John Michael is a trained opera singer, a spot-on vocal impressionist, and a longtime rock ’n’ roller. The one thing he’s not is a radio DJ. That’s a totally different John Michael.
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.
Fans of Ribsy’s Nickel will be surprised to hear that the longtime local reggae-rock group is a lot like costumed ’70s pop superstars KISS. But despite the fact that they sound, look and act nothing alike, Ribsy’s guitarist Jesse Corona swears it’s true.
Guitarist/vocalist Marc Cavigli recalls the early days of the Santa Cruz band Jolly Llamas, and how people would tell them, “You kind of remind me of Flight of the Concords.” It’s an understandable reaction, as he and partner Roy Behrens initially were an acoustic two-piece that played and sang funny, offbeat tunes. But the band was never about satire. They had something different in mind.