A close-up shot of a person playing an electric bass
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
City Life

BOLO Best Bets: No turkeys here — from art to theater and markets to music, Santa Cruz ready for the holidays

Thanksgiving is here, and Hanukkah is right behind it, then many days of good cheer (and better libations) until Christmas and New Year’s. COVID-19 took away the social part of the holiday season last year, so let’s all get out and make sure that doesn’t happen again. Go see some art in galleries, check out the spirited “Pump Boys and Dinettes” or go bathe in the Ray Charles songbook. So many options, and more on the way in the coming month. Are you as excited as we are?

— Wallace Baine

Lookout Santa Cruz’s BOLO (Be On the Lookout) calendar is “your place to go for things to do” in Santa Cruz County.

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.

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.)


12-inch-by-12-inch paintings from Cabrillo Gallery's 12x12 Invitational
(Via Instagram)

12x12: An Open Invitational”: One more week for the first in-person art show at Cabrillo College since the pandemic. The new show on display at the Cabrillo Gallery showcases the best work from an open invitational of all local artists in everything from painting to printmaking, photography to sculpture, all of it tied together by format: Everything is 12 inches square. The show will be up at the gallery until Dec. 3, in the library building on the uphill side of Cabrillo College.

Small Works 2021”: More than a dozen Santa Cruz area visual artists are showing their finest wares in Radius Gallery’s invitational show “Small Works 2021,” featuring jewelry, photography, pottery, you name it, all priced with gift-giving season in mind. Artists include Shelby Graham, Margaret Niven, Elisabeth Foster, Maha Taitano, Todd LeJeune, Gazelle Walker, Jenny James, and many more. Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., through Dec. 23.

“Mi Casa es Tu Casa”: Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville has mounted its ambitious “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” art exhibit at the downtown PVA gallery. The theme for this year’s event is “History, Loss, and Healing,” with a long roster of participating artists including Amalia Mesa-Bains, Carmen Leon, Priscilla Martinez, Shmuel Thaler, Myra Eastman and many others, through Dec. 12. The PVA Gallery is at 37 Sudden St., downtown Watsonville.

— Wallace Baine

Arte Del Corazón brings local creators together twice a month in downtown Watsonville and on Freedom Boulevard. Fiscally...


A Jewel Theatre production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes."
(Steve DiBartolomeo)

“Pump Boys and Dinettes”: Hey Santa Cruz theater fans, that sense of deja vu you’re feeling is because the newest production at Jewel Theatre Co. is in fact a revival of a hit show from 2013 that is being restaged at the beautiful Colligan Theater at the Tannery. “PB&D” is a rollicking musical set in the fictitious Double Cupp Diner and with music that touches on everything from rock to country to gospel. The new production stars Jewel’s artistic director, Julie James, as well as Christopher Reber, Ric Iverson, Brent Schindele, Diana Torres Koss and many more. No show on Thanksgiving Day, but there are performances Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and two on Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m.

— Wallace Baine


The band Mother Hips

The Mother Hips: One of Northern California’s most admired live acts, the Mother Hips are certainly familiar to Santa Cruz audiences (the band’s documentary DVD “Beauty Rock” was shot during a 2003 performance at the Catalyst, only one of the umpteen times they’ve performed locally). Marking the 30th year since the band’s founding, the Hips are celebrating with the release of a brand-new recording titled “Glowing Lantern,” as Tim Bluhm, Greg Loiacono and the band try to make sense of their pandemic experience. As part of their latest tour, the Hips will arrive at the Felton Music Hall on Saturday.

Eric Lindell/Anson Funderburgh: In a thunderclap of a collaboration, Bay Area-born blues/country guitarist, songwriter and raspy-voiced vocalist Eric Lindell teams up with his pal, Texas bluesman Anson Funderburgh, for a show sure to be tour de force of 100-proof American roots music. Backing them all up is the high-energy band the Natural Mystics. Somehow they fit all on one stage together, at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on Saturday night.

Gregory Alan Isakov: South African-born, Colorado-based singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov could be a revelation for those who aren’t familiar with his often haunting and lyrical songs that evoke fellow folkies such as Leonard Cohen and Greg Brown. Isakov also puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to supporting sustainable agriculture, as he runs a small farm near Boulder. This underappreciated artist plays the Catalyst on Sunday.

Rock of Ages Chanukah concert: This year, the Jewish “Festival of Lights” begins before December does. The Temple Beth El in Aptos will kick off the eight-day Chanukah holiday with a live musical concert in the afternoon, just before the holiday begins at sundown, outdoors on the grounds at Temple Beth El. Things get started at 3:30 p.m. Live music will be followed by the lighting of the menorah and activities for kids. It’s free, but you need to register here.

Ray Charles Project: You might remember Mr. Ray Charles Robinson of Albany, Georgia, aka Ray Charles, the one-of-a-kind soul-music titan and foundational figure in contemporary American music. Ol’ Ray is no longer among the living (he left us in 2004), but a crack five-piece band of professional Bay Area musicians, fronted by Santana vocalist Tony Lindsay, is giving a fresh new gloss to the music of Ray Charles as they open up the great man’s songbook. It all happens Monday at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

— Wallace Baine


A promotional flyer for the West Cliff Holiday Outdoor Market

West Cliff Holiday Outdoor Market: Avoid indoor shopping crowds and opt outdoors for this local-centric event where one can find great food, arts and crafts, and other goods made by local artisans. Running Friday and Saturday, the outdoor market is a great blend of supporting local business, finding unique gifts and spending time by the ocean.

— Max Chun


A promotional flyer for the Boardwalk Open Air Market

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Open Air Market: Begin or continue the hunt for holiday presents at the Boardwalk’s Open Air Market this Saturday. As usual, the market will feature goods, food, and art from local artisans including Golden PetLife, KayBeast Wood Crafts and Olivia’s Crochet Creation 831, specializing in a variety of crafts. Bring the whole family and check out the rides, arcade and Neptune’s Kingdom while you’re there.

Family Farm Walk: Head to Farm Discovery with the whole family this Saturday to explore the farm grounds and interact with the wildlife. The farm features paths and hills to walk and hike along, livestock such as goats, cows and pigs, and, of course, a picnic area with a view of the surrounding natural beauty. Dress warmly, pack a lunch, and spend an afternoon outside.

— Max Chun and Haneen Zain

Presented by Sempervirens Fund

Sempervirens Fund has been working to ensure that everyone can “opt outside” since they began protecting redwoods in...


A still photo from the movie "Elf"
(Via Warner Home Video)

Drive-In Movies Under the Stars: “Elf”: For the next month, Roaring Camp Railroads will be screening holiday-themed movies for the whole family. This weekend, there will be two screenings of the Christmas classic “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell. Dress warmly, bring snacks or buy some there, and tune in to the designated radio station for the audio.

— Max Chun


A flyer for the Run the Pie 5K

Run for Pie: A slice of pumpkin pie waits for participants at the finish line of the 5K Run for Pie and half-mile Turkey Chase for kids at Skypark in Scotts Valley. The event will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.

Holiday Lights Drive-Thru: Lighted tunnels, giant Christmas trees and fair food await at the Holiday Lights Drive-Thru at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. Open 5:30-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday in November and Thursday through Sunday from Dec. 1-26.

— Haneen Zain


Santa Cruz writer Claire Oshetsky and her novel "Chouette"

Claire Oshetsky: Santa Cruz novelist Claire Oshetsky takes on the psychic dimensions of motherhood in her new novel, “Chouette,” a fantastical and surrealistic tale of a woman who must face the demands of motherhood after giving birth to a daughter who appears to be an owl. In this virtual event starting at 6 p.m., presented by Bookshop Santa Cruz, Oshetsky will discuss her fable-like debut novel with writer Rachel Yoder.

Ann Patchett: Beloved novelist Ann Patchett, the author of the unforgettable “Bel Canto,” will be part of a virtual event presented by Bookshop Santa Cruz to mark the release of her new book of essays, titled “These Precious Days,” in which she addresses with humanity and warmth a wide range of topics from childlessness, to the joys of owning a bookstore, to the drama of her own life story growing up in Los Angeles. Just as notable is her interlocutor for this Dec. 2 online event, the luminous actor Laura Dern. Tickets are $31, which gets you the event and a copy of the book. Bonus: The event will be on Ann Patchett’s birthday. Provide your own birthday cake.

— Wallace Baine


A promotional flyer for the Nov. 28 Mic Drop event at Greater Purpose Brewing

Mic Drop at Greater Purpose Brewing: Greater Purpose Brewing hosts Mic Drop, an open mic event welcoming singers, poets, instrumentalists or any other performers to the stage. Following the open mic, Santa Cruz rapper Persian Butter will take the stage.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Comedy Night: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing brings in comedians from the Bay Area and beyond for shows every week. Regulars from The Punch Line San Francisco, Cobb’s Comedy Club, Rooster T. Feathers bring the laughs to the Westside.

— Haneen Zain


A serving of fish and chips from food truck Scrumptious Fish and Chips
(Via Instagram)

Scrumptious Fish and Chips at Greater Purpose: Known for some of the best fish and chips in Santa Cruz, Scrumptious Fish and Chips brings freshly beer-battered fish, lemon and caper tartar sauce, warm curry ketchup and double-fried chips to Greater Purpose Brewing — just in time for anyone who might be getting a little tired of turkey.

— Haneen Zain


Sign up for our weekly Best Bets newsletter, sent every Thursday afternoon.

You can also get our weekly Best Bets text alert by signing up here or texting the word BOLO to (831) 387-7662.

Send arts, entertainment and culture events you think should be listed (for free) to us at bolo@lookoutlocal.com.

If you’re planning or producing your own event, click on the Promote Your Event button on the calendar.

Questions, comments, concerns? Email bolo@lookoutlocal.com.