Wallace Baine

Weekender: Celebrate Esperanza’s 40th, remembering Audrey as Shakespeare robustly returns and a packed B9 to peruse

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Raise your hand if you took a blurry, indistinct, way-too-far-away photo of the blood moon earlier this week with your cell phone. We all did it. I don’t know why we can’t just enjoy it and leave the photography to the astronomers on this one.

Much going on this weekend, and to get a lay of the land, be sure to check out my curated list of the best things going in the week ahead. We call it Baine’s Nine, or the B9 for short, and, frankly, some weeks it could be the B19.

Now, on with the show:

This Just In!

What do Muhammad Ali, Meryl Streep, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Bob Dylan have in common? In their respective fields, they are the G.O.A.T. (the Greatest of All Time). Only one of them, however, is headed to Santa Cruz next month. The great Bob Dylan — Nobel laureate, the most influential singer/songwriter of his (or any) era — is set to perform live at the Santa Cruz Civic on Thursday, June 23. Pre-sale tickets went on sale Thursday morning with a promo code (“rowdy”) and will be available to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. I’m among those who throw that word “legend” around perhaps a little too recklessly. But this man is a stone-cold legend. Who’s going to deny it?

Also, coming up at the Civic will be a big show from Santa Cruz native and electronica rising star Oliver Tree, a true pop-music eccentric and online-culture icon. Oliver comes home for a show Oct. 1.

Other notable newly announced dates includes 1990s hitmakers Third Eye Blind, playing the Catalyst on June 19, roots rocker Paul Thorn at the Rio on Aug. 19, the great ska band the English Beat at Felton Music Hall of June 4, and the smokin’-hot L.A. punk/indie band the Illuminati Hotties (whose most popular song has the, uh, unique title “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA”) at the Catalyst on Nov. 11.

Check out my carefully curated and constantly updated planning guide Down the Line for the staggering riches and amazing choices awaiting Santa Cruz audiences. It’s our look ahead at the best shows, concerts and events through the rest of the year at clubs, stages and venues all over the county.

The logo for Baine's Nine


Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:

  1. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ogres, all the creatures of our imaginations that are half human and half something else, they all get a rigorous and probably very entertaining reappraisal and appreciation at UCSC’s Festival of Monsters.
  2. Older than Dylan and more alive than Woody, he’s a walkin’, talkin’, ramblin’ treasure trove of stories and folk music history.
  3. The symphony’s getting ready to knock some socks off with the rich and dramatic vocal masterpiece “Carmina Burana.”
  4. Robyn Hitchcock was never really a star, but he was certainly a very interesting planet with a bizarre orbit.
  5. If there were only a place we could go to hear fascinating stories about Santa Cruz’s role in the free love/psychedelics era … oh, wait. There is!
  6. It’s the first of its kind, a festival to honor and celebrate the cultural contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders everywhere.
  7. What New York jazz great has recorded not one, but two live albums from the stage of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center? This guy.
  8. The Tandy Beal stable of artists features some of the finest performers in the area, and now, they’re playing live, for free, and at a city park near you.
  9. He’s not yet even 20 years old, but Anthony Arya has somehow managed to record three albums. His latest is the subject of a big show on Saturday.

WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Lucille Tepperman — here


Three-Dot Gazette

One of the Santa Cruz art community’s true sweet souls has passed away. British-born director and actor Audrey Stanley died last Sunday at the age of 94.

The company we now know today as Santa Cruz Shakespeare began life as Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and Audrey was the mother of both. The Glen on the campus of UC Santa Cruz where the first incarnation of the company performed for more than 30 years was named after Audrey. And the Grove at DeLaveaga where the current incarnation performs is named for her, too. That’s only fitting given that it was Audrey who conceived and built Shakespeare Santa Cruz way back in 1982 and was its first artistic director in those early years.

I first met Audrey not when she was artistic director, but when she was an actor. In 1991, she took on the role of Puck in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” and she delighted in the role, flying across the stage in the Glen by means of ropes and pulleys, though she was already in her 60s by that point. Through all the machinations and high drama of Shakespeare Santa Cruz — the university shut down the company in 2013, and it found second life shortly after, but had to change its name (or at least the syntax of its name) — Audrey was a cheery stalwart of the art that the company continued to produce. She was the company’s mascot, its muse, its guardian angel.

And, unlike so many others attached to SSC/SCS over the years, she was also often present at other arts events in town, hoping to lend her support to Santa Cruz’s artistic culture generally. I can say, for more than 30 years, every conversation I had with Audrey was like a little package of candy. I’ll miss her droll wit, and her bright smile. Our sympathies go out to the big Santa Cruz Shakespeare family that loved her so …

Audrey Stanley would surely want the show to go on, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare is going to see to it. The company now has tickets on sale for its big summer season, set to begin July 10. This year, SCS is featuring two Shakespeare plays — “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest” — and one from Santa Cruz’s own Kathryn Chetkovich, “The Formula,” a contemporary play that owes a lot to Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It’s going to be a big comeback season up at DeLaveaga …

Congratulations to Esperanza Del Valle, one of the finest arts organizations in all of Santa Cruz County, for reaching its 40th anniversary. The folklorico dance troupe has entertained and engaged generations of people through traditional Mexican folklorico dance from a number of regions around Mexico. Esperanza is marking its 40th birthday with a big celebration June 18-19 at the Mello Center in Watsonville. If you love the beauty and spirit of Mexican folk dancing, don’t miss it …

If you find yourself bored on a Sunday afternoon, The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz is kicking up some dust with its weekly Bluegrass Jam in its roomy outdoor patio space, one of the sweetest hangout environments in town, made even cooler with a little high-lonesome banjo picking. It’s a free thing: Sundays 4 to 7 p.m. through October …


Golden State Diaries

Two years and change after the COVID-19 shutdown, the virus is still denying us one of the great, quintessential California experiences: the baths at Esalen in Big Sur. Before the pandemic, the breathtaking hot-springs baths, daringly situated on the cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean, were open to the public by reservation every night from 1 to 3 a.m. (yes, you read that right). Several years ago, I roused myself from my comfortable couch at home to make the drive past midnight (with the top down in my convertible, no less) to Big Sur, a drive usually clogged with traffic. Everything about the experience was surreal in a peak-California kind of way, from having America’s most beautiful road to myself, to sitting silently with a handful of naked strangers gazing out at a moonlit ocean scene that was so beautiful, it bordered on the absurd. Sometimes, I’m convinced it was all a dream. The baths have been closed to the public since the pandemic and remain closed today. Let’s pray this amazing little window into West Coast ecstasy comes back one day, and soon. We’re going to keep an eye on the situation for any changes as we get back to normal, and we’ll report it when there’s news.

Earworm of the Week

OK, so maybe with gasoline touching $6 a gallon, now’s probably not the ideal time to extol the mentally beneficial aspects of a quiet Sunday drive on a perfect Santa Cruz day in late spring. But this song from British-born singer-songwriter Yola captures the liberation and serenity of “A Ride Out in the Country.” It’s a mellow country rocker from a woman trying to shake off a dead love affair that evokes the sad cry of the whippoorwills just like Hank Williams once did. It’s a jewel of a song from a fine talent to keep an eye on.


Trivia gets presidential

Which U.S. president died in the closest proximity 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.

Last week’s trivia answer: In 1961, a young Hunter S. Thompson was hired to be the caretaker at a rundown lodge on the grounds of what was then Slates Hot Springs in Big Sur. Thompson, looking for a quiet place to write a novel, lasted only eight months in the position. After an incident in which he shot up the lodge with his .22 pistol, Thompson was evicted. The future Dr. Gonzo published his adventures in Big Sur in the “men’s” magazine Rogue, his first byline. The next year, Slates Hot Springs was converted into the Esalen Institute, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

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.