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Love Your Local Band

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Inciters

The Inciters

Betsy Jane Kniffen may have performed the national anthem at the opening Santa Cruz Derby Girls bout in March, but the lead siren of The Inciters has no intention of going solo. “The Inciters are a team,” she says, “and I’m honored to be a part of it.” While Kniffen fronts the 11-piece electric-soul outfit, her four back-up singers and band put on a mesmerizing synchronized show.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Transoceana

Transoceana

Danny Moriarty’s musical influences have been known to impact his life beyond his local rock band, Transoceana. “I went through two periods,” confesses the singer, guitarist and songwriter. “I borrowed Bono’s mullet look from the ’80s for a while, and then I dressed like I was from the ’70s and had big hair like Jimmy Page.” Bono and Page are also symbolic of Transoceana’s evolution as a band during their three years together.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Tilt

The Tilt

Although Jesse Malley, lead singer of the outlaw country, blues and rock ’n’ roll band The Tilt, no longer lives in Santa Cruz, she was born and raised here and this is where her love of music and performance began. “My dad worked at The Catalyst for 27 years, so I got to see a lot of music acts come through town,” she says. “Music always seemed to me to be such an incredible way to express yourself that I just stumbled upon my voice and jumped into it.” That jump eventually led to Malley heading down to San Diego to pursue a music career, and her band The Tilt has just released their full-length debut, Howlin’.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Driftless

The Driftless

Megan Saunders and the rest of the members of The Driftless—Blair McLaughlin, Jeffrey Kissell and Rob Smith—love their band. “We have a good time with it,” says Saunders (mandolin, banjo, vocals). “I’ve been in bands off and on for a lot of my life and sometimes it can take a lot of work, but with this group there isn’t any of the ego or drama you tend to get. ... It’s fun.” Not only is this evident when speaking with Saunders, who will use some variation of this quote roughly half a dozen times during our interview, but you can sense it in their music, too.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley

Bryn Loosley is methodical when it comes to his music. “If you locked me in a room for two hours and told me I could come out after I’d written a song, I’d still be in there at the end of the two hours,” Loosley chuckles. This helps explain why his forthcoming release, Blood Year, is coming out five years after his last record, 2008’s The Wrecker. A full-time teacher, Loosley cannot write, record and tour as often as other musicians do, so sometimes he has to challenge himself.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Gembrokers

The Gembrokers

“The heart of the ocean beats in mine,” The Gembrokers confess on the stripped-down track “Mountain Lion,” off their 2012 self-titled release. This notion—a tranquil, undulating heartbeat—permeates the trio’s sound. But unlike the sea, which has existed since the beginning of time, The Gembrokers came together just four and a half years ago, when Dorothy (guitar/banjo/autoharp/harmonica) saw two people—Chelsea (slide guitar/fiddle) and Amelia (guitar/banjo/accordion/fiddle) - playing music in a UC Santa Cruz meadow.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

The Naked Bootleggers

The Naked Bootleggers

Thanks to Ona Stewart, guitarist and songwriter for Santa Cruz bluegrass/Americana band The Naked Bootleggers, you might have a secret life you don’t know about. “When I see somebody on the street, I always make up a story,” Stewart says with a chuckle. “My wife laughs at me because I’m constantly saying, ‘Look at that couple. They’ve only been together for a week.’ I just try to make things up in my head.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Larry Hosford

Larry Hosford

Larry Hosford has been making music since the 1960s, and the reason he keeps recording and performing after all these years is quite simple. “It’s easy to get into music, but I looked around one day and discovered that it’s very hard to get out,” Hosford says with a laugh. “So I’ve just kept on doing it.” Hosford has had one prolific career. He played for multiple Santa Cruz-area bands back in the ’60s and ’70s—most notably in the seminal band Snail—before going solo, recorded two albums for Leon Russell’s Shelter Records label in Los Angeles, got four songs to appear on Billboard’s country music charts, and even jammed once with Willie Nelson. But he does have one regret.

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Steep Ravine

Steep Ravine

For the members of bluegrass/folk band Steep Ravine, springboards are important. “Bluegrass is a springboard for our compositional ideas,” says violinist Jan Purat. “A lot of bluegrass bands play traditional bluegrass or learn a Bill Monroe mandolin solo and play it note for note. But with us, each player brings something special to the table when they’re soloing. We’re not intentionally trying to make these songs sound new, but that’s what pours out of us.”

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Music - Love Your Local Band

Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen

Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen

Maybe it was fate. Or perhaps it’s simply yet another example of social media's power to bring people together. Whatever the case, local violinist Laurel Thomsen says it seems as if she and prolific Canadian singer-songwiter Dan Frechette were made to collaborate. The 36-year-old Frechette, a Manitoba-native who has penned more than 1,300 songs in his career, first reached out to the 31-year-old Thomsen after seeing one of her performances on YouTube. "All of a sudden, I saw this video," Frechette recalls. "I thought, ‘Wow! That woman really has it.'"

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