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Features

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy talks about his early punk leanings, and his surprising work with famous friends
In a profile for the New Yorker in 2007, Will Oldham’s own mother describes the singer-songwriter as “ornery,” referring to both his contentious relationship with the press and his overall demeanor.

I just don’t see it. In fact, in the course of my chat with the man otherwise known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy—coming to Don Quixote’s in Felton with opener Big Eagle on Monday, Oct. 25—there are a couple myths about the Louisville-bred indie folk-rocker I feel have been kind of busted. Not only is Oldham pretty friendly, thoughtful, and forthcoming, but it also seems that his Jandek-like reputation for elusiveness is a bit overblown.

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Features

Out On The Streets

Out On The Streets

The Morning Benders find success and homelessness
If you want to learn what it was like for The Morning Benders’ Chris Chu to work with co-producer Chris Taylor (of Grizzly Bear fame) on the band’s 2010 album, Big Echo, you can refer to, well, pretty much any other interview with Chris Chu. Just how many times has that topic come up?

“I guess I couldn’t tell you because I’ve lost count,” says the vocalist and frontman. “I might say over 100 times.”

If nothing else, having to answer the same question over and over is evidence that The Morning Benders—coming to the Rio Theatre on Friday, Oct. 15—are moving up in the indie world. Yet success is a relative thing in the post-Napster generation, as the band’s grueling touring schedule would suggest.

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Features

The Three Folkateers

The Three Folkateers

City Folk brings together old friends for timeless tunes
The first time that Kimball Hurd met Roger Feuer, he was offered a scotch, the two got out their instruments, and they proceeded to play for a few hours—all before having a full conversation.

Twenty years later, Hurd, Feuer and longtime friend Keith Greeninger, make up City Folk, a Bay Area folk band most often compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash. On Saturday, Oct. 9 at Kuumbwa Jazz, the band intends to prove that it still puts music before all else.

In the same way that Woody Guthrie used folk music to shed light on the unjust conditions faced by working class people, the members of City Folk seek to inspire by supporting global solidarity and environmentalism.

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Love Your Local Band

The Atomic Aces

The Atomic Aces

Head for the fallout shelters, the Atomic Aces are set to ignite a fiery explosion of upbeat, down and dirty rock ’n’ roll. “You’ll want to dance to our songs,” explains Mercy Vasseur, lead singer and debutant of the Aces. “They’re a nice fusion of different things for every age group.” And there might just be something to this. Atomic Aces dissect elements of country, rockabilly, and Western swing, only to splice them together with the best parts of rock and punk. The result is a blaze of hip beats and head-nodding twang, showing the young kids something new and giving the old timers a flash of something familiar.

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Features

It’s A Small World

It’s A Small World

Pianist Robert Edward Thies revisits the past
When most children were dreaming of becoming firefighters, doctors and astronauts, 4-year-old Robert Edward Thies was aspiring to be a classical musician.

On Oct. 2, the now 39-year-old distinguished pianist will help kick off the Santa Cruz Symphony’s 2010/2011 season with a concert called “Out of this World,” which will showcase three pieces, two of which inspired him as a young boy.

Thies will play George Gershwin’s jazzy “Rhapsody in Blue,” a composition originally written for the Paul Whiteman Band, which has held a special place in his heart since childhood. While he has been given the opportunity to perform the piece on several occasions throughout his career—this will be the third time this year. To him, it never gets old.

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Love Your Local Band

The Terrible

The Terrible

Standing in the center of Metavinyl, the record mecca in Downtown Santa Cruz owned by drummer Jonathon Schneiderman, the first thing the four members of The Terrible tell me is that they’re not really much of a band. Qué? Friends who’ve been jamming for a decade, they don’t play shows very often (a handful this year) and they don’t really practice (“I’ll practice the day of the show onstage at the Blue Lagoon,” guitarist Nick Gyorkos laughs, referencing this week’s gig). Like a space rock vampire that emerges after long bouts of sleep to clench audiences with a piercing attack before retreating, the hard-driving quartet may not take itself seriously, but listeners do. Plus, lining the wall behind the guys is a big clue that begs to differ with their claim: a slew of copies of The Terrible’s new record, their brown cardboard sleeves screenprinted with art by Stacie Willoughby and neatly wrapped in plastic. There are 300 limited-edition prints of the record, with a 21-minute haze of throbbing psychedelic rock on each side ready to melt your player needle, and it’s the impetus behind The Terrible’s performance with Mammatus and Indian Giver at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1 at The Blue Lagoon.

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Features

Animal Collective's Deakin Goes Solo

Animal Collective's Deakin Goes Solo

Deakin crafts tunes, and more, on his own
In certain circles, Animal Collective is a veritable god-like force, essentially unassailable critically for creating some of the most important experimental music of an entire generation.

Conversely, member Josh Dibb (aka Deakin, coming to the Brookdale Lodge on Tuesday, Sept. 28 with supporting act Price Rama), doesn’t have the kind of confidence you’d expect of a prophet. However, he does have at least one thing in common with Jesus Christ.

“Carpentry, I think, has been my other really big source of money and work, aside from music,” says Dibb, recalling his days as a set-builder for what he calls “off, off Broadway” productions in New York City. This was during a time after dropping out of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, a decision that clearly still weighs on him.

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Love Your Local Band

Matador

Matador

With so many street performers on Pacific Avenue hacking their way through played-out classic rock covers, it takes a unique sound to even catch my attention. Take, for instance, Matador: I’m still captivated by its music almost two years after I first saw the duo perform. With Mathew on guitar and Dorota strumming the violin, both going only by first name, Matador formed by chance when Mathew was couch surfing at a mutual friend’s house. “It was just random,” says Dorota. “[We] happened to be at the same place on the same day.” That meeting resulted in the two writing music the very next day. Three years later, they are still at it. “Writing music is kind of like a science experiment,” Mathew states. “We start with a little piece and then we work on it,” explains Dorota. “We’ll try it a billion different ways until it grows into a complete mess, then we bring it back.” With this method of controlled chaos, Matador unleashes a river of melody that’s hauntingly beautiful one moment and dangerously explosive the next.

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Features

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

Owen Ashworth reflects on 13 years as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
"I don’t think I’m a particularly good interview,” laments Owen Ashworth about halfway through my interview with the purveyor of indie electronic act Casiotone for the Painfully Alone—coming to the Crepe Place on Wednesday, Sept. 22 with opener Otouto.

This is a half-truth. It’s not so much that Ashworth isn’t a good interview—rather, I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about the Chicago-via-San Francisco musician during our 30 minutes. His answers are methodical, philosophical, and engaging. However, Ashworth is correct in asserting that his musings are distinct (read: much headier) from other indie pseudo-stars. And I feel like this is because he knows all my tricks and secrets.

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Features

Monterey Jazz Festival

Monterey Jazz Festival

All that jazz and more
The Monterey Jazz Festival is the West Coast equivalent of a jazz Stonehenge—a touchstone that has consistently provided the world with phenomenal acts since its inception in 1958 (featuring Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie and others). Now in its 53rd year, nuzzled within the 22 oak-studded acres of the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the MJF has created a heavy weekend that defies and expands the notion of a jazz festival with a musical smorgasbord of auditory delights. For this year’s incarnation of the fest, 500 artists will share eight stages starting Friday night, Sept. 17 through Sunday night, Sept. 19. 

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Features

Jimmie Vaughan's Joy Ride

Jimmie Vaughan's Joy Ride

Jimmie Vaughan is still a blues speed racer
Getting a call from one Jimmie Vaughan on my cell phone at 8 a.m. recently had me doing a double take. “Hi, this is Jimmie Vaughan. I hope it’s OK that I’m calling this early, but I’m sitting in my hotel room with nothing to do and have time do the interview sooner if you can,” his message says after I let the unknown number hit my voicemail while brushing my teeth at home. When I checked it I had to wonder, was I awake or just groggily mishearing things? Blues legend, Vaughan is a founder of the hard-driving Fabulous Thunderbirds. The guy used to open for Jimi Hendrix—the two infamously swapped Wah pedals. Oh, and he’s the older brother and first mentor of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. There’s more than four decades of blues and rock noodling filling his well-worn boots.

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Love Your Local Band

San Narciso

San NarcisoWhile having sushi dinner at Mobo recently, I mentioned San Narciso, to which my friend pondered aloud, “Why have I heard of them?” The reason is because a new 4-song EP, Friend Prices, confirms what many local show-goers have already discovered: San Narciso, the year-old local indie rock band, is fantastic.
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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 25

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

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

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.