Trumpeter Charles Tolliver
Trumpeter Charles Tolliver will lead the UCSC Orchestra and Jazz Choir in a live performance of John Coltrane’s monumental “Africa/Brass” album.
(Via UC Santa Cruz)
City Life

BOLO Best Bets: Warming up to Christmas music, First Friday, Coltrane and holiday lights

Isn’t it just a bit disconcerting to hear live Christmas music in Fourth of July weather? Such is the world we’re living in, where Santa Cruz now has the climate of Palm Springs. Even though there’s no hope of Jack Frost nipping at anybody’s nose, concerts at Holy Cross Church and the Kuumbwa Jazz Center will reignite that warm, fuzzy feeling of the holidays despite the weather. In fact, Kuumbwa celebrates the beginning of Christmas with crooner José James and the end of Hanukkah with a Bob Dylan tribute on consecutive nights. And in between, you could even have a barbecue on the beach. Ain’t life in 2021 grand?

— 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.)


Charles Tolliver with UCSC Orchestra: Significant jazz date up at the university, as trumpeter and bandleader Charles Tolliver comes to lead the UCSC Orchestra and Jazz Choir in a live performance of John Coltrane’s monumental “Africa/Brass” album, on the 60th anniversary of its release. The performance will showcase UCSC’s own jazz master, Karlton Hester, as soloist as well as hornman Charles Hamilton. This red-letter event takes place Saturday evening at 7:30 at the Mainstage Theater on the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Music for the Feast of Christmas: Yes, it seems early, but doesn’t it every year? The Cabrillo College Symphonic Chorus takes up its place at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz for three performances of the grand 1930 hymn of praise “Lauda Per la Natività Del Signore” by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, majestically reenacting the birth of Jesus in a style that varies from neo-romantic to baroque, with a bit of Gregorian chant as well. The performance takes place Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and again Sunday at 4 p.m.

Merry Christmas from José James”: Soulful crooner José James brings his band to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center to showcase his new album of Christmas-themed songs from some old chestnuts (including the one that begins with “Chestnuts roasting …”) to a few deep cuts to put you in the mood for the snowy season, even if it’s 75 degrees and sunny outside. This dinner-and-a-show date begins with dinner at 6 p.m. and live music at 7 p.m.

The Musical Genius of Robert Zimmerman: No, the great Bob Dylan will not be popping into the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for an intimate performance of his finest songs. But for this special tribute show on the last night of Hanukkah, five local musicians will come to the stage to share their favorite Zimmerman (aka Dylan) tunes, including Patti Maxine, Dan Frechette, Derek Fairchild, Matt Hartle and Joshua Lowe. It’s all a benefit for the Jewish renewal organization Chadeish Yameinu. The fun starts Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Bruce Cockburn: In Canada, when you hear the chant “Bruuuuuuuce,” chances are it’s not about Springsteen, but about the Canadian master singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, currently on tour in the States to mark the 50th anniversary of his remarkable recording career (which gives him a few years on The Boss). Cockburn’s 50th-anniversary tour was supposed to happen in 2020, but we all know why it didn’t. Now, marking the 51st anniversary since the release of his self-titled folk classic, Cockburn plays live at the Rio Theatre on Wednesday. Showtime is 8 p.m.

— Wallace Baine


A promotional image for the Dec. 4 Open Studios Makers Market

Open Studios Makers Market: Westside art lovers, take heed. More than 20 local artists will gather for a showcase of woodwork, jewelry, leatherwork, ceramics, prints, and more, all at the Makers Market, 509 Swift St., Suite F, Santa Cruz. It’s all part of the monthly First Friday celebration and takes place 4-8 p.m. Friday.

Veterans Art Showcase: Artists can be veterans, and vice versa. Come check out the artwork of local veterans, all at the Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., downtown Santa Cruz. Snacks provided, as part of First Friday Santa Cruz, from 5-8 p.m. Friday.

PATT Group Show: Printmakers at the Tannery (PATT) will open their latest group show, featuring the work of 13 local fine-art printers at the PATT studio at the Tannery Arts Center. On Friday, PATT members Lynne Simpson and Jane Gregorious will be on hand for a live demo of the fine art of printmaking. The opening event is 5-9 p.m. Friday, and the show runs through Dec. 26.

Winter Art Market: Dozens of local visual artists will come together for a full day of showing their wares to curious would-be gift buyers. Paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, apparel, all styles and mediums, all in one place, at the Tannery Arts Center on River Street in Santa Cruz. It all takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s free.

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 LeJuene, 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


A promotional flyer for the 2021 holiday lights drive-thru at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds

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. Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 26. This Saturday and Sunday, admission to the Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair gets you a holiday lights walk-through, and vice versa.

— Haneen Zain


A handout photo of Rep. Adam Schiff and his book, "Midnight In Washington"

Adam Schiff: Big-time political muscle, at least from the Democratic Party, is on hand at this virtual event as former Monterey Bay congressman and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta interviews sitting Southern California congressman and Trump impeachment manager Adam Schiff about Schiff’s new book, “Midnight in Washington,” about the threats of the Trump years and still-threatening rise of authoritarian right-wing movements at home and abroad. The discussion takes place live online and is free, but you need to register. The Bookshop Santa Cruz-sponsored event begins at 6 p.m.

Jaime Cortez: Writer Jaime Cortez grew up in Watsonville, and his new short story collection, “Gordo,” is set largely in the farm-laborer communities of Watsonville and San Juan Bautista, as a young gay boy learns about sex, manhood, family and Chicano power growing up in the 1970s. He’ll appear to talk about “Gordo” in this live virtual event, sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. The online-only book reading begins at 6 p.m. next Thursday, and it’s free.

— Wallace Baine


A scene from "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. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

— Wallace Baine

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


A promotional flyer for a stand-up comedy event at Abbott Square

Stand-up comedy at Abbott Square: In an event produced by Dope Show, comedians from across the Bay Area featured on late night TV, Comedy Central, SF Sketchfest and more will be performing in Abbott Square — for free, though you’re welcome to make a donation that goes straight to the comedians.

Paco Romane at Greater Purpose Comedy Night: Comedian, actor and improviser Paco Romane is next in the lineup for Greater Purpose Brewing’s weekly comedy night. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History” and Nickelodeon, among others.

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 promotional flyer for the Westside Marketplace, Dec. 5, 2021

The Westside Marketplace: It’s about that time: the final Westside Marketplace of 2021 at the Wrigley, and just in time for the holidays. Come out to this community market for locally made crafts and gifts accompanied by food trucks and live music. Shopping local is as vital as ever, and this is a great place to find the stuff you need and the gifts for your loved ones this Christmas season.

— Max Chun


A promotional flyer for the Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair, Dec. 3-4, 2021

Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair: Get in the holiday spirit at this craft and gift fair at the county fairgrounds in Watsonville, an event that has become “the official start of the holiday season in Pajaro Valley.” And when you’re done shopping, you can check out the holiday lights in the evening.

— Max Chun


An image from the movie "The Polar Express"

Drive-in Movies Under the Stars — “The Polar Express”: Through Dec. 18, Roaring Camp will be screening holiday-themed movies for the whole family. This weekend brings the film adaptation of the beloved children’s Christmas book (and appropriately train-centric) “The Polar Express.” Bring snacks and blankets and snuggle up.

— Max Chun


Oysters and wine at Stockwell Cellars

Oyster and seafood pop-up at Stockwell Cellars: Stockwell Cellars’ monthly oyster and seafood pop-up returns with Bill Oysterman. Enjoy an afternoon of wine, oysters and wild Gulf shrimp scampi at the Westside tasting room.

Scrumptious Fish and Chips at Greater Purpose Brewing: Scrumptious Fish and Chips make its way to Greater Purpose for a night of freshly beer-battered fish, lemon-and-caper tartar sauce, warm curry ketchup and double-fried chips.

— Haneen Zain


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