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Sep 01st
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Love Your Local Band

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Acid Tapestries

Acid Tapestries

Santa Cruz easily makes up for the relative lack of touring brand-name acts with an independent scene that is as diverse as it is fiercely loyal. Perhaps no other band better personifies this ethos than Acid Tapestries. An indie rock amalgam, the four-piece ties together strands of the past five decades of rock and alternative music into a driving, melodic ruckus landing somewhere between Pavement and a psyched-out Vampire Weekend. Naturally, it's been very well-received in town. "The Santa Cruz music scene has been great to us," explains Lee Bedrouni, the bespectacled bassist. "We've received a hell of a lot of support from organizations like TINARL and from other local bands like San Narciso, Green Flash and No Jet Left." In return, Bedrouni has nurtured the scene by regularly featuring new local music on KZSC, where he currently hosts a Friday night local music showcase entitled "The Rising Tide."

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Music - Love Your Local Band

‘Making a Record’

‘Making a Record’

This week we’re highlighting the debut of a new workshop aimed at helping your local band—and anyone curious about what it takes to bust out a record. Helmed by Gadgetbox Studios’ Andy Zenczak, in partnership with Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios, the “Making a Record” roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 11, is presenting the varied expertise and industry experience of local stars Lauren Shera, Naomi Wilder (Naomi & The Courteous Rude Boys), Peter Haworth (Molly’s Revenge), and Brian Gallagher (Wooster). “Major labels are dying a slow death and it’s about time for independent resources to pick up and give artists more exposure,” says Zenczak, a self-described “music-geek and science-geek” who combined his two passions when he first started recording bands in his home 10 years ago.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley

Folk-pop floats along in a spectrum of music, from upbeat tempos to slow dirges, and Bryn Loosley and the Back Pages croon some of the most bittersweet ballads this side of NPR’s darling, David Mead. Santa Cruz teacher and bandleader, Bryn Loosley, is known to take the stage as if he’s walked up from the beach. Barefoot, guitar hung low around his neck, steely determination in his hazel-gray eyes, and then the voice. Gravelly, with the familiar dust kicked up from back country roads, Loosley draws the listener into a world where love is not always returned undamaged. From stints in Chico (Buffalo Creek) to the SAD streets of Portland (The Last Minute), the Northwest’s loss is Santa Cruz’s gain. Back Pages drives the engine of Loosley’s forlorn locomotive. Steve Gear on bass and Marc Stafford on electric guitar are the songwriter’s old friends from Chico, while Pat Blizinski (keys) and Jon Payne (drums) are Craigslist acquisitions.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Huxtables FREE at The Red

The Huxtables FREE at The RedWhen Santa Cruz’s five Huxtables escort in the arrival of Santa, it’s an affair you’ll remember. Longtime pop punk mainstays, The Hux—though not known to be the most serious of men—take their annual “Holiday Show and More” pretty seriously. For the third year in a row, the warm fire of the upstairs Red lounge will find itself competing with the musical fire of the veteran band as it transforms its boisterous show with Christmas zeal and joyous humor even Cosby can’t beat. “The Hux always look for chances to cornball it out,” says drummer Greg Braithwaite (formerly of Sin in Space). “We’ve never been a band that’s really concerned with what’s really cool at the time, so if there’s going to be a band that’s going to dress our friend up as Santa and do a whole production, it’s gonna be us.” Devised by bassist AJ Marquez, the band’s songwriting backbone and the creative genius behind the extensive production, the event will be replete with visual effects, props and theatrics.
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Music - Love Your Local Band

An Altared Christmas

An Altared Christmas

Don’t get Rhan Wilson wrong, it’s not that he doesn’t enjoy the holiday season, he just wants to shed a different light on the whole gift-giving revelry. The producer and brainchild behind the annual Altared Christmas extravaganza takes your common Christmas carol and gives it a little, well, kick in its bloomer-wearing ass. Translating the music of old merry tunes into minor keys and conjuring more than 20 local stars, like Tammi Brown, Dale Ockerman and Patti Maxine, to gather on one stage as various characters, the lifelong guitarist presents a two-hour show each December that aims to rock a “Christmas that Grandma could never have imagined.” There’s plenty of irony and improv throughout a set that ranges from somber duets, heavenly gospel and, of course, brash rock comedy (think “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Clause” sung by an elderly woman).

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Amanda West

Amanda West

Singer Amanda West is hiding out. Sort of. Having just returned from the Folk Alliance convention, the songstress (and producer of August’s WomanSong all-female concert in Big Sur) is busy off stage compiling the 12 tracks to her sophomore release. “I’ve actually been trying not to book shows because I’m working on a new album,” she says, making this week’s Cayuga Vault show on Saturday, Dec. 5 (alongside world-folk duo HuDost) all the more tantalizing for fans of her deeply cathartic folk. A special winter show, the concert will likely be her last for a while as she heads into the studio to lay down a record she describes as happier than 2008’s The Way to the Water. It will reflect what she says are her more recent experiences “connecting with the Universe and finding confidence.” “The images around the new CD are persimmon fruits,” she reveals. “It’s related to one of the songs on the album that’s become a symbol of inner knowing, strength and self empowerment.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Tether Horse

Tether Horse

When one door closes, another door opens. Singer Matthew Chaney can attest to that. Dropping out of school to take a hiatus from his studies as an environmental science major, the singer-songwriter dove into the music scene a year ago armed with plenty of folk songs, equally infectious as affecting, and a crew of friends to fill out his rising acoustic ensemble, Tether Horse. “The idea of dropping out of school links in with the name of the band,” Chaney explains. “It’s that whole idea of being tethered to our society’s idea of the right direction to go and that if you want to be successful you have to follow these set of rules. I wanted to do something apart from that.” At a crossroads and confronting new opportunities, the 24-year-old says he had “a bit of a freak out moment” before choosing the right-brained path to close the books and hit the stage.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Future Dog

Future Dog

If you prefer to sit back and let a jazz set gently simmer in the background, beware of Future Dog; the band is out to change your mind and musically kick the seat right out from under you. Calling themselves “ambassadors of the neo-speakeasy,” the three gents are unconventional members of the growing jazz-funk trio revival that’s been coming out of the Santa Cruz woodworks lately. Why unconventional? Somehow electronica and rap influences have made their way into the band’s set. And, ironically, founder/bassist Brett Wiltshire says it’s all to get back to jazz’s earliest days. “Jazz originated in the party scene of a smoky speakeasy with dancing but it’s progressed into a genre where people sip wine and clap in between songs,” he says.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Quasimodal

Quasimodal

A couple of years ago, I was getting out of my car at the end of a long day when I suddenly heard salient live jazz grooves blooming in the vicinity. Pulled by musical gravity, I followed the polyrhythmic beats and found myself at the steps to a quaint red house. There I was, smack in the middle of a normally quiet Westside neighborhood; I could almost see the cartoon musical notes fluttering out the window and into the dark night. What else to do but knock on the door to investigate further? When that door opened, guitarist Sweeney Schragg stood perplexed as I told him how his music had led me to his home; his crooked-necked expression looked at me like I was a peculiar character who’d lost my way off Pacific Avenue. ... And that was my first meeting with Santa Cruz jazz guitar trio Quasimodal. Still practicing in that same tight living room, Schragg and co. (Pete Novembre on bass and Chris Haskett on drums) are celebrating a new CD on Thursday, Oct. 29. Delivering Discordia Concors to Kuumbwa’s dinner and jazz series, Quasimodal brings metal-loving Novembre’s aggressive attacks on standup and electric bass, Haskett’s uptempo swing and Latin nuances, and Schragg’s rhythm and blues rock past and Cabrillo College-trained jazz songwriting.  “There’s method in the madness,” a soft-spoken Schragg explains how he constructs chord progressions as vehicles for improv, in which instrumental mayhem meets to morph into harmony. “I want to write interesting melodic structures,” the 59-year-old begins, “so that people appreciate it with intellectual curiosity.” Stridently funneling all three musicians’ diverse techniques into one sound that’s footed in traditional jazz, Quasimodal can juggle light bossa nova ballads to heavier tones of rock power all on one stage. Offstage, however, I still sometimes catch Schragg crisply fingerpicking his Gibson L-5 and conjuring his next tune on his porch in front of that same ol’ door. The address? That’s my secret—the rest of y’all can catch him with Quasimodal at the Kuumbwa.


7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. Jazz & Dinner $24.60. 427-2227.
Music - Love Your Local Band

GREEN FLASH

GREEN FLASH

Once in awhile, a band hits the scene with a force like some astral phenomenon striking the sky; you can’t ignore it and its colorful, startling resonance leaves you looking for more. Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that rock trio Green Flash has the name that it does: The band thrusts well-manicured musical ass-kickings seemingly delivered with a slow smile. Edgy. Raw. Intoxicatingly warm. Carly Flies churns out both heavily distorted electric guitar riffs and patient, clean fingerpicking embedded with drummer Peter Wallner’s hard-driving beats—with each citing Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine as influences. Then there’s bassist Raya Heffernan, who pilots the melodies and dramatic swagger with unrestrained, piercing vocals that wrap the artful package together like a shiny bow. The band, which started as a duo last year and solidified with Wallner in April, already has buzz around it and plays Thursday, Oct. 22 with Kurt Vile & The Violators.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.