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Music - Features

Skype Hunt

Skype Hunt

Tracking the elusive Blonde Redhead in Winnipeg
As we all know, technology—more specifically, the rise of the Internet—has given birth to all sorts of new modes of communication that have made sharing ideas much faster and easier, in a strong sense, bringing all corners of the globe closer together. But technology can also be a real pain in the ass.

Winnipeg’s a lucky place. Not only has it just snatched an NHL franchise from Atlanta, but it’s also the first stop on Blonde Redhead’s current North American tour—the New York shoegaze-y three-piece comes to Big Sur’s Henry Miller Library, this Sunday. Because the band is up in Canada, their cell phones don’t work, and thus vocalist and frontwoman Kazu Makino has to call me via Skype. This goes fine for about two minutes, before we get disconnected.

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Music - Features

Ain’t That America

Ain’t That America

Oregon-based alt-country Bucket Boys are patriots in their own way
Back in 2000, when jailbirds Ulysses Everett McGill, Delmar O’Donnell and Pete Hogwallop broke out of Depression-era Mississippi and onto the silver screen in Joel and Ethan Cohen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the trio’s ensuing adventure did not only draw attention to Homer’s “The Odyssey,” upon which the movie was based.

According to Kenny Feinstein—the Santa Cruz-born guitarist and mandolin player for The Water Tower Bucket Boys—the movie’s heroes helped turn the youth of this country (and him, in particular) on to the rich tradition of Americana music.

Specifically, Feinstein believes that “Man of Constant Sorrow”—an early 20th century song popularized by the film—provided the spark that ignited the bluegrass and folk revival, which has left a mark on the indie music scene for the past decade.

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Music - Features

Monsters of Rock

Monsters of Rock

A Band of Orcs declares war on eardrums. Next conquest? The Catalyst.
Marilyn Manson once said that if every cigarette shortens your life by six minutes, then each game of Dungeons and Dragons delays the loss of your virginity by six weeks. If he was right, then all of the members of A Band of Orcs are undoubtedly still waiting for that first magical game of belly bump. Further decreasing their nookie prospects, these guys appear onstage in Orc costumes so lifelike it’s downright scary. The group’s World of Warcraft-friendly death metal music is perfectly suited to its over-the-top appearance—which, as long as we’re making geeky references, seems to take more than passing inspiration from the Gamorrean guards in Return of the Jedi.

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Music - Features

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits

Punk-blues duo, Two Gallants, has been to hell and back
Numerous musicians paint an exaggerated or downright false picture of themselves, through their music, videos and on-stage antics. But when it comes to the romping, stomping, rambling tales of San Francisco drum-and-guitar duo Two Gallants, it would seem that the facts outweigh the fiction.

Though it is difficult to discern which came first—the ballads about hard living on the road, or the experiences themselves—one thing is clear: drummer Tyson Vogel, along with his musical partner in crime, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist, Adam Stephens, both know what it means to be a vagabond.

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Music - Features

Put Smog Away

Put Smog Away

Bill Callahan on old monikers and atheistic anthems
Score one for the atheists. On Bill Callahan’s first album (he was then known as Smog), 1990’s Sewn to the Sky, there’s a song called “I Want to Tell You About a Man,” where we learn about a person who doesn’t drop acid, is not a member of the New York rave scene, and doesn’t even read Philip K. Dick books—didn’t everyone parse “The Man in the High Castle”?

Well, the man in that song is eventually found out to be Jesus Christ (don’t make him say it twice), and it’s left to the listener to figure out whether this is a piece of pompous proselytizing, or an instance of black humor. The issue seemed to be cleared up 19 years later on the Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle track called “Faith/Void,” where Callahan implores his listeners to “put God away.” In a strong sense, it seems like the first legitimate atheistic exultation since “Believe,” and in fact it turns out the idea was to create a song that a certain community could get behind.

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Music - Features

Why the Caged Bird Sings

Why the Caged Bird Sings

UFOs, gender confusion and a canary from hell—An Horse’s Kate Cooper tells all
My phone conversation with guitarist/vocalist Kate Cooper is off to one hell of a start. Rocking a likeable Aussie accent, she’s just informed me, “We’re driving through the desert, and there are UFOs everywhere.”

This, of course, raises an important question—“Huh?” Cooper clarifies: she and Damon Cox, the other half of her Sleater-Kinney/Tegan and Sara-influenced indie-rock band An Horse, have just driven past Gila, Arizona’s quaintly decorated Best Western Space Age Lodge.

Cooper’s lighthearted banter comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise, given the sometimes gut-wrenching nature of the material on An Horse’s latest album, Walls: various songs address topics ranging from relationship turmoil to the removal of a brain tumor. The pair, who have opened for such acts as Death Cab for Cutie, Silversun Pickups, Cage the Elephant and the aforementioned Tegan and Sara, will play many of these new tunes live at The Crepe Place on Friday.

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise