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Dec 26th
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Features

Souliving the Dream

Souliving the Dream

Soulive’s pursuits span the Beatles and new bands
Earlier this year it broke that Abbey Road Studios in London—the legendary halls first brought into public consciousness by the Beatles—was in dire financial straits, staring at closure in the face of urban development. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the music business.

Well, Soulive—the jazz-funk organ trio gracing the stage at Moe’s Alley on Wednesday, Dec. 15—knows a thing or two about the economics of running a studio. It also knows a thing or two about the Beatles, given its three-month-old LP of cover tunes, Rubber Soulive. And though Beatles covers may not be the most original of ideas, the inspiration behind Soulive’s take on these classics comes from a natural impulse.

“Initially, we’re like ‘Yo, let’s do a British Invasion album,’” explains drummer Alan Evans. “Obviously a lot of those tunes we wanted to do were Beatles tunes, so it just kind of evolved into what it became. We’ve done original albums forever, as long as we’ve been together. We’ve thrown in maybe a couple cover tunes on a few of those albums, but we just felt like it was time to do something completely different.”

Though it’s an album of pre-written material, Rubber Soulive is still true to expectations of the trio’s (rounded out by guitarist Eric Krasno and Alan’s brother, organist Neal Evans) faithful. While far from being abstract interpretations of the Beatles, the groove-based funk backbone of the band remains in tact. Still, one wonders if an all-covers album would have been possible under Soulive’s previous business arrangements.“We have all the control, we do whatever we want to do,” says Evans about creating the band’s own label, Royal Family Records. “For us it was always kind of frustrating that we’d be ready to record something, but no, you’d have to wait for a certain amount of time, things like that. Those kind of decisions that we just had no control over, that was really frustrating. Now it’s just that we have so much music we want to put out.”

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Love Your Local Band

The Getaway Girl

The Getaway Girl

Living up to her moniker as The Getaway Girl, Courtney Jones recently did something many East Coasters do: she fled to the sunnier shores of California. But it wasn’t without incident. Only one state away from her home in Virginia, Jones’ old Jeep Cherokee, which was lugging the singer/songwriter, her Yamaha mock grand piano and her acoustic guitar, beckoned for attention and started overheating. Trudging onward, a year ago she landed in Santa Cruz after, she recalls, “the welcoming committee at the border of California said, ‘Welcome to California—and just so you know, your car is shooting out black smoke!’” Along with that fixer-upper, the 24-year-old brought to town her songwriting skills she’d exercised in bands while living in North Carolina, a knack to play back anything she hears despite not knowing chords, and a determination to master the keys in original songs. And, like you’d suspect, she did so in perfect getaway form. “Once I moved out to California I was locking myself in my room for hours trying to figure out new chord progressions,” she says. The sweet result? Her solo musical project now greets listeners as a piano pop endeavor dripping in spacey ambiance and affecting lyrics that can bounce with a lighthearted bop or amble with languid fluidity reminiscent of Missy Higgins.

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Features

Don’t Stop Now

Don’t Stop Now

How The Bad Plus makes avant-garde accessible
If there were ever an oxymoron that made absolute sense, it would be the phrase “avant-garde populism” when applied to The Bad Plus—the progressive jazz trio that is making its near-annual stop at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for two sets on Monday, Dec. 6.

Indeed, the group is defined by a few sets of sweet contradiction: classical and contemporary, proficient and accessible, vanguard and conventional. Made up of bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson, and drummer Dave King, The Bad Plus has put out seven albums over its 10-year existence, and that tag of avant-garde populism—originally coined in the New York Times—continues to hover around aptly.

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Love Your Local Band

Molly’s Revenge

Molly’s Revenge

A challenge of being a Celtic band from California? Credibility. Living far from the Green Isle, the Santa Cruz-based players in Molly’s Revenge have had to work that much harder to get respect for playing traditional music native to a foreign region. Still, the members have mastered a rare style despite their stateside home, and it’s gained them plenty of nods from notable players. “We may not talk with the accents, but the music speaks with the accent for us,” says founder David Brewer, the man behind the Highland bagpipes. With John Weed on fiddle, Stuart Mason on guitar/mandola, and Peter Haworth on bouzouki, Molly’s Revenge catapults audiences (in both elite venues and casual pubs) into a wicked seizure fueled by strident Celtic covers and originals. It seems that emerging as outsiders to the scene has given the band the freedom to, shall we say, experiment. Don’t expect kilts, expect kick-ass takes on Celtic classics. While in Scotland and Ireland bands traditionally play sitting down, Molly’s Revenge treats its stage show with the dynamics and theatrics of a rock show; everyone performs standing, and flailing movements complement the stomping rhythms.

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Features

Another Roadside Attraction

Another Roadside Attraction

Le Serpent Rouge presents musical entertainment’s latest odd couple: jug band music and belly dancing
Rachel Brice of Le Serpent Rouge isn’t going to let a momentary setback spoil her good mood. “Right now we’re sitting by the side of the road with a broken-down vehicle, but that’s fine—we’ve done that twice already,” she cheerfully tells GT by cell phone. “We’re broken down and sick, but it’s fun!”

Brice, a former Santa Cruz resident currently residing in Portland, Ore., serves as artistic director and choreographer for The Indigo Belly Dance Company, in which she performs alongside her former Bellydance Superstar colleagues Mardi Love (Urban Tribal Belly Dance) and Zoe Jakes (Beats Antique, Yard Dogs Road Show). Brice explains that Indigo’s tribal fusion belly dance style, which contains elements of 1920s jazz, American tribal, electronic fusion and old-time dance forms, owes a great debt to turn-of-the-century vaudevillian variety shows. “Our belly dancing, in a lot of ways, is inspired by what we would imagine that we would want to do if we lived in that time,” she states.

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Love Your Local Band

Five Eyed Hand

Five Eyed Hand

When guitarist Chris Zanardi dishes out the inside scoop on his band Five Eyed Hand, there’s no shortage of quirky band member details befitting the ensemble’s fusion psychedelic-meets-funk soundscape. Drummer Derek Bodkin isn’t just an anomalous frontman from behind the kit, he’s also an award-winning professional whistler (he performs a whistle solo on the song “Good Mood Trot”). Bassist Jeb Taylor was struck by lightning as a child while hiking the Himalaya (“I think it messed up his vocals during his adolescent years and he’s the only member that doesn’t sing,” Zanardi laughs). Violinist Mike Henderson is known to untraditionally whip out the slide here and there (“He’s a virtuoso that plays everything from classical to rock”). With each member brandishing his own extensive resume of projects, Five Eyed Hand formed in 2006 to boast a motley crew of experiences and styles that continues to go strong. From sexy funk to beastly bluegrass jams to precise jazz instrumentals, the quartet hits Don Quixote’s with Marco Benevento on Friday, Dec. 3.

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Love Your Local Band

The Good Sams

The Good Sams

There’s nothing like a little ol’ power plant to spark the creative juices. It works in The Simpsons and it works in the Good Sams. While Moss Landing is commonly recognized for its two power plant towers, along with the famous flavors of Phil’s Fish Market, since 2006 the tiny tourist spot has also harbored a lesser-known force to be reckoned with: Smaller in stature but bigger in sound than the aforementioned landmarks, the hillbilly swing of the Good Sams fits the antique-loving scene of the neighborhood while infusing a youthful surf/skate punk aesthetic through its energy and lyrics. Still, let’s talk power plant. Singer/songwriter Andrew Dolan grew up watching the smoke linger out of the imposing towers and over his grandparents’ junkyard. “Every day when the smoke came out of the stacks it looked like things morphing into other things, it was nonstop entertainment,” the 28-year-old recalls. “So the power plant is a huge influence on us.” Take note of one of the trio’s original romps, “Plume’s Doom.” But while modern muses like power plants and skateboarding play some major roles in the local ensemble’s music, it’s the old-time string thumping and country crooning that lays the Good Sams’ foundation.

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Features

Tunes that Teach

Tunes that Teach

The Banana Slug String Band Celebrates 25 years
Children’s programming runs from the idiotic to the sublime. But rare is the children’s musical group with a socially conscious vibe—imagine the Wiggles with a soul or Soupy Sales with a vegan pie. For 25 years, Santa Cruz’s aptly named Banana Slug String Band has been entertaining tots around the globe with an eco-message of hope.

On Saturday, Nov. 13 at Kuumbwa Jazz, the ensemble will play two special anniversary shows for children (and their parents) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The band will be pre-releasing their upcoming CD and showcasing the newest songs from their vast catalogue in a family-friendly atmosphere.

Self-branded with monikers that reflect their love of all things outdoors and under the sea, lead guitarist  “Airy” Larry Graff, bass player Doug “Dirt” Greenfield, songwriter/guitarist “Solar” Steve Van Zandt and mandolin/guitarist “Marine” Mark Nolan all come from a background in nature studies. Together they make music that is deserving of its own animated Saturday morning show.

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Love Your Local Band

Birdhouse

Birdhouse

What a difference a year can make. Last Halloween, when a group of friends thought the best way to spend the masked affair would be to jam out some Grateful Dead tunes at a Santa Cruz house party, little could they have guessed that by the next Day of the Dead they’d be garnering notice for playing solid original tunes under the name Birdhouse. Now, with no covers in sight, the quartet balances jazz virtuosity with jam band dexterity, and the resulting patchwork morphs with each show. A conglomerate of UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College students, the guys in Birdhouse, according to drummer Jeff Wilson, formed “to play old time, good feeling rock music with a country feel, but we’re all jazz guys.” With guitarist/lead vocalist Daniel Talamantes (“He’s constantly on his typewriter all day writing,” Wilson says), lead guitarist Jeff Carter, and bassist Chris McIntyre rounding out the crew, Birdhouse lights up an ever-changing set through a knack for tight improv and technical precision. An appreciation for bluegrass and funk certainly informs the set, with Wilson favoring African rhythms and atypical syncopation as the lively undercurrent to the band’s rock meanderings, while Carter’s stinging pedal steel guitar is scene-stealing.

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Features

A Galaxie-Sized Legacy

A Galaxie-Sized Legacy

Dean Wareham still revels in 20-year-old songs
Back in August I found myself standing outside of The Blank Club in San Jose one evening, speaking with a musician friend who was passing through town on tour. Per usual, our conversation eventually turned to old shoegaze bands, with one of us making the crack that, though the reunited Swervedriver had played the Fillmore in San Francisco earlier in the year, pre-breakup there was no way it could have ever played a venue that size.

Really, we could just as easily have been talking about Galaxie 500, America’s best answer to the almost-forgotten shoegaze scene happening in England in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Though the band lasted only four years, leading man Dean Wareham—coming to Don Quixote’s on Friday, Nov. 12 with his own band to reinterpret Galaxie 500 material—seems remarkably comfortable being shadowed by the legacy of a group that ended nearly 20 years ago.

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Love Your Local Band

DJ Rob Monroy

DJ Rob Monroy

Psychedelic beams of light penetrate a fog-filled room and scatter off of a mirror ball down onto the dance floor. The crowd of gyrating bodies instinctively twists to the electronic pulse of the speakers as the turntables spin in their hypnotic trance. “A lot of it comes down to beat matching and keeping them together, “ explains DJ Rob Monroy with a satisfied grin. “If the beats are falling apart the people will get distracted.” Monroy knows what he’s talking about. Performing since 1994, he’s one of the longest spinning DJs in Santa Cruz with a plethora of dance parties under his belt—including Raindance events with his friend DJ Lil John. Monroy was also the resident DJ for Back to Basics night at the Blue Lagoon, which had a respectable seven-year run in Santa Cruz. But despite his love for electronic music, his origins as a DJ began in an unlikely place. “I’m a Dead Head,” he says. “Grateful Dead shows were the first place I felt comfortable dancing ecstatically.” As the years went on and drugs began to crumble the positive community aspects of Dead shows, Monroy began finding ambiguous fliers for “DJ gatherings” at undisclosed locations.

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Features

Café Musique

Café Musique

Café Musique fits more than a few different costumes

What better way to celebrate a holiday that encourages identity experimentation than with a band that defines its music as somewhere between a Jewish Ladino tune, a Venezuelan waltz, a Canadian pop song, Hungarian gypsy music and good old-fashioned Americana?


“You put a show on Oct. 31 and there’s no telling what will happen,” jokes Duane Inglish, Café Musique’s accordion player, of the ensemble’s upcoming performance at Don Quixote’s, at 1 p.m. on the Day of the Dead.


At this week’s Halloween afternoon gig, the five-member band out of San Luis Obispo will debut new music from its sophomore effort, Catching Your Breath, released in July. The 13-track album guides listeners on an existential journey from dreamlike “Cascata De Lagrimas,” to Eddie Cantor’s 1920s ditty “Dinah,” to the unofficial Canadian national anthem “Hallelujah.”

 

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Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of December 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her