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Mar 29th
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Features

Her Name Is Rio

Her Name Is Rio

On The Rio Theatre’s 10th anniversary as a music venue, owner Laurence Bedford reflects on its dramatic transformation
At the beginning of the present millennium, Soquel Avenue’s Rio Theatre was about to be knocked down. Though the venue had been a local landmark since the late ’40s, resistance to its demolition was less than overwhelming: Locals had long bemoaned the venue’s sticky floors and crud-encrusted carpets, which were held together with duct tape.

But then Laurence Bedford, a San Francisco mortgage banker who did guerilla theater by night, made an unexpected move: He purchased the building from the soon-to-be-bankrupt United Artists. A day or so after getting the keys to the place, Bedford, who had recently relocated to Santa Cruz with his daughter, paid a visit to the local community fixture known as Chip. “I told him what I’d just done, and he laughed for a little bit, ’cause he thought I was kidding,” Bedford recalls.

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Features

Free Bird

Free Bird

eighth blackbird’s rock ’n’ roll business plan
For audiophiles, it’s an immutable truth that there’s no experience quite like listening to music in a car, which is why driving I-5 between Los Angeles and the Bay is a favorite experience of mine: the 300-or-so Midwest-flat miles make the perfect environment for cochlea-rupturing audio levels. And indeed, I recently found myself on this (relatively) desolate stretch of road, when my copilot decided to co-opt my car stereo for his own purposes: experimental composer Steve Reich.

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Features

Place Your Vote

Place Your Vote

In bands and on ballots, Kinky Friedman makes his mark
Author, musician, sometime-politician and all-around American raconteur, Kinky Friedman doesn’t mince words when it comes to pontificating on just about any subject near and dear to his heart. His takes on life are often delivered in a humorous, satirical manner, but the 65-year-old tackles a lot of serious issues and themes, much like the manner in which Mark Twain presented his opinions and views to readers. Still, Friedman is clearly on a level all his own today.

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Love Your Local Band

Nordic Forge

Nordic Forge

“Man is wolf to man.” Not only is this a quote from the Roman playwright Plautus, one of the earliest known Latin authors, but it is also the title of the earliest known demo recording from local metal slayers Nordic Forge. “[The title track] is a song Jimi wrote almost all at once,” explains the vocalist, Rueben. “Then, I wrote the lyrics after listening to the hymn ‘O Rubor Sanguinis’ by Saint Hildegard Von Bingen.” Determined not to be just another scrawled name in the metal world, the guys in Nordic Forge draw their creativity from classics such as Shakespeare (“Throne of Blood”) and saintly hymns, to an array of bands from the early days of thrash metal and the extremes in Scandinavia. Mario, the act’s guitarist, cites atmospheric and melodic groups like Dissection, At the Gates, and Darkthrone as influences. “Always Darkthrone,” he emphasizes. Only known by their first names, the band of intellectual malcontents consists of Reuben on flesh-curling vocals, brothers Mario and Jimi decimating the guitar scales, Ben on thunderous bass, and Andrew manning the rapid-firing drums.

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Features

Rock ’n’ Read

Rock ’n’ Read

Local library wants teens to get loud at its Battle of the Bands
Let’s face it, the last place you’d think to unleash a rock band is at a public library. Making noise at a building of books isn’t exactly known as kosher because we’ve all grown accustomed to that stereotypical image of the grumpy librarian—glasses low on the bridge of her nose, fingers up to her lips shush-ing away, white hair knotted in a bun, and seriously lacking any cool factor.

Think again, says Santa Cruz’s Matt Lorenzo, a former library’s assistant and coordinator of the 2010 Teen Battle of the Bands on Saturday, July 24 at 1 p.m. Organizing the teen music competition for a second year in a row, the 32-year-old (whose mom is a local librarian) is giving the library a facelift and turning it into a temporary rock venue at the behest of the Santa Cruz Public Library system itself. (Insert voice of Gary Coleman doing a ‘What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?’ doubletake here.)

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Love Your Local Band

Honeymoon

Honeymoon

A girls’ night in can do wonders. Just ask Honeymoon. For a band whose first jam session started out haphazardly as an excuse for a bunch of talented ladies to casually hang out and drink wine at home last November, the band has snowballed into an intoxicating musical force. A powerful brigade of four singer-songwriters coalescing into a fresh new project that wields a juggler’s dream of instrumental variation, a cappella magic, and endearing familial chemistry, the ensemble is on the rise. Lauren Shera, Andrea Blunt, Christina Bailey and Sara Bollwinkel have each made their mark solo or in other bands before stumbling upon Honeymoon—in which they’re now fueling each other’s fires as a standout Americana-folk act.

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Features

Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle

Grand Archives’ Mat Brooke and his niche in the Northwest music scene
Maybe it’s the weather? Though Grand Archives frontman Mat Brooke might not completely comprehend it, it’s obvious that Scandinavia loves his band.

“I wish I could explain it or understand why it works that way,” says Brooke. “We’ve done a couple European tours, and in some countries we’ll show up and play to 14 people in the audience. Then we get to the Scandinavian countries and they’re just sold out, and have amazing fans out there. My only guess is that they have slightly the same climate as the Northwest, and somehow the Northwest sound appeals to them.”

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Love Your Local Band

HAJI P.

HAJI P.

What do you get when you cross fresh beats with intelligent rhymes that mix humor into the trials and tribulations of real life? Santa Cruz’s Haji P. Born in Hawaii (no, he doesn’t know Obama), Haji grew up alternating between Oahu and New Jersey, and attended college in Wilmington, N.C., where he formed hip-hop duo Brown Co. with friend and fellow artist DunDee; he finally settled (for now) in Santa Cruz in late 2007. Last February, Haji released his second solo album, Neighborhood Kid, in collaboration with DJ MF Shalem. Even though it’s riddled with witty metaphors and addictive beats, and follows a Brer Rabbit-style storyline, Neighborhood Kid is essentially a down and dirty look into a life dealing with racism (“You’re gonna burn my church but you can’t just give me a cup of Kool-Aid?” he raps on “Neighbors”), along with the other, normal pains of life like dating—all the while trying to stay as normal as possible (“You ain’t got to knock on my door, I’ll be sitting on my front porch,” he assures on “Porch Swing”). “It definitely took a minute getting used to the Bay,” he states with a constant laugh and tongue-in-cheek demeanor. “The minute I got here I was like, ‘Yo, this ain’t the same! There’s no biscuits, no racism, what am I going to do?’” But unlike most rappers today, Haji P. is the real deal, staying as close to the truth as possible and continually practicing what he preaches. Along with writing rhymes, Haji works at the Boys & Girls Club and is currently legitimizing a nonprofit children’s charity called “Neighborhood Kid Foundation.” Despite all his community work and creative work, don’t think that he lets it all inflate his ego: “I’m not a saint, I have my troubles, you know? Whatever the situation is, I gotta make the best of it; if it didn’t kill me, I’m lucky. I write it down and make it into something entertaining.”


INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $6/adv, $8/door. 423-1338. Hajip.com.

Features

Cemetery Songs

Cemetery Songs

CocoRosie’s Bianca Casady on songwriting in graveyards as therapy
The term “freak folk” might be a misnomer when applied to the likes of Vetiver and Sufjan Stevens, but it’s a more than appropriate description of CocoRosie. The group’s avant-garde music is a good indication of its creators’ offbeat sensibilities: Frequently compared to the work of Björk and Joanna Newsom, it makes use of everything from children’s toys to coffee grinders. Then there’s the band’s visual presentation: CocoRosie’s two key members—vocalist Bianca (“Coco”) Casady and her sister Sierra (“Rosie”), who also plays guitar, piano and harp—regularly perform in gender-bending attire, and the sleeve art for their 2005 album, Noah’s Ark, was provocative enough to be named one of the worst album covers in history by both Pitchfork Media and The Guardian. (It involves unicorns, experimental sex and puking—let’s leave it at that.)

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Love Your Local Band

Noise Clinic

Noise Clinic

There can be beauty in chaos, melody in meltdowns, and bliss in torrential sonic attacks. Just ask Taito Reed and company. When you want to investigate the old adage “There is light through all the darkness,” hit up the former Junk Sick Dawn frontman’s latest project, Noise Clinic. Balancing structure with floods of improv, pitting screeching elements of jagged rock against classical strings and random found sounds, spewing shouts and spoken word, singer/guitarist Reed, violinist/singer Sayaka Yabuki, drummer Rick Walker, and bassist Joe Gabent eschew the norm. The quartet, made up of veteran musicians long steeped in the local scene, lands itself in an ambiguous state where the aggressiveness of punk coalesces with quiet poetry.

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Features

Time Travelers

Time Travelers

Carolina Chocolate Drops are fresh faces in old-timey traditions
With old-timey string bands overflowing out of the porchfront woodworks and into the mainstream, the Carolina Chocolate Drops are a reminder that such twangy revelry is by no means limited to white players. Just like Bela Fleck’s recent documentary exploring the banjo’s African origins, Throw Down Your Heart, the trio plucks out—via plenty of virtuosic plucking on its 2010 release, Genuine Negro Jig—preconceived ideas. The banjo, after all, came to America aboard a slave ship from Africa, and just as much as there is a reminder of that history in the band’s music, there is also, perhaps more importantly, an assertion that modern black music isn’t limited to that which is most often seen and celebrated on radio and television.

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Love Your Local Band

Project Felon

Project Felon

Despite the moniker, Project Felon is the brainchild of two friends who share a simple love for hip-hop and good times, Playz and Kevlar. “We’ve made mistakes in the past,” explains Playz, “but we’re beyond it. I’ve got kids, they need me and that’s as real as it gets.” Kevlar adds in agreement, “A lot of the time people live in the past and let that determine their future. It’s all about making the right decisions.” With that mantra in mind, Project Felon has been working hard trying to establish Santa Cruz in the hip-hop world. Armed with Playz’s rhymes and beats, along with Kevlar’s freestyle flow, Project Felon’s live performances have earned the duo everything from radio interviews to television spots.

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Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
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Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals