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Features

They Might Be Giants' Puppet Talk

They Might Be Giants' Puppet Talk

They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh on living with a split personality
"Can you call me back in 10 minutes? I just arrived, and I have to sort of de-pack my crap.” The statement is classic John Flansburgh, vocalist/guitarist for the jubilantly strange, lovably dorky alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. Since founding the group with vocalist/accordionist/keyboardist John Linnell in 1982, Flansburgh has practically built his career on the kind of pithy wording and amiably sardonic delivery he’s now displaying.

After liberating his crap, Flansburgh gets GT up to speed on a “misguided hand puppet project” that TMBG is currently working on. (Fans will soon see the results in the form of a slew of videos for the Web.) The 50-year-old musician explains that the puppets in question are “kind of angry, and that really speaks to adult audiences. They kind of feel put down by They Might Be Giants. They don’t want to be a part of the show; they feel like we’re holding them back.”

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Love Your Local Band

KZSC’s “The Rising Tide”

KZSC’s “The Rising Tide”

Video, Internet and the iPod did not kill the radio star. Lee Bedrouni and Michal Kamran are working to keep it that way. With Bedrouni acting as head DJ, the two are part of the inspired collective putting on KZSC’s “The Rising Tide.” If you know that fresh indie music is lapping onto our shores but you don’t always know where to find it (or you just don’t have the moolah to go out and catch a concert), set your dial to 88.1FM at 8:30 p.m. each Friday night. That’s when the radio show brings bands—local acts and those touring through town—to local airwaves. “We’re just trying to develop a community,” Kamran says. “Once I actually got involved with the show, I met so many people and Santa Cruz has suddenly become really small. People need to know that this welcoming music scene is out there.” Since January, “The Rising Tide” has been giving glimpses into the sounds and personalities of area musos and figures in the community helping to promote them. With the show being part chat, part on-air gig, a palette of musical tastes has struck the studio; Intergalactic Smugglers, San Narciso, Noise Clinic, Harlequin Baby, and Monsters Are Not Myths, to name a few. This Friday, Aug. 13, the show features Santa Cruz concert producer Keith Petrocelli, while the following Friday, Aug. 20, has The Terrible slated for an interrogation and live performance. It’s a revealing chance to explore the people whipping up the verses. “It’s one thing to really be into U2, but it’s another thing to really be into [Santa Cruz’s] Hermit Convention and be able to talk to Craig Prentice and be like, ‘This is the guy behind this music, this seems really genuine,’” Bedrouni says. “It might demystify certain aspects of the sound, but it makes it really personal.” He adds, “If at least one person listening to the show who never heard a certain artist before, picks up on them and then wants to go see them live, then I’ve succeeded.” Bands wanting to unmask on the mic alongside Bedrouni and Kamran should contact them at [email protected] And listeners should be forewarned: you might discover a local band you never knew you loved.

 


INFO: 8:30 p.m. Fridays. 88.1FM. therisingtidekzsc.blogspot.com. Photo Credit: Brian Baumgartner
Features

Michael Shapiro's Adrenaline Rush

Michael Shapiro's Adrenaline Rush

Composer Michael Shapiro finds inspiration at the Beach Boardwalk
Whether you know everything or nothing about contemporary orchestral music, Santa Cruz locals will appreciate the West Coast premiere of world-renowned composer Michael Shapiro’s latest work, “Roller Coaster,” when it’s performed at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music on Saturday, Aug. 14. The four-minute piece, inspired by the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and The Cyclone at Coney Island, mimics the noises, emotions and overall atmosphere that we experience at a theme park.

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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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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