Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sound Bites

music_BackstageLoungeBackstage Lounge dishes live shows and small portions

There’s a new kid on the block, and she’s proving that sometimes less is more. Seeing the bigger picture, the newly revamped Backstage Lounge is thinking small when it comes to its size, its stage and its servings.

A little sibling to the mammoth Rio Theatre located next door, Backstage Lounge has started hosting its own live music in Santa Cruz, at 1209 Soquel Ave. Laurence Bedford, the owner of both, admits he’s undergoing “a lack of sleep these days.”

Like a symbiotic relationship between venues, The Rio serves as the crocodile to the Backstage Lounge’s plover bird; the Dr. Evil to a Mini-Me. The idea is that one concert’s crowd will feed the other, with Backstage Lounge’s chef, Lenny Calandrino, literally feeding all.

“It’s a micro venue in correlation with The Rio Theatre that can be a stand-alone venue when she’s old enough to drive,” Bedford says of his latest endeavor.

Initially arranging its hours around the schedule of its high-power neighbor, Backstage Lounge (which fits only 50 people) offers a warm nook—an intimate environment to nibble on small plates in front of a small corner stage flanked by deep blue walls lined with art by Dag Weiser.

A menu boasts plates that each cost less than $5: personal pizzas, sliders, salad, “Soon-To-Be-Famous Mac & Cheese,” and homemade apple pie. And, yes, to satiate those who endure nervous ticks during dry Rio shows, this sidekick serves wine and beer just around the way to wet the tongue.

In response to the periodic surges of patrons that infiltrate Backstage Lounge, manager Sven Davis (who calls himself “the guy in town who bartends for free”) says, “We have to kick ass in 15 minutes between Rio sets.”

When The Rio audience isn’t cramming the newcomer, Backstage Lounge conjures its own entertainment. Think of it as a place to see concerts with speakeasy spontaneity, cabaret-style shows where music, theater and comedy collide, and, well, according to Davis, just about anything.

“Odd, kooky things happen here—I want to do interventions,” he jokes with enough seriousness to make you feel like the possibilities are endless. “I want to do stuff your house is too small for. Let’s provide a place where anything can happen and see what happens.”

Since Santa Cruz avant-garde performance artist Thoth first kicked off Backstage Lounge’s run as a live performance venue in late March, Canadian singe

CREDIT KellyVaillancourtr-songwriter Kate Reid strummed through town, Kim Luke and The Friendly Henrys kicked up some dust, Wesley Morgan delivered his junkyard swing, and Billy Manzik set his six strings on fire. With each act, the in-house sound system and lighting have evolved, but most shows remain free. For a schedule of upcoming concerts, go to backstageloungerio.com.

Though Bedford says the idea is “to cross-pollinate with other people and try to get the Pegi Youngs of the world,” he warns, “It’s not just an acoustic guitar hub.” On the night when the new stage in town was resurrected, an eclectic set featured Rhan Wilson plucking the bass, Olaf Schiappacasse hammering the cajon, Ukulele Dick strumming the uke, and Celina Gutierrez serving as songbird on guitar—with plenty of instrument hopping amongst them all.

As for its interconnectedness with The Rio, the owner envisions that the lounge will lure some formidable musical forces to saddle up at its tables. Some, he predicts, will surely be cause for stargazing. “You could run into Neko Case eating apple pie here before a Rio show!”

An elegant bar hangout with a thoroughly artistic bent, Backstage Lounge has some surprises in store and welcomes the random. Best part? If you ask Davis, it’s that any and all can gather within its warm embrace to find a place to fit in.

“Here I can eavesdrop on the Knitting Club or the Scrabble Club,” he says with notable excitement. “I feel like we’re the yellow porch light and eventually the bugs will find us.”


Backstage Lounge is located at 1209 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. For more information, call 469-9900, or go to backstageloungerio.com.
Photo credit:  KellyVaillancourt

Comments (1)Add Comment
Club Uke at Backstage Lounge
written by Rhan W, June 10, 2011
And what better place than the Backstage Lounge to house the newest uke-centric gathering called, "Club Uke" July 1st will bring those on the "U" list, an open mic and giveaways donated by Offshore Music, More Music, Pono Island Grille, and Tiki King's Ukuleles of Felton. It all benefits the Santa Cruz Uke News and it's counterpart www.ukelist.com. Then, when that's all over we can have a benefit for another needy cause.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Critical Mask

Comics remain both relevant and marginalized  

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Ella’s at the Airport

Tiffany Ella King on her new fine dining restaurant in Watsonville

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines