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Features

A Man Possessed

A Man Possessed

Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards pulls out all the punches
In the same month that a new Anthony Hopkins flick does its best impression of The Exorcist, there’s news that the Catholic Church is reporting a rise in demonic possession. Whether or not David Eugene Edwards believes in Linda Blair’s head-spinning character, he is clearly a man of faith. The former 16 Horsepower frontman’s current project, Wovenhand—dropping by the Crepe Place on Wednesday, Jan. 26—is known for its boisterous live shows, with Edwards playing with the passion of a man possessed.

“It’s beyond my control, to be honest with you,” explains Edwards regarding the disconnect between Wovenhand’s on-record pensiveness and its on-stage onslaught. “When I see certain bands, I want to be punched in the face. Basically that’s how I go about it, just to really take over the room and get everyone’s attention for as long as you can.”

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Features

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Bobby Hutcherson on spontaneity, technique and music as prayer
With all the records under Bobby Hutcherson’s belt—about 70, if you include his recordings as a sideman—you’d think he would spend the occasional day sitting at home, listening to his music and reminiscing about old times. Not so, says the legendary post-bop/free jazz/hard bop vibraphonist.

“If you listen to yourself, then you program yourself, and you say to yourself, ‘Oh, I like what I just played right there,’” the musician states. “And every time you get to that spot in that song, you play that! Music should be like the wind: You don’t know where it came from; you don’t know where it went. It only passes through once.”

Hutcherson, who appears at Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday, Jan. 24 (three days after his 70th birthday), has an unusually linear playing style for a vibraphonist. He notes, however, that it’s possible to “flirt around with the harmonics” even while playing a horizontal melodic line.

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Love Your Local Band

Wangari

Wangari

 

Censorship—the blasphemous term in music. Usually it’s applied to a bleeped out four-letter word, a phrase here and there. A whole song, even. Censoring an entire language? Unthinkable. But that’s a reality Sharon Wangari, the vocal soul and core behind the trio known simply as Wangari, is battling. Singing in her Kenyan mother tongue of Kikuyu is an act of preservation, not just an exercise in world music poetics. Because of tribal warfare the use of the Kikuyu language has been banned in Nairobi, and, needless to say, it’s gotten the singer “worked up.” Wangari explains, “I come from a family of freedom fighters, and our grandfather fought for independence so that we could be free and use our language.” She says the language is disappearing (“My friends don’t speak it because they think it’s primitive, and it’s being wiped off the face of the earth”), so the 24-year-old is now bringing it to listeners through modern acoustic music.

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Features

Rainy Day Music

Rainy Day Music

’Tis the season for The Album Leaf
This winter California has seen more than its share of torrential rain, and The Album Leaf offers the kind of soundscapes which provide a perfect complement to the wet season; there isn’t a better song than “Shine” to have a track of forceful pitter patter layered beneath it. Indeed, Jimmy LaValle’s project is distinct mood music, and it will be coming to the Crepe Place for two nights this week, Tuesday, Jan. 11 and Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Although The Album Leaf may lend itself to distinct emotional interpretation, instrumental music is a funny thing. The electronically-based project has increasingly used vocals on latter albums, but in the absence of words, the emotion that one may project upon a given song may well have no relation to the feelings originally infused in it. Ironically, “The Light” may be the perfect soundtrack to a rainy day. But for all we know it was conceived on a sunny summer afternoon.

“There are songs that I’ve had that I feel [were written] when I was in a good space and happy,” says LaValle. “Then a lot of people think those songs are really sad and vice versa. I think it’s really cool how that works.”

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Love Your Local Band

Patti Maxine

Patti Maxine

At 72, Patti Maxine is one of the busiest players in Santa Cruz and she’s not slowing down. A solo performer and a member of the Island Breeze Band, ROMP, and the Saddle Pals, she’s also been in high demand by local folk musicians and Hawaiian music emissaries like Eddie Kamae and Cyril Pahanui. Anyone who’s witnessed her confident slinging of the slide guitar knows why. Still, it wasn’t necessarily by choice that the brazen stage veteran first picked up the lesser known style. As a young teen living in Roanoke, Va., Maxine sought to study the standard guitar. Her music teacher had other plans for her. “Unbeknownst to me at age 14, my teacher brought out a lap steel,” she says of her surprise  introduction to a guitar whose raised strings beg to be swiped rather than pressed down. “He laid it on my lap and I played with a steel bar, and that was it for me.” Soon she was playing Hawaiian music and winning contests despite the fact that the slide was rarely ever seen in a woman’s hands. “Me and this instrument was like a match made in heaven,” she says.

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Features

Sound Gardener

Sound Gardener

Bluetech welcomes Don Quixote’s patrons to his sonic greenhouse
When Evan Bartholomew composes a song, he begins with what he calls “a tiny seed.” “I’m silent for a minute, and I hear … maybe it’s a bass line; maybe it’s a rhythm pattern; maybe it’s something my hand is tapping on the steering wheel while I’m driving in the car,” he explains. “And then I go in the studio and attempt to sow the seed—get it down, get that idea tracked.”

It’s fitting that Bartholomew—who performs his downtempo electronica music under the name of Bluetech—should reach for this particular metaphor: His home recording studio in Hawaii is filled with literal seedlings. The musician has a nursery of more than 2,000 bromeliads, a type of epiphyte (a plant that can grow without soil) found in the tropical Americas. Because the habitat for the plants he collects is being rapidly decimated, some of these species no longer exist in the wild. He hopes to use his music to draw attention to this situation.

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Love Your Local Band

Ben Flocks Quartet

Ben Flocks Quartet

Ben Flocks, 21-year-old sax extraordinaire, understands there is no place like home. A former member of Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band (he calls Kuumbwa “a sacred place”) who played the Monterey Jazz Festival stage this September (“one of the greatest experiences of my whole life”), the Bonny Doon native is currently studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. There, he says, “350 jazz musicians are packed into two floors of a building in the Village.” He’s been looking forward to stretching his legs—and his refined musical skills—during his winter break and holiday return to town. “At school people tell me to bring my ‘Santa Cruz vibe,’ and now I’m trying to bring my New York vibe back and bridge these two places,” he says. Flanked by good friends and fellow Bay Area locals Jesse Scheinin on saxophone, Zach Brown on bass, and Michael Davis on drums, Flocks will lead his quartet through two sets at the Crepe Place, Thursday, Dec. 30.

 

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Features

In Flight

In Flight

The globe-trotting angelic strings of Carlos Reyes
What do MC Hammer, Marky Mark, the Pope and now Don Quixote’s have in common? They can all attest to the musical talents of Paraguayan violinist and harpist Carlos Reyes.

A child prodigy—he picked up the violin at age 3 and a half and had his first public performance at 5—Reyes grew up under the influence of his father, Carlos Reyes, Sr., a musical and national hero in Paraguay.

Through the years, the younger Reyes mastered the harp, guitar, bass, mandolin and keyboards, but his father always had one dream for his son: to become a respected classical concert violinist.

“My father started it all with me,” says Reyes, who remembers his house being filled with string instruments as a child. “We played our Paraguayan folk music as a family and did shows together, but that was just a side thing; the concert soloist was what I was being groomed for.”

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Love Your Local Band

Mothers

Mothers

Sometimes a band’s style of conversation perfectly parallels its music. Disjointed, loudly confident, unpredictable and pure non-stop entertainment, a sit-down talk with members of Mothers seems to take a cue from their full-throttle, metal-tinged songs. Behind their respective black attire, baby beards and cigarette smoke, singer/guitarist Matt Wilson and drummer Matt McClain chat about the new Santa Cruz quartet on the deck of Caffe Pergolesi. Guitarist Matt Hintze pops in for brief cameos as he wipes down the tables and works the venue as a nightshift barista. With bassist Dustin White (middle name: Matt), the band of Matts has transformed Wilson’s previous songwriting project—the more subdued Motorcycle Snakebite—into an abrasive, technical juggernaut in which McClain’s cymbal-breaking attacks furiously brew behind a jagged interlocking of guitars. Wilson says, “When people first see us they won’t understand what it is, but I think they’ll like it because—” McClain interjects, “Definitely not because of our looks!” Laughter ensues. Wilson’s sweet and earnest manner is a foil to McClain’s ceaseless sarcasm and jokester jabs (“We’re really influenced by Mariah Carey,” the drummer quips).

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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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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival