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Sep 02nd
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Love Your Local Band

Afro Beat Box

Afro Beat Box

Will Kahn understands the value of combining musical talents. “I never could play drums by myself,” he says, recalling his teenage years, “so I set them up at a friend’s house, who was playing bass. … That’s how I started—playing with someone else.” Things haven’t changed much over the years for the multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, and studio manager at Paradise Recording. Kahn joined the Afro/samba/funk group SambaDá in 1998, and has been collaborating with local musicians ever since. For the last decade, it has been his dream to form a “total Santa Cruz supergroup” made up of his many gifted friends—and finally, that band has taken shape, under the moniker Afro Beat Box.

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Features

Blogging Beats

Blogging Beats

The Hood Internet, takes a break from mash-ups on ‘FEAT’

There are plenty of successful musicians who will tell you they formed their band on a lark—just a group of friends, jamming in a garage, drinking beer and never imagining they would hit it big. Until, of course, they decided to play a few bar gigs, and before they knew it, they were blowing up and inking a deal.

Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell have a similar story. Except this Chicago-based production duo, known as The Hood Internet, never had a garage.

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Love Your Local Band

Deepfried

Deepfried

Though the moniker sounds unhealthy, Deepfried’s experimental trip-hop tracks are fresh and easy to stomach. Formed in 2000, when Peter Chester (vocals/keys/guitar) and Robbie Cross (bass/vocals/guitar) were studying electronic music at UC Santa Cruz, Deepfried has become known for its organic blend of electronica. “Something we became pretty fascinated with was using computers to do looping,” Chester recalls. Using the computer software Cycling 74's MAX/MSP, they created the "cuisNart”: a personally designed digital looping instrument. The sounds they created were magical, he says—“sorta like grabbing water from a stream and putting Kool-Aid in it.

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Features

Redemption Songs

Redemption Songs

Oliver Mtukudzi honors the Zimbabwean heritage with sounds of struggle, hope and celebration

According to Oliver Mtukudzi (pronounced tu-ku-zee), “The power of art is to communicate figuratively and be understood universally.” That message is a key component in his distinctive Afro-pop/World music amalgam, often referred to as “Tuku music.”

A musical icon in his native Zimbabwe, Mtukudzi will bring elements of the African musical tradition, the stories of his people, and songs from his 57-album repertoire to Moe’s Alley this Friday.

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Love Your Local Band

The MonDays

The MonDays

After watching Office Space, Gabe Robledo couldn’t stop repeating the quote: “Uh-oh, sounds like somebody’s got a case of The Mondays!” The 20-year-old singer/guitarist’s favorite scene became the inspiration behind the moniker of his band, The MonDays. Along with fellow Pajaro Valley High School graduates—Miguel Soriano (bass/sax/guitar), and twins Jesse Flores (drums/shaker) and Ivan Flores (keyboards)—this rock/R&B/hip-hop quartet has transformed the mundane weekday into music that drags on, but solely because their sound is timeless and infectious.

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Features

The Runaway

The Runaway

Zoe Boekbinder bids farewell to the left coast with wispy, looping folk-pop

hen she tells you that she "escaped from the circus" to start her solo act, Zoe Boekbinder is talking about parting ways with her previous band, Vermillion Lies, which she formed and played in with her sister, Kim, from 2004 to 2009.

But Boekbinder could easily be talking about other episodes in her life when she decided to break from the norm to pursue other passions. She has lived much of her life like a gypsy—bouncing from town to town practicing different forms of performance art all the way.

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Love Your Local Band

Rob Owen

Rob Owen

The message at the heart of Rob Owen’s music is perfectly encapsulated by the title of his first EP, Common Ground. “The songs are about interconnection or ‘inter-being,’” he explains. “They are about the common ground we all stand on but often forget about.” Tugging at the heartstrings and capturing the soul of audience members, is one of Owen’s strong suits as a singer/songwriter. His journey as a musician began when he moved from Silicon Valley to Aptos, and the change in scenery added what he calls a “different dimension in [his] writing.” Here, he has found solace in his family and a muse in everyday life. “I find that at the place where inspiration and influence collide, there is an infinite ocean of creativity,” says Owen.

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Features

Turning the Tables

Turning the Tables

Cheb i Sabbah has the vinyl solution to global turmoil

For the better part of two decades, Cheb i Sabbah has been experimenting with cultural mixing of the most literal kind. The world-renowned DJ looms over his turntables like a weaver at the spinning wheel, interlacing modern electronica with traditional Arabic, African and Asian music. But it seems that Sabbah’s DJ gig is just one part of his plan to bring the voices of various cultures into harmony with one another. 

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Love Your Local Band

Slop Opera

Slop Opera

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, or so the saying goes. Well, since 2004, that fat lady has been pushed aside, multiplied, and renamed Slop Opera: an all-male, hip-hop/rap collective. According to Mike Ross, the emcee/producer known as Ross Rock—a nickname coined by his football coach at Soquel High School—the group started as a quintet, consisting of himself and emcee Addamantium, DJ/producer Mr. Bean, Debris the Emcee and emcee Slie.

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Features

At Peace

At Peace

How to cleanse the mind and body with Kori Gardner of Mates of State

Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, maple syrup, and water sounds like a recipe for disaster, but for Kori Gardner—singer/synth and organ player for Mates of State—it’s all she can think about.

On day four of a 10-day Master Cleanse juice fast, Gardner and her husband, Jason Hammel (drums and vocals), are trying hard to avoid solid food—and not just for nutrition purposes.

“Jason started, and then 12 hours later he’s like, ‘I’m eating!’” Gardner recalls with a laugh. “We’ve done raw food diets before, but this is a little more extreme,” she says. While she admits that it’s been difficult to stay on track, she believes the rewards are too good to pass up.

“You get these rare moments of clarity that I’ve never felt before,” Gardner says of the diet. “Your mind is so clear because of all the toxins that have left your body.” This lucid mindset has aided her in writing music. “I felt like my ideas were completely concise and clear,” she says.

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Love Your Local Band

Al Frisby

Al Frisby

From a short distance, Al Frisby looks like a classic Santa Cruz surfer: rich silver locks atop a lanky frame. But when face-to-face, Frisby’s drawl reveals his Louisiana roots. The beloved singer/songwriter spouts a wellspring of local lore, has an encyclopedic knowledge of New Orleans music, and offers a slightly demented view of the world—in other words, he’s a colorful character. By the time Frisby arrived in Santa Cruz in the early ’90s, he had made a name for himself by writing comical novelty songs that poked fun at the counterculture. For example, “Deadheads on Bad Paper Acid,” is, according to Frisby, “A good ballad waltz about being raised in a VW van and traveling around the country.”

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Features

Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth

Loudon Wainwright III talks family, folk music, and the art of being funny

Aside from being a talented singer/songwriter, Loudon Wainwright III has become a household name for his sense of humor. From the road in the Northeast, where Wainwright is beginning a tour that runs through the fall, he confesses, “I’ve always liked making people laugh, if possible. I have friends that are comics and I certainly have watched a lot of stand up. When I perform, I have a guitar that acts as a fig-leaf and as a shield for protection—so I’m relaxed.”

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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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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

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.