BOLO Best Bets: Celebrate Black theater and otherwise get your groove on
The African American Theatre Arts Troupe at UC Santa Cruz doesn’t need Black History Month to get attention. This long-running program, the only one of its kind in the UC system, deserves respect the other 11 months of the year, too. But if you’re looking to honor the season and the legacy of Black theater, the next two weekends are offering the opportunity. The AATAT’s latest production, “‘da Kink in My Hair,” comes to campus, along with the play’s writer, Trey Anthony. It’s worth checking out on those nights when you’re not already grooving to jazz artist Makaya McCraven, stand-up comic Kristal Adams, or swank rapper Bryce Vine. So many attractions, so little time.
— Wallace Baine
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.)
“’da Kink in My Hair”: UC Santa Cruz’s longstanding African American Theatre Arts Troupe (AATAT) is presenting two weekends of performances of Trey Anthony’s award-winning play “‘da Kink in My Hair.” The play centers on a Black hairstylist and her salon in Toronto, as well as the women who tell their stories while having their hair done. The play, directed by AATAT founder and artistic director Don Williams, will be presented at the Mainstage Theater at UCSC on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Feb. 27. In the middle of the run, on Thursday, Feb. 24, playwright Anthony will be on hand to lead a workshop with UCSC students, and on Saturday, Feb. 26, she’ll be present at a post-show Q&A. All at the Mainstage on campus.
“The Weir”: Jewel Theatre in Santa Cruz jumps headlong into 2022 with its latest production, presenting Conor McPherson’s “The Weir,” which won the Laurence Olivier Award for best new play following its 1997 debut. The play is set in a small pub in rural Ireland, where three men attempt to impress a young woman who has just moved to the area from Dublin with scary stories. When the woman tells her story, however, the exercise moves into the realm of the personal and the poignant. Directed by local theater pro Susan Myer Silton, “The Weir” runs through Sunday at the Colligan Theater at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz. 7:30 p.m. on Thursday; 8 p.m. on Friday; two shows Saturday, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and 2 p.m. on closing day Sunday.
— Wallace Baine
Nicki Bluhm & The Band of Heathens: Bay Area-born singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm is known for her various collaborations, from her band the Gramblers to her husband, Tim Bluhm of the Mother Hips. Now she’s jamming with the popular Austin quartet Band of Heathens, a partnership that began with a series of livestream shows at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then Bluhm and BOH have been performing and recording together, most notably a spirited roadhouse cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.” They bring their whole show to Felton Music Hall on Thursday.
Leftover Salmon: The genre known as “jamgrass” wasn’t even a thing before bands like Leftover Salmon came along. The Colorado band brought bluegrass instrumentation and aesthetics to the wide-open jam-band sound popularized by Phish and Blues Traveler. First forming in Boulder more than 30 years ago, Leftover Salmon rose to rock-star status in the late ’90s. After a hiatus, the band is back together and touring again, this time visiting Santa Cruz — as they have many times in the past — at Felton Music Hall. Opening is Kitchen Dwellers.
The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz: Everything about the great Reverend Billy C. Wirtz is big–big guy, big mullet, big voice, big-time piano skills, big entertainment value. Call him a hybrid between a compelling blues piano act and a committed character comedian. The self-described “Hillbilly Love God” has performed in Santa Cruz 10,000 times (that’s an estimate), and returns for a night at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for a night of preachin’ (the Rev. can be a veritable Niagara of verbosity, when he has a mind to) and blues-ing. His ministry the First House of Polyester Worship convenes Saturday night, at the Kuumbwa. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Locomotive Breath: In case the name sounds familiar but you just can’t place it, “Locomotive Breath” was an absolutely badass Jethro Tull prog-rock classic from 1971. It makes a lot of sense that this charismatic Santa Cruz band would adopt such a name. The band is not, however, a Tull tribute band. It happens to put its arms around seven great bands from that period, including Tull, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Pink Floyd, the Stones, the Doors and Cream. If that’s a pretty good summary of your record collection, you owe it to yourself to check out Locomotive Breath, playing live at Michael’s on Main in Soquel on Saturday night.
Bryce Vine: Los Angeles rapper and singer Bryce Vine scored a big hit back in 2019 with “Drew Barrymore,” and has charted with what might be the most pertinent song having to do with living in L.A., “La La Land.” Vine likes to color between the lines of hip-hop, indie rock and power pop. He comes to the Catalyst in Santa Cruz on Sunday on the heels of the release of his newest song, the pandemic-defiant “Empty Bottles.” Opening is Gianna & Kyle and Stay Over. It all gets started at 8 p.m.
THURSDAY, FEB. 24
Makaya McCraven: There’s simply no easy way to neatly sum up the sound and creative interests of drummer and bandleader Makaya McCraven. His rhythmic sense certainly suggests he’s most comfortable swimming in the aquarium of post-bop jazz. But he’s a master of textures and moods that often take the form of sonic collages. McCraven is also a brilliant recontextualizer of other people’s work, most notably on a reimagining of the late Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here,” released in 2020. McCraven plays Moe’s Alley in the wake of his most recent album, “Deciphering the Message,” in which he remixes a collection of the best from the Blue Note label’s vaults. Check out a uniquely visionary artist Thursday, Feb. 24.
— Wallace Baine
“Iconic California”: Downtown gallery Curated By the Sea presents a new show in collaboration with the Bay Area and Monterey Bay chapters of the California Art Club, with more than 50 pieces devoted to the iconic images of California, from the Golden Gate Bridge to cypress and eucalyptus trees to the peaks of the high Sierra. “Iconic California” runs at Curated through Feb. 26.
“Natural Habitats”: The Cabrillo Gallery was all set to open its latest exhibit, a group show meditating on natural and manmade spaces. That was before the Omicron variant. With the Cabrillo College campus now closed, this new exhibit is online only. Local artists participating in this ambitious project include Andrea Borsuk, Glenn Carter, Myra Eastman, Janet Fine, Sara Friedlander, Anne Green, Lidia Hasenauer, Melissa Kreisa, Stephanie Martin, Ed Penniman and Robynn Smith. The exhibit runs through Feb. 25.
Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship: The legacy of the late Santa Cruz artists and philanthropists Roy and Frances Rydell is a biannual fellowship providing grants to four local visual artists with national reputations. Over the years, the Rydell fund has contributed more than $600,000 to local artists, and the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz is ready to showcase the 2020-21 winners: printmaker and illustrator Ann Altstatt, designer and artist Marc D’Estout, dancer and choreographer Cid Pearlman and photographer and printmaker Edward Ramirez. The Rydell fellows will be the focus of a broad new display at the MAH’s second-floor Solari Gallery. The show runs through March 20.
Take Aways: Art to Go!: Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville is ushering in 2022 in a big way with a new exhibit featuring the work of (this is not a typo) 73 local artists. This gigantic all-star team of Santa Cruz County visual artists are presenting pieces to fit every budget to raise money for PVA in sculpture, photography, glasswork, fiber, encaustic and several other mediums. The show opens this weekend at the PVA gallery, 37 Sudden St. in Watsonville, and the gallery is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A reception is planned for the closing of the show March 6.
“Atmosphere”: Monterey Bay artist Enid Baxter Ryce taps into the familiar winter weather patterns for anyone who lives in Northern California in her new interactive, multimedia exhibit, “Atmosphere,” at the Museum of Art & History in downtown Santa Cruz. Using paintings, photographs, film and even an interactive soundscape sculpture, Ryce brings together collaborators musician Lanier Sammons, historian William Cowan, sculptor Natalie Jenkins and scientist Dan Fernandez to example phenomena such as “atmospheric rivers” and winter fog. (There will be a “fog collector” on hand as well.) The exhibit runs through the winter/early spring months, until May.
— Wallace Baine
KIDS & FAMILY
Mini Fungus Fair: It’s a new twist on fungus at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, the original home of the popular local Fungus Fair, as it hosts a miniature version. Come out to the spot on East Cliff to join other fungi fans and scientists to explore and observe a diverse collection of local mushroom species, and save some room for fungus-forward fare from Areperia 831.
— Max Chun
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Thomas Farm Films Summer Camp 2021 Film Festival: Head to the Rio Theatre this weekend for a unique and vibrant film experience. Based at an organic farm in Aptos, Thomas Farm Films shows children the process of filmmaking from screenwriting to hands-on filming. The program instills creativity, confidence and critical thinking, and now you can watch kid-produced short films made during last summer’s Thomas Farm camp sessions.
— Max Chun
BOOKS & LECTURES
THURSDAY, FEB. 24
Trey Anthony: Playwright and activist Trey Anthony visits UC Santa Cruz during a production of her play “‘da Kink in My Hair,” but she’ll also be leading a workshop based on her book “Black Girl in Love (With Herself),” talking to UCSC students and community members on the subjects of family issues, peer pressure, dealing with failure and more. The event is co-sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz.
— Wallace Baine
Greater Purpose Comedy Night — Kristal Adams: Kristal Adams, recently named “One of 7 Black Female Comics To See Before They Blow Up” by Madame Noire Magazine, headlines Greater Purpose’s weekly comedy showcase. Adams has also been a consulting producer on Netflix’s “The Circle,” and hosts “Black Card Rehab,” a comedy podcast about Black pop culture.
11th Hour Comedy Hour: Hayward-based Aivy Cordova headlines 11th Hour’s Comedy Hour, with a full roster of comedians joining her. She trained in San Francisco and performs at venues throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles. This is going down at the Food Lounge downtown, so grab a beverage from the on-site bar and a bite from Chubbs Chicken to complement the laughs.
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Westside Comedy Night: Logan Guntzelman hails from Los Angeles and will be headlining SCMB’s weekly event. She describes her humor as “mostly dumb but sometimes smart, dirty but not gross.” Recently selected as a New Face at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Guntzelman also counts the New York Comedy Festival and Boston Comedy Fest among her credits.
— Lucille Tepperman
Westside Farmers Market: Whether you want a fresh farm-to-table breakfast, a cup of coffee or just a nice stroll around the local vendors’ booths, the Westside Farmers Market is always a good choice. Enjoy goods produced by local artisans and fresh ingredients for your kitchen. The morning might be brisk, but it’s worth the trip to support local, independent businesses.
Downtown Makers Market: From art to jewelry to candles and beyond, the third Sunday of each month brings local artisans to Pacific Avenue downtown. Vendors this weekend include Ceramics by Jane, Terra and Self and Faerie Goat Mother.
— Max Chun
FOOD & DRINK
Ales for Tails at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing: Meet adoptable dogs and help out the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter the last Thursday evening of each month at SCMB, which donates $1 from each pint to the shelter. Bring your own pooch and take advantage of mobile grooming by Pawsitive Styles.
Snack Attack at Fruition Brewing: To round out San Francisco Beer Week, Fruition is curating a lineup of Snacks, its beloved session sour beer, featuring additions of special, rare and local fruit from farmers market friends. Producer Knowmadic will play sonic snacks for your ears and in-house Hindsight Kitchen is serving up delicious food.
— Will McCahill & Lily Belli
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