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Love Your Local Band

Music - Love Your Local Band

LabRat

LabRat

It’s been a rapid rise to dubstep fame for 24-year-old bicycle mechanic Travis Egner-Williams, who only adopted his LabRat alias within the last four years. “A lot of my pull is thanks to the Internet and being able to get my music out everywhere,” he explains. According to Egner-Williams, his fan base extends as far as Germany and Russia.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Shapes

The Shapes

When it comes to finding inspiration for their songs, Ashley Lloyd Thompson and Alex Thompson—who sing, write and play guitars in the band The Shapes—can look just about anywhere. “A lot of our songs are inspired by our environment, whether that’s the natural environment that we’re surrounded by here in Santa Cruz or longing for that environment,” Alex says. “We’ve written a few love songs too, and a couple of duets that revolve around hope or love.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

North Pacific String Band

North Pacific String Band

Jeff Wilson, who plays banjo for North Pacific String Band, loves being part of original music experiences. “What I like about the music we play is that it’s fairly unique and kind of hard to put your finger on,” Wilson says. “We’re not just trying to do bluegrass or country or folk. It’s a mixture of those things and we try to add in a lot of musicality to all of that.” Originality and musicality aren’t ideas which are limited to the band’s exploits either.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Mark Twang

Mark Twang

Mark Twang plays a little bit of everything—rock, roots, jazz and bluegrass for starters—but so far they haven’t played much in public as evidenced by the fact that their upcoming show at Don Quixote’s will only be their second gig. But there’s a reason why the band isn’t performing a lot right now. “We have plans [to make an album],” says drummer Jeff Wilson. “We’re trying to do some things differently though and not just come out full-steam ahead and start playing all these shows.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Amanda West

Amanda West

Amanda West started singing sometime after she began walking, but before uttering her first words. Or that's what she's been told, at least. "My mother says that I sang before I talked," the Santa Cruz-based singer-songwriter recounts. "I just always loved singing." When the 11-year-old West picked up a guitar for the first time—a cheap garage-sale find belonging to her "hippy" parents—she says it was more in the interest of having "someone accompany me when I sang" than out of a particular urge to strum. It makes sense when you think about it.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Inciters

The Inciters

Betsy Jane Kniffen may have performed the national anthem at the opening Santa Cruz Derby Girls bout in March, but the lead siren of The Inciters has no intention of going solo. “The Inciters are a team,” she says, “and I’m honored to be a part of it.” While Kniffen fronts the 11-piece electric-soul outfit, her four back-up singers and band put on a mesmerizing synchronized show.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Transoceana

Transoceana

Danny Moriarty’s musical influences have been known to impact his life beyond his local rock band, Transoceana. “I went through two periods,” confesses the singer, guitarist and songwriter. “I borrowed Bono’s mullet look from the ’80s for a while, and then I dressed like I was from the ’70s and had big hair like Jimmy Page.” Bono and Page are also symbolic of Transoceana’s evolution as a band during their three years together.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Tilt

The Tilt

Although Jesse Malley, lead singer of the outlaw country, blues and rock ’n’ roll band The Tilt, no longer lives in Santa Cruz, she was born and raised here and this is where her love of music and performance began. “My dad worked at The Catalyst for 27 years, so I got to see a lot of music acts come through town,” she says. “Music always seemed to me to be such an incredible way to express yourself that I just stumbled upon my voice and jumped into it.” That jump eventually led to Malley heading down to San Diego to pursue a music career, and her band The Tilt has just released their full-length debut, Howlin’.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Driftless

The Driftless

Megan Saunders and the rest of the members of The Driftless—Blair McLaughlin, Jeffrey Kissell and Rob Smith—love their band. “We have a good time with it,” says Saunders (mandolin, banjo, vocals). “I’ve been in bands off and on for a lot of my life and sometimes it can take a lot of work, but with this group there isn’t any of the ego or drama you tend to get. ... It’s fun.” Not only is this evident when speaking with Saunders, who will use some variation of this quote roughly half a dozen times during our interview, but you can sense it in their music, too.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley is methodical when it comes to his music. “If you locked me in a room for two hours and told me I could come out after I’d written a song, I’d still be in there at the end of the two hours,” Loosley chuckles. This helps explain why his forthcoming release, Blood Year, is coming out five years after his last record, 2008’s The Wrecker. A full-time teacher, Loosley cannot write, record and tour as often as other musicians do, so sometimes he has to challenge himself.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Gembrokers

The Gembrokers

“The heart of the ocean beats in mine,” The Gembrokers confess on the stripped-down track “Mountain Lion,” off their 2012 self-titled release. This notion—a tranquil, undulating heartbeat—permeates the trio’s sound. But unlike the sea, which has existed since the beginning of time, The Gembrokers came together just four and a half years ago, when Dorothy (guitar/banjo/autoharp/harmonica) saw two people—Chelsea (slide guitar/fiddle) and Amelia (guitar/banjo/accordion/fiddle) - playing music in a UC Santa Cruz meadow.

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