Weekender: Quarry gets trippy, COVID adjustments and free Shakespeare tickets
So, um, there’s a huge new Halloween store now open on Pacific Avenue. And we’re about three months away from Halloween. Am I the only one annoyed by this? What happens when Santa Claus shows up in board shorts on Labor Day, and Valentine’s Day displays pop up just after Thanksgiving? Is there any way to put a halt to this “holiday creep”?
And, because we’re all such good friends here in the Weekender Lounge, we’re offering freebies to this year’s Santa Cruz Shakespeare season. The first three people to purchase an annual membership with Lookout — and receive all the great journalism we’re producing here every day — will get two tickets each to the Santa Cruz Shakespeare production of their choice; just head to this link and use the promo code SHAKES at checkout. The SCS season ends Aug. 28, so there’s no time to dawdle.
Now, on with the show:
This Just In!
Whoa, are we getting dates into 2023 already? Yes, indeed. The great Bay Area metal band Y&T comes (again) to The Catalyst for a gig Jan. 7 (Happy New Year!). Also at The Cat, brilliant comedian Hari Kondabolu (Dec. 20). A big show at the Rio as the great Southern rock band Little Feat teams up with singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm (Dec. 12), cartoonist/engineer Randall Munroe appears at Hotel Paradox (Sept. 22), and the noted Christian band Rend Collective performs Sept. 25 at the Rio.
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. In honor of one of August’s biggest musical events, this weekend we’re calling it the B (Sector) 9:
- Hey, want to be on an album? You got plenty of shots at it when the Brothers Comatose record three shows on consecutive nights this weekend at Moe’s. Pass it on.
- Looking to fly into inner space on the wings of some trippy live music that defies the laws of time? Sound Tribe Sector 9 is ready for takeoff at UCSC Quarry.
- And if that’s not enough for you, how about the STS9 After Party?
- A mellow Sunday exploring the best Santa Cruz’s winemakers have to offer? Yes, please.
- The fine young Santa Cruz performer Anthony Arya is calling on all his friends to join him on stage at the Rock-a-Palooza at Michael’s on Main.
- It’s all there in the name: The Sin Sisters are a women-run burlesque group engaging in a bit of, uh, carnal transgression on stage.
- Be sure to check out live theater at Santa Cruz Shakespeare before “Twelfth Night” becomes the last night.
- There’s some hard living and deep soul to be found in the remarkable songs of John Moreland. Now we all have a chance to see him in Felton.
- It’s the final free movie at the Boardwalk of the summer (insert crying, wailing, sighs of disappointment here). Good thing it’s the classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
‘The Show Must Go On’ (COVID edition)
The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is done for another year, but festival fans will be remembering the 2022 event for a long time to come. This was the year that COVID came to the festival, and the year the festival emerged triumphant in the face of the virus.
The Cabrillo Festival played to in-person audiences for the first time in three years this summer. But after a thrilling opening weekend, several COVID-positive cases began to emerge within the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra itself. By midweek, in advance of its finale weekend, the festival announced it was pivoting in the wake of the mini-outbreak. The entire woodwinds and brass sections of the orchestra — essentially everything that could be considered a horn — was sent home, despite only a few of them having tested positive (winds and brass constituted almost half of the 70-plus-member orchestra).
Musical director Cristi Măcelaru moved quickly to make some programming changes to minimize the effect of not having woodwinds or brass. The remaining musicians — the orchestra was reduced essentially to strings, percussion, harp and piano — faced the challenge of sight-reading new material just days before performing. Audiences arrived at the Civic knowing that the Festival Orchestra’s musicians were gamely trying to react to a blow that might have sent them reeling. And the audience was pulling for them.
“The audience was blown away,” said the festival’s executive director, Ellen Primack. “And (the musicians) were so proud of themselves, as they should be. There is something about triumphing over adversity and meeting the moment that made the energy in the room phenomenal. It really heightened everything.”
The musicians who tested positive were ultimately fine, and many of the brass and woodwind players stuck around for support. It’s worth mentioning that the woodwinds and brass players were the only musicians who play unmasked (by necessity, of course).
“The saddest part was having our brass and winds not being able to play, especially if they were healthy,” said Primack. “But they were all such troopers.”
‘Candide’ is done
There’s a different story coming out of Cabrillo Stage, which announced that the upcoming final weekend of performances of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” has been canceled amid a COVID outbreak in the cast.
That’s a real shame. I happened to see that production last weekend, and I was impressed by the spirit and professionalism of the show.
“Candide” is, of course, based on the 18th-century French satire by Voltaire. On the face of it, that sounds like a tough show to sell to audiences these days and, certainly, when I saw the play at the Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College, the house was maybe half full.
In fact, the theme of “Candide” is about how the chaos and corruption of the world can, and often does, run roughshod over our carefully thought-out philosophies of how society is supposed to work, and how we cling to those delusions anyway. I would say that’s pretty darn relevant to today.
Cabrillo Stage, generally, is an underrecognized jewel in the Santa Cruz County community, and “Candide” was more proof that the performers and crew of Cabrillo Stage are shooting for the highest standards of professional theater. The presentation was especially eye-popping, and the show’s set designer, Skip Epperson, is consistently one of this county’s most accomplished artists. Cheryl Anderson and her orchestra gave bounce to Bernstein’s score, and many of the singing performances were top-notch.
Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Candide.” This is not the curtain call any of them wanted. And they certainly could have used more community support. But they upheld the standards established at Cabrillo Stage.
The Santa Cruz Comedy Festival is coming back. The festival’s director, DNA, announced last week that the SCCF will roll into town on Saturday, Oct. 1, with an all-star headliner show taking place in the afternoon outdoors at Laurel Park, behind the London Nelson Community Center downtown, and free performances happening at venues all over Santa Cruz, including Rosie McCann’s, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Woodhouse Blending & Brewing and 11th Hour Coffee that same evening. Also, as part of the festival, Greater Purpose Brewery will host a touring show called Comedians With Disabilities Act Showcase. Learn more and get your tix …
The Museum of Art & History will host a new traveling exhibit, beginning in September, that focuses on the agricultural legacy of California, especially how it applies to the land and culture of Mexico. “The Land of Milk and Honey” explores everything from the environmental impacts of agriculture to the mythic and spiritual connections to food with the work of more than two dozen artists. It opens Sept. 1 and runs through the end of the year at the MAH …
Earworm of the Week
The Doobie Brothers are now, of course, firmly entrenched in the pantheon of classic rock. But there once was a time when they were just a bunch of guys from San Jose who had a particular love for Santa Cruz. The Doobies had already scored with several hit singles in 1975 when they released the album “Stampede.” On that record was a nostalgic and infectiously upbeat boogie number called “Neal’s Fandango” that names-drops both Santa Cruz and “Loma Prieta, my mountain home.” The name in the title is a reference to Neal Cassady, an icon of restless rambling across the American landscape. The song is about the tension between a Cassady-esque impulse to roam and an even stronger urge to get back home to the Santa Cruz Mountains. What the song doesn’t express, but surely the Doobies must have known at the time, is that Cassady spent a significant amount of time in Santa Cruz, even manning the cash register at the old Hip Pocket bookstore at one point.
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.
This charming reminder (above) of how to communicate “peace” in Braille and American Sign Language is out in the “public square,” but do you know which public square?
Last week’s answer: What you see above is the logo icon for Chaminade Resort & Spa. Where you might encounter it the most — especially if you’re a local who doesn’t often visit the resort — is on the public hiking trails behind Chaminade.
There are three color-coded trails on the property (Red, Blue, Green) that snake through 300 acres of eucalyptus and redwood forest. If you’re especially adventurous, you’ll find some offshoot trails and paths in the area. And during this time of year, the poison oak is being particularly helpful by screaming its malicious intent at you with its red coloring. Thanks, PO!
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.