Win a pair of tickets to the Hop 'N Barley Festival on SantaCruz.com
On a stage adorned with plants and giant magic mushrooms, a cowboy lays down a mean drum solo, which is followed by a funk-slapping bass lick dropped by what appears to be an Aztec frog in a psychedelic shirt. Soon, a wizard begins tearing it up on the guitar while more animals float on and off stage.
Singer-songwriter Ben Henderson got his start in Delta Activity, an explosive indie-prog-rock band, and Good Hustle, a spontaneous funk-rock trio that still occasionally plays. When he began his solo career, though, Henderson started writing heartfelt, passionate songs on his acoustic guitar. Eventually he wanted to do the same kind of songs in a band setting, and so a couple of years ago he started Brother Grand. This time, all he had to do was add one member: upright bassist Endika.
A decade ago, when locals Flor De Caña were just getting started, there were several traditional Latin bands. Nowadays, most Latin bands are fusing in other elements like ska, reggae, electronic and hip-hop. Flor De Caña, however, stays true to the sounds of authentic Cuban son and cumbia.
California Swampgrass might seem like a weird name for a Santa Cruz band, as there are no swamps around these parts, but the members of the California Swampgrass Band have in fact spent their fair share of time in the Georgia swamplands, playing traditional bluegrass.