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Jan 30th
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Features

Hear Her Roar

Hear Her Roar

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Handal can rock out with the best of the boys

Look through any list of famous lead guitarists, and you’ll notice something that almost all of them have in common: a Y chromosome. If you’re a true music aficionado, you might be able to name four or five well-known female lead players, but beyond that, the names take a sharp turn for the obscure.

As an accomplished lead guitarist, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Ali Handal is well aware that she’s a bit of an anomaly. She came face-to-face with that fact when she first moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles in 1987. The musician recalls telling a Guitar Center employee she was unsure what gauge of guitar string she wanted. “The guy was like, ‘So, what kind of guitar does your boyfriend play?’” she recounts with a laugh.

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Love Your Local Band

Santa Cruz Guitar Orchestra

Santa Cruz Guitar Orchestra

I got a fever! And the only prescription is … more guitar! That's how Mesut özgen might complete Christopher Walken’s iconic line from the Saturday Night Live sketch spoofing Blue Oyster Cult's cowbell-heavy "Don't Fear the Reaper." After all, özgen is the conductor of the one-of-a-kind Santa Cruz Guitar Orchestra. While classical guitar is most often performed by a solo player or a quartet, according to özgen, the growing trend of the guitar orchestra—a 20-musician ensemble composed almost entirely of guitars—has taken up roots in Santa Cruz.

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Features

Game Over

Game Over

Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur sets down his controller and  faces the music

Escaping from reality, via plunging into virtual, alternate worlds, appears to be all the rage for musicians these days, especially when you consider the viral rise to fame of Lana Del Rey’s hit “Video Games” and Dustin Payseur’s preferred pastime.

During a trivial Thursday, the frontman for Brooklyn-based indie dream pop quartet Beach Fossils clicks away the afternoon with good friend, collaborator, and Captured Tracks label-mate, Jack Tatum, of Wild Nothing.

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Love Your Local Band

Antdog Da Beast

Antdog Da Beast

At Santa Cruz High School, Anthony LaFrance easily blends in—he’s 18 years old, on the track team, and his favorite subject is English. But once the school bell rings, he unleashes his rap, R&B, and hip-hop-inspired alias, Antdog Da Beast. “The first time I touched a microphone was in seventh grade,” says LaFrance, who was visiting a radio show at UC Santa Cruz’s KZSC. When the show ended, “I started freestyling over instrumentals and heard the recording … ever since then, I’ve had the urge to make music.”

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Features

Nothing To Hide

Nothing To Hide

James McNew of Yo La Tengo picks favorites: albums, sports teams, coffee…

On the classic surf rock jam, “Nothing to Hide,” off of Yo La Tengo’s 12th album, Popular Songs (2009), husband and wife indie rockers Ira Kaplan (guitar) and Georgia Hubley (drums) sweetly sing, “We all decide/how to draw the line/we’ve all got something to hide.”

On bass, James McNew—who is anything but a third wheel—gives off some serious attitude, while Kaplan’s guitar playing mirrors an emotional tantrum, reminiscent of the tension that builds by bottling up feelings for too long. These two minutes and 46 seconds are torturous for the devoted listener, who, despite hoping to hear at least one scandalous secret, is, alas, cheated—until now, as McNew comes clean about all sorts of YLT-related and unrelated things.

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Love Your Local Band

The Spokesmen

The Spokesmen

Looking like a middle linebacker who traded in his helmet for a surfboard and a Jack Johnson signature guitar, Matt Conable and his band, The Spokesmen, are all about rock and roll with sunburnt Americana flavor. With no website, CDs or band ephemera, it’s easy to assume The Spokesmen are wanted for nefarious actions—but Conable maintains they’re just low profile. “We’ve been playing off and on in the local scene for a long time, but the four Spokesmen have just gotten together in January—we’re taking our time,” he explains. Guitarist Mark Roths and Conable began playing together 20 years ago in an early incarnation of local rock outfit Xing.

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Features

Transculturation

Transculturation

Border hopping to American jazz fame: the Alfredo Rodriguez story

After struggling for three years to leave Cuba and enter America legally, Alfredo Rodriguez found himself with only one option to pursue his dream of playing jazz in the U.S.: He had to cross the border. Driven by his passion for music and an offer to join legendary producer and music magnate Quincy Jones’ record label, Rodriguez knew that he had to try, even though it meant defecting from Cuba and leaving his friends and family behind.

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Love Your Local Band

The Backup Razor

The Backup Razor

The Backup Razor was raised on Santa Cruz punk, and the band is working hard to keep it alive. The four-piece “extreme music, not punk” band grew up watching local punk-metal legends like Good Riddance and the Lonely Kings perform at $2 Tuesdays at The Catalyst and The 418 Project. Influenced by thriving ’90s music, Jesse Williams (vocals), Jonathan Mumma (drums), Jeff Badagliacca (bass), and Nick Hardesty (guitar) formed The Backup Razor in 2007, bringing their spontaneous brand of high-energy, up-tempo, eclectic rock into the scene.

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Features

Days and Confused

Days and Confused

Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker chronicles the band’s wavy ride to its sophomore effort

In the music video for “It’s Real”—the dreamy synth and bass-driven tune off of Real Estate’s October 2011 release, Days—lead singer/guitarist and songwriter, Martin Courtney, is in the kitchen playing cards with guitarist Matt Mondanile. Meanwhile, in the living room, bassist Alex Bleeker pieces together a puzzle and Jonah Maurer (keyboard/guitar) reads a magazine. This laid-back opening scene is narrated by anxiety-filled lyrics: “I don’t know who’s behind the wheel/ Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know the deal.”

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Love Your Local Band

Jackie Rocks

Jackie Rocks

Local teen band Jackie Rocks has played legendary venues like The Catalyst and Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go with their idols from the Santa Cruz music scene, including Cylinder, Stellar Corpses, and Dirty Penny. But if the impressive number of shows the trio has played since 2005 doesn’t convince you that they’re right on par with their mentors, their onstage energy will certainly do the trick. “We play loud, we play aggressive … we play loud,” Jackie Partida says with a laugh.

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Features

Reclaimed and Reinvented

Reclaimed and Reinvented

Fishtank Ensemble turns the gypsy music stereotype on its head

When you hear sultry vocalist Ursula Knudson wail on “Woman in Sin,” it’s hard not to imagine a mythic Gypsy woman covered in jewels and scarves, and surrounded by accordion players.  

Though historically tainted with negative connotations, “Gypsy” is the popular term that refers to the Roma people. Their deep ethnic history is a 1500-year story of multiple movements between diverse regions and cultural acclimation and preservation, which has fueled the mystique and stereotype of the free-spirited Gypsy.

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Love Your Local Band

The Native Sibling

The Native Sibling

Though Ryan and Kaylee Williams have each been playing music since they were children, they are only now preparing to release their first batch of tunes recorded together. The brother-sister, indie-folk duo call themselves The Native Sibling—an appropriate moniker considering the two were born and raised in Aptos. "Growing up in Santa Cruz had a big influence on our music," Ryan says. "But it's one of those things that you don't really realize until you leave." Currently, the two live outside of this seaside town—Ryan in Venice Beach and Kaylee in Davis, where she is attending college. Santa Cruz is still home, although figuring out exactly what "home" means—in a deeper sense—has been tricky for the pair over the past few years.

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Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
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