Jim Lewin ready to pick up where he left off after a pandemic year off; Moe’s shakes off the cobwebs; a Bookshop summer; remember KLRB
Sure, it’s a popular brand of soap, but “Irish Spring” is also a pretty good description of gloomy, chilly April in Santa Cruz. Who’s a guy got to see around here for a little bit of sunshine?
Notes on a dwindling April:
Jim of all trades
There may be no single musician on the Santa Cruz scene for the last 50 years that has been more versatile than guitarist Jim Lewin. I first started covering Jim as a founding member of the beloved 1990s-era bluegrass band Harmony Grits, more than 25 years ago.
In that time, he’s been a bandleader, a session player, a touring musician, a collaborator, an accompanist, and many other roles. He’s taken on bluegrass, country, jam-band psychedelia, even jazz (“I’m a dabbler in jazz,” he said.).
On Saturday, Jim leads his latest band Edge of the West, in a dinner-event show at Michael’s on Main in Soquel.
“The name of the band,” he said, “kind of reflects that we got one foot in the traditional country side of things, and one foot trying to push toward the West, innovating like California has always done. So we’re kind of a Left Coast hippie country band with a lot of rock, and funky dance music too.”
The pandemic year put a damper on Lewin’s crazy life as an always-busy musician. At the time, he and his band were playing uniquely memorable gigs in places like Zion National Park in Utah, in Joshua Tree where Jim’s musical hero Gram Parsons died, and on board a catamaran in San Diego.
When the pandemic shut everything down, he used the time to hone his skills as a studio producer and recording engineer. But now he’s back in the saddle and ready to return to his performance life.
“It really feels refreshing to return to music,” he said. “Everybody seems kind of re-inspired.”
Check them out at Michael’s on Main, where dinner begins around 6:30 p.m. and showtime is around 8 p.m.
Moe’s ready to go
Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz has new ownership, a new outdoor stage, a new show to present to its fans.
This week, Moe’s announced that it had booked the great Americana singer/songwriter John Doe for a concert slated for May 22. Paired with fine local singer/songwriter Henry Chadwick, the socially-distanced outdoors show sold out quickly.
But it’s only the beginning of what’s going to be happening at Moe’s with its new outdoor space. We’ll check it out and report back.
A summer in books
Bookshop Santa Cruz has released its schedule of virtual author events. BSSC is still not ready to welcome live, in-the-flesh authors back to its beautiful indoor atrium for readings. But the summer virtual list reads something like a Bookshop all-star team.
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For instance, the great Santa Cruz novelist Laurie R. King continues her string of Bookshop events on June 8 on the occasion of the release of her latest Mary Russell novel “Castle Shade.”
Santa Cruz’s other mega-ton literary name, Jonathan Franzen, engages audiences this fall, Oct. 5, to discuss his new trilogy of novels attempting to grapple with America in the sure-to-be insane 2020s. His new book is called “Crossroads.”
Other big-name events include Berkeley literary rock star Michael Pollan discussing his new book “This Is Your Mind on Plants,” on July 6. And another Berkeley icon, food activist Alice Waters on June 1 on the release of her new book “We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto.”
There’s more, tons more. Check it out at Bookshop’s website.
Old-timers in the area might remember the great rock radio station KLRB, based in Carmel, which was the first progressive FM station in the Monterey Bay region.
Those who still treasure the sound of the FM pioneers are marking the 50th anniversary of the station’s founding with a new nostalgic/informational website, bringing alive the music of 1971.
Back in those days, the FM radio dial was largely unknown and unexplored territory, until some intrepid and often iconoclastic radio professionals decided to populate it with an approach that was a sure rebuke to the Top-40 format dominating the AM dial.
KLRB was the first local effort to play the kind of subversive rock that the other stations ignored. The station went on the air in April 1971 with Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Long Time Coming” (yeah, I get it.).
The station lasted for about a dozen years before commercial radio consumed it, but the renegade spirit still reigns as the “longhairs,” as one newspaper feature story dubbed the staff, have become gray-hairs.
Take a nostalgic leap on the KLRB’s anniversary website.