’t just about music, it’s about a movement to open the third eye with heavy dubstep beats. “Hip-Hop has become a divine element in my life,” states lyricist Numerous. “It’s strength through struggle,” agrees co-founder and beats maestro Enthusiast, “It symbolizes freedom and the human desire to expand consciousness.” With this mission in mind, Vibrant EYEris has already dropped two albums; 2010’s EP U>F>E>P, and last year’s debut full-length, Hip Hop Don’t Stop. It all started in early 2009. “I had been looking for a permanent beat producer for a while,” Numerous explains, “and when Enthusiast played me his latest work I started busting some intense freestyles.” Thus began a powerful and productive collaboration. By fusing thick dubstep beats with the flow of conscious hip-hop, Vibrant EYEris has created a unique sound of smart dance music—a party with a message. Since forming, the ensemble has played more than a hundred shows, everywhere from house parties to opening up for hip-hop veterans and fellow conscious rappers, Dead Prez, this last February. Boasting musical influences spanning Jimi Hendrix to Gift of Gab, and political influences like Ron Paul, Vibrant EYEris uses music as a way to transcend the barriers of everyday society. Making big plans for 2010, the group is getting  ready to drop a second full-length, Illadellica, later this year. For now,  the pair’s included a drummer, Rosta, for a rare mix of live and digital beats with each performance, which it will bring to this week’s Your Music Magazine Olympicks on Friday, April 23, at Cypress Lounge. While it’s too early to tell just where Vibrant EYEris is headed, the guys are keeping all options open. “As far fetched as it sounds,” Numerous says with a cracked smile, “I’m hoping technology will advance quickly enough so that we can rock on another planet or galaxy, maybe at some crazy intergalactic space rave.” Time will only tell, but until then keep your EYEris open for the next generation of hip-hop. | Mat Weir

 

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Trip Delight Fantastic

Trip Delight Fantastic

A group of people stand in line waiting for popcorn at last year’s Burning Man Decompression party in San Francisco—organized, calm and fixating on their next salty snack fix. Flash forward 20 minutes later to a scene in which said popcorn line has morphed into an all-out dance party in which any remaining “line” is buried beneath an amorphous unit of booty-shakers and stilt-walkers crowding around one feverish Santa Cruz ensemble, Trip Delight Fantastic. “

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

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Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.