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Dec 21st
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Music

bud Shocktop


Features

Messiah Complex

Messiah Complex

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros spread the good word

If it’s the job of a messiah to convert the unbelievers, then Edward Sharpe—aka Alex Ebert—has some work in front of him. Stumbling upon the former Ima Robot frontman’s band at this past October’s Treasure Island Music Festival, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are the kind of act that immediately invited my skeptical inquiry. Not since The Polyphonic Spree had I seen a band with such a definitive “shtick.”

For those who have never seen them live (or their appearance on David Letterman), the group is a dozen-or-so-strong baroque ensemble with a singular and undeniable hippie aesthetic that it will bring to the Rio Theatre on Monday, March 1. Ebert usually dances around shirtless and shoeless, nappy hair tied in a crown, while the rest of the band easily could have taken its wardrobe from the set of Little House on the Prairie. Still, Ebert denies collusion, stating that “it’s just us being who we are. If we coordinated it’d be obvious. We’d be wearing all black, or all white or something.”

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Features

Four-String Samurai

Four-String Samurai

Violinist Laura Albers uses her superpowers to rekindle the spirit

Laura Albers is a veritable Wonder Woman with a violin: She works as the Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera orchestra, holds bachelor and master of music degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music and Juilliard, races as a triathlete and also happens to be double-take beautiful. Oh, and did we mention that she started playing the violin at age 2?

No, that isn’t a misprint. Albers, who will perform at Cabrillo College Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series’ “Rekindling the Spirit of the Age of Enlightenment” (an all-Mozart program taking place at Cabrillo Music Recital Hall on Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28), took up music as a 2-year-old with the help of her mother, violin teacher Ellie LeRoux. “I wanted a violin because that’s what she had,” Albers explains.

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Features

Mirah’s Bug Life

Mirah’s Bug Life

The indie queen draws inspiration from the ground up

Don’t box Mirah in. This becomes crystal clear to me about 10 minutes into my phone interview with the 35-year-old indie musician when I suggest that entomology writings are an odd place to draw artistic inspiration from. I am swiftly taken to task, admonished for harboring a narrow view of music, and informed that such a muse can come from anywhere. I feel I’ve just learned a great deal about the songstress.

Originally hailing from Philadelphia, Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn now lives in San Francisco after having spent a number of years residing in the Pacific Northwest and splitting time between Seattle and Portland. “There are just such beautiful views everywhere, the air is really good,” says Mirah of her new home. “I like to climb and get up high—whether it be on my bike or on foot—to get views of the ocean.”

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Features

What if God Was One of Us

What if God Was One of Us

Asylum Street Spankers give God a ride on a new gospel tour

When a band that’s known for its comical forays into drug- and sex-themed tracklists puts out a live album of gospel tunes, heads are going to turn. “Doesn’t that seem like the natural order?” jokes Asylum Street Spankers’ founding member and washboard enthusiast, Wammo. “I don’t think anyone in the band is very religious, but there’s more to gospel than just religion. Musically, these songs are amazing!”

“These songs” are gospel covers, plus two original songs (written by Wammo) on Asylum Street Spankers’ ninth release, humbly entitled God’s Favorite Band. It’s no subtle endeavor, but the Spankers are no subtle ensemble.

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Love Your Local Band

Hold Tight

Hold Tight

Two months ago, Santa Cruz jazz songstress Nicole Wilson was performing in front of Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, Oscar Arias. “He was definitely the most prestigious audience member I’ve ever sung for,” the 31-year-old says, letting out a laugh at the randomness of the momentous experience. Frequenting the country each year and having forged a strong connection with Costa Rica’s vibrant jazz community, Wilson was asked to join the premier Tico Jazz Band as a guest for a special event. The performance posed her breathy pipes against the big band’s robust sound—but with a full horn section and drums commandeering a loud, blaring set-up, it had her belting out as hard as she could to try and compete with the instrumental onslaught. “I’m used to singing with a small combo with guitar, so I had to almost shout into the mic,” she remembers. On Thursday, Feb. 25, Wilson’s classically trained vocals are being showcased the way she prefers—with 3-year-old jazz trio Hold Tight.

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Features

Compassion is a Verb

Compassion is a Verb

Rickie Lee Jones talks politics, panthers, and prayers

What better way to enjoy Valentine’s Day than with a singer who explores the joys and struggles that come with love? And think bigger than superficial pop songs of romantic love. Sure, Rickie Lee Jones sings about lovers—gained and lost—on her latest album, Balm in Gilead, but as usual she casts a wider net, embracing love of family, radical political action, equality, freedom and a deep gratitude for life. Rickie Lee Jones performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Rio Theatre. Tickets are available at pulseproductions.net and Streetlight Records.

When I last spoke with Jones, she was working hard to get President Bush out of office. So, I thought I’d begin by asking her about how things have changed—or stayed the same—with Obama in the White House. “I did not vote for Obama,” she reveals.  “He was another guy in a suit, like Bush, brought in from unseen forces at the last minute to usurp the more qualified candidate, Clinton. I was very disappointed that a man was brought in, a man of color, before a woman was given a seat of equality.”

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Love Your Local Band

Acid Tapestries

Acid Tapestries

Santa Cruz easily makes up for the relative lack of touring brand-name acts with an independent scene that is as diverse as it is fiercely loyal. Perhaps no other band better personifies this ethos than Acid Tapestries. An indie rock amalgam, the four-piece ties together strands of the past five decades of rock and alternative music into a driving, melodic ruckus landing somewhere between Pavement and a psyched-out Vampire Weekend. Naturally, it's been very well-received in town. "The Santa Cruz music scene has been great to us," explains Lee Bedrouni, the bespectacled bassist. "We've received a hell of a lot of support from organizations like TINARL and from other local bands like San Narciso, Green Flash and No Jet Left." In return, Bedrouni has nurtured the scene by regularly featuring new local music on KZSC, where he currently hosts a Friday night local music showcase entitled "The Rising Tide."

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Features

Begging for Change

Begging for Change

The Entrance Band has a message behind the mayhem

Last September I previewed the Amazing Baby show at The Crepe Place, and the day of the concert my editor gave me a heads up to get there early and check out the opener—The Entrance Band. Luckily I followed that advice, as the psychedelic threesome turned out to be one of the most energetic live rock acts I’ve come across in a while. Was that Paz Lenchantin (of A Perfect Circle and Zwan fame) on bass?

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Features

Man on Fire

Man on Fire

Dave Rawlings makes sparks fly as bandleader

It would be easy for Dave Rawlings to take a cue from John F. Kennedy’s infamous quote in Paris. I can just hear him quipping at a show: “I am the man who accompanied Gillian Welch to Nashville, and I have enjoyed it.

Since meeting at Berklee College of Music nearly two decades ago, the pair has taken Welch’s sweet-like-honey folk and bluegrass musings to main stages—their endearing performance style and songwriting procuring a timelessness that forbids a listener from passing by without feeling a pinch in the heart, if not more.

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Love Your Local Band

‘Making a Record’

‘Making a Record’

This week we’re highlighting the debut of a new workshop aimed at helping your local band—and anyone curious about what it takes to bust out a record. Helmed by Gadgetbox Studios’ Andy Zenczak, in partnership with Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios, the “Making a Record” roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 11, is presenting the varied expertise and industry experience of local stars Lauren Shera, Naomi Wilder (Naomi & The Courteous Rude Boys), Peter Haworth (Molly’s Revenge), and Brian Gallagher (Wooster). “Major labels are dying a slow death and it’s about time for independent resources to pick up and give artists more exposure,” says Zenczak, a self-described “music-geek and science-geek” who combined his two passions when he first started recording bands in his home 10 years ago.

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Features

Very Proud of Ya

Very Proud of Ya

Success hasn’t spoiled AFI’s Jade Puget yet. And that really pisses off one envious GT scribe.

Oh, I’m not jealous. Not in the least. I don’t mind seeing my rock star dreams being lived out by a bunch of kids I went to high school with. It doesn’t bother me at all when the mere mention of AFI’s name makes a girl cover her heart, roll her eyes and swoon as though Eros himself had just invited her to sail off to cloudland on a freaking giant swan. Hell, I kind of enjoyed it when my old schoolmates in AFI played the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on my birthday—the one I’d long ago picked as the absolute, no-appeals expiration date for my hopes of “making it” in music—and even brought along Tiger Army, another successful band led by one of my peers from high school.

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Features

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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire