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Sep 20th
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Music

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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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Features

The Gypsy

The Gypsy

French-born jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée lives for musical freedom and improvisation

Cyrille Aimée is a musical gypsy. Her sound incorporates elements of Latin American, American, Brazilian and other styles of jazz, she has recorded albums as a duet with Diego Figueiredo, she currently performs with the Surreal (same pronunciation as her first name) Band, and she is working on a new album with yet another band.

As it happens, Aimée can actually blame gypsies for her love of jazz. “I grew up in Samois-sur-Seine, which is a little town in France where Django Reinhardt used to live,” she says. “Every year they have the Django Festival in his honor, and so gypsies from all parts of Europe come and honor him and play guitar. I started hanging out with the gypsies and became obsessed with their music, their way of living, their freedom. What drew me to jazz music was the freedom of it, all the improvisation, and the fact that it’s a style of music that is constantly changing.”

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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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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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Features

Making Sense of Soul

Making Sense of Soul

Allen Stone wants to give R&B back some of its depth

Whether fairly or unfairly, R&B and soul music often get typecast. Much of the music is groove-inducing and has an overtly romantic, sensual or sexual side to it, and the suggestive lyrics only reinforce this mood. That is fine and well, but for R&B and soul singer Allen Stone, it is not enough.

“I love music that’s about love, and I love R&B songs, but I also like songs that have influence on culture,” Stone says. "I believe that if you’re given a microphone you need to use it in a positive way, and I feel like pop culture, more often than not, doesn’t. I think that [pop stars] are very bad stewards of the microphone they’ve been given, and the voices they’ve been given, and they tend to talk about pretty futile and shallow things, rather than subjects which uplift the children in our culture, or the teenage culture, or the young adult generation. If you’re given a microphone, you should say something that’s deeper than, ‘I’m going to the club and I’m going to drink cognac.’”

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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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Features

Once a Junkie…

Once a Junkie…

Coming out of a cold winter with Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins

The title The Wilderness does a fine job of conveying the stark tone of the Canadian alt-folk/rock group Cowboy Junkies’ newest release, whose dominant themes are loss, loneliness and desperation. Much of the album’s somber feel can be chalked up to the state of confusion that the band’s guitarist and chief songwriter, Michael Timmins, recently found himself in as he grappled with relationship, family and aging issues.
As Timmins puts it, The Wilderness is about being at a point in life “where you look up, and you realize that you’re at a place of great beauty in some ways, but also a place which can be a little bit frightening. You’re a little bit lost: You never really expected to find yourself here, and you don’t really know where you are.”

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.