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Aug 29th
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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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Love Your Local Band

Amanda West

Amanda West

Singer Amanda West is hiding out. Sort of. Having just returned from the Folk Alliance convention, the songstress (and producer of August’s WomanSong all-female concert in Big Sur) is busy off stage compiling the 12 tracks to her sophomore release. “I’ve actually been trying not to book shows because I’m working on a new album,” she says, making this week’s Cayuga Vault show on Saturday, Dec. 5 (alongside world-folk duo HuDost) all the more tantalizing for fans of her deeply cathartic folk. A special winter show, the concert will likely be her last for a while as she heads into the studio to lay down a record she describes as happier than 2008’s The Way to the Water. It will reflect what she says are her more recent experiences “connecting with the Universe and finding confidence.” “The images around the new CD are persimmon fruits,” she reveals. “It’s related to one of the songs on the album that’s become a symbol of inner knowing, strength and self empowerment.”

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Features

Funky Punks

Funky Punks

Dragon Smoke’s Moore and Mercurio’s punk pasts

As the rhythm section of the powerhouse New Orleans funk-jazz jam band Galactic and its soulful spin-off group Dragon Smoke, bassist Robert Mercurio and drummer Stanton Moore are known for laying down the kind of grooves that could start a dance party in an emergency ward. Who’d have guessed that both musicians grew up not on the friendly sass of funk music, but on the raw hostility of punk rock?

Moore, who surprised some members of the funk community a few years ago by recording with the hardcore band Corrosion of Conformity, admits to having listened to his fair share of GBH and Minor Threat records as a teenager in Metairie, Louisiana. At age 16 or 17, however, he began to explore jazz music as a means of becoming a better rock drummer. From jazz, it was a quick jump to funk. “To me, [funk] was kind of in between the rock thing and the jazz thing,” he explains.

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Features

Gypsy Queens

Gypsy Queens

For Po’ Girl, home is where the harmony is

Speaking from a gas station in Canada on her band’s way to Vancouver, singer Allison Russell shares her admiration for one B.B. King—because of his admiration for the road.

“B.B.’s an example of a true performer who loves his audience and what he does,” she begins. “He says, ‘Nobody pays me to play, they just pay me to travel.’ I think that’s how we feel about what we do as well.”

Referencing her three bandmates in Po’ Girl, the founding member of the 6-year-old Canadian urban roots ensemble admits that although they love being a crew of troubadours, they are now “consciously attempting to have a little balance.” That “balance” has translated into two new CD releases this summer (Deer in the Night and Po’ Girl Live) and a change from 300 shows last year to just over 250 this year—that’s not exactly the most relaxing schedule.

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Love Your Local Band

Tether Horse

Tether Horse

When one door closes, another door opens. Singer Matthew Chaney can attest to that. Dropping out of school to take a hiatus from his studies as an environmental science major, the singer-songwriter dove into the music scene a year ago armed with plenty of folk songs, equally infectious as affecting, and a crew of friends to fill out his rising acoustic ensemble, Tether Horse. “The idea of dropping out of school links in with the name of the band,” Chaney explains. “It’s that whole idea of being tethered to our society’s idea of the right direction to go and that if you want to be successful you have to follow these set of rules. I wanted to do something apart from that.” At a crossroads and confronting new opportunities, the 24-year-old says he had “a bit of a freak out moment” before choosing the right-brained path to close the books and hit the stage.

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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.