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Jul 12th
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Features

On the Road

On the Road

Jay Farrar channels Kerouac, reaches the heart of America

While most musicians tour to promote new albums, Jay Farrar is taking his act cross-country for the same reason Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation hitchhiked the heartland: Farrar is in love with America.

A native of Belleville, Ill., Farrar became infatuated with the country at a young age: “In order for you to get anywhere, you have to drive through a big chunk of it,” he says. And like most young men, he found Kerouac in his early teens. “Here’s a method: just go out there and create and experience life,” he says of the writer. “That’s essentially what most people in bands do.”

While Kerouac was making-over Proust and Wolfe, Farrar was channeling Woodie Guthrie and The Byrds with early ’90s alt-country pioneers Uncle Tupelo. “It felt inspirational [to create something new], but we were conscious of the fact that we were drawing from other bands that had been over similar territory before,” he says. “The inspirational process is a chain.”

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Love Your Local Band

Wooster

Wooster

It's no accident that Wooster is one of the most popular bands on the local scene at the moment. Unlike some groups that get together to drink beer and rock out on the weekends, or others that craft complex music for musicians, this fun-loving quintet was assembled by singer/songwriter Brian Gallagher with one, crowd-pleasing goal: get people on the floor. "It's always good to get the room moving," Gallagher says. "I've always been into music that makes you dance." Though Gallagher now fronts the ska-tinged, pop-rock outfit—playing rhythm guitar and trading vocal lines with Wooster's other singer, Caroline Kuspa—he started his musical journey playing drums, and has never lost his percussionist sensibilities. "We really have a strong groove," Gallagher says. His lust for the beat led him to drummer Nate Fredrick and bassist Bobby Hanson, who together form a rock-solid, no-frills rhythm section—which, in turn, allows Gallagher and Kuspa to experiment with the wandering, lazily interweaving pop harmonies of "Ooh Girl" without fear that their voices will float off into the ether along with lead guitarist Zack Donoghue’s reverb-laden, bubbly chicken picking.

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Features

Beyond the Page

Beyond the Page

The talented teens of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony express themselves in orchestral music

"There’s a storm picking up,” Nathaniel Berman says from a podium at the front of the classroom. Suddenly a sea of violin bows start bobbing in the air and the bottom floor of Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School fills with the thundering sound of 33 instruments.

Using maritime analogies, Berman, a UCSC alumnus with a master’s degree in conducting, leads the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony through Felix Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture,” one of three orchestral pieces that the Youth Symphony will perform on Nov. 6 at the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall.

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Love Your Local Band

The Blue Tail Flies

The Blue Tail Flies

Combining dual sister singers and upright bass, a cajón slingin’ drummer, and the time tested trio of banjo, fiddle and guitar, The Blue Tail Flies have no trouble packing venues with a coordinated wall of their unique bluegrass inspired sound. Courtnay Field, one of the lead vocalists, describes their sound: “We say ‘Flygrass’, [because] we play such a variety of styles—between blues, bluegrass, and jazzy kind of swing. Plus, we have a bangin’ drummer, and she makes us a lot different than other bands.” The seven friends—all of whom met in Santa Cruz—try to have as much fun as possible at shows, feeding off audience participation. “We love the eccentric music fan: the guy that comes up to the front of the stage and hands you crazy juju beads … we’ve even got a tip that was a water bottle filled with flakes of gold. You never know what’s gonna come out of Santa Cruz,” says Field. After touring extensively and releasing an EP, the band is excited to enter the studio to record a full-length album.

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Features

8-Bit Punks

8-Bit Punks

Anamanaguchi crafts jubilant, hard-hitting Nintendocore

Punk rock means many things to many people. For some it's a genre of music, for others it's a lifestyle. If you ask Luke Silas, drummer for Brooklyn-based quartet Anamanaguchi, he'll tell you that for him and his band mates there is nothing that captures the DIY aesthetic of the punk movement more than the low-fidelity sounds of early Nintendo games.

"You have a shitty guitar," Silas says, carrying on an imaginary conversation with Johnny Rotten or Joey Ramone. "Well, we have these shitty square waves."

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Features

Keeping Music Alive

Keeping Music Alive

Annual Sing For Your Life benefit raises funds for local music programs

It’s no secret that California’s budget crisis has had a deep impact on high school curriculum. With administrators struggling to balance their budgets, everything deemed “non-essential” has been cut—especially music. “Keeping any kind of music program going is a constant struggle for schools,” explains Beth Hollenbeck, music director at Scotts Valley High School. With minimal funding, teachers like her are often unable to afford sheet music and other necessary supplies, as well as chaperones to accompany students to competitions or concerts.

To keep music alive, The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus—a local chapter of the nationwide Barbershop Harmony Society—has hosted “Sing For Your Life” for the past eight years. Since its inception, the annual choral concert benefit has raised more than $45,000 for local music programs.

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Love Your Local Band

Sun Hop Fat

Sun Hop Fat

The music of Sun Hop Fat is at once strange and soothing. The Oakland-by-way-of-Santa-Cruz jazz and funk ensemble employs Eastern scales that sound familiarly alien—the music you would expect to hear in an old adventure movie when the hero enters a smoky Arabic watering hole. Then again, maybe it is the soundtrack to Scooby and Shaggy skulking around some old haunted mansion: trill, snake-charmer flutes and horns that rise and fall in ominously ornate chords. Sun Hop Fat's tunes are heavily influenced by Ethiopian jazz and the music of Mulu Astatke, who championed the sound in his native Ethiopia and was instrumental in importing the music to America. Bass player and founding Sun Hop Fat member Jesse Toews (who also plays in Santa Cruz "psychedelic Motown throwdown" outfit, Harry and the Hitmen) says that he and his band were drawn to Ethiopian jazz and other East African sounds because of the "seductive" note choices and interesting polyrhythms. While the music originated from African traditions, Toews explains, "because it is so close to the Middle East, it has all these Eastern scales," which give the music a "haunting element," especially to Western ears. The spooky sounds of Ethiopian jazz, combined with the group's penchant for American funk and soul, make his band the perfect choice for Halloween night at The Crepe Place—or "Creepy Place," as Sun Hop Fat trombone player and Crepe bartender Nick Gyorkos has been known to call it.

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Features

The Swing Must Go On

The Swing Must Go On

Jazz luminary Dottie Dodgion celebrates 67 years of making music

A conversation with Dottie Dodgion is like walking into a library filled with stories about the golden era of jazz and her full and fortunate life, accented with winks and humor. At 82 years old, Dodgion continues to awe behind the drum kit that cooked up the fire and cooled off the harmony with such legendary musicians as Charles Mingus, Billy Mitchell, and Stanley Turrentine.

Born in 1929 in Brea, Calif., and raised in Woodland, near Sacramento, Dodgion’s childhood memories are seasoned with humor, adventure, and the limitless freedom that came with having a father who was a “swinging drummer.”

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Features

Movin’ On Up

Movin’ On Up

WebExclusive: ‘X Factor’ contestant and Santa Cruz local Chris Rene wows judges, advances to top 17

It’s been almost a month since 28-year-old Chris Rene brought “The X Factor” stadium audience to its feet during the TV series’ debut episode. Since that fateful performance of his original R&B/rap song, “Young Homey,” the Santa Cruz raised garbage collector and recovering drug addict has been consistently wowing the show’s judges—particularly Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid—with his onstage charisma, down-to-earth personality, and, most importantly, his voice. After performing “Everyday People” by Sly & The Family Stone for Reid and Rihanna on Sunday’s top 32 episode, Rene earned the opportunity to advance to the top 17, as part of the group set to perform live next week. Eager to enter the public-voting round of the competition, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25, Rene took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with GT about his experience on “The X Factor,” performing in front of music superstars, how Santa Cruz has shaped him as a person, and what he plans to do if he wins.

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Features

Audacious Americana

Audacious Americana

Jeffrey Foucault talks Top Ramen living and touring 200 nights per year

I would [sooner] have a loaded gun in my home [than] a television—you can teach a kid how to use a gun but you can’t teach a kid how to use a TV,” says singer/songwriter Jeffrey Foucault when asked about the meaning behind “Last Night I Dreamed of Television,” one of the darker songs off his latest effort, Horse Latitudes. Foucault’s poetic flair and bold approach to songwriting are evident in the track’s mysteriously atmospheric chords and powerful lyrics: “Last night I dreamed of television and I wept for break of day.”

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Love Your Local Band

The Devil Himself

The Devil Himself

Five years ago, The Devil Himself got its start while playing cards. “We got formed around a poker table,” recalls guitarist/singer Dave Christensen. “We all used to play and it kept coming up in conversation that we all played different instruments. We kept saying we should jam, but our lives wouldn’t allow it. Finally it came together and we haven’t stopped playing since.” Flash forward to today, and the Santa Cruz-based alternative metal band—also featuring guitarist Dan Burnham, drummer Jason Goldberg, and bass guitarist Austin Wilhoit—has just released its fifth album and third full-length, Speak No Evil, on Oct. 8. The record is the final segment in a three-part series, also featuring See No Evil and Hear No Evil, that sounds like a thundering bastard child of Tool, with electric surges and hauntingly heavy vocals that mirror a grittier Chevelle. Frequently packing local venues with head-banging moshers, the band hopes to become the voice of a generation looking for answers to hypocrisy and freedom from despair.

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Features

Looped In

Looped In

Percussionist Nat Grant talks live looping and the local festival that gives it a voice

If you’re a live music buff, chances are you’ve seen a band or two incorporate a loop pedal. Most of the time it’s used to sustain a rhythm, or just sample some background noise, but who knew there was a whole community of musicians forming around the technology?

If anyone can speak to the beauty of the instrument and the community it has spawned, it’s Nat Grant. The Australian percussionist, who just completed her master’s degree in music performance, is one of the headliners of this year’s Y2KX+1 International Live Looping Festival—one of many annual events in town that has helped put Santa Cruz on the music map—taking place this weekend at Pearl Alley Studios in Santa Cruz.

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Weird that Works

The Santa Cruz Fringe Festival mixes misfit art and mass appeal

 

Scarab Solar Festival Full Moon

We continue to be under the influence of Cancer (Ray 3, sign of liberty and freedom). Cancer is the gate through which spirit enters matter. Cancer grows new life in its warm waters. Cancer is the crab living in water and on land. Cancer represents our home, family, upbringing, how we nurture and are nurtured. Cancer is our conditioning, influencing all life choices.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 11

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Shake Down

Wine and soul music, local menu highlights, brewery wins and ice cream for Aptos 

 

What do you think when you hear 'Santa Cruz Fringe Festival'?

Santa Cruz | Travel Agent

 

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 Pinot Worth Celebrating

Looking for a fabulous wine to star in your Fourth of July weekend? I recommend treating yourself to the 2008 Pinot Noir from the Corralitos Wine Company.