You would be hard pressed to find a more upbeat group of musicians than Extra Large, the longtime local band known for their feel- good tunes and fun-loving attitude. The group has been a staple at local outdoor festivals for years now and has been repeatedly voted Local Band of the Year in the Good Times annual Best Of Santa Cruz issue—and it’s not hard to see why. Extra Large glows with positivity, creating a family atmosphere onstage that is, by many accounts, simply contagious. They produce this feeling with songs that rarely stray from major scales, bright guitar tones, shimmering steel drums, and funk- and island-inspired rhythms. But according to percussionist and vocalist Valerie Leal, wife of the group’s founder Russ Leal, the communal feeling exuded by Extra Large also has a lot to do with the band’s attitude. “We’re not a band that’s just up there performing,” she says. “Every time we play it’s a big party for everybody, including us. There’s a total involvement between us and the audience.
That makes it really fun.” Leal says that the band is firmly committed to having a good time. All of the members of Extra Large have day jobs—Leal and her husband are both teachers with children and grandchildren—and the band wouldn’t work if everyone didn’t love playing together. “For me, playing with Extra Large is like going to a party every weekend,” Leal says. “We don’t look at it as a job. It is a lot of work, but it’s still really fun.” Leal says that if Extra Large ever started to feel like a chore, the band would hang it up. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like the group will reach that point any time soon. On “Never Gonna Stop,” off Extra Large’s album Curvas Peligrosas, Russ Leal croons, “I’m never gonna stop singing songs of love and dancing.”
INFO: 8 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $8/adv, $10/door. 603-2294.