The Rio will be the scene for some perfect-under-the-redwoods sound Saturday when Santa Cruz troubadour Keith Greeninger shares the stage with the Coffis Brothers, Nina Gerber and some other special surprise guests.
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If you have friends visiting from Oklahoma, or family from Pennsylvania, and you want to give them a big helping of what Northern California is all about, I’m going to suggest a nice robust bottle of cabernet, Mexican seafood, watching the surfers at Steamer Lane, and Saturday night’s concert at The Rio.
Headlining that show is longtime Santa Cruz troubadour Keith Greeninger, who has invited his old friend, the fine guitarist Nina Gerber, to perform with him, as well as Kellen and Jamie Coffis, who play professionally as The Coffis Brothers.
Taken together, this group of musicians represents decades of playing music steeped in a characteristic Northern California vibe, a deeply rooted, authentic folk-rock sound that sounds at home under the redwoods.
“The Coffis Brothers will open up the night with a nice little set of their music,” Greeninger said of the Saturday night show. “Then the main set, I’ll come out and do an acoustic first half of the main set, with a duo with Nina. Then the Coffis Brothers will come back out in the second half and back me up. It’ll be a full night, with a nice blend of acoustic and electric, and there will be a few special guests here and there. I’ll keep those in my back pocket for now.”
Greeninger has been at the center of Santa Cruz’s music culture for more than 30 years and has built a solid audience as a solo recording artist, as part of a duo with fellow singer-songwriter Dayan Kai, and, back in the day, one-third of a wildly popular trio known as City Folk. From his perch at his own Wind River Studios, he has also served as a producer and studio wizard for many local artists.
Sonoma County-born Gerber has been one of the West Coast’s most familiar guitarists ever since her emergence in the 1980s as collaborator with the almost mystically gifted Kate Wolf (kids, ask your parents).
Greeninger, 61, said he’ll use the occasion to debut some new material, inspired and honed during the pandemic.
“It’s really just processing, through music and poetry, what we’ve all been going through,” he said. “Part of being an artist, of course, is walking that line between what’s relevant to your own personal world, and what’s relevant to the people you’re sharing your community with. And a lot of that is about being a guy moving into his 60s and saying goodbye to so many people. If we live long enough, we end up saying goodbye a lot. But also, there’s some of it about just appreciating the good in our world, especially when we’re living in a time when there’s been so much division. It’s just about staying human.”