Two of Santa Cruz’s up-and-coming bands make their mark in the studio
Singer-songwriter Hod Hulphers has no illusions about it, he has a weird name—but he doesn’t try to fight it. In fact, he’s chosen a moniker that’s even weirder: “And Hod,” which is a result of always being the opening act for years and seeing his name listed at the very end of the flyer as “And Hod.” He just thought he’d go with it.
It’s been a short two years since the inception of Rat Trap, and the release of their 2012 sophomore album, Blueprints of a Paper City. But in that time, the group’s been through a lot of changes. Initially, Grant Simmons started the band as a two-piece garage rock cover band, which turned into a five-piece indie-folk band (including a violin). By the time they jumped in the study to record Blueprints of a Paper City, Simmons had traded his acoustic guitar for an electric, and started listening to a whole lot of post-rock bands like Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky.
When we met up with Oliver Tree Nickell last year, the 20-year old producer and sometimes DJ was riding high from the release of his three-song EP, Demons. Nickell—who performs under his middle name—had earned the blessing of Thom Yorke to remix and record his own version of Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” was flown to England to record, and started to work on his first music video, for the song “Rabbit Hole.”
Even spoken-word poet Buddy Wakefield gets tired of talking
Many Santa Cruzans are at least peripherally familiar with the technique of Vipassana meditation. Those who haven’t been to the popular (and free) 10-day silent retreats surely know somebody who went to one and came back changed—and likely hasn’t shut up about it since.
People spend their whole lives perfecting their jazz chops. But for Santa Cruz pianist Alex Raymond, who fell in love with the genre only a year and a half ago, it’s been an accelerated process. Nowadays, he plays out with his trio, the Alex Raymond Band, five times a week at the Red Room (Wednesdays), the Blue Lagoon (Thursdays), Lulu Carpenter’s (Saturdays), the Tannery Arts Bar and Café (Sunday mornings), and Louie’s Cajun Kitchen (Sunday afternoons). The gigs started about the same time as his love affair for jazz began.