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May 22nd
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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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Features

Slap Attack

Slap Attack

In the world of innovative jazz guitar, Raul Midón reigns king

Raul Midón has collaborated with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Jason Mraz, and India Arie, but the classically trained guitarist, percussionist and pianist is quickly becoming nothing short of legendary in his own right.

His funkified, percussive guitar technique, and soulful vocals sell out shows from Paris to Tokyo to his home base in New York City, and Midón doesn’t play favorites. “I’ve always loved playing; I’ll play wherever they’ll have me,” he says. “I think in almost any city if you have fans in the audience, then you have a good audience.”

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Love Your Local Band

The Inciters

The Inciters

Remember the sweet soul music of the 1960s that would pour through the car speakers as you drove with the windows down, and had the power to make the world look brighter? Santa Cruz’s The Inciters know all about producing that mesmerizing groove. “Sweet Thing,” the breakaway single off the band’s latest album, Soul Clap, could trick someone into believing that Berry Gordy has signed a new group. “We think it’s our big hit,” says Rick Kendrick, founder, trumpet player, manager, and self-proclaimed “stress case” of The Inciters.

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Features

Three’s Company

Three’s Company

It’s always better when The Refugees are together

The story of how female folk supergroup The Refugees formed in 2007 isn’t exciting. Nor, at first glance, is the group itself.

Cindy Bullens, Wendy Waldman, and Deborah Holland weren’t snorting lines of ants in Hollywood. They weren’t trashing hotels in New York. But maybe that’s the secret to their combined 90-plus years of experience in the music industry and Grammy nominations—smash one too many guitars, and you don’t get a next gig.

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Love Your Local Band

North Pacific String Band

North Pacific String Band

North Pacific String Band—a busk-happy, five-piece—is well on its way to becoming Santa Cruz’s premier bluegrass collective. Though each member belongs to another local band (whether it’s Birdhouse, On The Spot Trio, or the Family Hogwash), the group came together a year ago with one goal: strictly bluegrass. Banjo player Jeff Wilson wastes no time trying to describe their music with vague nuances of emotional inspiration, but cuts straight to their passion for precise instrumentation. “So you’ve got the mandolin,” he starts, “which is like the snare drum in a string band; it provides percussion and rhythm and keeps time…

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Features

Island Fever

Island Fever

Blind Hawaiian rocker and multi-instrumentalist, Dayan Kai, heats up with sixth album
It’s not uncommon to experience a sense of déjà vu, when listening to Dayan Kai’s songs “Right Your Wrong” and “Give Free Your Love.” While the former is a classic rock anthem carried by distraught, raspy vocals, and the latter is a piano- and organ-laden, gospel-like number, both contain the same lyric: “Yesterday is just a fantasy.”

This is in no way due to a lack of songwriting material, though. For as long as Kai can remember, the succinct, anxiety-filled revelation that “Yesterday is just a fantasy,” has plagued him. Born blind, he admits, “I had to develop my memory because I couldn’t write them down so much.” Kai recalls the popular childhood game of Telephone—“By the time it gets back to you it’s something completely different from what you said,” says Kai. “Everything we think has happened is just our own perspective on what has happened … when will my perspective no longer be valid?” he often wonders.

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Love Your Local Band

Malima Kone

Malima Kone

At age 5, Salifou Kone’s grandfather gave him the nickname “Malima,” meaning “the way it is.” Twenty three years later, the nickname has taken on new meaning as the West African-born musician writes songs that tell stories of orphans, peace, love, humanity, daily life, and experiences in his homeland. “I write about what I see,” he explains.

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Features

Forward Ever, Backwards Never

Forward Ever, Backwards Never

D.C.-based SOJA lifts roots reggae to new heights

Reggae music has found itself a new beacon of hope, justice, and equal rights in Washington D.C.-based outfit SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army). The group, whose humble beginnings can be traced back to high school talent shows, now sells out venues with its conscious lyrics and feel-good rhythms.

For lead singer and guitarist Jacob Hemphill, music has always been at the source of his being.

“I’ve been singing songs since I was 5 years old,” he says. “It’s just always been there, since before I could talk even.”

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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