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Dec 20th
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Love Your Local Band

Ariel Thiermann

Ariel Thiermann

It's a safe bet that Ariel Thiermann will have butterflies in her stomach when she takes the stage at Kuumbwa Jazz this Friday, and not because it will be her first major concert in four years. Thiermann says she always feels a great sense of anticipation and excitement before performing—she likes it that way.

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Features

Straight Strings

Straight Strings

 

Guitar legend Leo Kottke tells it like it is
Leo Kottke ignited the passion of guitar players and music enthusiasts with his 1969 release, 6- and 12-String Guitar. Never before had such a rich, intricate, textured, slightly otherworldly sound emanated from the hands of one man.

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Features

Hocus Folkus

Hocus Folkus

 

The Cave Singers hit stride on third effort, ‘No Witch’
When they first began composing the sparse folk tunes that would ultimately become The Cave Singers' first record, Pete Quirk and Derek Fudesco were just two fellow musicians looking to pass the time.

"We started playing music for kicks," says singer and guitarist Quirk, recalling the genesis of his current band. Back in 2006, he was playing keys and singing in a Seattle-based disco-punk outfit called Hint Hint and living with Fudesco, bassist and vocalist for progressive alt-rockers Pretty Girls Make Graves—also headquartered in that perpetually rainy northwestern city. "We didn't even think we were going to play shows."

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Love Your Local Band

Sista Monica

Sista Monica

 

The power of blues is derived from the raw expression of heartbreak and pain—something Sista Monica Parker is no stranger to. “As a blues singer and songwriter, you know, I’m quite familiar with unrequited love affairs,” she admits, adding that her latest release, Living in the Danger Zone, “is classic original blues, and it comes from my own experience of being in a love affair that actually ran the full range of emotions, from really being happy and in bliss, to having it go wrong and feeling the heartache of a breakup.

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Features

Sisterhood of the Traveling Performer

Sisterhood of the Traveling Performer

Ethiopia-born singer Meklit Hadero puts multicultural spin on jazz

Even through the haze of jetlag and cross-continental cellular static, Meklit Hadero’s presence is remarkable. Whether mesmerizing audiences in America or in her home country of Ethiopia, the singer/songwriter traces her confidence and charisma to her migrant life.

“I think moving around did two things: one was that it taught me how to make friends with a big variety of people and connect with people who didn’t have much in common with me, and it also taught me how to be comfortable in a huge variety of situations,” explains Hadero. “It gave me a real flexibility of living that I use all the time, and I also think it was great preparation for life on the road as a touring musician in general.”

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Features

Walk the Walk

Walk the Walk

Santa Cruz’s own Otayo Dubb brings blue collar hip-hop to the Lagoon

he name Otayo Dubb—a moniker taken from the Swahili term for “ambush”—connotes the effect of the rapper’s blue collar hip-hop style. Straddling the underground hemispheres of street and conscious hip-hop, Dubb’s musical ambush is a bumping meditation on the struggles and joys of everyday working-class people.

Though born in Oakland, Calif., Dubb was raised by two working-class jazz musicians on the west side of Santa Cruz. His hunger for rhythm was established before birth, as his mother, an avid musician of Caribbean and West African influence, played congas while pregnant with him.

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Love Your Local Band

Sirenz

Sirenz

On a crisp November morning at The Bagelry in downtown Santa Cruz, Heather Houston swoops in like a hippified Uma Thurman, or perhaps an urban sherpa on a vision quest. Her quartet of a cappella singers, Sirenz, whose music sounds like a cross between Zap Mama and a goddess choir, has been seeking higher ground together for three and a half years. The project grew out of an earlier band called Dis Moi, which featured Samantha Keller, Houston and Tamara Fogel. When Fogel moved back to Canada, Houston brought in friends Molly Hartwell and Amber Mendez, and Sirenz was born. The group performs original compositions, as well as traditional songs from different cultures with original arrangements. Not your typical a cappella group, Sirenz is fresh, real, and eclectic. Mendez provides a "steady percussive beat which is different then you would hear in most a cappella groups—a little heavier on the bass,” explains Houston, and their voices lift and twist like a Celtic knot. She adds that their friendship "informs the way we sing and write with each other." The women will write independently and then come together and mid-wife each other’s songs in a creative birthing process that supports one another’s vision.

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Features

Hey, Hey, We’re the Pixies

Hey, Hey, We’re the Pixies

Pixies’ Joey Santiago on the making of an alt-rock classic

Doolittle, arguably the definitive album by the Boston-based alternative rock band the Pixies, hasn’t just stayed fresh over time—it’s actually gotten better. Or so it would seem from two different Rolling Stone reviews of the album: Somewhere between 1989 and 2002, Doolittle apparently went from merely being an above-average effort (three-and-a-half-stars) to being a proto-grunge Sergeant Pepper’s (five stars). The record has only improved since then. In 2003, NME magazine named it the second-greatest album in history, and in 2005, it landed smack-dab in the middle of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

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Love Your Local Band

At Risk

At Risk

With a physique that suits a hardcore frontman and a security guard equally well, Spencer Biddiscombe has an intense presence. And when you consider that during At Risk’s farewell concert in 2006, he roared lyrics over exploding drums and crashing guitars as windmilling teenagers rushed the stage, he might seem a bit intimidating to meet for coffee. In reality, Biddiscombe is a well-spoken man who claims his passion for the hardcore scene comes from “the energy and the honesty of the music.” He explains: “Generally it traces back as a more aggressive offshoot of punk. It tends to be a bit heavier and more aggressive. A lot of it is the energy and the community, at most of the shows most of the people know each other. It’s a different vibe than a big show with anonymous faces. There’s a lot of energy, and not a lot of separation—we’ll be playing on the floor wherever possible. Kids respond to that because it’s a lot different.” At Risk—whose current lineup includes Biddiscombe (vocals), Jim Sandeen (guitar), Donald Scully (guitar), Tom Arnott (bass), and Dustin Roth (drums)—emerged from multiple hardcore groups in 2002. After playing for five years together, releasing a full-length album, and earning a huge following, the band broke up in 2006. But after endless requests from fans, the guys have reunited to play an all-ages show at The 418 Project this Saturday.

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Features

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also RisesWebExclusive: In times of famine and feast Rich Robinson is under the same sun

Rich Robinson’s dad is dying. And his newborn son, Bleu, is a mere three months old. Experiencing grief and happiness simultaneously has become a strange constant in Robinson’s life. At 25, he had everything: as a member of the blues-rock outfit The Black Crowes, Robinson was in a “comfortable state” financially, married to a beautiful wife, and playing shows around the world.

But even at the peak of the Crowes’ popularity in the early- to mid-’90s, something was off. “I was living this life that was askew,” says Robinson, now 42. “My relationships with the people that were supposed to be my closest seemed damaged. My marriage was not a good fit for either of us and we weren’t facing up to that. Though I love my brother [Chris, co-founder of The Black Crowes], the fact that my working environment can be challenging has been well-chronicled. Nothing was working like it should have been, but by many people’s standards, it was a dream come true.”

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Features

On a Tear

On a Tear

San Diego blues/rock duo Little Hurricane rips its way into the music scene

Little Hurricane—the volatile yet smooth rock duo headed to The Crepe Place Thursday—plays what they refer to as “dirty blues”: “We say it’s blues, but it’s dirty with distortion and a little bit of grunge,” explains lead guitarist and vocalist Anthony Catalano (a.k.a. Tone). “I was in a rock band in high school and some of college, and there’s some influence from that. We try to bring a lot of extra energy when we play live.”

True to his word, Catalano blazes huge guitar riffs—with or without a slide, over the complex rhythms and alluring vocals of his rocking female accomplice, drummer Celeste Spina (a.k.a. CC). Though the band has been together for only a short time—forming in January of 2010—they’ve already earned acclaim in their hometown of San Diego, winning Best Alternative Band, and both Album of the Year, and Best Alternative Album with their debut effort Homewrecker, at the 21st annual San Diego Music Awards.

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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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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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Guitar or surfboard?

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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

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