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Dec 20th
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Music

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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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Features

Rising From the Ashes

Rising From the Ashes

Ryan Adams invokes the past in his latest effort, ‘Ashes & Fire’

Ryan Adams doesn’t always make it easy to be a Ryan Adams fan. After capturing indie souls with Heartbreaker in 2000, and then the world’s attention with 2001’s Gold, the 36-year-old North Carolina native has been playing Russian roulette with his musical style.

From honky-tonk, to a sci-fi metal concept album, to a few hip-hop tracks released on his website, Adams has wandered far from the alt-country genre he helped establish with his band, Whiskeytown, in the mid- to late-’90s. His prolificacy was legendary, averaging 1.3 albums a year. Then came a few books of poetry, followed by the announcement that he had sworn off touring altogether and was moving to the south of France with his new wife Mandy Moore.

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Love Your Local Band

Stan Soroken

Stan Soroken

If you’ve visited Severino’s Bar and Grill on a Thursday evening in the last decade, you know that no one pours smooth jazz from the bell of a trumpet quite like Stan Soroken. This month, Soroken joins the long list of esteemed musicians—including Velzoe Brown and Don McCaslin—to receive a Brownie Award by the Santa Cruz Jazz Society for his contributions to the local scene. It’s been a long journey for Soroken, who spent three weeks just trying to produce noise from his horn as an 8-year-old in Salinas. Eventually he found his groove with the help of Spike Jones’ tuba player and a member of the San Francisco Symphony.

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Features

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Furthur guitarist John Kadlecik talks Deadheads, psychic spaceships, and rocking in the shadow of Jerry Garcia

In the film Rock Star, Mark Wahlberg sings in a tribute band—through happenstance, he eventually takes over the position of lead singer in the genuine band. Although the story is based on heavy metal mavens Judas Priest, it is also the tale of John Kadlecik. After years in Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, Kadlecik got the tap on the shoulder to replace the empty Jerry Garcia spot in the newly incarnated Dead band, Furthur, featuring original members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh.

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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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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

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

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