Weekender: ‘Grease’ is the word, John Prine’s generosity & decolonizing the surf
Congratulations to teachers, students and all others who get to enjoy the first of the lazy days of summer — if indeed such a thing still exists in this stressed, overscheduled world of ours. May all get to enjoy at least a few days of novels, naps, and no phone calls.
Now, on with the show:
This Just In!
In new bookings this week, the popular Bay Area R&B band the California Honeydrops drops in at Felton Music Hall for back-to-back shows July 22 and 23. Folk singer-songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy is at the Kuumbwa on Sept. 16; longtime Mother Hips guitarist Greg Loiacono plays Aug. 19 at Michael’s on Main. And the tribute acts are coming on strong, with touring tribute bands coming to town celebrating the music of the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Pogues.
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.
Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:
- The long, agonizing wait for big, splashy, live musical theater is over. After two years in a straitjacket, Cabrillo Stage is back, baby, and “Grease” is the word.
- With pandemic problems in the past, Pleasure Point peeps are positively prepared to party on Portola. Plan accordingly.
- For those who like low-key, wry humor from a veteran stand-up comic who knows her way around a hot mic, may we introduce you to Carmen Lynch?
- One of Mexico’s finest alternative-pop artists performs live in one of Santa Cruz’s most breathtaking venues.
- The spiritual home to the classic surf wagon known as “the Woody” is the Santa Cruz Wharf on the last weekend of June. It’s Woodies on the Wharf, y’all.
- An accomplished Santa Cruz novelist examines the gun’s power to destroy lives in her latest book, ominously titled “One Gun.”
- Long before reality TV was “Candid Camera.” The son of that landmark show’s creator comes to town to screen a new film about his father and what he wrought.
- Call it 2000s nostalgia, but the ingenious improv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is still popular, and, amazingly enough, still touring.
- We’re a long way from the South, but the band known as Southern Culture on the Skids has found a home-away-from-home in Santa Cruz for years. And now SCOTS is back.
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
Santa Cruz is the kind of place where you’ll see a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that says only “Prine” (as I did last week). That’s a reference, of course, to the late, great singer-songwriter John Prine. Earlier this week, his son Tommy Prine performed live at Michael’s on Main in Soquel, which reminded us of an anecdote about the elder Prine. Snazzy Productions and its impresario, “Sleepy John” Sandidge, presented a show a few years ago that was a fundraiser for local musician William Strickland, who had suffered losses in a house fire. The benefit show featured local musicians doing John Prine songs. After the show, Sandidge received a call from Prine himself, who offered to match dollar for dollar the money the show raised for Strickland. The take was about $5,000, which Prine promptly doubled. “And the check got here immediately,” remembered Sandidge. Prine died in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. But it’s heartening to hear evidence that he was as kind and generous in real life as his kindly-uncle image on stage. ...
Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) in Watsonville is honoring one of its own with a new art show featuring new work from more than 100 local artists. Diane Porter Cooley, one of the Pajaro Valley’s most prominent citizens and one of Santa Cruz County’s most ambitious conservationists, died in March at the age of 93. She was also a founding board member at PVA, and the gallery at 37 Sudden St. in Watsonville has now named a room for Cooley to present work in the landscape/plein-air tradition. The “Local Visions” show is now on display at the PV Gallery, and this Sunday, the artists of the show will gather for an opening reception at the gallery, from 2 to 4 p.m. It’s not only a great show, but a wonderful gathering of the county’s creatives. Nearby, check out the “Sculpture Is” art show at Sierra Azul on Highway 152 out near the fairgrounds. It’s all free. …
The Santa Cruz-based organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) will be playing a prominent role in the upcoming Netflix series “How to Change Your Mind.” Based on Michael Pollan’s bestselling book, the series, hosted by Pollan himself, dives headlong into the latest science and research on psychedelic drugs like LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and others as mental-health therapies. MAPS has been a crucial player in that research, particularly in the effects of MDMA in treating addiction and PTSD. One episode of the series is dedicated to MDMA research and the role of MAPS in pushing the science forward, featuring the founder and executive director of MAPS, Rick Doblin. “How to Change Your Mind” drops July 12 on Netflix. ...
KSQD (90.7 FM) is about to get a big boost to its signal, to cover more of the region from its headquarters in Santa Cruz. The station has struck a deal to expand its coverage by moving into two more FM frequencies from transmitters in Prunedale and Carmel Valley, giving K-Squid a reach across much more of southern Santa Cruz County and a good chunk of northern Monterey and San Benito counties. The station is only beginning its fundraising to make the big expansion happen. If you’d like to be part of pushing the ball forward at KSQD, it could always use your help …
UC Santa Cruz artist and teacher Dave Crellin is embarking on an ambitious project of raising awareness about diversity and representation issues in surfing culture, in Santa Cruz and beyond. The project, called “Decolonize the Surf,” is essentially an educational effort, featuring a number of videos on California’s surfing history and the role racism and sexism have played in the history of that subculture. The project goes after some of surfing’s sacred cows, like 1960s-era surfer Miki Dora, and gives contemporary surfers of color a platform to talk about their experiences. To get a sense of the “Decolonize” project, check out this video. ...
Another reminder: The deadline for submitting a new 10-minute play for the 2023 season of the “8 Tens @ 8” play festival is coming on fast. You can send up to three 10-page plays for submissions, but act fast. The deadline is June 30. Check out the rules and guidelines for submitting, and get to work!
Earworm of the Week
This much we know: Magnetic Fields, the arch and ironic musical project from curmudgeonly singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt, will never win any kind of Most Popular Band in Santa Cruz poll. In 2017, Magnetic Fields released “50 Song Memoir,” a concept album in which Merritt wrote and recorded one song for each year in his life. Sometime in the 2000s, the native New Yorker moved to Southern California, where he developed a rather curious attitude about surfing. Perhaps, as a kind of bizarre contrarian response to the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA,” Merritt recorded “08: Surfin’.” In his trademark flat baritone, Merritt sings, “How moronic is surfing? It’s the dumbest of sports.” Though there is one point in the song that many local surfers, especially old-timers, might get behind: “Surfin’ was transgressive and cool, but now the oceans are full.”
Where in Santa Cruz County Am I?
So how well do you notice the little things when you’re out and about across Santa Cruz County? We’ll post images from places that are accessible to the public somewhere in Santa Cruz County. You tell us where it is, as specifically as you can … or, better yet, send us your own photo of the same thing.
Nope, the above image did not come from my nightmares (though it has visited my dreams a few times), but instead is a popular icon somewhere in Santa Cruz County? Have you seen it?
Last week’s answer: Where have you seen the bizarre creature above — is it a frog in a top hat and tails? — in Santa Cruz County? Several readers recognized the “Howdy Folks” sign at the end of Squid Row (at Chestnut Street) in Santa Cruz. This weird old sign has been standing sentry over the Enterprise Iron Works building for many years. The next time you visit 11th Hour Coffee or Actors’ Theatre in the Santa Cruz Arts Center building, stop and say “Howdy.”
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.