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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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Features

Rollin’ with Doe

Rollin’ with Doe

Rapper Really Doe shares tales of a misspent youth
One day in Chicago in the late ’80s, a 9-year-old, self-described “spoiled kid” named Warren Trotter came home to a brutal shock: While he was out, his father had died of a heart attack. “The last words I said to my pops was, “A’ight, Dad, I’m goin’ to the store,’” Trotter recalls.

 

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Love Your Local Band

Bailongo

Bailongo

While a plentiful number of folks in the vicinity have fond memories of following one Jerry Garcia from gig to gig, Markus Puhvel joined quite a different frontman on a tour bus traversing quite a different country. Call him a Fabréhead, if you will, Puhvel spent the most formative of his musical education learning from Cuba’s iconic songwriter and tres player, Cándido Fabré. When Puhvel entered Cuba in 2001 he was a standard guitarist, when he left two years later (after his spontaneous travels alongside Fabré, a “fountain of inspiration”), he was a veritable addict of the tres guitar—and the distinctly bright, joyous sounds of its three pairs of metal strings are now the backbone to his Cuban son band, Bailongo. “I was absolutely transformed by Cuba,” Puhvel says. “I came back and have been playing Cuban music ever since.” With “bailongo” meaning “community dance party,” the six-piece he established two years ago is currently garnering a reputation for one dynamic call-and-response live show that makes the separation between stage and dance floor virtually seamless. Audience and band coalesce as each lights the other’s fire, and a flamboyant, uplifting spirit pervades for an unfailing pick-me-up. “It’s music built for audience participation,” Puhvel says of the band’s set of son standards and original fusion tunes. Polyrhythmic grooves take flight by way of congas, bongos, bass, maracas, clave and … saxophone? Yep. Saxophonist and singer Joe Mancino’s jazz-educated approach on brass replaces the traditional son set-up of trumpet or flute. That bebop-meets-Cuba blend adds to Bailongo’s ability to shift between time-honored Latin folk and jazz sensibilities. “We’re rooted in Cuban traditions,” Puhvel begins, “but taking it different places.” This week’s show at the Cayuga Vault is truly a peek into the closed-off world of Cuba: salsa lessons precede the concert, and a DJ spinning strictly Cuban tunes will fill in the gaps between sets.


8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Cayuga Vault, 1100 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 421-9471.
Photo Credit: Charles Mixson
Features

She Hangs Darkly

She Hangs Darkly

Hope Sandoval returns with the Devil on her shoulder

Despite being a seasoned performer and the enigmatic voice behind the dreamy ’90s folk pop cult band, Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval is notoriously pained by the thought of performing. It’s been eight years since a major tour, and her return to the road with Colm Ó Cíosóig in the Warm Inventions, which kicks off this Friday, Sept. 18 at the Brookdale Lodge, is no light affair—literally and metaphorically.

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Love Your Local Band

THE MUMLERS

THE MUMLERSAccording to Will Sprott, lead singer of The Mumlers, a San Jose-based alt-folk collective, it was skateboarding that initially brought his band to the attention of Greg Lamson and Thomas Campbell, co-founders of the Santa Cruz indie record label Galaxia. “The people who run Galaxia are skaters and I grew up skateboarding,” Sprott says. “A friend of mine passed our first demo recordings on to another friend, who passed them on to another friend, and one day I got a phone call saying they were interested in what we were doing.” Exactly what Sprott and his bandmates are doing isn’t all that easy to define, and that, in part, is what makes The Mumlers’ music so good. Sprott’s nonchalant delivery and wry observations—“I came to this town / from beneath a hospital gown,” he sings on “Dice in a Drawer” from 2007’s Thickets and Stitches—fit effortlessly into the folky fabric of acoustic guitar plucking, squeeze box, horns, tambourine and simple drumming. Sprott and the rest of The Mumlers will bring their quirky, shrugging, backwoods jams this week to unveil new material off their just-released record, Don’t Throw Me Away. The singer says that on this newest release the band had a lot of time to get the mood it wanted. “We really got into the nitty gritty,” he says, “and found sounds we liked, used old microphones, preamps and tape machines. We recorded it in our friend Monte Vallier’s studio above a taqueria in the Mission district of San Francisco. It was just a very comfortable, contructive, relaxed place to do it.” Although the band hails from over the hill, Sprott says it feels right at home on the Santa Cruz label. “Santa Cruz is a beautiful place,” he says. “We’ve been swimming in the ocean there since we could swim. We have friends there. You can dig up sand crabs at the beach there. The whole town has been overflowing with vampires since the ’80s.”

9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Features

Everything Old is New Again

Everything Old is New Again

DJ Tom LG combines the past and the present
The annual Burning Man festival is a unique fusion of the ancient and futuristic, the human and the digital. The very nature of its Nevada desert location, which puts its participants face-to-face with many of the same basic survival issues with which our primitive ancestors grappled, ensures a somewhat archaic feel, yet the tribal festivities are enlivened by electronic music and state-of-the-art technology.

In short, it’s probably the only place in the world where you might see a robot cruising past a cluster of naked people dancing around a fire.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better DJ for a Burning Man after-party than Tom LG, whose musical tastes epitomize this synthesis of the archaic and modern. “Part of the electronic music scene is to be continually moving forward: Don’t look back; that record was played yesterday, therefore, it’s obsolete,” offers LG, who will be spinning records at this Wednesday’s post-Burning Man party at Moe’s Alley along with DJ Seek, Little John and Rob Monroy. In contrast to that, he notes, “I think the essence of what I’m about is this old and this new, this past and present. I ride this line back and forth, and when the two come together is when I think I’ve created the best experience for people.”

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Features

Barenaked Lady

Barenaked Lady

New West Guitar Trio proves that less is more.

Everybody’s familiar with that common affliction that plagues many bands. You know, the inherent case of the LGES, otherwise known as Lead Guitarist Ego Syndrome, which can breed head-to-head vying for the spotlight between singer and ripping soloist; that Catch-22 that can ultimately make and then break a band.

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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.