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Sep 02nd
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Features

Cutting Loose

Cutting Loose

Scissors For Lefty looks forward to a pants-off dance-off at the SCMF

Bryan Garza has some wonderful memories of South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. He has similar feelings for San Francisco's annual Noise Pop and the CMJ Music Marathon, held every year in New York City.

All three festivals—which take place over a number of days at various venues scattered all over their respective locales—offer fans and bands alike the opportunity to really explore a city's landscape and culture through live music.

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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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Features

One-man Band

One-man Band

Indie rapper Sage Francis to headline Santa Cruz Music Festival

When it comes to indie rappers, it's not that uncommon to find MC's who rhyme on top of their own beats. That's not the case with Sage Francis—the Providence, R.I., wordsmith decided more than a decade ago to shop his beats out to other producers. Still, Paul "Sage" Francis picks up plenty of DIY cred in his choice of management.

"I've always been the guy who handles almost everything," Francis says over the phone from his New England home. Without a publicist, arranging an interview with Francis is as simple as sending him an email through his website. "I know how things need to happen and almost no one else does. If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself."

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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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Features

Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward

Pianist Benny Green wants jazz’s past to continue to inform its future

I can honestly say I’m still learning.” Hearing such an admirable, humble statement from someone like Benny Green—a jazz pianist, arranger, composer and band leader whose 30-plus year career includes performances and recordings with jazz luminaries like Oscar Peterson, Art Blakey and Betty Carter—might be surprising at first. But Green’s insatiable desire to keep learning has served him well. That desire—and his deep love of jazz—is something he wants today’s younger musicians to feel, too.

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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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Features

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

Memphis singer-songwriter, Amy LaVere, finds joy and humor in painful situations

Producer Craig Silvey likely saved singer-songwriter Amy LaVere’s life a few years back. Before recording 2011’s Stranger Me, LaVere had endured a breakup with her longtime boyfriend and was in the midst of one of those I-need-to-find-out-who-I-am phases. She knew the content for the album was going to be incredibly dark and moody, but Silvey did something which changed the course of the recording sessions entirely.

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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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Features

The Evolutionists

The Evolutionists

Bluegrass band-turned-rockers embrace change, new challenges

Kenny Feinstein, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and sole remaining founding member of Water Tower Bucket Boys, has seen his share of changes occur in the band over the years. For example, their moniker has recently been shortened to Water Tower.

“We took ‘Bucket Boys’ off our name because we lost our banjo player and gained a drummer about a year and a half ago,” Feinstein explains. “We’ve started leaving bluegrass music behind to a certain extent, from a traditional standpoint, because we’re a lot more rockin’ now. So we changed the named to just Water Tower because Bucket Boys has that traditional sound to it and makes it sound like the Soggy Bottom Boys.”

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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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Features

Waiting for Snow to Melt

Waiting for Snow to Melt

José González on the chilly atmosphere pervading Junip’s mesmerizing new record

Ten years ago, I used to have music as my hobby. My main thing was studying biochemistry,” reflects José González, from his home in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Nowadays, I have music as my work, but also as my hobby.”

As a full-time musician, the established indie folk singer/guitarist has had the opportunity to put out two LPs. He also has a knack for composing covers that rival their originals—Kylie Minogue’s “Hand on Your Heart” and The Knife’s “Heartbeats” being two prime examples.

But these days, it’s his work with Tobias Winterkorn (keys) and Elias Araya (drums) that has the internet abuzz.

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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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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.