Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Aug 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sourgrass is greener

sourgrassisgreenerFrom backyard band to Santa Cruz bar stars, Sourgrass brings on the funk

Sourgrass has come a long way for a band that considered naming itself “Chocolate Subways and Marshmallow Overcoats.” In fact, they’ve come a long way since this time last year, when they were playing funk- and blues-fueled rock shows in backyards and garages. “This year is when we were really indoctrinated into the Santa Cruz music society, so to speak, because before this year we were just a whiskey band that played parties,” explains drummer Drew Cirincione.

Sourgrass shows are undeniably still parties, just bigger and at official venues, and still involve a good deal of whiskey, both as a recurring theme in their songs and as the band’s favorite inebriant. But, their aforementioned “indoctrination” has certainly made 2008 a busy year for the boys. And what better way to wrap up the whirlwind than with a New Year’s Eve show at their favorite venue, Moe’s Alley.

Seated at a candle-lit table, pints of a winter brew in hand, the band reminisces over the chain of events that brought them to this point. The catapult from backyard jam sessions to selling out local venues has been just the latest chapter in the group’s long-running friendships; Cirincione, frontman Jay Palmer and bassist Eric Ressler have been friends since middle school in Los Angeles. And although the guys have “always played tunes together,” the seed of the Sourgrass snowball really started when Cirincione met guitarist Conor Spicer and former bassist Scott Kennedy in the forest-wrapped dorms of UC Santa Cruz. The three were jamming regularly by the end of their freshman year, and playing parties soon after. As Cirincione remembers it, the trio would play for hours as background music to college debauchery. Palmer soon joined in the fun, adding soulful, reggae-tinged freestyles over the music.

“We were playing in backyards and in our rooms and garages, drinking too much wine and whiskey, and having fun. All the sudden it just happened,” says Palmer. “I can’t even remember how it went from there to there.” The bewilderment wasn’t entirely because of the booze. Although they put in some of the effort (about 30 percent, according to Ressler, who replaced Kennedy late last year), Sourgrass happened at the will of the people. Their first shows were largely at the recommendation or organization of friends-turned-fans. And their recordings, including the upcoming Mint Condition, were made to please the ever-growing Sourgrass community—a community that, in the past year, has packed venues across Santa Cruz with overflowing amounts of energy and dance, helping the band to sell out Moe’s Alley and set the record at Moe’s and the Crepe Place for most alcohol served and most money made at the bar.

And what began as surf-jam reggae has grown and tightened as much as the fan base that follows it, evolving into an infectious groove of blues, soul, Motown and funk—all set against a backdrop of what the guys call the “true rock” that raised them in the ’90s and the classic rock they tapped into as teens. Listeners can expect a high dose of Sourgrass’ trademark funk and Palmer’s powerful, wailing vocals on Mint Condition, as well as the return of an old favorite, “Summer Saturdays.” The tune, a pop anomaly in the Sourgrass catalog and the audience’s favorite sing-along, is inescapably sweet and infused with simplicity. Spicer’s upbeat guitar repetitions—delicious shots of instant lightheartedness—bob through the song’s powerful imagery and Palmer’s beautiful vocals, which, intentionally or not, twang the song with the genuine sadness of lost love. All of this has crowds continuing to show up to live gigs to feed off the group’s vigorous, sometimes hilarious and always contagious, stage presence.

“We play music in bars, for people,” explains Palmer matter-of-factly. “At our shows, it’s not just about the music. It’s about what happens around the music.” Cirincione nods, adding, “You make friends at Sourgrass shows, you see old friends, you rekindle friendships. And most everyone is friends with us. It’s one big family.”


Sourgrass performs with Wooster at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12/adv, $15/door. For more information, call 479-1854.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover