Weekender: First Friday, a strawberry blast and mourning Vin Scully
So, this weekend brings us the August version of the great First Friday art tour, as well as live Shakespeare outdoors at DeLaveaga, a live Bernstein musical in Aptos, a glorious food festival in Watsonville, a free family movie on Main Beach, and the culminating weekend for the world-famous Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. If you’re not doing any of those things, could you please share with the rest of us what could possibly be more compelling than engaging with Santa Cruz’s high season for performance and fun? Because we’d really like to know.
Now, on with the show:
This Just In!
Fans of the luminous 1984 coming-of-age novel “The House on Mango Street,” take heed: The book’s author, the celebrated writer Sandra Cisneros, will be visiting UCSC on Sept. 20 in an event presented by Bookshop Santa Cruz. Also, look for the great singer-songwriter John Doe coming to Moe’s Alley with a new folk group on Oct. 14, the exuberant and spirited reggae artist Matisyahu at the Catalyst on Oct. 2, and the promising young performing artist Aldous Harding at the Rio on Sept. 28.
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:
- One jazz giant pays due respect to another jazz giant in a dazzling show brimming with collaborators in the intimate setting of Kuumbwa. Wow!
- The Cabrillo Festival closes its 60th season with a moving testament marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps after World War II.
- If you love strawberries, you don’t need the reminder. But if you kinda like ’em, be prepared to fall in love at the Watsonville Strawberry Festival.
- The worldwide attention turned toward Ukraine has come at a terrible price. Let’s show our support with a deep dive into a noble culture at the first-ever Santa Cruz Ukrainian Festival.
- Local plays are wonderful. Local playwrights? That’s really worth celebrating. Check out the latest from Santa Cruz’s Kate Hawley at Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s latest staged reading.
- If there’s a longer-performing group than the Kingston Trio still on tour, we’d sure like to know who they are.
- Want to read a story that migrates from Mussolini’s Italy to 1940s Hollywood? Anthony Marra’s got something special for you.
- We all love two-fers, and for fans of female jazz/pop vocals, Lori Rivera and Jennifer Taylor Daniels are offering up the ultimate two-fer.
- Put John Jorgenson and a guitar in the same room, and it’s just astonishing what will come out.
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
My Two Cents
The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music kicked off its 60th anniversary season last weekend, and the climactic performance of Friday’s night concert was something I’ll be chewing on for some time to come.
It’s called “The End of Rain,” and it comes from the mind and the heart of Santa Cruz-born composer Scott Ordway. The Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Cristi Macelaru, was joined by the eight-voice choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth in the world premiere of “The End of Rain.” The result was not only haunting, but at times heartbreaking.
The piece is a majestic three-part symphony that drew its lyrical content directly from accounts of those who lost their homes in the 2020 CZU fire. Those words alone carry a distinct weight, especially in Santa Cruz County where it’s coming out of the mouths of friends and neighbors. But Ordway’s music and Roomful’s spine-tingling interpretations brought those thoughts to the level of high art.
Ordway was on hand to introduce the piece. An accomplished composer who has made his home in Philadelphia for years, Ordway might have created his life in Pennsylvania, but his psychic home is still clearly Northern California. Accompanying the music was a compelling series of video imagery, also “composed,” if that’s the right word for it, by Ordway. In both the music and the entrancing filmed footage, Ordway didn’t go for any kind of journalistic account of the CZU fires. Instead, he opted for a kind of profile of spiritual anguish, expressed both in compassion for those who suffered catastrophic losses and in grief on behalf of a beloved landscape. He has created a convincing portrayal of what it’s like to live in Northern California, maybe not so much what it’s like in the eyes and ears, but certainly what it feels like in the soul.
My campaign to rename the Pajaro Valley “Strawberry Fields Forever” is bound to run afoul of the trademark attorneys (apparently, there’s some song with a similar title). But the noble strawberry will nevertheless get some deserved attention this weekend. The Watsonville Strawberry Festival lands Friday afternoon and lingers into late Sunday. Games, carnival rides, music, food, vendors, and more strawberries as far as the eye can see, all of it will dominate downtown Watsonville this weekend. See you there …
In the midst of their summer season, the folks at Santa Cruz Shakespeare are taking a moment to remember and celebrate the company’s founder and creative visionary, Audrey Stanley. Friends and fans will gather at the Grove (named after Audrey) at DeLaveaga Park on Friday afternoon, Aug. 19. The program begins at 2 p.m. Audrey died in May at the age of 94. The event is free, but RSVPs are required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know you’ll be there …
An awful anniversary is upon us. It’s been two years now since the catastrophic and heartbreaking CZU fires torched an enormous section of Santa Cruz County. The downtown Felix Kulpa Gallery will mark the occasion with a new show called “Together We Rise: Artists and Responders to the CZU Fire,” featuring artists touched by the fire, namely metal sculpture artist Mary Tartaro, photographer Devi Pride, painter Jennifer Cordery, artist Liz Payne, painter Jane Wrankle and ceramicist Sam Clarkson. Check out the reception to be held Friday as part of the First Friday celebration, which will be followed by a screening of Peter Gelblum’s film “The CZU Fire In Their Own Words.” The show runs at the newly reopened Kulpa through Sept. 30 …
The Santa Cruz Symphony is barreling ahead into a new season. The symphony recently announced its 2022-23 season, featuring five concerts (plus a pop concert next June). Highlights include a collaboration with the wonderful local folklorico troupe Esperanza Del Valle for the symphony’s season debut on Sept. 17 and 18 (in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, respectively), Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” in February, and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony in April. Next summer’s pops concert features great movie hits …
Auditions are scheduled for a new production of “Romeo y Julieta” at Cabrillo College. The auditions are Aug. 30 and 31 from 7 to 9 p.m., with callbacks Sept. 1 and 2. Open, inclusive casting. Bring a 90-second monologue …
Earworm of the Week
For those who don’t know baseball and who might be puzzled at all the love aimed at the recently deceased Vin Scully, it’s key to understand that Vin was not just the finest baseball announcer who ever lived, he was his own category. He just did the job differently than anyone else. He had no imitators, because no one would dare attempt it. To fans lucky enough to live in Southern California at pretty much any time during the past 60 years, Vin’s sense of storytelling was magical. One of those was singer-songwriter Dan Bern, who clearly gets the appeal of the only baseball announcer who deserved the title “artist.” I’m making this song part of my mourning of an icon. If you love baseball, I’m sure you will, too.
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.
Above is a symbol you might see when there are not a lot of other human-made images around. What is this and where will you find it?
Last week’s answer: Surely you recognize this guy above. You’re probably carrying around a few pictures of him in your wallet. It’s a bust of our first president, George Washington, which lived for 20 years in the Watsonville Plaza. George is now hanging out on the second floor of the Watsonville Public Library.
The statue was relocated in the summer of 2021 after the Watsonville City Council voted that it should be removed from the plaza in response to activists’ contention that Washington, as a slave owner, should not be memorialized in such a prominent place. Old George is out of the elements now, though he must miss watching all the cars go by.
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.