Anyone that thinks traditional Irish music is an archaic, boring experience needs to go to a Crooked Road Céilí show. It’s a lively affair filled with wild abandonment.
When I saw the Bad Light last April, Edu Cerro’s metalish band had been searching for the right drummer for several months. It was their second show with drummer Dana Shepard, and as Cerro dug his fingers into his guitar strings, bending them into dizzying blues licks as his long brown hair swayed side to side, he would periodically look over at Shepard as if he couldn’t believe his ears.
Folk, country, bluegrass—and ska? How does that old song go? One of these things is not like the other. That doesn’t seem to bother local trio Harbor House, who claim every single one of those genres as an influence, and even go so far as to call their genre “folk-ska.”
Jackie Zealous is a three-piece garage-rock band, but it’s also the name of a real person. Not one of the members, though—the name belongs to a guy they met at their practice space who provides them with a lot of unsolicited advice. And he lives in a van right outside.
There are a lot of retro soul bands that troll record stores for old, obscure soul gems to cover. Harry and the Hitmen do a little of that, but mostly they stick to the popular, crowd-pleasing Motown classics. They distinguish themselves in a completely different way; by adding a little jam-band flair.
Over the pulse of keyboards and drums is a high-pitched wail: half screeching and half soaring, just a little bit jazzy, and altogether beautiful. It’s the vocals of musician Linsey Olsen, a former Santa Cruzan, fronting for the live hip-hop group Joomanji.
If the Watergate Sandals surf-culture-meets-Nixon name isn’t enough to convince you they’re all about having fun, consider their cranked-up, frenetic mix of garage, surf and punk. Or how about the term they coined themselves to describe their genre: scooter rock.
It occurred to Good Neighbor Policy’s Chris and Pat (who only use their first names, like all good neighbors) that instead of hanging out and drinking beer, they could gather up some buddies and turn their drinking sessions into punk rock sessions. A Santa Cruz band was born that day, a little over a decade ago.