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Jul 26th
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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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Features

Ace of Tapes

Ace of Tapes

The medium is the message at 1019 Records

Compared to the space age techno-wizardry of the iPod, my Sony Walkman is the portable music equivalent of a Model-T Ford. It's so clunky that it features a belt clasp, as there's no way you're going to fit the plastic behemoth in any reasonably sized pocket. To give you an idea of its approximate value, I received it for free in exchange for donating blood, which my body produces at zero cost to me. Despite all this, Santa Cruz soundsmith Cole Willsea regularly releases and sells new music exclusively on cassette tapes through his label, 1019 Records. And he's not the only one.

"As it turns out, there are a good number of tape labels around these days," Willsea says. "There's one in Canada called Scotch Tapes that puts out hundreds of tapes on a weekly basis, and they often sell out within days. A dude makes his living that way."

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Features

Going to ’Town

Going to ’Town

Harry and The Hit Men ring in the new year by turning back the clock to Motown

It’s been a big year for Motown. In November, Detroit saw an influx of legends perform for one night as the Motown 50 Golden Gala honored the illustrious record label’s half-century birthday. While Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and The Temptations were a few of the revered guests in the house, there was another surprise speaker, a new guy on the block, who gave a headline-making nod to the genre: Giving a message modernly signed, sealed and delivered via video, President Obama said on the big screen that “Motown music made history and captured a truly American sound.”

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Features

Musically Conjoined

Musically Conjoined

The Le Boeuf Brothers return to Santa Cruz to play music as only identical twins can

Every musician should be so lucky as to have a twin sibling. Case in point: former Santa Cruzans Pascal and Remy Le Boeuf, aka The Le Boeuf Brothers, a pair of 23-year-old identical twins currently making a name for themselves in the New York jazz scene.

Pascal, the keyboardist of the duo, explains that he and his brother have a natural musical rapport. Likening music to a conversation, he offers, “If I bring up a certain subject—for example, I might play a mood D minor vamp—then we both might think of the same things to respond to that. Remy might have an idea of what would work over that, and I might have a similar idea.”

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Features

For My Next Number…

For My Next Number…

Santa Cruz Harp Festival performer Jennifer Cass on the connection between mathematics and music

It’s no secret that many musicians are strongly “right -brained”: Their intuitive and artistic faculties are often much more developed than their powers of reasoning and analysis. One notable exception is local pedal harpist Jennifer Cass, who also happens to be a math teacher at Cabrillo.

“I really like my life, where I have my math side, but I think the way I teach is a little bit more global,” Cass states. The musician claims that while she doesn’t consciously try to combine the disciplines of music and math, they have a way of mixing together naturally. “For me, they’re both about patterns and structure,” she offers. “That’s what I try to get across to my math students: looking for the beauty in mathematics; not just, ‘Factor this polynomial, follow these steps, and you’ll get an answer. It has to be right or wrong.’”

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Love Your Local Band

The Huxtables FREE at The Red

The Huxtables FREE at The RedWhen Santa Cruz’s five Huxtables escort in the arrival of Santa, it’s an affair you’ll remember. Longtime pop punk mainstays, The Hux—though not known to be the most serious of men—take their annual “Holiday Show and More” pretty seriously. For the third year in a row, the warm fire of the upstairs Red lounge will find itself competing with the musical fire of the veteran band as it transforms its boisterous show with Christmas zeal and joyous humor even Cosby can’t beat. “The Hux always look for chances to cornball it out,” says drummer Greg Braithwaite (formerly of Sin in Space). “We’ve never been a band that’s really concerned with what’s really cool at the time, so if there’s going to be a band that’s going to dress our friend up as Santa and do a whole production, it’s gonna be us.” Devised by bassist AJ Marquez, the band’s songwriting backbone and the creative genius behind the extensive production, the event will be replete with visual effects, props and theatrics.
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Features

Bleeding Hearts in Analog

Bleeding Hearts in Analog

John Vanderslice on liberalism and recording to tape

Some artists seem to cultivate character from their surroundings, while others develop as a reaction to that upbringing. John Vanderslice falls easily within the latter category. Coming to the Crepe Place on Friday, Dec. 11, Vanderslice brings his low-key songwriting quirkiness to a town well known for its own idiosyncratic nature, as well as its liberal politics.

Nowadays, Vanderslice serves much the same role in San Francisco’s indie music scene as Dave Eggers does in its literary one—both nurture their creative circles while also contributing to them. However, growing up it probably would have been difficult to guess that Vanderslice would end up as a bleeding heart singer-songwriter operating out of the Bay Area.

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Love Your Local Band

An Altared Christmas

An Altared Christmas

Don’t get Rhan Wilson wrong, it’s not that he doesn’t enjoy the holiday season, he just wants to shed a different light on the whole gift-giving revelry. The producer and brainchild behind the annual Altared Christmas extravaganza takes your common Christmas carol and gives it a little, well, kick in its bloomer-wearing ass. Translating the music of old merry tunes into minor keys and conjuring more than 20 local stars, like Tammi Brown, Dale Ockerman and Patti Maxine, to gather on one stage as various characters, the lifelong guitarist presents a two-hour show each December that aims to rock a “Christmas that Grandma could never have imagined.” There’s plenty of irony and improv throughout a set that ranges from somber duets, heavenly gospel and, of course, brash rock comedy (think “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Clause” sung by an elderly woman).

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Features

A Gifted MC

A Gifted MC

Hip hop offers an escape for Blackalicious frontman Gift of Gab

It may be that Tim Parker needs less oxygen than an average human being. Parker, better known as Gift of Gab, often raps for what seems like an eternity without taking a breath. The vocal identity of Bay Area hip hop duo Blackalicious, Gift of Gab is recognized for his lightning-fast lyrical constructions and tongue twisting rhymes.

“I like to be an instrument of the beat,” Parker explains of his rapid-fire raps. “Different beats call for different cadences.” Indeed, the MC doesn’t always rap fast, and Parker denies that he possesses some kind of super-human lung capacity. “I’ve had (breath-holding) contests with other people; some of ’em I win, some of ’em I don’t.”

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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.