Hi friends,

Welp, it appears we’ve arrived at the day that many Gen Xers never believed would come: MTV News is no more. Of course, I had assumed it disappeared years ago. But back in the day when we all couldn’t get enough news about Fine Young Cannibals or Frankie Goes to Hollywood, I was convinced that MTV News was the future. Now, it’s history. If you’re really only as old as you feel, today I’m about 205 years old.

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

Newly booked shows and events this week include — we’re not making this up! — a rave party themed on “Shrek.” Paint yourself green and arrive at The Catalyst on June 17. Elsewhere, the fine jazz vocalist Jane Monheit returns to Kuumbwa Jazz on July 10. The irresistible Americana singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton will perform at Moe’s Alley on Oct. 21. Look for the great pianist Benny Green to make his annual trip to Kuumbwa on July 24. And the underrated Nashville artist Rayland Baxter (check out “Yellow Eyes”) is set for Felton Music Hall on July 27.

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Check out my carefully curated and constantly updated planning guide, Down the Line, for the staggering riches and amazing choices awaiting Santa Cruz audiences. It’s our look ahead at the best shows, concerts and events through the rest of the year at clubs, stages and venues all over the county.

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B9: What’s what in the week ahead

Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:

  1. Japanese cuisine is elegant and delicious and holds many allures. But what if you’re a plant-based eater? Cookbook star Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s got your back.
  2. One of the great names in Northern California bluegrass, Laurie Lewis, is touring with three magnificent “Men of Note.” Catch them at Kuumbwa.
  3. Like it or not, and I most definitely like it, here comes the Gen Z cohort of musical artists, such as the brilliant, British-born Fenne Lily.
  4. You need a great idea for a Mother’s Day afternoon that Mom will adore? How about wine, gardens and live music?
  5. The San Diego trio Earthless sounds like they dropped right out of the early 1970s acid rock era with some genuinely face-melting instrumental anthems.
  6. Journalist and Elon Musk biographer Ashlee Vance knows some things about the future in space exploration, and she wants you and me to know about it.
  7. The aloha spirit is something we can all use at any time, and bringing that beautiful vibe to Santa Cruz is the fab Hawaiian singer Paula Fuga.
  8. Talk about atmosphere — the MAH is hosting a concert in Evergreen Cemetery, this weekend and next. Don’t sweat it; it happens in the daylight.
  9. The incredibly versatile and talented pianist Peter Cincotti can take you from Andrea Bocelli to Billy Joel and back.

The word around town

In the light of what’s been happening in the community regarding antisemitic activity, the Jewish Film Festival couldn’t come at a more opportune time. The festival this year features a single night at The 418 Project, featuring the film “Waves Apart,” which explores antisemitism in the surfing community. The film’s director, Josh Greene, will be on hand after the screening to discuss the film and its themes …

A screengrab from the trailer for the movie

In the didn’t-see-this-coming category, we have classic Italian opera meeting hip brewpub atmosphere. That’s right, in June, the fabulous Woodhouse Brewing pub, just off River Street in Santa Cruz, will play host to a new production of Puccini’s “La Boheme,” staged by the Santa Cruz Opera Project. This modern take on “La Boheme” is slated for two nights: June 8 and 11 (with a get-the-kinks-out preview performance June 7). How can you not be intrigued? …

After Saturday, Santa Cruz County will have yet another readers retreat, another literary sanctuary. That’s the day that the Branciforte branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library officially reopens after a lengthy renovation. The library, at 230 Gault St., is the latest local library to be reborn under the funding of Measure S, which was passed in 2016. If you’re in the mood for celebrating, show up at 10 a.m. Saturday at the B40 branch, where a lot of politicos will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting, live music, a magician’s performance and a storytime event with the kids. Be thankful for your libraries. They’re what separate us from the beasts …

The poster for the May 14 performance

A promising Mother’s Day event — especially for moms or those with moms who love classical music. The Samper Recital Hall at Cabrillo College will host the program “Songs That Make Us Dance,” which features the Santa Cruz Symphony’s primary cellist, Jonah Kim. This recital will feature Kim’s collaboration with pianist Dominic Cheli on works by Dvorak, Chopin, Mendelssohn and others. The event will also feature dancers Julia Rowe and Wei Wang, both from the San Francisco Ballet. It’ll be a hall full of mothers, Sunday at 2 p.m. …

History nerds, rejoice. We get a festival, too! The Santa Cruz County History Fair takes place Saturday afternoon at Felton Community Hall. The event will feature between 20 and 30 local musicians, historians and other groups who will have displays and activities all related to the fascinating (and, let’s not forget, still unfolding) history of California’s second-smallest county (that’s us, folks). The fair takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and it’s free

Food Not Bombs has announced its annual celebratory event and concert, known as “Soupstock.” The free happening will go down this year on Sunday, June 4, over at San Lorenzo Park and will feature live music from the eco-funk/hippie-soul band Clan Dyken and rapper/spoken word artist Lyrical I

Fascinating three-day event coming to the Monterey County Fairgrounds in October. “Rebels & Renegades” is a big festival of a couple of dozen prominent names in the Americana movement, including Wilco, Shakey Graves, Sierra Ferrell and many more, all Oct. 6-8 …

The cover of
Credit: Via Rowman & Littlefield

And our congratulations go out to Santa Cruz writer and journalist John Malkin, whose new book, “Punk Revolution! An Oral History of Punk Rock Politics and Activism,” has been unleashed onto the world. The book features some 250 interviews with some of the most fiery names in punk rock history, from the Dead Kennedys to Sonic Youth to Bad Religion to Iggy & the Stooges and more. Publishers Weekly said of the book, “Punk fans will find this a gold mine.” Malkin will host a book event at Bad Animal in Santa Cruz on June 17. Stay tuned for more on this exciting new artifact from Santa Cruz …

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Earworm of the Week

It’s a privileged life, but no doubt a tough one, too, to be the son or daughter of a superstar music icon, especially one who aspires to follow in the family business. Just ask Roseanne Cash or Jakob Dylan or Ziggy Marley. From that small confederacy of second-generation singer-songwriters comes one artist I discovered long before I figured out his famous heritage. His name is Harper Simon (his dad, Paul Simon, was apparently a big deal at one time). Harper has enjoyed a fab career as a recording artist, producer, instrumentalist, journalist, show presenter, even a sometimes actor. He was also referenced in one of his dad’s most famous hits, “Graceland.” Of course, I didn’t know any of that when I first heard “Wishes and Stars,” after it popped up a decade ago on the soundtrack of HBO’s once-hot-now-half-forgotten series “Girls.” “Wishes” is a dreamy piece of popcraft, with a beautifully hummable melody and a theme that resonates with anyone who’s had doubts about their place in the world (which is everyone). The theme is equal parts FOMO (the fear of missing out), “imposter syndrome” (that nagging anxiety that you’re soon to be exposed as a giant fraud), and the general feeling that everyone around you knows something that you don’t. It’s a delicious song, and yes, it sounds a whole lot like vintage Paul Simon. You could even call it a kind of generational call back to Paul’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” I was shocked that I never heard the similarities before. Once you know the Paul Simon link, you can’t unhear it. I’m just glad I lived in ignorance of it as long as I did.

A screengrab of the video for Harper Simon's song

All the Earworms in one place

For those who’ve been following my Earworm of the Week, I’ve assembled a playlist that contains them all.

Thank You, Mr. Johnson

For all you writers, readers, and other lovers of language, we offer up a forgotten or archaic word from Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary in hopes that it might find a new life in today’s popular vocabulary. The definitions are Mr. Johnson’s; the usage examples are mine. This week’s word:

Irrision (noun) The act of laughing at another.

My 10-year-old son has turned irrision into an art form.

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Santa Cruz County Trivia

What is the “chill” nickname for the Santa Cruz surfing-community figure portrayed by Gerard Butler in the 2012 film “Chasing Mavericks”?

Chasing Mavericks

Last week’s answer: Actor and former “SNL” regular Andy Samberg spent two years as a student at UC Santa Cruz, in the late 1990s. What downtown business employed him as a student? It was during his Banana Slug days that Samberg snagged a part-time job as a ticket-taker at the Del Mar Theatre. In those days, the Del Mar was not the newly renovated classic old movie house. It was a once-elegant theater gone to seed, showing movies of dubious quality. In a 2012 interview, Samberg told me that he often saw people acting inappropriately in the theater, including parents bringing young children to sexually explicit or violent movies. He rarely confronted such moviegoers. “I was better equipped to just silently judge them,” he said.


That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints, or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.

Wallace reports and writes not only across his familiar areas of deep interest — including arts, entertainment and culture — but also is chronicling for Lookout the challenges the people of Santa Cruz...