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Love Your Local Band

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Murphy’s Wagon

Murphy’s Wagon

For Vanessa MacDowell, music is a godsend. “I lost my mom when I was 13, and my youngest brother passed away in 2009, so I’ve dealt with a lot of loss and tragedy,” she says. “The only thing that has kept me from doing drugs or drinking too much or all the self-destructive behavior that a lot of people use to cope with tragedy, is music.” Despite the pain she has experienced, with fun-loving local Irish punk band Murphy’s Wagon, MacDowell has found solace.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Spurs

Spurs

Sometimes the best things come to those who wait. In 2012—a decade after they met—co-vocalists David Stockhausen and Terry McCants formed the folk band Spurs. Initially calling themselves Silver Spurs and performing country covers, the pair eventually made the switch to folk music at McCants’ urging. “The band started to shift when we saw an equally great, if not greater, response to our own music at shows,” says Stockhausen, who also writes the band’s songs.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Feed Me Jack

Feed Me Jack

It's not uncommon for young bands to cram a bit too much into every song they write, in an effort to pay homage to all the artists that have influenced them. Feed Me Jack's sound might warrant descriptors like "scatterbrained" or "over the top," but not in a negative way. If anything, theirs is a gleeful and infectious insanity. The UC Santa Cruz act's hairpin turns in style and abrupt shifts in tempo are like a good rollercoaster ride—whipping the listener around just enough without ever becoming disorienting. When Glenn Carson, Sven Gamsky, Robert Ross and Jake Thornton jump from Tera Melos-esque math-rock, to jazz-metal explosions, to straight-up jazz and, finally, to bouncy pop or light ska upstrokes—as they do on their debut album, Chumpfrey—it all somehow makes sense.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Scary Little Friends

Scary Little Friends

Sometimes it takes two or three listens before an album can truly be appreciated. But when it comes to Scary Little Friends’ debut LP, From the Beginning, it only takes 15 seconds. At the tail end of track six, “Devil’s Heart,” Chris Jones has a hair-raising outburst: “And you never get another chance / there's no tomorrow." Far from depressing, the line actually explains why Scary Little Friends formed. Bassist and UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jon Payne, now 34, has been friends with Jones since childhood.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Feral Fauna

Feral Fauna

Feral Fauna is like a musical phoenix that has risen from the ashes. Formerly a seven-piece electronic pop/soul outfit known as Audiafauna, the band has evolved into a “bluestronica” group led by singer Heather Deardorff and multi-instrumentalist Krikor Andonian. “Krikor and I met and connected on the idea of fusing electronic and live music, at the exact time when Audiafauna was disbanding,” explains Deardorff. “So the timing of our meeting, as well as having a similar vision of what we wanted to do with music, helped make the switch from Audiafauna to Feral Fauna very fluid.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Big Medicine Head

Big Medicine Head

When asked why Big Medicine Head keeps making music after all these years, Bob Gemmell, the band’s singer, lyricist and guitarist, sums it up: “We make the time.” They also take their time. The band’s forthcoming effort, The Handsome Years, due out next spring, was supposed be released before the 2013 Summer Love-Off—Big Medicine Head’s annual tour—but they knew the album wasn’t ready.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Rudebrat

Rudebrat

Upon discussing the title of his newest release, The Quick and the Dead EP, 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist and dubstep artist Jake Bratrude—scramble his last name and you get his stage name, Rudebrat—unintentionally describes his work ethic. “It’s like a saying from way back in the day during the Civil War,” Bratrude begins. “You have to be either really fast and pay a lot of attention [to] survive, or you can be slow and get left behind and die eventually.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Lara Price and the Velvet Plum Band

Lara Price and the Velvet Plum Band

Local singer Lara Price is constantly redefining herself as an artist. “I’m always trying to grow and evolve,” she says. “I feel like I still haven’t really found my voice yet. I’m still looking for it.” In her search to find her elusive voice, Price has joined a variety of music projects. In addition to her own blues and unplugged endeavors, Price has teamed up with Militia of Love and the Santa Cruz Sirens Burlesque, and performs with Girls Got the Blues and the Velvet Plum Band. She’ll share the stage with the latter on Friday at Michael’s On Main.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Asher

Asher

Listening to his upbeat, upstroke-heavy, acoustic tunes, you're more likely to think about spending a relaxing day at the beach, soaking up sun, surf and good vibes than anything remotely negative. But according to Asher Stern—known to his fans simply as Asher—his current sound is a far cry from the stuff he was playing when he first picked up the guitar. The long-time Santa Cruz denizen says he was an angry adolescent—"mad at the world"—when he began writing music at the age of 16. It could have been his distaste for high school or the prospect of an adulthood dominated by a soul-sucking 9-to-5.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Sasha Dobson

Sasha Dobson

For Sasha Dobson, the release of her new album, Aquarius, comes as a huge relief. “It’s a beautiful mountain to have crossed,” she laughs. “It’s been quite a hike!” During the recording process, Dobson stretched her creative wings, broke free from her jazz lineage—her father is the late, famed Bay Area pianist Smith Dobson, and her mother Gail Dobson, was a prominent jazz singer—and found her true passion. “I’m coming from being a jazz singer, and when I got hired to play guitar for Norah [Jones], that was ridiculous because I’d never thought that’s what I’d end up doing,” Dobson says.

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