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Sep 01st
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Features

What if God Was One of Us

What if God Was One of Us

Asylum Street Spankers give God a ride on a new gospel tour

When a band that’s known for its comical forays into drug- and sex-themed tracklists puts out a live album of gospel tunes, heads are going to turn. “Doesn’t that seem like the natural order?” jokes Asylum Street Spankers’ founding member and washboard enthusiast, Wammo. “I don’t think anyone in the band is very religious, but there’s more to gospel than just religion. Musically, these songs are amazing!”

“These songs” are gospel covers, plus two original songs (written by Wammo) on Asylum Street Spankers’ ninth release, humbly entitled God’s Favorite Band. It’s no subtle endeavor, but the Spankers are no subtle ensemble.

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Love Your Local Band

Hold Tight

Hold Tight

Two months ago, Santa Cruz jazz songstress Nicole Wilson was performing in front of Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, Oscar Arias. “He was definitely the most prestigious audience member I’ve ever sung for,” the 31-year-old says, letting out a laugh at the randomness of the momentous experience. Frequenting the country each year and having forged a strong connection with Costa Rica’s vibrant jazz community, Wilson was asked to join the premier Tico Jazz Band as a guest for a special event. The performance posed her breathy pipes against the big band’s robust sound—but with a full horn section and drums commandeering a loud, blaring set-up, it had her belting out as hard as she could to try and compete with the instrumental onslaught. “I’m used to singing with a small combo with guitar, so I had to almost shout into the mic,” she remembers. On Thursday, Feb. 25, Wilson’s classically trained vocals are being showcased the way she prefers—with 3-year-old jazz trio Hold Tight.

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Features

Compassion is a Verb

Compassion is a Verb

Rickie Lee Jones talks politics, panthers, and prayers

What better way to enjoy Valentine’s Day than with a singer who explores the joys and struggles that come with love? And think bigger than superficial pop songs of romantic love. Sure, Rickie Lee Jones sings about lovers—gained and lost—on her latest album, Balm in Gilead, but as usual she casts a wider net, embracing love of family, radical political action, equality, freedom and a deep gratitude for life. Rickie Lee Jones performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Rio Theatre. Tickets are available at pulseproductions.net and Streetlight Records.

When I last spoke with Jones, she was working hard to get President Bush out of office. So, I thought I’d begin by asking her about how things have changed—or stayed the same—with Obama in the White House. “I did not vote for Obama,” she reveals.  “He was another guy in a suit, like Bush, brought in from unseen forces at the last minute to usurp the more qualified candidate, Clinton. I was very disappointed that a man was brought in, a man of color, before a woman was given a seat of equality.”

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Love Your Local Band

Acid Tapestries

Acid Tapestries

Santa Cruz easily makes up for the relative lack of touring brand-name acts with an independent scene that is as diverse as it is fiercely loyal. Perhaps no other band better personifies this ethos than Acid Tapestries. An indie rock amalgam, the four-piece ties together strands of the past five decades of rock and alternative music into a driving, melodic ruckus landing somewhere between Pavement and a psyched-out Vampire Weekend. Naturally, it's been very well-received in town. "The Santa Cruz music scene has been great to us," explains Lee Bedrouni, the bespectacled bassist. "We've received a hell of a lot of support from organizations like TINARL and from other local bands like San Narciso, Green Flash and No Jet Left." In return, Bedrouni has nurtured the scene by regularly featuring new local music on KZSC, where he currently hosts a Friday night local music showcase entitled "The Rising Tide."

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Features

Begging for Change

Begging for Change

The Entrance Band has a message behind the mayhem

Last September I previewed the Amazing Baby show at The Crepe Place, and the day of the concert my editor gave me a heads up to get there early and check out the opener—The Entrance Band. Luckily I followed that advice, as the psychedelic threesome turned out to be one of the most energetic live rock acts I’ve come across in a while. Was that Paz Lenchantin (of A Perfect Circle and Zwan fame) on bass?

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Features

Man on Fire

Man on Fire

Dave Rawlings makes sparks fly as bandleader

It would be easy for Dave Rawlings to take a cue from John F. Kennedy’s infamous quote in Paris. I can just hear him quipping at a show: “I am the man who accompanied Gillian Welch to Nashville, and I have enjoyed it.

Since meeting at Berklee College of Music nearly two decades ago, the pair has taken Welch’s sweet-like-honey folk and bluegrass musings to main stages—their endearing performance style and songwriting procuring a timelessness that forbids a listener from passing by without feeling a pinch in the heart, if not more.

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Love Your Local Band

‘Making a Record’

‘Making a Record’

This week we’re highlighting the debut of a new workshop aimed at helping your local band—and anyone curious about what it takes to bust out a record. Helmed by Gadgetbox Studios’ Andy Zenczak, in partnership with Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios, the “Making a Record” roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 11, is presenting the varied expertise and industry experience of local stars Lauren Shera, Naomi Wilder (Naomi & The Courteous Rude Boys), Peter Haworth (Molly’s Revenge), and Brian Gallagher (Wooster). “Major labels are dying a slow death and it’s about time for independent resources to pick up and give artists more exposure,” says Zenczak, a self-described “music-geek and science-geek” who combined his two passions when he first started recording bands in his home 10 years ago.

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Features

Very Proud of Ya

Very Proud of Ya

Success hasn’t spoiled AFI’s Jade Puget yet. And that really pisses off one envious GT scribe.

Oh, I’m not jealous. Not in the least. I don’t mind seeing my rock star dreams being lived out by a bunch of kids I went to high school with. It doesn’t bother me at all when the mere mention of AFI’s name makes a girl cover her heart, roll her eyes and swoon as though Eros himself had just invited her to sail off to cloudland on a freaking giant swan. Hell, I kind of enjoyed it when my old schoolmates in AFI played the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on my birthday—the one I’d long ago picked as the absolute, no-appeals expiration date for my hopes of “making it” in music—and even brought along Tiger Army, another successful band led by one of my peers from high school.

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Features

Hide-and-seek

Hide-and-seek

The masked enigma known as The Residents

Active since the late ‘60s, The Residents are a legendary performance collective that’s remained one of the most unknown groups in any subheading of performance art despite being one of the most intensely celebrated. To this day they’re still very much an enigma, falling in the cracks between music and theater, celebrity and mystery.

For newbies to the group, The Residents are a melding of music and visual art, and in live shows typically feature four members wearing eyeball-shaped helmets or other face-obscuring adornments. Throughout its history, the group has kept the identities of its members a tight secret, with the only connection to the outside world through its aptly named management team, The Cryptic Corporation. So while The Residents may be considered outsider musicians with shifty origins—much like the infamously illusive Jandek—likewise the group has had a great influence on modern avant-garde dignitaries such as Animal Collective and Primus. Bringing their latest innovative show to Santa Cruz this week, The Residents perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Rio Theatre.

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Love Your Local Band

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley

Folk-pop floats along in a spectrum of music, from upbeat tempos to slow dirges, and Bryn Loosley and the Back Pages croon some of the most bittersweet ballads this side of NPR’s darling, David Mead. Santa Cruz teacher and bandleader, Bryn Loosley, is known to take the stage as if he’s walked up from the beach. Barefoot, guitar hung low around his neck, steely determination in his hazel-gray eyes, and then the voice. Gravelly, with the familiar dust kicked up from back country roads, Loosley draws the listener into a world where love is not always returned undamaged. From stints in Chico (Buffalo Creek) to the SAD streets of Portland (The Last Minute), the Northwest’s loss is Santa Cruz’s gain. Back Pages drives the engine of Loosley’s forlorn locomotive. Steve Gear on bass and Marc Stafford on electric guitar are the songwriter’s old friends from Chico, while Pat Blizinski (keys) and Jon Payne (drums) are Craigslist acquisitions.

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Features

The Bridge to Somewhere

The Bridge to Somewhere

The Builders and The Butchers cross borders and genres

Portland is a city whose name is practically synonymous with indie music—particularly the alternative folk scene. Conversely, Alaska is synonymous with … Sarah Palin?

In 2003 Ryan Sollee moved from Alaska to Portland with his band at the time, a punk rock outfit known as The Born Losers. With the dissolution of that project, and with the advantage of friendships forged in a cultural music hub, eventually came The Builders and The Butchers, Sollee’s current band coming to The Crepe Place on Sunday, Jan. 17. “I was (in Portland) a few years while my old band was winding down,” says Sollee, “and The Builders and The Butchers started out of that period.”

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Features

With a Little Help From His Friends

With a Little Help From His Friends

Robben Ford assembles blues-rock super group for big licks

For those who know him, Robben Ford needs no introduction. The four-time Grammy nominee has been recording since 1972 and his formidable discography reflects the blues guitarist’s work ethic.

Raised in a music-loving family—his father and mother both sang and played various instruments—Ford says he has been in love with music ever since he can remember. He began playing piano at 7, picked up the saxophone at 10 and began teaching himself guitar at 13. He has worked with the likes of Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and Miles Davis.

In Ford’s latest endeavor he teams with three more musical greats—Michael Landau, Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak—to release the album Trial By Fire. He has worked with Landau, Haslip and Novak in various forms over his eventful career, but heretofore the four have not been able to make the time in their busy schedules to get together in the same room and kick out the jams.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.