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Mar 04th
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Love Your Local Band

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Mini Mansions

Mini Mansions

Grunge-pop trio Mini Mansions may officially be a Los Angeles-based band, but they’ve got a good dose of the Cruz in them too. Bassist/ keyboardist Zach Dawes and keyboardist/ guitarist Tyler Parkford both went to UC Santa Cruz—or that “slug school up on the hill,” as Dawes calls it. “We played a forest show once in Santa Cruz, but it started raining and it was a full moon so there was a drum circle on campus,” Dawes remembers. In true Santa Cruz fashion, the boys went with it and embraced the elements. “Tyler was building these elaborate cones in an art class and Michael [Shuman, keyboardist/ guitarist/ drums] had just built an oversized guitar from the wood of a canoe,” he explains. “Anyway, we used the cones to amplify the guitar and played with the drum circle. …Then the naked runners came.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Inciters

The Inciters

Remember the sweet soul music of the 1960s that would pour through the car speakers as you drove with the windows down, and had the power to make the world look brighter? Santa Cruz’s The Inciters know all about producing that mesmerizing groove. “Sweet Thing,” the breakaway single off the band’s latest album, Soul Clap, could trick someone into believing that Berry Gordy has signed a new group. “We think it’s our big hit,” says Rick Kendrick, founder, trumpet player, manager, and self-proclaimed “stress case” of The Inciters.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

North Pacific String Band

North Pacific String Band

North Pacific String Band—a busk-happy, five-piece—is well on its way to becoming Santa Cruz’s premier bluegrass collective. Though each member belongs to another local band (whether it’s Birdhouse, On The Spot Trio, or the Family Hogwash), the group came together a year ago with one goal: strictly bluegrass. Banjo player Jeff Wilson wastes no time trying to describe their music with vague nuances of emotional inspiration, but cuts straight to their passion for precise instrumentation. “So you’ve got the mandolin,” he starts, “which is like the snare drum in a string band; it provides percussion and rhythm and keeps time…

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Malima Kone

Malima Kone

At age 5, Salifou Kone’s grandfather gave him the nickname “Malima,” meaning “the way it is.” Twenty three years later, the nickname has taken on new meaning as the West African-born musician writes songs that tell stories of orphans, peace, love, humanity, daily life, and experiences in his homeland. “I write about what I see,” he explains.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Mr Free

Mr Free

Geoff Gary, known to most by his stage name, Mr Free, has lived everywhere from Cairo to Tokyo and held many diverse jobs along the way—one valet job at a Kauai hotel even led him to freestyle rap for the rock band Creed. “They came to stay at the hotel and we ended up kickin’ it,” remembers Free. “One thing led to another, and I rhymed for them.” Free, who first began dabbling in hip-hop during his time at the University of Maine, was moved by the band’s response to his lyrics. “I never really took it too seriously until I met Creed,” he says. “They even said to me, before they even heard my music, ‘Do you do anything musical? Because you have the presence of a star.’ … That’s what got me started—kind of this belief in me that transcended my own belief.” Following their serendipitous meeting, Creed’s lead vocalist/lyricist, Scott Stapp, took Free under his wing—a mentorship that would eventually lead to Free opening for Creed and rapper Common on tour. Currently based in Santa Cruz, Free’s energetic reggae-infused tracks are reminiscent of the boom bap-style prevalent in East Coast hip-hop, which is characterized by a hard bass drum and snapping snare. Thought-provoking lyrical content is the foundation for his danceable hits, like “Not Guilty” off his latest album, Edge. In the song, Free puts the planet on trial, and everyone—from Bob Marley to Gandhi—comes to testify. While he acknowledges that dirty club bangers are often the big money-makers, Free favors quality over quantity. “As a writer, there’s times when I’m listening to a beat and I’m like, I could easily make a raunchy song to this,” he explains, “but no, let me choose a different path and really stand firm and say something.”

 INFO: 8 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 8. The Crow's Nest, 2218 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. $5. 476-4560.

Music - Love Your Local Band

The Joni Show

The Joni Show

For Jayme Kelly Curtis, the inspiration for “The Joni Show”—a Joni Mitchell tribute concert at Kuumbwa Jazz on March 3—reaches back to Curtis’ girlhood in an artist colony on Cape Cod. The Felton-based singer-songwriter remembers herself as a 15-year-old putting on headphones with one of Mitchell’s double records open on her lap, and reading along with the hand-written lyrics. “Directly connecting the eye and the ears to the brain in an intimate, closed-in experience like that—it was just a magical refuge to be with her,” she says. Mitchell continues to affect Curtis’s life today. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m in a conversation or dealing with some situation that one of her lyrics doesn’t pop into my head,” says Curtis. An accomplished musician in her own right with three albums, including 2008’s Mid Life Chrysalis, Curtis hopes to share that “magical refuge” with the community with the help of 19 local musicians.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

New World Ape

New World Ape

Cole Berry currently serves as world-fusion/funk band New World Ape’s percussion virtuoso, but if his passion for their eclectic brand of music ever wanes, he’s got other plans. “If I wasn’t in this band right now, I’d probably just be in the Andes,” he admits. Fortunately, it’s that immutable wanderlust that feeds his band’s musical fire. The core five of the seven- to eight-piece ensemble met while studying at UC Santa Cruz. In 2009, a year after graduating, Berry was contacted by drummer Beaumont Bradbury. “I was actually in La Paz, Bolivia, recovering from some intestinal issues,” recalls Berry, “and I got this email from him saying he wanted to kind of put together this serious progressive dance band, and I said yeah, count me in.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Boostive

Boostive

A few weeks ago, seven experimental trip-hoppers could be seen walking the streets of Market and 6th in San Francisco. Sage, the producer, bassist, and founder of this all-male collective of students, called Boostive, refers to that area as “the ghetto” and “the crack block.” But beneath the tough exterior is the group’s studio. For Sage, the streets provide “that vibe of being real—that whole vibe is going to be in our album just from recording there.” Their self-titled EP marks the debut of Sage’s collaboration with several friends: Dylan Webber (guitar), Nathan Kocivar (saxophone, keys), Andrew Hawes (drums), Mulligan B (engineer, guitar), Travis Gibbs (trombone), and Al Bundi (MC). “We use a lot of vinyl chops to get our sound and overdub some real instruments and drums,” says Sage. “The vinyl [is] for old school sound [such as] ’90s hip-hop. You can hear the crackle of the records in our recordings …

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Katie Ekin

Katie Ekin

It’s hard to believe that 20-year-old folk pop singer-songwriter Katie Ekin’s years in the music industry can be counted on a single hand. She picked up acoustic guitar five years ago, played her first show three years ago, and debuted her seven-track, self-titled EP in December 2010. Inspired by music of the ’50s and ’60s, Ekin—whose vocal range is naturally as melodious as a songbird (see track three, “Cuckoo”)—has a keen understanding of love, astutely arranged in the lyrics of her songs. “I love oldies … the fun, pop-feeling, sock hop,” confesses Ekin. Aside from Carole King and Lesley Gore, singer of “It’s My Party,” her influences include Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, whose music was regularly played by her father throughout her childhood. “My dad is just such a fun person, and every time I’d see him perform when I was little, he had the best stage presence,” remembers Ekin. “I gain confidence from being on stage and I relate that back to my dad.” It is onstage that Ekin feels most comfortable expressing herself. “My main thing has always been love,” she says. “In high school, I wouldn’t really tell people how I felt—I put it in a song.” Her vulnerability is especially evident in “Underneath the Christmas Tree,” a song in which she asks her crush, “Won’t you be my present, baby?” The feel-good track is so irresistible, with Ekin’s sweet and sultry voice, that Zooey Deschanel herself would be proud to own the copyrights. Head to The Abbey two days before Valentine’s Day to hear Ekin belt out several original love songs, while accompanying herself on ukulele and guitar. Given the holiday, Ekin is planning an upbeat set that is, in her own words, “not so heartbreaking—I’ll try to keep it on a happy theme.”

 INFO: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. The Abbey, 350 Mission St., Santa Cruz. No cover. 429-1058.

Music - Love Your Local Band

Miss Lonely Hearts

Miss Lonely Hearts

“I feel like modern country—it’s just a f*cking mess. No doubt,” says Wyatt Hesemeyer, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Miss Lonely Hearts. “A lot of people that are trying to play ... ’50s country do it by making it as over the top as they can,” he adds, “they’re yodeling and wearing oversized cowboy hats, they try to make it cute, but it wasn’t supposed to be cute. It was supposed to heartfelt or interesting or funny.” Hesemeyer, whose warm, raw vocals intoxicate the listener like a glass of Bulleit Rye Whiskey—his favorite brand—has a characteristic bluntness that imbues his music with honesty instead of camp. Backed by a full band—Patrick O’Connor (drums), Keith Cary (lap steel), Mischa Gasch (upright bass), and Parker McDonald (lead guitar)—Miss Lonely Hearts cranks out pure country with a splash of  shufflin’ 1950s rock and roll. And according to Hesemeyer, their unadulterated sound has a big draw.

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Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

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