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May 24th
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Music

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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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Features

One Great City

One Great City

Weakerthans indie-rock frontman John K. Samson is mad about Manitoba

I hate Winnipeg,” sings John K. Samson—lead singer of the Canadian indie rock band The Weakerthans—as he channels a fed-up dollar store clerk, a driver stuck in traffic, and The Golden Boy statue atop the Manitoba Legislative Building, on the sarcastically titled track “One Great City!” off the 2003 album, Reconstruction Site.
Samson’s hostility towards the capital city of Manitoba, Canada, is infectious—at least until the song ends with a final strum of guitar. After all, there must be a reason why Samson has chosen to live in the prairie town for his entire life.

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Love Your Local Band

Mini Mansions

Mini Mansions

Grunge-pop trio Mini Mansions may officially be a Los Angeles-based band, but they’ve got a good dose of the Cruz in them too. Bassist/ keyboardist Zach Dawes and keyboardist/ guitarist Tyler Parkford both went to UC Santa Cruz—or that “slug school up on the hill,” as Dawes calls it. “We played a forest show once in Santa Cruz, but it started raining and it was a full moon so there was a drum circle on campus,” Dawes remembers. In true Santa Cruz fashion, the boys went with it and embraced the elements. “Tyler was building these elaborate cones in an art class and Michael [Shuman, keyboardist/ guitarist/ drums] had just built an oversized guitar from the wood of a canoe,” he explains. “Anyway, we used the cones to amplify the guitar and played with the drum circle. …Then the naked runners came.”

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Features

Town and Country

Town and Country

This Frontier Needs Heroes crafts vintage folk in N.Y.

Jessica Lauretti, one half of the brother/sister folk group This Frontier Needs Heroes, sits next to me on a bench outside a coffee shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the band is based. I say, “I think a lot of people would expect a band with this kind of sound to come from somewhere other than a major metropolitan area.”

Lauretti gets pissed.

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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival