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Aug 27th
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Features

Flowering in the Attic

Flowering in the Attic

Loch Lomond emerged out of unexpected places

Ritchie Young didn’t get out much over the summer between his junior and senior years in high school. He was grounded. Young’s father put the rambunctious adolescent on house arrest after he hospitalized a friend—a nail-gun fight gone awry, Young explains with a chuckle.

The singer songwriter of the Portland-based, chamber pop ensemble Loch Lomond can laugh about it now. His friend has long since recovered and they still talk to this day.  He recalls how stir-craziness drove him to the attic of his central Oregon home that summer. It was there that he was met with two very distinct instruments: his father’s old rifle and a guitar.

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Love Your Local Band

Future Dog

Future Dog

If you prefer to sit back and let a jazz set gently simmer in the background, beware of Future Dog; the band is out to change your mind and musically kick the seat right out from under you. Calling themselves “ambassadors of the neo-speakeasy,” the three gents are unconventional members of the growing jazz-funk trio revival that’s been coming out of the Santa Cruz woodworks lately. Why unconventional? Somehow electronica and rap influences have made their way into the band’s set. And, ironically, founder/bassist Brett Wiltshire says it’s all to get back to jazz’s earliest days. “Jazz originated in the party scene of a smoky speakeasy with dancing but it’s progressed into a genre where people sip wine and clap in between songs,” he says.

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Features

The Voice of Brazil

The Voice of Brazil

Milton Nascimento speaks the universal language no matter what may be against him

Here in modern-day America, the music censors deal with controversial lyrical content by slapping warning labels on albums and/or axing swear words from the radio versions of songs. One memorable example of this came early this year, when U.S. radio stations made Britney Spears change the title of her single “If U Seek Amy” (which, not so coincidentally, sounds an awful lot like “F-U-C-K me” when sung) to the less inflammatory “If U See Amy.”

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Features

Miracles Happen

Miracles Happen

No longer under construction, Man/Miracle’s debut takes shape

At first glance, Oakland-based rock quartet Man/Miracle may seem the complete opposite of North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel, better known as the “Hotel of Doom” because it’s remained unfinished since 1987; it’s a 105-story pyramid admonished as an eyesore and modern architectural disaster. Drummer Tyler Corelitz, however, disagrees. Corelitz, who founded Man/Miracle in Santa Cruz with childhood friend Dylan Travis fronting, says the ominous building now gracing the cover of the band’s debut album, The Shape of Things, “matches visually what we had in our heads.”

Why is that confusing? Because Man/Miracle gets in your head via a rapid firing of bright pop melodies and dance-heavy energy crashing together in hand clapping, crowd chorusing and garage rock madness. Travis often convulses at the mic with his pipes wailing like Erasure’s Andy Bell (or the way Morrissey would if he were ever uncontrollably happy), and the band’s songs tend to be of the kind you want to avoid listening to on Highway 17 when it’s raining; their high-octane momentum follows a stop-and-start zeal that compels you to do the same. Bouncy, uptempo, uplifting. No oppressive communist regime or drab building in sight.

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Features

No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached

Emily Wells does classical violin and hip hop her way

More and more, old school strings are blazing in innovative ways; the trend of classical instrumentation in modern music is taking that which has long been and transferring it into what’s up next in unceremonious ways. For 27-year-old Emily Wells, a violinist since the age of 4 who procures experimental folk, what pulls her strings is hip hop. “I love rap music and Vivaldi,” her press bio begins. “Nina Simone and Biggie Smalls make my world go round.” Take a listen to any track off last year’s The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, and your scrunching eyebrows will relax into a state of understanding: a filo dough layering of pulsing violin strings encase hip hop backbeats and punchy vocals that meander between operatic croons, rap attitude and folk sweetness.

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Features

Comeback Kid

Comeback Kid

Former Sin in Space leader Cassidy Meijer kicks the dust off in The Cobwebs

At the start of the present decade, things were looking bright for local vocalist/guitarist Cassidy Meijer: His indie rock band Sin in Space was one of the most popular bands in town, and there was a sense among Santa Cruz audiences and music journalists that the group was going to make a big noise in the national college rock scene.

That never happened. Throughout his time in Sin in Space, Meijer was living with a heroin addiction stemming from an auto accident he was in at age 18, which left his left hand and pelvic bone broken. “Instead of dealing with the trauma, I got drugged … and liked to stay drugged,” he chuckles. Meijer’s habit led to the demise of Sin in Space in the mid-2000s, after which the vocalist and his girlfriend Sky ended up on the streets of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, living in bushes and “doing whatever we could to make money to get drugs and stay well.”

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Love Your Local Band

Quasimodal

Quasimodal

A couple of years ago, I was getting out of my car at the end of a long day when I suddenly heard salient live jazz grooves blooming in the vicinity. Pulled by musical gravity, I followed the polyrhythmic beats and found myself at the steps to a quaint red house. There I was, smack in the middle of a normally quiet Westside neighborhood; I could almost see the cartoon musical notes fluttering out the window and into the dark night. What else to do but knock on the door to investigate further? When that door opened, guitarist Sweeney Schragg stood perplexed as I told him how his music had led me to his home; his crooked-necked expression looked at me like I was a peculiar character who’d lost my way off Pacific Avenue. ... And that was my first meeting with Santa Cruz jazz guitar trio Quasimodal. Still practicing in that same tight living room, Schragg and co. (Pete Novembre on bass and Chris Haskett on drums) are celebrating a new CD on Thursday, Oct. 29. Delivering Discordia Concors to Kuumbwa’s dinner and jazz series, Quasimodal brings metal-loving Novembre’s aggressive attacks on standup and electric bass, Haskett’s uptempo swing and Latin nuances, and Schragg’s rhythm and blues rock past and Cabrillo College-trained jazz songwriting.  “There’s method in the madness,” a soft-spoken Schragg explains how he constructs chord progressions as vehicles for improv, in which instrumental mayhem meets to morph into harmony. “I want to write interesting melodic structures,” the 59-year-old begins, “so that people appreciate it with intellectual curiosity.” Stridently funneling all three musicians’ diverse techniques into one sound that’s footed in traditional jazz, Quasimodal can juggle light bossa nova ballads to heavier tones of rock power all on one stage. Offstage, however, I still sometimes catch Schragg crisply fingerpicking his Gibson L-5 and conjuring his next tune on his porch in front of that same ol’ door. The address? That’s my secret—the rest of y’all can catch him with Quasimodal at the Kuumbwa.


7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. Jazz & Dinner $24.60. 427-2227.
Features

Premonitions

Premonitions

Lacy J. Dalton’s songs have an eerie way of coming true

Apparently when Lacy J. Dalton moved from Santa Cruz to Nashville in the late ’70s, she remained connected to this town in spirit: At the moment when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit, the country music star was in the studio with Glenn Campbell, recording a duet called “Shaky Ground” that she’d recently written with tunesmiths Even Stevens and Hillary Kanter. The song was about, of all things, earthquakes. “It was just so weird!” the singer/guitarist/songwriter recalls. “And I got a call that there was a terrible earthquake in California.”

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Love Your Local Band

GREEN FLASH

GREEN FLASH

Once in awhile, a band hits the scene with a force like some astral phenomenon striking the sky; you can’t ignore it and its colorful, startling resonance leaves you looking for more. Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that rock trio Green Flash has the name that it does: The band thrusts well-manicured musical ass-kickings seemingly delivered with a slow smile. Edgy. Raw. Intoxicatingly warm. Carly Flies churns out both heavily distorted electric guitar riffs and patient, clean fingerpicking embedded with drummer Peter Wallner’s hard-driving beats—with each citing Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine as influences. Then there’s bassist Raya Heffernan, who pilots the melodies and dramatic swagger with unrestrained, piercing vocals that wrap the artful package together like a shiny bow. The band, which started as a duo last year and solidified with Wallner in April, already has buzz around it and plays Thursday, Oct. 22 with Kurt Vile & The Violators.

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Features

Talking Heads

Talking Heads

Karl Denson gets vocal on his new album, Brother’s Keeper
When it comes to music, funk/jazz saxophonist Karl Denson is a man of few words. Up until now, the output we’ve heard from his band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTY) has been largely instrumental, with the vocal tunes serving to figuratively tap a spoon against a glass and raise a toast in the middle of the dance party. KDTY’s latest album, the Motown-flavored Brother’s Keeper, however, is dominated not by instrumental acrobatics, but by singing. If Denson has become unexpectedly vocal on his latest offering, perhaps it’s because he has a message to deliver: In an era when the modern conveniences and freedoms that we enjoy also keep us separate from one another, Brother’s Keeper is a call for people to become more involved in the world around them.

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Features

Power Outage

Power Outage

Dark Star Orchestra lights up a rare acoustic show
Formed in 1997 as a Chicago bar band that played Grateful Dead tunes, Dark Star Orchestra (DSO) soon began touring upwards of 200 nights a year. With an increasing number of people hungry to see DSO, the band now plays the same large concert halls at which the original 1960s iconic band used to perform. DSO lead guitarist John Kadlecik—talking from the road in Seattle—reflects on the early years. “I had been initially playing with another Dead cover band, but my idea was to recreate shows in their entirety,” he reminisces. “When DSO caught on, we all quit our day jobs.”

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Features

High, Low and In Between

High, Low and In Between

Steve Earle recalls the late great Townes Van Zandt

Steve Earle’s admiration for Townes Van Zandt is nearly as legendary as the two men themselves. Point one: A teenage Earle started following the iconic country singer-songwriter upon discovering him in Houston back in 1972. Point two: He named his first son after him, the emerging Justin Townes Earle who’s now commanding attention for his own potent honky tonk delivery and lyrical skills. Point three: He just released an entire album covering 15 Van Zandt songs, simply titled Townes. Recording the core vocals and guitar tracks live in his New York apartment last September, the gritty Grammy-winning Earle is now taking the musical tribute—and his memories of one of the most underappreciated and prolific poets—on the road, and he’ll be hitting The Rio at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7. When he talks about Van Zandt, whose infamous life of alcohol and drug abuse ended on New Year’s Day of 1997 at the age of 52, Earle’s tone shifts restlessly between poignant awe of the man and his influence, to somber lament (and riled frustration) for the fame, health and success that his idol never obtained. Like Van Zandt, Earle rose in the growlin’ blues, country-rock songwriting ranks only to fall to his own substance abuse and eventual imprisonment in the early ’90s. Unlike Van Zandt, he made it out of the darkness—sobering up and singing again to reclaim himself, a family and his lauded career. Townes Van Zandt epitomized the struggling, self-destructive folk phenom that could never quite enjoy the brilliance he emanated, and now Steve Earle is giving his greatest mentor what he could never hold onto in life: the spotlight.

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Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

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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Outdoor Feasts

The next Mole and Mariachi Festival, Grazing on the Green and a review of Route 1 Farms last dinner

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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.