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Dec 22nd
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Music - Features

Art Rock Talk

Art Rock Talk

Take a dip into the depths of Grand Lake
Caleb Nichols swings his arms in a wide arc, illustrating the release of his emotional baggage into the world. “This record’s about a journey that a lot of people have,” he explains, “about leaving home, and then trying to find it again. It’s also about the traveling itself.” He pauses, smiling. “About the baggage.”

Bespectacled, unshaven, and loquacious, he looks and acts every bit the hyper-literate songwriter one might expect to meet after listening to a few songs by his band, Grand Lake. His eyes follow the motion of his arms, and he continues with his wanderer’s metaphor. “It’s about trying to throw that baggage off a bridge,” he says, to soft laughter from his boyfriend (and Grand Lake drummer) John Pomeroy. “And then walking. You’re on the bridge; you’ve been stuck there for a while. You’ve got these heavy bags. It’s hot outside. You don’t want to walk anymore. Finally, you’re like, ‘fuck it,’ and you throw your bags over the rails. When you finally make it to the other side, and look back out over the bridge, you realize that one of them, not both of them, is still in your hands. It’s like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.”

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Music - Features

Time to Get Real

Time to Get Real

MGMT isn’t pretending, just ask the president of France
Indeed, what does Brian Eno know? It’s not surprising that the members of MGMT liken their relationship to the English ambient innovator as a master/apprentice dynamic, whether or not they’ve ever actually met. In fact, the band even asked Eno to produce the aptly-titled track, “Brian Eno,” but were shot down because he hadn’t heard of them.

However, nowadays Brian Eno seems like the only person who hasn’t heard of MGMT, which will come to the roomy Santa Cruz Civic with psychedelic trio Tame Impala opening on Saturday, May 29.

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Music - Features

Walk the Lineage

Walk the Lineage

Warren Hood and band come from Texas royalty
There’s something about hearing Warren Hood’s Texas drawl that is gracious and inviting—as he speaks about his recent experience at Merlefest, you can almost imagine his spurs spinning with excitement. “I got to play with Elvis Costello and Little Feat,” relays Hood from his home in Austin. “It was not just business as usual.”

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Music - Features

Out of Africa

Out of Africa

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars survived war and bring the spotlight home
It’s a peculiar thing how it’s often those in positions of the greatest suffering who find the means to extol higher spiritual powers, radiate the brightest light, and dance as though there lies no problem at their feet. Take for example the spiritual songs of slaves, the hymns and folk songs of America during segregation and the anti-war era, or the political songs of South Africa during Apartheid. Music doesn’t just move, it can bolster a movement. So while you might be modest in your socio-economic standing, you can always remain brazenly rich when it comes to melody. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars know this well.

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Music - Features

Wisdom without Words

Wisdom without Words

Red Sparowes give history lessons through instrumental music
Post-rock is challenging music. It’s not exactly jazz, and it doesn’t take the same kind of abstract understanding to wrap one’s head around; but still, instrumental music can often initially be outside of the comfort zone of many rock faithful who eventually gravitate from the softer croons of Death Cab towards the drifting soundscapes and sludgy guitars of acts like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky.

Moreover, there’s the confusing issue of how music without lyrics is used to express specific thematic elements that a vocalist might directly address. If Explosions’ “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” is about a sunken Russian Submarine, do specific movements in the song correlate to specific happenings on board? Or is it a more general inspiration?

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Music - Features

The Great Liberator

The Great Liberator

Is Stanley Clarke the Rosa Parks of the electric bass?
With all the Victor Wootens, Michael Manrings and Marcus Millers out there, it’s easy to forget that not so very long ago, the electric bass was relegated to the back of the musical bus: While the lead instrumentalists frolicked in the spotlight, the bassist’s job was to do little more than keep time with the drummer and lay down simple grooves.

Then came Stanley Clarke. With the possible exception of Jaco Pastorius, no musician has done more than Clarke to help establish the bass guitar as a lead instrument in its own right. In the early ’70s, Clarke—previously known for his work with the fusion group Return to Forever as well as with jazz players like Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Art Blakey and Pharoah Sanders—took flight as a solo artist. Though it was almost unheard-of for a bass player to act as the leader of a band, Clarke’s undeniable skills made short work of the naysayers’ prejudices. 

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire