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Love Your Local Band

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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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Music - Love Your Local Band

Steven Graves

Steven Graves

Steven Graves has started to dream in songs. The 48-year-old Capitola resident heard the lyrics to his latest in the gray space between waking and sleep. “I wrote the whole song in about 20 minutes, got up, laid down the guitar parts—I’ve never been able to do that before,” he laughs. A dream is a fitting metaphor for Graves’ career. A former land use consultant, he left the field in 2010 to pursue his passion for music.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Skinny Ricky & The Casual Encounters

Skinny Ricky & The Casual Encounters

Emblazoned with their Tumblr address and the simple statement “We got soul,” the vintage matchbook calling card of Skinny Ricky & The Casual Encounters perfectly embodies the spirit of the band: resurrecting the past with a touch of class and a unique twist. The local group plays classic ’60s soul music, and, according to bassist Mikael Witte, they have a clear mission in mind. “One of the main goals of the group is to bring this kind of music back that a lot of people aren’t aware of existing,” says Witte. “To bring it in the way that we play it, and to make them feel that it’s still relevant, and that it’s something that will make you feel something.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Mac Jar, Monikape & Chris Rene

Mac Jar, Monikape & Chris Rene

Chris Rene, Keith Squires (Monikape), and Jarret Cox (Mac Jar) met like many Santa Cruz punk kids do—while skateboarding. “We’d cause a ruckus and the cops would harass us,” recalls Rene, who attended New Brighton Middle School with Cox. But when his friend and his sister died in the same year, 16-year-old Squires turned to rap for solace.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Taxi Project

The Taxi Project

Josh Montoya refuses to give anything less than his full attention when it comes to any musical experience—a trait that makes him both an excellent musician, and a terrible multitasker. “I can’t even drive with music on,” he says. “It would be like bringing a Gameboy to an art museum.” Since 2008, he’s provided lead vocals and acoustic strums for The Taxi Project, as well as composed and arranged tunes for the sprawling band.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Dillon Baiocchi Quintet

The Dillon Baiocchi Quintet

Santa Cruz native, Dillon Baiocchi, represents a new generation of musicians that’s putting a fresh spin on contemporary jazz music. Inspired by Santa Cruz’s natural beauty, his unique jazz blend cooks with the diverse bop styles of his current home base: New York City. Just three years ago Baiocchi graduated from Soquel High School, and today he is a student at the New School of Contemporary Jazz Music.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

7 Come 11

7 Come 11

What kind of music does 7 Come 11 play? “It’s funk. Make peace with it,” Gianni Staiano deadpans, suppressing a smile. “We jam as well—extensively.” He tells no lies. Over the past two years, 7 Come 11 has been packing The Crepe Place Tuesday nights with dedicated fans, throwing down a gauntlet of funk so fierce that patrons can’t help but dance along to the heavy groove.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Amy Obenski

Amy Obenski

Some musicians are born performing, while others take time to develop—like a pop star in a pupa, bathing in nutrients and inspiration before hitting the glare of the stage lights. Rather than a late-bloomer, Obenski has been methodical, in the determined manner of a classically trained musician creating her magnum opus, and laying out her career step by step.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Ariel Thiermann

Ariel Thiermann

It's a safe bet that Ariel Thiermann will have butterflies in her stomach when she takes the stage at Kuumbwa Jazz this Friday, and not because it will be her first major concert in four years. Thiermann says she always feels a great sense of anticipation and excitement before performing—she likes it that way.

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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.

 

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