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Apr 16th
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Music - Features

No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached

Emily Wells does classical violin and hip hop her way

More and more, old school strings are blazing in innovative ways; the trend of classical instrumentation in modern music is taking that which has long been and transferring it into what’s up next in unceremonious ways. For 27-year-old Emily Wells, a violinist since the age of 4 who procures experimental folk, what pulls her strings is hip hop. “I love rap music and Vivaldi,” her press bio begins. “Nina Simone and Biggie Smalls make my world go round.” Take a listen to any track off last year’s The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, and your scrunching eyebrows will relax into a state of understanding: a filo dough layering of pulsing violin strings encase hip hop backbeats and punchy vocals that meander between operatic croons, rap attitude and folk sweetness.

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Music - Features

Comeback Kid

Comeback Kid

Former Sin in Space leader Cassidy Meijer kicks the dust off in The Cobwebs

At the start of the present decade, things were looking bright for local vocalist/guitarist Cassidy Meijer: His indie rock band Sin in Space was one of the most popular bands in town, and there was a sense among Santa Cruz audiences and music journalists that the group was going to make a big noise in the national college rock scene.

That never happened. Throughout his time in Sin in Space, Meijer was living with a heroin addiction stemming from an auto accident he was in at age 18, which left his left hand and pelvic bone broken. “Instead of dealing with the trauma, I got drugged … and liked to stay drugged,” he chuckles. Meijer’s habit led to the demise of Sin in Space in the mid-2000s, after which the vocalist and his girlfriend Sky ended up on the streets of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, living in bushes and “doing whatever we could to make money to get drugs and stay well.”

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Music - Features

Premonitions

Premonitions

Lacy J. Dalton’s songs have an eerie way of coming true

Apparently when Lacy J. Dalton moved from Santa Cruz to Nashville in the late ’70s, she remained connected to this town in spirit: At the moment when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit, the country music star was in the studio with Glenn Campbell, recording a duet called “Shaky Ground” that she’d recently written with tunesmiths Even Stevens and Hillary Kanter. The song was about, of all things, earthquakes. “It was just so weird!” the singer/guitarist/songwriter recalls. “And I got a call that there was a terrible earthquake in California.”

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Music - Features

Talking Heads

Talking Heads

Karl Denson gets vocal on his new album, Brother’s Keeper
When it comes to music, funk/jazz saxophonist Karl Denson is a man of few words. Up until now, the output we’ve heard from his band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTY) has been largely instrumental, with the vocal tunes serving to figuratively tap a spoon against a glass and raise a toast in the middle of the dance party. KDTY’s latest album, the Motown-flavored Brother’s Keeper, however, is dominated not by instrumental acrobatics, but by singing. If Denson has become unexpectedly vocal on his latest offering, perhaps it’s because he has a message to deliver: In an era when the modern conveniences and freedoms that we enjoy also keep us separate from one another, Brother’s Keeper is a call for people to become more involved in the world around them.

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Music - Features

Power Outage

Power Outage

Dark Star Orchestra lights up a rare acoustic show
Formed in 1997 as a Chicago bar band that played Grateful Dead tunes, Dark Star Orchestra (DSO) soon began touring upwards of 200 nights a year. With an increasing number of people hungry to see DSO, the band now plays the same large concert halls at which the original 1960s iconic band used to perform. DSO lead guitarist John Kadlecik—talking from the road in Seattle—reflects on the early years. “I had been initially playing with another Dead cover band, but my idea was to recreate shows in their entirety,” he reminisces. “When DSO caught on, we all quit our day jobs.”

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Music - Features

High, Low and In Between

High, Low and In Between

Steve Earle recalls the late great Townes Van Zandt

Steve Earle’s admiration for Townes Van Zandt is nearly as legendary as the two men themselves. Point one: A teenage Earle started following the iconic country singer-songwriter upon discovering him in Houston back in 1972. Point two: He named his first son after him, the emerging Justin Townes Earle who’s now commanding attention for his own potent honky tonk delivery and lyrical skills. Point three: He just released an entire album covering 15 Van Zandt songs, simply titled Townes. Recording the core vocals and guitar tracks live in his New York apartment last September, the gritty Grammy-winning Earle is now taking the musical tribute—and his memories of one of the most underappreciated and prolific poets—on the road, and he’ll be hitting The Rio at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7. When he talks about Van Zandt, whose infamous life of alcohol and drug abuse ended on New Year’s Day of 1997 at the age of 52, Earle’s tone shifts restlessly between poignant awe of the man and his influence, to somber lament (and riled frustration) for the fame, health and success that his idol never obtained. Like Van Zandt, Earle rose in the growlin’ blues, country-rock songwriting ranks only to fall to his own substance abuse and eventual imprisonment in the early ’90s. Unlike Van Zandt, he made it out of the darkness—sobering up and singing again to reclaim himself, a family and his lauded career. Townes Van Zandt epitomized the struggling, self-destructive folk phenom that could never quite enjoy the brilliance he emanated, and now Steve Earle is giving his greatest mentor what he could never hold onto in life: the spotlight.

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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.