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Dec 25th
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Features

Time of the Season

Time of the Season

With the arrival of Tim Kasher’s sophomore solo album, ‘Adult Film,’ it finally feels like autumn

For some, October means Halloween. For baseball fans, it’s playoff season. And for fans of the band The Good Life, October is the month of Tim Kasher.

The band’s introspective hit “October Leaves,” featuring Kasher’s gorgeous lyrics—“The days when we made it, the world was green / Now autumn has fallen, everything's changed”—has come to define the fall season for indie rock enthusiasts.

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Features

The Tao of Steve

The Tao of Steve

Pondering the paradox of the rock virtuoso with guitar legend Steve Vai

Funny thing about rock guitarists: the more skill they have, the less seriously some people take them. While violinists, drummers and pianists are applauded for their technical proficiency, virtuosos of the electric guitar are often seen as the musical equivalent of overly musclebound bodybuilders.

As one of the fastest, flashiest axe-slingers alive, Steve Vai has learned to take the flak with the flattery. “What one individual sees as moving and inspiring in one performer, another may see as a form of total wankery,” offers Vai, who was aptly billed as a “stunt guitarist” during his days as a member of Frank Zappa’s band. “I’ve been the subject of it all, from ‘America’s best-kept secret musical genius’ to ‘His parents should have been neutered.’ After a while you just stop paying attention, and while critics are trying to figure it out, you just keep creating.”

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Love Your Local Band

Spurs

Spurs

Sometimes the best things come to those who wait. In 2012—a decade after they met—co-vocalists David Stockhausen and Terry McCants formed the folk band Spurs. Initially calling themselves Silver Spurs and performing country covers, the pair eventually made the switch to folk music at McCants’ urging. “The band started to shift when we saw an equally great, if not greater, response to our own music at shows,” says Stockhausen, who also writes the band’s songs.

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Features

A New Maestro in Town

A New Maestro in Town

Daniel Stewart takes the reigns of the Santa Cruz County Symphony

For Daniel Stewart, being selected as the new maestro for the Santa Cruz County Symphony is akin to hitting the vocational jackpot.

“The Greater Bay Area is my favorite place in the world,” says Stewart, who was born in San Francisco. “It’s a dream come true and a real joy to be back in the Bay Area. Music is like a passport: it can take you anywhere in the world. I’ve been lucky, it’s taken me to over 40 countries, but it’s really a special thing to wind up in a place where you really would like to be.”

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Love Your Local Band

Feed Me Jack

Feed Me Jack

It's not uncommon for young bands to cram a bit too much into every song they write, in an effort to pay homage to all the artists that have influenced them. Feed Me Jack's sound might warrant descriptors like "scatterbrained" or "over the top," but not in a negative way. If anything, theirs is a gleeful and infectious insanity. The UC Santa Cruz act's hairpin turns in style and abrupt shifts in tempo are like a good rollercoaster ride—whipping the listener around just enough without ever becoming disorienting. When Glenn Carson, Sven Gamsky, Robert Ross and Jake Thornton jump from Tera Melos-esque math-rock, to jazz-metal explosions, to straight-up jazz and, finally, to bouncy pop or light ska upstrokes—as they do on their debut album, Chumpfrey—it all somehow makes sense.

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Features

The Dark Knights

The Dark Knights

Danish punks, Iceage, prove their valor one aggressive anthem at a time

Iceage isn’t Bruce Wayne multiplied by four, per se. The bandmates don’t lead double lives. They don’t wear protective suits with built-in abs. And they certainly don’t have capes blowing in the wind behind them (if they did wear capes, they’d be sweat-matted and sticking to their skinny jeans).

The Copenhagen-bred twenty-somethings do, however, thrive in the darkness of their hard-hitting rock, instilling hope and admiration in fans, which includes the “Godfather of Punk” himself, Iggy Pop, who once spoke of Iceage in an ABC Radio interview: “It’s not easy to be that dark. A lot of people that try to express negative energy sort of just flail; they kind of come off like hamsters or something, where the more they try, the sillier it is.”

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Love Your Local Band

Scary Little Friends

Scary Little Friends

Sometimes it takes two or three listens before an album can truly be appreciated. But when it comes to Scary Little Friends’ debut LP, From the Beginning, it only takes 15 seconds. At the tail end of track six, “Devil’s Heart,” Chris Jones has a hair-raising outburst: “And you never get another chance / there's no tomorrow." Far from depressing, the line actually explains why Scary Little Friends formed. Bassist and UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jon Payne, now 34, has been friends with Jones since childhood.

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Features

Break a Leg

Break a Leg

Matt Pond took his lemons and made lemonade

Usually when people say “break a leg!” actual bodily harm isn’t what they have in mind. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to Matt Pond.

“Right before we really got into [producing] the album, I broke my leg on tour,” Pond says. “And it led to this shift in the way I thought about what I was doing. Sometimes, when you’re doing what you love, you feel locked into it. It can become a routine. So when I broke my leg, I realized I really did love [making music] and there isn’t anything else I want to be doing.”

In the end, the accident helped determine the direction and feel of his most recent record, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand. “I just learned to appreciate what I was doing and that was kind of the lens that I looked at while making this last album,” he explains.

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Love Your Local Band

Feral Fauna

Feral Fauna

Feral Fauna is like a musical phoenix that has risen from the ashes. Formerly a seven-piece electronic pop/soul outfit known as Audiafauna, the band has evolved into a “bluestronica” group led by singer Heather Deardorff and multi-instrumentalist Krikor Andonian. “Krikor and I met and connected on the idea of fusing electronic and live music, at the exact time when Audiafauna was disbanding,” explains Deardorff. “So the timing of our meeting, as well as having a similar vision of what we wanted to do with music, helped make the switch from Audiafauna to Feral Fauna very fluid.”

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Features

The Indispensable Expendables

The Indispensable Expendables

Local reggae-punk stars celebrate 15 years of skating, surfing and rocking out

Way back when they first started jamming with one another, the members of Santa Cruz reggae-punk outfit The Expendables used to joke that each member of the band could easily be replaced.

"We were all pretty bad at our instruments when we first started playing, and we would always call each other 'expendable,'" recalls Adam Patterson, the band’s drummer and vocalist. But if The Expendables have proven anything over the course of the 15 years they've been writing and performing music, it's that they are anything but a throwaway band.

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Love Your Local Band

Big Medicine Head

Big Medicine Head

When asked why Big Medicine Head keeps making music after all these years, Bob Gemmell, the band’s singer, lyricist and guitarist, sums it up: “We make the time.” They also take their time. The band’s forthcoming effort, The Handsome Years, due out next spring, was supposed be released before the 2013 Summer Love-Off—Big Medicine Head’s annual tour—but they knew the album wasn’t ready.

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Features

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Sans band, Drew Holcomb gets reacquainted with his music

Drew Holcomb is not the man he was a few years ago. It’s normal for people to evolve over time, but Holcomb’s growth has played out in his music for all to see. This is most evident on Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ 2013 release, Good Light.

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Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Pinned Down

Actors shine in true-crime wrestling drama ‘Foxcatcher’
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Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her