I recently heard some sports commentator guy say of 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, “that dude is A.I.’’ I don’t think that he was claiming that Purdy was a robot, just that he was exceptionally good at what he does. Something tells me that little piece of slang is going to stick around for a while. Welcome to the post-Superman world, where superhuman is no longer even human.
Now, on with the show.
This Just In!
The Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz will be the site of a trio of candlelit concerts, in which all the light will be provided by candle. The series includes a Halloween special later this month and a Taylor Swift tribute in November. Be sure to check out the spirited Dia de Los Muertos celebration at the Watsonville Plaza on Oct. 27. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author Jeff Kinney will be on hand for an author talk at the Santa Cruz Civic on Oct. 27. The warm and wonderful stage show “Irish Christmas in America” returns to Kuumbwa Jazz on Nov. 29. And the fine Grammy-winning bassist Victor Wooten comes to the Rio on Jan. 21.
Be sure to check out Lookout’s 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.
B9: What’s what in the week ahead
Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the “earthquake-weather” B9:
- The signature event at this year’s Santa Cruz Comedy Festival turns the Rio into a laughter volcano on Friday.
- She is a magician at the piano. See it yourself up close and personal when Hiromi plays live at the Kuumbwa.
- One of the big First Friday events this month happens out at Seymour Marine Discovery Center. It’s the Block Party on the Bluff.
- Wow, can you believe that Bob Marley’s original Wailers are still performing and touring? They’re in Felton on Saturday.
- Taylor Swift is … OK, she’s not coming to Santa Cruz, exactly. But Swifties and the curious can mingle at the Taylor Swift dance party at The Catalyst.
- Open Studios invites you into the creative minds of the county, beginning this weekend in South County, from Live Oak to Watsonville.
- Many of the writers behind the sleek and freaky Santa Cruz Noir collection of stories gather together in Felton this weekend.
- What’s up with the rise in banned books? Find out at a fascinating panel discussion Friday.
- Only San Francisco could produce a band like the neo-psychedelic masters of The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
The return of ‘Stop Making Sense’
Yes, I’m of the generation that experienced the fabulous career of Talking Heads (please, not the Talking Heads) in real time, and I’m one of the fortunate people who got to see the “big suit” tour in 1983.
That iconic tour was, of course, immortalized in the concert film “Stop Making Sense,” and now that film, directed by the late Jonathan Demme, is being rereleased in theaters, including the Del Mar in Santa Cruz.
You probably know that part, but what you might not know is that this new “Stop Making Sense” was restored by film archivist James Mockoski, a Santa Cruz native and UC Santa Cruz grad.
Film restoration is an art that even a lot of movie buffs don’t quite grok. In the case of “Stop Making Sense,” Mockoski initially didn’t have much to work with, only a second- or third-generation print of the film. But, on a whim, Mockoski called a Hail Mary and asked a friend at a studio that had nothing to do with the film to check its archives. There he found the film’s original negative, as pristine as a 40-year-old negative could be.
The story is told in an engaging Rolling Stone piece. Check it out, then go see one of the greatest concert films ever.
The welcome return of Open Studios
I am not shocked, per se, but I am rather surprised to meet people in the arts community who have never experienced Open Studios. This amazing self-guided tour of local artists’ studios has been happening every year since the Reagan years. And this weekend, it gears up again, for the first of three consecutive weekends with more than 300 Santa Cruz County artists participating.
Besides the wonderful artistic encounters, Open Studios gives you an excuse to explore areas of the county that might not be a part of your daily routine. This weekend, it’s South County’s moment to shine — that’s the studios from Live Oak down to Watsonville. On Oct. 14 and 15, it’s North County, including Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley. And Oct. 21 and 22 is an encore weekend for the whole county.
Comedy Fest lands in Santa Cruz
Strap in for the 10th annual Santa Cruz Comedy Festival featuring up to 40 stand-up comics in 10 different venues, including a barber shop, a coffeehouse and a record store. Several of the shows are free.
This year’s festival, organized and championed by the dogged comedian DNA, marks a kind of return to the old pre-COVID days when DNA pretty much flooded downtown Santa Cruz with live stand-up comedy.
I’ll always remember in the darkest days of the shutdown in 2020 when DNA, with a reckless show-must-go-on spirit, had comics perform in a parking lot in front of an audience of parked cars, flashing their lights in lieu of applause. It’s great to see DNA unshackled again. Check out this year’s Comedy Festival. Trust me, you need a laugh right about now.
The new ride in town
No, you’re not dreaming. Six years after taking down its old Ferris wheel, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is bringing back a new one, this one tabbed “The Dream Wheel.” The new Ferris wheel will be 65 feet tall, and the Boardwalk is hoping to have it operational by spring break in 2024.
The Ferris wheel is, of course, a favorite of those fairgoers, and Boardwalk fans would prefer not to be thrown around like a dog’s toy, yet still want a bit of thrill. The view of Main Beach, the Boardwalk and that part of town promises to be magnificent, if you’re able to see over some of the new proposed apartment buildings downtown.
Earworm of the Week
Since its original release way back in 2001, Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” has turned into an anthem/lament for the performer class. Prescient in ’01, it has since become the dominant truism of the daunting task of making a living as an artist. The song describes a world where the economic zero-sum game has squashed most workaday artists and creators, where they are expected to give away the product of their hard work and sacrifice. The song’s most heartbreaking line points in mock admiration to the middlemen operators in the world of “content” creation that exploit artists driven to create, “They figured it out/ That we’re going to do it anyway/ Even if it doesn’t pay.” Welch, you may know, has a local connection, having discovered her gift as a musician while a student at UC Santa Cruz. The song has been covered countless times, largely, I imagine, because it resonates so deeply with musicians struggling to survive in the dark shadows of Taylor Swift and Post Malone. But let’s go for Welch’s haunting original. Check it out, then find a way to give your favorite musicians the economic respect they deserve.
Simon on God
One final bon mot today: I, for one, am so grateful that the legendary Paul Simon is still with us. Take a moment to visit with Rhymin’ Simon as he ponders God and the Hereafter with Howard Stern. You’ll be glad you did.
Santa Cruz County Trivia
What hugely famous 1990s-era rock band wrote and recorded a song called “Santa Cruz” with the line “I got the feeling I just can’t lose/Pulling into Santa Cruz”?
Last week: What are the words emblazoned on the famous neon clock outside Shoppers Corner market on Soquel Avenue? C’mon, you’ve seen it a thousand times: It’s “Time to Shop.”
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.