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Apr 24th
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Music - Features

Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward

Pianist Benny Green wants jazz’s past to continue to inform its future

I can honestly say I’m still learning.” Hearing such an admirable, humble statement from someone like Benny Green—a jazz pianist, arranger, composer and band leader whose 30-plus year career includes performances and recordings with jazz luminaries like Oscar Peterson, Art Blakey and Betty Carter—might be surprising at first. But Green’s insatiable desire to keep learning has served him well. That desire—and his deep love of jazz—is something he wants today’s younger musicians to feel, too.

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Music - Features

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

Memphis singer-songwriter, Amy LaVere, finds joy and humor in painful situations

Producer Craig Silvey likely saved singer-songwriter Amy LaVere’s life a few years back. Before recording 2011’s Stranger Me, LaVere had endured a breakup with her longtime boyfriend and was in the midst of one of those I-need-to-find-out-who-I-am phases. She knew the content for the album was going to be incredibly dark and moody, but Silvey did something which changed the course of the recording sessions entirely.

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Music - Features

The Evolutionists

The Evolutionists

Bluegrass band-turned-rockers embrace change, new challenges

Kenny Feinstein, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and sole remaining founding member of Water Tower Bucket Boys, has seen his share of changes occur in the band over the years. For example, their moniker has recently been shortened to Water Tower.

“We took ‘Bucket Boys’ off our name because we lost our banjo player and gained a drummer about a year and a half ago,” Feinstein explains. “We’ve started leaving bluegrass music behind to a certain extent, from a traditional standpoint, because we’re a lot more rockin’ now. So we changed the named to just Water Tower because Bucket Boys has that traditional sound to it and makes it sound like the Soggy Bottom Boys.”

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Music - Features

Waiting for Snow to Melt

Waiting for Snow to Melt

José González on the chilly atmosphere pervading Junip’s mesmerizing new record

Ten years ago, I used to have music as my hobby. My main thing was studying biochemistry,” reflects José González, from his home in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Nowadays, I have music as my work, but also as my hobby.”

As a full-time musician, the established indie folk singer/guitarist has had the opportunity to put out two LPs. He also has a knack for composing covers that rival their originals—Kylie Minogue’s “Hand on Your Heart” and The Knife’s “Heartbeats” being two prime examples.

But these days, it’s his work with Tobias Winterkorn (keys) and Elias Araya (drums) that has the internet abuzz.

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Music - Features

The Gypsy

The Gypsy

French-born jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée lives for musical freedom and improvisation

Cyrille Aimée is a musical gypsy. Her sound incorporates elements of Latin American, American, Brazilian and other styles of jazz, she has recorded albums as a duet with Diego Figueiredo, she currently performs with the Surreal (same pronunciation as her first name) Band, and she is working on a new album with yet another band.

As it happens, Aimée can actually blame gypsies for her love of jazz. “I grew up in Samois-sur-Seine, which is a little town in France where Django Reinhardt used to live,” she says. “Every year they have the Django Festival in his honor, and so gypsies from all parts of Europe come and honor him and play guitar. I started hanging out with the gypsies and became obsessed with their music, their way of living, their freedom. What drew me to jazz music was the freedom of it, all the improvisation, and the fact that it’s a style of music that is constantly changing.”

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Music - Features

Making Sense of Soul

Making Sense of Soul

Allen Stone wants to give R&B back some of its depth

Whether fairly or unfairly, R&B and soul music often get typecast. Much of the music is groove-inducing and has an overtly romantic, sensual or sexual side to it, and the suggestive lyrics only reinforce this mood. That is fine and well, but for R&B and soul singer Allen Stone, it is not enough.

“I love music that’s about love, and I love R&B songs, but I also like songs that have influence on culture,” Stone says. "I believe that if you’re given a microphone you need to use it in a positive way, and I feel like pop culture, more often than not, doesn’t. I think that [pop stars] are very bad stewards of the microphone they’ve been given, and the voices they’ve been given, and they tend to talk about pretty futile and shallow things, rather than subjects which uplift the children in our culture, or the teenage culture, or the young adult generation. If you’re given a microphone, you should say something that’s deeper than, ‘I’m going to the club and I’m going to drink cognac.’”

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 24

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

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