Weekender: A flourish of festivals, another helping of Joze and bearish on trivia
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They say you have your whole life to write that first novel, but just a few months for the second one, and it had better be just as good, if not better. That first album can catch people by surprise, but the second one is always living up to expectations.
Welcome to the second edition of my weekly newsletter, Weekender. Let’s make it a habit, you and I. The plates are really beginning to spin in Santa Cruz County coming out of the pandemic, and it’s a chore keeping up with it. Let me do the work, and I’ll report back to you what I find.
Now, on with the show:
This just in!
Each week, we’ll keep you up to date in the hottest of newly booked dates and events in and around Santa Cruz County:
California Roots, known familiarly as “Cali Roots,” is the Monterey Bay’s ginormous musical festival and it’s set to go for four days in Monterey. On Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29, Cali Roots will welcome close to 50 acts to its stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. The marquee names include Ice Cube, Stephen Marley, Collie Buddz, Brother Ali, Sublime With Rome and tons more. Tickets are on sale now. Don’t sweat. You still have six weeks or so to get your funds together.
In the very same venue, a few months later, the Monterey Jazz Festival will kick off its 65th anniversary season (MJF can get Social Security now!) Sept. 23-25 with an absurdly diverse and star-studded roster of musicians including Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ravi Coltrane, Gregory Porter and about 10,000 others (that’s a rough estimate). Tickets on sale for that one, too.
Closer to home, the Quarry Amphitheater on the campus of UC Santa Cruz is gearing up for a new era of presenting shows in its breathtaking outdoor environment. The venue this week announced the first dates in its 2022 summer concert series, which will include vocalist Carla Morrison on June 24 and electronica band Sound Tribe Sector 9 on Aug. 12-13.
Other newly booked shows include a notable concert from one of the world’s most prominent Ukrainian folk groups. The quartet DakhaBrakha has a date set at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for Oct. 3; who can imagine what the Russian war against Ukraine will look like by then.
Also look for the popular Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco at the Rio on Aug. 23 and 1960s veteran Barry “The Fish” Melton at Michael’s on Main on July 15. And a special favorite, Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s annual preview at Bookshop Santa Cruz, with actors and directors sharing their thoughts on the upcoming season. That happens May 31.
Map out your summer and beyond with our ever-expanding Down the Line list of upcoming events. With more than 150 selected events stretching out over the next six months, it’s the most comprehensive planning guide of notable local shows you’ll find anywhere.
In case you’re tuning in late, the following are my choices for the most intriguing shows, concerts, events and dates on the upcoming calendar in Santa Cruz County. Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:
- If you’ve got the tiniest shred of Carl Sagan in your soul, you need to find a way to get to UCSC’s Quarry on Saturday night. Thank me later.
- “I like my men like I like my whiskey,” she sings with swoony soulfulness, “aged and mellow.” That’s who I want to spend my 4/20 with.
- Maybe the greatest “food artist” (yes, that’s a thing) in Santa Cruz’s history spells his name funny, and now someone’s made a film about his amazing legacy.
- When they make a documentary about your stand-up comedy career and call it “The Bitter Buddha,” you got my attention.
- Scanning the horizon for America’s next pop star? Write down this name: First name, Omar. Last name, Apollo.
- Performance art in the graveyard? Wait, who moved Halloween to April?
- Theater in Santa Cruz doesn’t have to be imported. Sometimes, local actors perform a play from a local playwright at a local theater. It’s a beautiful thing.
- We are all diminished when we grow older, except for blues guitarists. When they’re on the cusp of turning 80, heck, they’re just getting started.
- Anyone who finds magic in a visit to Natural Bridges during monarch season will soon have a new title on their must-read list for 2022.
➤ Want more B9 Picks? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Lucille Tepperman — here
The Three-Dot Gazette
The El Vaquero Winery out on Freedom Boulevard (right at the turn going to Corralitos) has become quite the hot spot for buzzy activity. Weekends, there’s often live music (Friday hosts Deadhead hero Matt Hartle), but I think of El Vaquero as the place where Michael Gaither lives (not literally, but artistically). My friend and longtime KPIG staple performs his songs often at the winery. But he’s also there every Thursday, hosting El Vaquero’s weekly trivia night. There’s pizza, wine (of course!), and a fun brain workout. Check it out …
That big, ambitious art show that spilled over into three galleries throughout the month of March has come to an end, but not entirely. This weekend — that’s Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — Curated By the Sea on Front Street, one of the three participating galleries, is hosting the award-winning pieces from the “This Is Now” show, which featured more than 400 pieces of art from local artists at Curated, the R. Blitzer Gallery, and Radius. The 14 award-winning pieces will be on display, and for sale, half of the proceeds of which will go to Ukrainian war relief …
While we’re at Curated, coming up next at the downtown gallery is a big show we’re keeping an eye on. It’s called “Street Smarts” and it features the work of the Made Fresh Crew, the Santa Cruz-based collective of artists responsible for many of those eye-popping murals around town, led by the rock star muralist Taylor Reinhold (son of newly named Artist of the Year Ann Morhauser). It all starts April 21 …
We’re coming up on Alumni Week up on the campus of UC Santa Cruz. It starts with a virtual event, a trivia night for Slugs everywhere. (Are “banana slugs” called that because of their color, their size, or their smell? OK, too easy.) That gets the fun part of the way. What follows will be the three-day “Confronting Climate Change”conference, with talks from experts in various fields, an introduction to the MAH’s latest project, “Strange Weather,” and a climate action market at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. All events are free …
Santa Cruz singer-songwriter Lindsey Wall will later this month be reemerging into her new creative identity, Dead Nettle. On Saturday, April 30, she’ll perform at Felton Music Hall with music from her soon-to-be-released debut album, showcasing Dead Nettle’s distinctive folk-rock vibe. A star is born? …
Good news for those who missed the screening of “Foodie for the People,” the terrific, locally produced documentary about India Joze guru Jozseph Schultz, when it first showed at the Del Mar last fall. “Foodie” is set to return to the Del Mar on April 21. Don’t miss it this time!
Earworm of the Week
Santa Cruz County has spawned a remarkable generation of musicians and songwriters now in their young adulthood who are making their marks on the music industry. One rising star among them is Taylor Rae, an Austin-based singer-songwriter who grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley. Last fall, she released her first album, titled “Mad Twenties,” and the sweetly wistful tune “Fixer Upper” is one of its best. As befitting its title, the video finds her singing the song wandering through a musty and decrepit old house, which must be in Texas. In Santa Cruz, it’d be listed on Zillow for $2.5 million.
Trivia: Bear with me
If you live in California, you see him everywhere, peeking out from tourist-shop T-shirts one day, peering over the shoulder of the governor the next. He’s the lumbering grizzly bear on the prowl on California’s official state flag. The grizzly on the bear flag is about as familiar as California iconography gets. But though his image is recognizable, his name? … Well, not so much. What is the bear flag bear’s name? (Hint: The bear’s name will bring to mind another entirely different kind of creature that has a particular link to Santa Cruz.)
If you know this one, shoot me a text with your answer. Then, text me the word TRIVIA to see if you’re right. We’ll choose a random reader with the correct answer to receive a free T-shirt.
That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.