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Sep 20th
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Features

It’s Not Easy Being Three

It’s Not Easy Being Three

Wilco guitarist Nels Cline takes on his own trio
I’ve just caught veteran guitarist Nels Cline in a Chicago studio in between takes with none other than Wilco, but, quite frankly, Cline’s biggest project is furthest away from my mind.

Though he’s been best known as the lead guitarist of Wilco since joining Jeff Tweedy’s rotating cast in 2004, Cline’s career stands amongst some of the most prolific musicians ever; he’s recorded with such an array of collaborators that the word ‘eclectic’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. He’s also probably one of the most affable artists around, as our chat confirms, and the experimenter’s jazzy Nels Cline Singers (joined this week by Cline’s wife, former Cibo Matto member Yuka C. Honda) will be descending upon Don Quixote’s this Friday, Feb. 4.

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Features

Alive and Well

Alive and Well

The Dead Kennedys return with punk compassion
In 1980, I came upon the first Dead Kennedys album, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, with my outcast friends and soon discovered that the DKs were a gateway band into a new experience called punk rock. The band played energized, socially conscious songs of hidden histories and political critique, often served up with a twist of humor. Thirty years later, we can still dance to live versions of “California Uber Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia” with the Dead Kennedys, which will be blasting the Catalyst on Saturday, Feb. 5, with The Disciples and Ol' Cheeky Bastards opening.

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Love Your Local Band

Hurricane Roses

Hurricane Roses

There was never any question as to what kind of songs Angelina Lemucchi would end up writing. As a child, the 33-year-old singer remembers, “I’d sit in the back of my grandparents’ house listening to Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn.” Growing up with a pastor as a father during a strict religious upbringing, she wasn’t allowed to buy CDs other than gospel or Christian music until she was 17. But she’d always find a way to sneak in some country western crooning, which she says still makes her feel “warm and at home.” Tugging at her ears from an early age, it’s easy to see why that same kind of country storytelling and twanging swagger would make their way onto the debut, self-titled album from Lemucchi’s latest band, Hurricane Roses. Sometimes gently ambling with brooding ballads and other times romping with unmitigated rock swiftness, the six-piece transforms Lemucchi’s cache of personal lyrics—deeply cathartic in nature—into rumbling toe-tappers. This week at Moe’s Alley, on Saturday, Feb. 5, Lemucchi and Co. will celebrate the release of an eight-track CD that she describes is infused with the themes of “discovery, loss and change.”

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Love Your Local Band

The Cranks

The Cranks

To say the players in Aptos’ raging psychobilly duo, The Cranks, wear dedication on their sleeves would be a major understatement, overlooking a key detail surrounding the crew of Mike Hilden (guitars/vocals) and Américo Castillo (drums). It’s actually worn tattooed to their sleeve—The Cranks logo sprawled across Castillo’s forearm, leaving no doubt of his hardcore loyalty to the music. “We may not be the best musicians,” Castillo admits, “but no one can do what The Cranks do.” Rattling on a hybrid blend of Mexican corridos, Norteño rhythms, rockabilly rags and hard-nosed, foot-stomping Led Zeppelin rock, The Cranks are six-year veterans to the Santa Cruz scene—having  emerged from the ashes of the enigmatic trio, Sapos Muertos. After releasing a second album, The Cranks II, in October (only to rush back to the studio to start recording a third full-length, The Cranks III) the group has solidified its sound of organic, gritty, in-the-trenches roots rock that’s simultaneously perfect for the smoky dim aura of a grungy bar and the down-home warmth of a sunny Sunday barbecue. “We like to play with a lot of roots ideas,” Hilden raps, “but [we] don’t confine ourselves to one style.”

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Features

Bird Calls

Bird Calls

Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird goes loopy in church
It’s kind of appropriate that Andrew Bird hails from the Windy City. If you’ve never heard the anointed expert whistler pucker his lips, it sounds like an eerie breeze through the trees, maybe more akin to extraterrestrial avifauna or solar wind than anything earthbound. One might call them Bird calls.

Forming his mouth more like an instrument than an organ, it’s no surprise that the multi-talented indie darling Mr. Bird is slated for two nights at the Rio Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29.

“The whistling came out of playing the violin,” explained the multi-instrumentalist to online publication IndieLondon in 2009. “The violin is an extremely painful instrument to learn to play and the whistling was so casual. There’s a certain geometry and fluidity to it.”

 

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Features

A Man Possessed

A Man Possessed

Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards pulls out all the punches
In the same month that a new Anthony Hopkins flick does its best impression of The Exorcist, there’s news that the Catholic Church is reporting a rise in demonic possession. Whether or not David Eugene Edwards believes in Linda Blair’s head-spinning character, he is clearly a man of faith. The former 16 Horsepower frontman’s current project, Wovenhand—dropping by the Crepe Place on Wednesday, Jan. 26—is known for its boisterous live shows, with Edwards playing with the passion of a man possessed.

“It’s beyond my control, to be honest with you,” explains Edwards regarding the disconnect between Wovenhand’s on-record pensiveness and its on-stage onslaught. “When I see certain bands, I want to be punched in the face. Basically that’s how I go about it, just to really take over the room and get everyone’s attention for as long as you can.”

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Features

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Bobby Hutcherson on spontaneity, technique and music as prayer
With all the records under Bobby Hutcherson’s belt—about 70, if you include his recordings as a sideman—you’d think he would spend the occasional day sitting at home, listening to his music and reminiscing about old times. Not so, says the legendary post-bop/free jazz/hard bop vibraphonist.

“If you listen to yourself, then you program yourself, and you say to yourself, ‘Oh, I like what I just played right there,’” the musician states. “And every time you get to that spot in that song, you play that! Music should be like the wind: You don’t know where it came from; you don’t know where it went. It only passes through once.”

Hutcherson, who appears at Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday, Jan. 24 (three days after his 70th birthday), has an unusually linear playing style for a vibraphonist. He notes, however, that it’s possible to “flirt around with the harmonics” even while playing a horizontal melodic line.

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Love Your Local Band

Wangari

Wangari

 

Censorship—the blasphemous term in music. Usually it’s applied to a bleeped out four-letter word, a phrase here and there. A whole song, even. Censoring an entire language? Unthinkable. But that’s a reality Sharon Wangari, the vocal soul and core behind the trio known simply as Wangari, is battling. Singing in her Kenyan mother tongue of Kikuyu is an act of preservation, not just an exercise in world music poetics. Because of tribal warfare the use of the Kikuyu language has been banned in Nairobi, and, needless to say, it’s gotten the singer “worked up.” Wangari explains, “I come from a family of freedom fighters, and our grandfather fought for independence so that we could be free and use our language.” She says the language is disappearing (“My friends don’t speak it because they think it’s primitive, and it’s being wiped off the face of the earth”), so the 24-year-old is now bringing it to listeners through modern acoustic music.

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Features

Rainy Day Music

Rainy Day Music

’Tis the season for The Album Leaf
This winter California has seen more than its share of torrential rain, and The Album Leaf offers the kind of soundscapes which provide a perfect complement to the wet season; there isn’t a better song than “Shine” to have a track of forceful pitter patter layered beneath it. Indeed, Jimmy LaValle’s project is distinct mood music, and it will be coming to the Crepe Place for two nights this week, Tuesday, Jan. 11 and Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Although The Album Leaf may lend itself to distinct emotional interpretation, instrumental music is a funny thing. The electronically-based project has increasingly used vocals on latter albums, but in the absence of words, the emotion that one may project upon a given song may well have no relation to the feelings originally infused in it. Ironically, “The Light” may be the perfect soundtrack to a rainy day. But for all we know it was conceived on a sunny summer afternoon.

“There are songs that I’ve had that I feel [were written] when I was in a good space and happy,” says LaValle. “Then a lot of people think those songs are really sad and vice versa. I think it’s really cool how that works.”

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Love Your Local Band

Patti Maxine

Patti Maxine

At 72, Patti Maxine is one of the busiest players in Santa Cruz and she’s not slowing down. A solo performer and a member of the Island Breeze Band, ROMP, and the Saddle Pals, she’s also been in high demand by local folk musicians and Hawaiian music emissaries like Eddie Kamae and Cyril Pahanui. Anyone who’s witnessed her confident slinging of the slide guitar knows why. Still, it wasn’t necessarily by choice that the brazen stage veteran first picked up the lesser known style. As a young teen living in Roanoke, Va., Maxine sought to study the standard guitar. Her music teacher had other plans for her. “Unbeknownst to me at age 14, my teacher brought out a lap steel,” she says of her surprise  introduction to a guitar whose raised strings beg to be swiped rather than pressed down. “He laid it on my lap and I played with a steel bar, and that was it for me.” Soon she was playing Hawaiian music and winning contests despite the fact that the slide was rarely ever seen in a woman’s hands. “Me and this instrument was like a match made in heaven,” she says.

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Features

Sound Gardener

Sound Gardener

Bluetech welcomes Don Quixote’s patrons to his sonic greenhouse
When Evan Bartholomew composes a song, he begins with what he calls “a tiny seed.” “I’m silent for a minute, and I hear … maybe it’s a bass line; maybe it’s a rhythm pattern; maybe it’s something my hand is tapping on the steering wheel while I’m driving in the car,” he explains. “And then I go in the studio and attempt to sow the seed—get it down, get that idea tracked.”

It’s fitting that Bartholomew—who performs his downtempo electronica music under the name of Bluetech—should reach for this particular metaphor: His home recording studio in Hawaii is filled with literal seedlings. The musician has a nursery of more than 2,000 bromeliads, a type of epiphyte (a plant that can grow without soil) found in the tropical Americas. Because the habitat for the plants he collects is being rapidly decimated, some of these species no longer exist in the wild. He hopes to use his music to draw attention to this situation.

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Love Your Local Band

Ben Flocks Quartet

Ben Flocks Quartet

Ben Flocks, 21-year-old sax extraordinaire, understands there is no place like home. A former member of Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band (he calls Kuumbwa “a sacred place”) who played the Monterey Jazz Festival stage this September (“one of the greatest experiences of my whole life”), the Bonny Doon native is currently studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. There, he says, “350 jazz musicians are packed into two floors of a building in the Village.” He’s been looking forward to stretching his legs—and his refined musical skills—during his winter break and holiday return to town. “At school people tell me to bring my ‘Santa Cruz vibe,’ and now I’m trying to bring my New York vibe back and bridge these two places,” he says. Flanked by good friends and fellow Bay Area locals Jesse Scheinin on saxophone, Zach Brown on bass, and Michael Davis on drums, Flocks will lead his quartet through two sets at the Crepe Place, Thursday, Dec. 30.

 

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.