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Dec 21st
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Features

It’s (Not) Always Sunny

It’s (Not) Always Sunny

Colorado band, Bad Weather California, embraces chaos, crafts accidental rock masterpieces

"I died once," Chris Adolf says matter of factly. It was the winter of 1999 as best he can recall. While winding down Highway 65 from Mesa, Colo. on the way to Grand Junction, the driver of the Jeep Cherokee he was in overcorrected and sent the vehicle rolling. He flew out of the sunroof and landed 30 feet from the vehicle, airways clogged with mud and snow, his face mangled, struggling to escape the clutch of death that ultimately came, if only fleetingly.

Adolf, lead singer and songwriter for the Denver-based band Bad Weather California, can hardly recall what happened next. Apparently, a team of ski patrol medics and vacationing doctors came upon the accident and kept him alive until the helicopter lifted him from the cold, icy road.

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Features

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

Girls’ J.R. White talks about his formative years in Santa Cruz

s with any artistically inclined town, the music venues in Santa Cruz are of a cyclical nature, spaces opening and closing, scenes and genres moving from one locale to another. But aside from its annual New Year’s Eve galas, the Cocoanut Grove—a local institution of 105 years—has stood outside it all, reveling in the quiet dignity of its big band and swing roots of the ’30s and ’40s.

That’s all about to change—and there couldn’t be a more appropriate act to usher in a new era for the venue than Girls, an indie rock band clearly harkening back to an older one. The duo, made up of singer/guitarist Christopher Owens and bassist Chet “J.R.” White, leans toward Buddy Holly sensibilities (if Buddy Holly used opiates as a creative catalyst), and will bring the time warp with it when it visits the venue on March 1.

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Love Your Local Band

The Joni Show

The Joni Show

For Jayme Kelly Curtis, the inspiration for “The Joni Show”—a Joni Mitchell tribute concert at Kuumbwa Jazz on March 3—reaches back to Curtis’ girlhood in an artist colony on Cape Cod. The Felton-based singer-songwriter remembers herself as a 15-year-old putting on headphones with one of Mitchell’s double records open on her lap, and reading along with the hand-written lyrics. “Directly connecting the eye and the ears to the brain in an intimate, closed-in experience like that—it was just a magical refuge to be with her,” she says. Mitchell continues to affect Curtis’s life today. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m in a conversation or dealing with some situation that one of her lyrics doesn’t pop into my head,” says Curtis. An accomplished musician in her own right with three albums, including 2008’s Mid Life Chrysalis, Curtis hopes to share that “magical refuge” with the community with the help of 19 local musicians.

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Features

Synthetic Soul

Synthetic Soul

Denver disco and electro-funk trio Juno What?! will move you

When Joey Porter sings onstage, it’s easy to get distracted by the giant straw that stretches from his mouth all the way down to the effects pedal sitting beside his vintage keyboard, a 1982 Roland Juno-106. Porter—one-third of the far-out funk collective from Denver, Colo., known as Juno What?!—isn’t sipping on anything but his own feel-good lyrics, voiced like a robot thanks to this ingenious and manipulative contraption: the talk box.

“I’ve been using the talk box for 20 years,” says Porter, a Tennessee native. “I really like soulful music, but I don’t have a soulful singing voice. A white boy in Nashville turns funk musician … doesn’t make sense to me either.”

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Features

The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positive Thinking

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Albert Mazibuko opens up

More than 40 years ago, Joseph Shabalala had a series of dreams that manifested in the path and sound of his choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Incredibly, Shabalala’s vision of a 10- to 30-member a cappella group that tours the globe singing dreamy harmonies and uniting people of all ages and backgrounds came to fruition. Now, Ladysmith is internationally recognized as the world’s foremost ambassadors of South African music, and along for the entire ride has been Albert Mazibuko.

Since the group’s inception in 1960, Mazibuko has been a core member. It took 20 years of playing before Ladysmith’s first album went gold, and 30 years before Paul Simon helped make the band a household name with Graceland. More amazing than the incredible obstacles the band has overcome or its mind-blowing musical offering, is how mellow Mazibuko is.

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Love Your Local Band

New World Ape

New World Ape

Cole Berry currently serves as world-fusion/funk band New World Ape’s percussion virtuoso, but if his passion for their eclectic brand of music ever wanes, he’s got other plans. “If I wasn’t in this band right now, I’d probably just be in the Andes,” he admits. Fortunately, it’s that immutable wanderlust that feeds his band’s musical fire. The core five of the seven- to eight-piece ensemble met while studying at UC Santa Cruz. In 2009, a year after graduating, Berry was contacted by drummer Beaumont Bradbury. “I was actually in La Paz, Bolivia, recovering from some intestinal issues,” recalls Berry, “and I got this email from him saying he wanted to kind of put together this serious progressive dance band, and I said yeah, count me in.”

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Features

Attack of the Gypsies

Attack of the Gypsies

Diego’s Umbrella brings the heat—sometimes naked

If you mixed a gallon of coffee with a ball of fire and a fifth of tequila and slammed the whole thing in one gulp, you’d have one hell of a night—but if you prefer a blown mind to a ruptured stomach, you should see Diego’s Umbrella instead. They seem to have a similar effect on fans.

 “[It’s funny to see] people’s reactions to the show,” says Tyson Maulhardt, one of the band’s guitarists. “They lose control of their limbs sometimes and kind of flail around. Even when we’re playing for people who’ve never heard us before, by the end they’re definitely dancing and having a great time. I don’t think we’ve ever met an audience that wasn’t there with us by the end.”

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Features

From Angels to Skeletons

From Angels to Skeletons

JGB frontman Melvin Seals discusses his gospel roots, and the memory of Jerry Garcia

Born into a sheltered life of church and gospel in Berkeley, Calif., soulful organist Melvin Seals seemed like a promising candidate to back up the likes of Stanley Cooke or Aretha Franklin. It’s funny how life throws curve balls at you.

Seals would eventually tour and record with Jerry Garcia, frontman of the Grateful Dead, for 15 years until Garcia’s untimely passing in 1995. Since then, Seals has worked diligently to honor the memory and music of his dear friend with the help of the JGB.

Though Seals was surrounded by hippies, living in San Francisco during the 1960s, he maintained his musical roots.

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Love Your Local Band

Boostive

Boostive

A few weeks ago, seven experimental trip-hoppers could be seen walking the streets of Market and 6th in San Francisco. Sage, the producer, bassist, and founder of this all-male collective of students, called Boostive, refers to that area as “the ghetto” and “the crack block.” But beneath the tough exterior is the group’s studio. For Sage, the streets provide “that vibe of being real—that whole vibe is going to be in our album just from recording there.” Their self-titled EP marks the debut of Sage’s collaboration with several friends: Dylan Webber (guitar), Nathan Kocivar (saxophone, keys), Andrew Hawes (drums), Mulligan B (engineer, guitar), Travis Gibbs (trombone), and Al Bundi (MC). “We use a lot of vinyl chops to get our sound and overdub some real instruments and drums,” says Sage. “The vinyl [is] for old school sound [such as] ’90s hip-hop. You can hear the crackle of the records in our recordings …

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Features

Big Sound, Little Instrument

Big Sound, Little InstrumentHow Jake Shimabukuro has rekindled interest in the ukulele with his innovative style

When it comes to musicianship, "virtuoso" is not a word you often hear paired with "ukulele player." It's easy to think of the diminutive instrument as little more than a prop—a decoration hanging on a restaurant wall to invoke an island aesthetic, or swaying side to side along with the bobbling hula girl figurine in a car.

But there is no better way to describe Jake Shimabukuro—a lanky, 34-year-old with a gift for coaxing dynamic rock, pop, jazz, and classical arrangements out of an instrument most often used for background strumming in Hawaiian tunes and twee indie-pop songs.

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Features

Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweethearts

Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweethearts

Camper Van Beethoven returns to Santa Cruz for two intimate Crepe Place shows

Long before the Simon Cowell era, the members of the alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven were the Santa Cruz musicians who had “made it.” Adorning their lively, all-over-the-map sound with an endearing sense of wit, they wooed the populace with a charmingly nonsensical ditty called “Take the Skinheads Bowling” (after all, isn’t it the angriest people who need a little constructive fun?) and a cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” from their most commercially successful album, 1989’s Key Lime Pie.

With CVB’s 30th anniversary coming up next year, the band is playing a short run of smaller gigs—including two shows at The Crepe Place on Saturday, Feb. 11—to get warmed up for the release of its forthcoming record. The group recently began mixing down this as-yet-untitled album, the first we’ve heard from CVB since 2004’s New Roman Times. According to guitarist Greg Lisher, the band tried out a new approach to writing this time: “Back in the day, [vocalist/guitarist] David [Lowery] would bring his songs to us at rehearsal, and we would write our respective parts. So it was always pretty democratic in that sense, but it was all based on what David was bringing to the table.” For the new album, the band simply got together and came up with ideas on the fly: “Someone would throw something out, someone else would respond and someone else would play off of that.”

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Love Your Local Band

Katie Ekin

Katie Ekin

It’s hard to believe that 20-year-old folk pop singer-songwriter Katie Ekin’s years in the music industry can be counted on a single hand. She picked up acoustic guitar five years ago, played her first show three years ago, and debuted her seven-track, self-titled EP in December 2010. Inspired by music of the ’50s and ’60s, Ekin—whose vocal range is naturally as melodious as a songbird (see track three, “Cuckoo”)—has a keen understanding of love, astutely arranged in the lyrics of her songs. “I love oldies … the fun, pop-feeling, sock hop,” confesses Ekin. Aside from Carole King and Lesley Gore, singer of “It’s My Party,” her influences include Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, whose music was regularly played by her father throughout her childhood. “My dad is just such a fun person, and every time I’d see him perform when I was little, he had the best stage presence,” remembers Ekin. “I gain confidence from being on stage and I relate that back to my dad.” It is onstage that Ekin feels most comfortable expressing herself. “My main thing has always been love,” she says. “In high school, I wouldn’t really tell people how I felt—I put it in a song.” Her vulnerability is especially evident in “Underneath the Christmas Tree,” a song in which she asks her crush, “Won’t you be my present, baby?” The feel-good track is so irresistible, with Ekin’s sweet and sultry voice, that Zooey Deschanel herself would be proud to own the copyrights. Head to The Abbey two days before Valentine’s Day to hear Ekin belt out several original love songs, while accompanying herself on ukulele and guitar. Given the holiday, Ekin is planning an upbeat set that is, in her own words, “not so heartbreaking—I’ll try to keep it on a happy theme.”

 INFO: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. The Abbey, 350 Mission St., Santa Cruz. No cover. 429-1058.

 
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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

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Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire