Kuumbwa Jazz celebrates 35 years
Starting a nonprofit jazz organization in a little coastal town just south of San Francisco doesn’t seem too promising, and naming it an often mispronounced Swahili word can’t be the best marketing ploy. Still, in 1975, a 19-year-old Tim Jackson joined forces with KUSP programmers Rich Wills and Sheba Burney to do just that. The project would swell into the Kuumbwa Jazz Society, the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and decades of hosting the top jazz musicians from town and from around the globe.
In a world of disposable music in which many bands study fashion more than the songs they play, Denney Joints from the Midnite Snack has one thing to say to you: “Blow my head off with your guitar. Give me something moving, that’s how beauty should sound.” And the 26-year-old knows a little something about music. Besides being the lead singer-songwriter and guitar player for the Snack, he eats, breathes and studies music at Cabrillo College. It was there, in 2008, where he met drummer Trevor Hope (of the Vox Jaguars) and the two formed Midnite Snack, adding bassist Sam Copperman a year later and recording their first EP, Soup Samwich. “I wrote most of the stuff we play like four years ago, but I’ve been sitting on it because I didn’t have a band and I hated the way my voice sounded,” Joints explains with a smirk.
They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh on living with a split personality
"Can you call me back in 10 minutes? I just arrived, and I have to sort of de-pack my crap.” The statement is classic John Flansburgh, vocalist/guitarist for the jubilantly strange, lovably dorky alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. Since founding the group with vocalist/accordionist/keyboardist John Linnell in 1982, Flansburgh has practically built his career on the kind of pithy wording and amiably sardonic delivery he’s now displaying.
After liberating his crap, Flansburgh gets GT up to speed on a “misguided hand puppet project” that TMBG is currently working on. (Fans will soon see the results in the form of a slew of videos for the Web.) The 50-year-old musician explains that the puppets in question are “kind of angry, and that really speaks to adult audiences. They kind of feel put down by They Might Be Giants. They don’t want to be a part of the show; they feel like we’re holding them back.”
Video, Internet and the iPod did not kill the radio star. Lee Bedrouni and Michal Kamran are working to keep it that way. With Bedrouni acting as head DJ, the two are part of the inspired collective putting on KZSC’s “The Rising Tide.” If you know that fresh indie music is lapping onto our shores but you don’t always know where to find it (or you just don’t have the moolah to go out and catch a concert), set your dial to 88.1FM at 8:30 p.m. each Friday night. That’s when the radio show brings bands—local acts and those touring through town—to local airwaves. “We’re just trying to develop a community,” Kamran says. “Once I actually got involved with the show, I met so many people and Santa Cruz has suddenly become really small. People need to know that this welcoming music scene is out there.” Since January, “The Rising Tide” has been giving glimpses into the sounds and personalities of area musos and figures in the community helping to promote them. With the show being part chat, part on-air gig, a palette of musical tastes has struck the studio; Intergalactic Smugglers, San Narciso, Noise Clinic, Harlequin Baby, and Monsters Are Not Myths, to name a few. This Friday, Aug. 13, the show features Santa Cruz concert producer Keith Petrocelli, while the following Friday, Aug. 20, has The Terrible slated for an interrogation and live performance. It’s a revealing chance to explore the people whipping up the verses. “It’s one thing to really be into U2, but it’s another thing to really be into [Santa Cruz’s] Hermit Convention and be able to talk to Craig Prentice and be like, ‘This is the guy behind this music, this seems really genuine,’” Bedrouni says. “It might demystify certain aspects of the sound, but it makes it really personal.” He adds, “If at least one person listening to the show who never heard a certain artist before, picks up on them and then wants to go see them live, then I’ve succeeded.” Bands wanting to unmask on the mic alongside Bedrouni and Kamran should contact them at [email protected] And listeners should be forewarned: you might discover a local band you never knew you loved.
Composer Michael Shapiro finds inspiration at the Beach Boardwalk
Whether you know everything or nothing about contemporary orchestral music, Santa Cruz locals will appreciate the West Coast premiere of world-renowned composer Michael Shapiro’s latest work, “Roller Coaster,” when it’s performed at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music on Saturday, Aug. 14. The four-minute piece, inspired by the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and The Cyclone at Coney Island, mimics the noises, emotions and overall atmosphere that we experience at a theme park.
On The Rio Theatre’s 10th anniversary as a music venue, owner Laurence Bedford reflects on its dramatic transformation
At the beginning of the present millennium, Soquel Avenue’s Rio Theatre was about to be knocked down. Though the venue had been a local landmark since the late ’40s, resistance to its demolition was less than overwhelming: Locals had long bemoaned the venue’s sticky floors and crud-encrusted carpets, which were held together with duct tape.
But then Laurence Bedford, a San Francisco mortgage banker who did guerilla theater by night, made an unexpected move: He purchased the building from the soon-to-be-bankrupt United Artists. A day or so after getting the keys to the place, Bedford, who had recently relocated to Santa Cruz with his daughter, paid a visit to the local community fixture known as Chip. “I told him what I’d just done, and he laughed for a little bit, ’cause he thought I was kidding,” Bedford recalls.
eighth blackbird’s rock ’n’ roll business plan
For audiophiles, it’s an immutable truth that there’s no experience quite like listening to music in a car, which is why driving I-5 between Los Angeles and the Bay is a favorite experience of mine: the 300-or-so Midwest-flat miles make the perfect environment for cochlea-rupturing audio levels. And indeed, I recently found myself on this (relatively) desolate stretch of road, when my copilot decided to co-opt my car stereo for his own purposes: experimental composer Steve Reich.
In bands and on ballots, Kinky Friedman makes his mark
Author, musician, sometime-politician and all-around American raconteur, Kinky Friedman doesn’t mince words when it comes to pontificating on just about any subject near and dear to his heart. His takes on life are often delivered in a humorous, satirical manner, but the 65-year-old tackles a lot of serious issues and themes, much like the manner in which Mark Twain presented his opinions and views to readers. Still, Friedman is clearly on a level all his own today.
“Man is wolf to man.” Not only is this a quote from the Roman playwright Plautus, one of the earliest known Latin authors, but it is also the title of the earliest known demo recording from local metal slayers Nordic Forge. “[The title track] is a song Jimi wrote almost all at once,” explains the vocalist, Rueben. “Then, I wrote the lyrics after listening to the hymn ‘O Rubor Sanguinis’ by Saint Hildegard Von Bingen.” Determined not to be just another scrawled name in the metal world, the guys in Nordic Forge draw their creativity from classics such as Shakespeare (“Throne of Blood”) and saintly hymns, to an array of bands from the early days of thrash metal and the extremes in Scandinavia. Mario, the act’s guitarist, cites atmospheric and melodic groups like Dissection, At the Gates, and Darkthrone as influences. “Always Darkthrone,” he emphasizes. Only known by their first names, the band of intellectual malcontents consists of Reuben on flesh-curling vocals, brothers Mario and Jimi decimating the guitar scales, Ben on thunderous bass, and Andrew manning the rapid-firing drums.
Local library wants teens to get loud at its Battle of the Bands
Let’s face it, the last place you’d think to unleash a rock band is at a public library. Making noise at a building of books isn’t exactly known as kosher because we’ve all grown accustomed to that stereotypical image of the grumpy librarian—glasses low on the bridge of her nose, fingers up to her lips shush-ing away, white hair knotted in a bun, and seriously lacking any cool factor.
Think again, says Santa Cruz’s Matt Lorenzo, a former library’s assistant and coordinator of the 2010 Teen Battle of the Bands on Saturday, July 24 at 1 p.m. Organizing the teen music competition for a second year in a row, the 32-year-old (whose mom is a local librarian) is giving the library a facelift and turning it into a temporary rock venue at the behest of the Santa Cruz Public Library system itself. (Insert voice of Gary Coleman doing a ‘What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?’ doubletake here.)