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Jul 29th
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Features

The Lone Wolf

The Lone Wolf

Radio Moscow cranks up the fuzz, channels old garage tunes

At times it is difficult to follow what Parker Griggs is saying—and not only because of the patchy cell phone reception he gets at his remote Northern California hideout.

It is entirely possible that Griggs, front man and lead songwriter for garage-psych revivalists Radio Moscow, is extremely baked as he mumbles on, sometimes inaudibly, about The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz—a piping hot batch of overdriven, wah-wah-, and THC-soaked jams that his trio will kick out at the Blue Lagoon on Oct. 14.

The new record, Magnafuzz, which drops Oct. 11 on Alive Naturalsound Records, is Griggs' third such homage to the heavier sounds of the Age of Aquarius.

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Love Your Local Band

The McCoy Tyler Band

The McCoy Tyler Band

After years of playing in rock and metal bands, guitarist McCoy Tyler decided to pursue his own sound. “I had a vision in my head of something a little more roots- and acoustic-based,” he says. His new trio, The McCoy Tyler Band, is the realization of that vision. And though the project is extremely young—a mere four months—the band already has a well-developed sound, an EP called What the Mountains Have Seen, a backlog of all new material ready to take on tour, and a definite direction: keep it simple and sweet. To achieve its signature sound, the band incorporates a slightly unusual set of instrumentation for folk: a small drum set, an upright bass, a lone guitar, and subtle use of acoustic amplification. Tyler admits the instrumentation choice was difficult, but worth the challenge, “one thing that was a concern to me, [was] how to incorporate a drum kit into the style of music and songs that I was writing … but a full band has more presence, and to have an upright bass makes us feel more legit.”

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Love Your Local Band

Pipa Piñon & Dreambeach

Pipa Piñon & Dreambeach

When Pipa Piñon hired a temporary bassist for a gig, little did she know that she and Daniel Vee Lewis would end up married and tour together for more than two decades. When asked to describe their sound, Piñon and her husband respond with warm smiles, “avant-garde electric folk jazz.” Much like the community that has nurtured and influenced their sound, the Santa Cruz-based band, Dreambeach, passionately embraces freedom of expression; creating music that is honest, powerful and at times unusual. “We sound like we’re from Santa Cruz,” says lead singer and lyricist Piñon, whose ethereal voice soars, whispers, and sometimes even speaks, over Lewis’ subtle, yet solid bass lines. “Everyone hears this album [and] they say it sounds like water and open ocean,” Lewis adds. Both the comparison, and the band’s moniker hit the nail on the head. Dreambeach’s sound is loose and vaporous, settling in like a chilling mist that casts a contemplative spell over the listener.

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Features

Sweet Serendipity

Sweet Serendipity

UCSC grad Tori Roze makes triumphant return with jazz/R&B outfit The Hot Mess

So far, Tori Roze’s life has been a series of blessings in disguise. The first occurred when the singer/songwriter left The Boston Conservatory for an education that didn’t focus solely on musical theater. After being turned down by several schools, Roze ended up at UC Santa Cruz.

“It turned out to be a good surprise,” says Roze. “I loved going to school in Santa Cruz—I didn’t think I would, but I learned so much and I was exposed to so much.”

After graduating in 2005 with a theater degree, Roze returned home to San Diego. When plans to move to Los Angeles fell through, she met her band mates. “One day I was singing karaoke and some guy came up and asked if I had a band,” she explains. “Being in San Diego was the best mistake ever.”

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Features

The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life

From rural Jamaica to Santa Cruz, reggae sensation Richie Spice spreads Rasta love

There’s a cool Jamaican breeze blowing through Richie Spice’s Patois-woven conversation as he tends to his garden, which sprawls out to farmland in the hills above Kingston. A farmer, devout Rasta, and singer-songwriter, who is embraced for his distinct voice and roots reggae music, Spice exemplifies the humility and faithfulness rooted in his latest album, Book of Job. Though, his road from the Jamaican countryside to world tours has not been an easy one.

Unlike many of his compatriots in the music scene who were raised in the Kingston capitol, such as Sizzla and Beenie Man, Spice grew up in a rural area called Rock Hall, in St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica. “Life was more of a natural vibration, living on a farm in a family of 11 siblings,” says Spice. “It came with a rhythm less hectic than a city like Kingston.”

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Features

The Self-Made Band

The Self-Made Band

River Whyless lugs backroads Americana, DIY savvy, and open minds cross-country

The members of River Whyless may be as nervous as they are excited about their forthcoming—and first—nationwide tour, at least according to drummer Alex McWalters. Fortunately, the quartet from Asheville, N.C. hasn’t had much time to fret. "It's all us,” McWalters explains. “We're doing literally everything this time around.”

McWalters and his band mates are so preoccupied with doing everything a record label and a public relations representative would do for a group—conducting interviews, booking gigs, burning CDs, making T-shirts, designing stickers, and redesigning their website—that they haven’t had much time to stress about the cross-country trek, which will make a stop at Streetlight Records and The Blue Lagoon on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

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Features

Mr. Granger’s Opus

Mr. Granger’s Opus

Maestro John Larry Granger bids a fond farewell to the symphony

The Santa Cruz County Symphony’s 2011/2012 season will be one to remember—and not just for its inclusion of masterful works by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. It also happens to be the farewell season for Maestro John Larry Granger, who has served as the Symphony’s conductor and music director for the past two decades.

“It’s been a great joy and privilege to be the music director, but I felt that I wanted to retire like Johnny Carson did, rather than Hosni Mubarak,” the conductor jokes. “I didn’t want to stay too long.”

Though he’s retiring as conductor at the end of the season, Granger will stay on as music director for an additional season to help with auxiliary SCCS programs, such as youth concerts and pop concerts. He also plans to assist with the process of selecting his successor.

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Love Your Local Band

Eliquate

Eliquate

Elliot Wright, the mastermind behind local hip-hop outfit Eliquate, has discovered that a live performance becomes especially explosive when combined with the lyrical swagger of sharp rhymes. What started out as a two-man operation—himself and producer/guitarist Jamie Schnetzler—evolved into something greater after the pair ran into technical difficulties at a show. With a broken iPod and no song to play over, Wright, “basically turned to the guys, and said, ‘play a groove in [the key of] G.’” Schnetzler and two sit-in musicians ended up improvising the rest of the show, giving Wright the opportunity to freestyle all night. He had the time of his life, and has been liberated from the shackles of digital beats ever since—fans have been responding too, with crowds multiplying since the group became a five-man band.

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Features

The Sonny Side of Life

The Sonny Side of Life

Sonny Rollins resurrects the golden era of jazz at the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival

There are music fans that travel the globe like surfers looking for the perfect wave, and this year at the Monterey Jazz Festival there is depth, height and a wide selection of acts to please the most ardent jazz aficionado, or those just looking for a fun ride. Now in its 54th year and located on the Monterey Fairgrounds, this is one festival that provides entertainment for all levels of listeners: discussions of jazz in film with Clint Eastwood, a tribute to soul music with Huey Lewis and the News, a peek into the funkified world of Herbie Hancock, plus Terence Blanchard in a tribute to Miles Davis, to name a few.

A Grounds Pass will get you the Motown groove of Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88’s, the New Orleans sounds of Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, and The Soul Rebels Brass Band—or you can upgrade to an Arena Pass to catch the bigger names like Huey, Herbie and India.Arie. All will enjoy tasty food and artistry at vendor booths, but be warned, once you leave your patch of grass, navigating back through the crowds will be a challenge.

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Features

Texas Mojo

Texas Mojo

Tales of top hats, medicine men and synchronicity from The Band of Heathens

Gordy Quist is praying for a Texas flood. “It’s an outdoor gig here in Austin, and it’s like 110 degrees!” laments the singer-songwriter/guitarist. It seems Quist has just finished up a soundcheck for a hometown show with his quintet, The Band of Heathens.

The Heathens are set to appear at Kuumbwa Jazz on Saturday, Sept. 17 in support of their new Americana album, Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son. While still peppered with the influences of bands like The Grateful Dead, The Band and The Black Crowes, the disc places a little more emphasis on the blues and R&B, than the group’s previous efforts.

Hold on … Top Hat and the who?
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Love Your Local Band

Taylor Rae

Taylor Rae

In June next year, after the San Lorenzo Valley High School graduates toss their caps, 17-year-old Taylor Rae Vencill will head for the stars—on Hollywood Boulevard, that is. But Vencill doesn’t aspire to be the next Julia Roberts, rather she hopes to end up .2 miles east of Grauman’s Chinese Theater at Musicians Institute, the college of contemporary music that birthed Jeff Buckley and Weezer bassist, Scott G. Shriner. There, the Ben Lomond singer-songwriter—who has taken vocal lessons since age 8 and taught herself guitar at 12—hopes to become immersed in music. “It’s something I have to do,” Vencill says of songwriting. “I don’t feel good until it’s done.” Inspired by nature and Santa Cruz’s residents, Vencill writes mature songs for her age—lyrics off her self-titled album, like “Will you ever come back around and tell me the truth, because falling in love with thin air isn’t so hard to do,” prove she’s well beyond her years. Asked about her songwriting process, Vencill explains, “I get into a zone, almost like a coma, and then when I come out of it, I can’t believe I came up with it.”

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Features

Six String Sting

Six String Sting

WebExclusive: Pacific Grove guitar maven brings finger-picking magic to The Crepe

“I guess I always loved music my entire life,” says guitarist Sean Smith, recalling the Fisher-Price toy music kit he had as a toddler, which had horns, whistles, tambourines and drums. “There is this picture of me freaking out over it. Music has always been a huge part of my life, from before I can remember.”

After playing in rock bands growing up, doing the solo acoustic bit in his early 20s, and playing for influential San Francisco indie rockers Citay, Smith left to pursue the “doom metal, Krautrock, dark folk” style found on his latest record, Huge Fluid Freedom, which dropped Aug. 30.

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 25

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

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

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.