Quick Take:

Your place to go for things to do in Santa Cruz County.

Well, hello, October. Historically, Northern California’s loveliest weather season is the best time to welcome back the ambitious Open Studios art tour, taking place in nearly every corner of the county during the next three weekends. Meanwhile, whet your appetite for art with two separate Open Studios preview exhibits at the Santa Cruz Art League and R. Blitzer Gallery, as well as all the great stuff happening on First Friday.

Plus, it’s time again to get intimate with a new Franzen novel. Santa Cruz favorite son Jonathan Franzen gets the literary world’s attention with the release of “Crossroads,” the first in a trilogy. The book drops Tuesday, the same day that Franzen himself takes part in a Bookshop Santa Cruz online event. Hope to (virtually) see you there.

— Wallace Baine

See our full BOLO calendar listings for events in Santa Cruz here. And as if that isn’t enough, we have you covered for all the MAJOR events coming up into the next year with Down The Line, a listing assembled by Wallace Baine that’s your key to getting tickets before they sell out.

SC Credit Union and Cinelux logos

Best Bets is presented by Santa Cruz Community Credit Union and CineLux Theatres.

Now, here’s what Team BOLO thinks you should know for the weekend and beyond:

(Click category headers for full BOLO listings in that category.)


A flyer for the October 2021 First Friday Art Market

First Friday Night Market: The calendar doesn’t lie: Oct. 1 is indeed First Friday and the Tannery will be the scene for the First Friday Night Market, featuring a half-dozen fine artists on hand in one spot, including Asha Tobbing, Karuna Gutowski, Milo Halperin, Beth Truso, Bree Karpavage, Marissa Walker and Marina Anderson, plus live music, and lots of cool stuff open at the Tannery as well. From 4 to 8 p.m.

Open Studios: The biggest single visual arts event of the year happens not in a museum or a gallery, but in nearly 300 studios, homes, and private spaces across Santa Cruz County. After a year’s pandemic absence, Open Studios is back, providing art lovers an open invitation to visit the workspaces of the county’s staggering roster of painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, and other artists. Just grab a guide in spots all over the county, or download the Open Studios app, or just look for the green signs. It’s all free. The self-designed tour unfolds over three weekends. This Saturday and Sunday, the artists of South County (from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor to Watsonville) are open for visitors. Get out and interact with the community’s creatives, buy something if you’re able — but wear a mask and be courteous.

Open Studios Preview Show: A great jumping-off point for experiencing this weekend’s Open Studios tour is to drop in at R. Blitzer Gallery on the Westside of Santa Cruz. The Blitzer will be showcasing some of the work of the tour’s most outlying artists, from Davenport to Bonny Doon to the San Lorenzo Valley to La Selva To Watsonville. First Friday, the gallery will be open 4 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

Scott Rasmann: Painter and Tannery resident Scott Rasmann will be featuring his work inspired by cemetery angels and ghosts, this weekend only at the Apricity Gallery at the Tannery, along with work from Apricity’s resident artist, Sarah Bianco. This exhibit runs 4-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

— Wallace Baine


Jonathan Franzen and his new novel,

Jonathan Franzen: Santa Cruz’s most high-octane literary name steps boldly back into the national spotlight with the first novel in a trilogy. Jonathan Franzen’s “Crossroads” is finally being unleashed on the world, and the author treats his local friends and neighbors to a virtual book reading sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. Set in the upside-down socio-political world of America in 1971, “Crossroads” takes a darkly comic look at one Midwestern family and its struggles with changing religious/spiritual mores of the time. Just as he’s done with previous novels, Franzen celebrates the launch of “Crossroads” with a Bookshop event the very day the book is released. A $35 ticket gets you into the event and gets you a copy of the new book.

— Wallace Baine


Dave Wakeling and the English Beat perform
Credit: Via Tony Smith Images / Instagram

The English Beat: In the U.K., of course, they are known as simply “The Beat,” but stateside, they are the English Beat, a landmark band in the history of 1980s two-tone ska with such outlandishly catchy hits as “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Best Friend.” Since lead singer Dave Wakeling became California guy a couple of decades ago, the reformed band has been a West Coast staple and a regular attraction in Santa Cruz County. Get out your checkerboard ties: They play their first post-pandemic show here Friday at Felton Music Hall.

J. D. Souther: He never quite attained the Olympian classic-rock status of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, or Linda Ronstadt. But singer/songwriter J.D. Souther was right at the white-hot center of the epic Southern California sound of the 1970s as a producer, a session musician, a songwriter, and a criminally underappreciated artist in his own right. The co-writer of “New Kid in Town” and many other hits of the period comes to Felton Music Hall for a fully seated show to help fans of the mellow L.A. sound of the ’70s take a deeper dive.

Nigel & Friends: It’s not quite the post-pandemic debut of the Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestra; that’s set for Oct. 23. But the symphony’s new 2021-22 season opens with this spirited recital, hosted by the symphony’s concertmaster, Nigel Armstrong, with guest soloists Audrey Vardanega on piano and Saul Richmond-Rakerd on cello. The afternoon concert takes place at Cabrillo College’s Samper Recital Hall at 2 p.m.

Kim Nalley: At the very center of the wonderfully rich Bay Area jazz scene stands Kim Nalley, an accomplished vocalist, jazz academic, writer, and businesswoman. Just a few months after earning her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, the fabulous Ms. Nalley makes a return to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, bringing her spine-tingling interpretations of Nina Simone, Alberta Hunter, Aretha Franklin and countless others, as well as her original songs heard on such stellar albums as her 2015 release, “Blues People.” See her live Monday.

— Wallace Baine


Movie poster for

“Reckless Isolation”: Documentary and surfing enthusiasts alike should come out to the Rio Theatre on Friday for this screening of “Reckless Isolation.” The film follows five San Clemente natives and longtime friends as they embark on a journey to remote Indonesia in search of the most perfect waves they can get their boards on — a visually stunning experience on the big screen. Attendees must have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event.

— Max Chun


A scene from the Jewel Theatre's production of
A scene from the Jewel Theatre’s production of “Heisenberg.” Credit: Via Jewel Theatre

“Heisenberg”: So, where were we? Just as the COVID-19 shutdown hit back in March 2020, the actors and crew of Santa Cruz’s Jewel Theatre were getting ready to mount a new production of the intriguing two-person sorta-romance “Heisenberg” with Paul Whitworth and Erika Schindele. Fast forward 18 months and one pandemic later, and Jewel is set to pick up right where it left off, making “Heisenberg” its first show in an ambitious new season at the beautiful Colligan Theater. This lively drama will be staged Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

— Wallace Baine


A promotional flyer for Midtown Fridays
Credit: Handout

Athonia at Midtown Block Party: Santa Cruz Pride takes over the Midtown parking lot that hosts this weekly event featuring local artists, food vendors and new performers. This week’s headline performer is Athonia, a DJ who spins weekly at nightclubs in Santa Cruz and beyond.

Bonny Doon Art, Wine and Brew Festival: Fill an afternoon with tastings from local wineries and breweries for a good cause in Bonny Doon. The festival will also include three live bands, artists and craft vendors, and food trucks. The 18th annual event is a volunteer-run fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting Bonny Doon Elementary School’s science and art programs.

— Haneen Zain


A flyer for the October 2021 Westside Marketplace

Westside Marketplace: It’s a new month, which means another edition of the Westside Marketplace. As usual, there will be many local artisans showcasing their crafts, food, art, and much more. There will also be live music and the opportunity to connect with other community members and small local business owners. It’s going to start getting chillier soon, so get out to the marketplace while the fall vibe is strong.

— Max Chun


The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History in Seabright
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Free Admission Day at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History: Come out to the museum for free admission day on Friday. Browse the various exhibits to learn about local ecology, animals, and coastal habitats. After you’re done inside, take a walk around the park connected to the museum grounds, or spend a while at Seabright Beach. This takes place every first Friday of each month, so keep it in your calendar, especially if your kids love Santa Cruz nature.

— Max Chun


The entrance to Stockwell Cellars on Santa Cruz's Westside

Sip, Savor and Sway at Stockwell Cellars: Every Friday, Stockwell Cellars invites a different food truck and new musical talent to feed and entertain guests at its Westside tasing room. This week, enjoy a glass or bottle of wine while listening to live music performed by Shady Rest and fresh fish and chips from Scrumptious food truck.

Oyster and Seafood Pop-up at Stockwell Cellars: The first Sunday of every month finds Bill Oysterman serving some of the best oysters in the West. And he’s bringing along Parker Stokes, his longtime crew lead and business manager, to supplement those oysters with Parker’s Picks — this weekend offering grilled wild gulf shrimp with roasted garlic sauce, served with polenta square and housemade marinara.

— Haneen Zain


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