Firefighters were able to save Grateful Dead artwork from Thursday's fire at Michael's on Main.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Michael’s on Main in our thoughts, Trivia Night recap and a packed calendar

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

We were shocked to learn Thursday about the devastating fire damage at Michael’s on Main in Soquel, one of Santa Cruz County’s consistently interesting live-music spots. Obviously, the shows in the immediate future will have to be rescheduled. Michael’s has not announced plans for the shows yet, but we’ll be on it when we know more. Notable upcoming dates include a benefit show for a park named for slain county sheriff’s deputy Damon Gutzwiller and MoM’s first foray into dinner theater with the locally written show “Body on the Beach.” Stay tuned for any news on those shows and others at Michael’s on Main, and let’s all hope the venue can come back better than ever. It’s a beloved mid-county touchstone.

This Just In!

As we move into the “-ember” months, it should be no surprise that we’re now starting to see holiday-season events scheduled in Santa Cruz County. The annual “Music for the Feast of Christmas” will take place Dec. 2 and 3 at Holy Cross Church, followed by “Concert for a Winter’s Eve” on Dec. 10. And, there will be a “Messiah” sing-along this year at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on Dec. 20. In the not-so-distant future, Moe’s Alley welcomes the great Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born on Oct. 8, the terrific folklorico group Los Cenzontles comes to Kuumbwa on Oct. 19, and look for an interesting improvisational jam with local musicians at Kuumbwa called “String Keys Coincidence” on Nov. 10.

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. Yup, it’s that time of year. Fire safety and awareness has to be a priority nowadays, and the Museum of Natural History has it covered for you.
  2. One of Santa Cruz’s greatest literary voices, Laurie R. King, returns to Bookshop with her latest novel.
  3. Local music fans know all about the magnificent Brazilian jazz vocalist Claudia Villela. If you don’t, here’s a shot to get in the know.
  4. Catamaran Literary Reader is not just about words. It’s about visual art as well, and it’s a big player in this month’s First Friday art tour.
  5. What happens when Cajun smashes into the blues? You get something like the work of Louisiana master guitarist Tab Benoit.
  6. Bowling for Soup and Less Than Jake, together? Can the world stand so much jokey ska-flavored punk rock?
  7. Who’s got three World Series rings and more than a dozen albums? Former Giants coach Tim Flannery, that’s who.
  8. Sometimes, you just want to watch enormous soap bubbles dance and shimmer in the air. Call it a mental health break.
  9. Santa Cruz poet Farnaz Fatemi steps forward with her first published collection of poems. You can be at Bookshop with her to mark the occasion.

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

Trivia Night

Deep thanks to all those readers and members who joined on Tuesday night for Trivia Night at Abbott Square. My trivia team at Lookout and I had a great time and I hope that those who attended did as well.

It was our second monthly trivia event, and I felt we learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t in our debut event back in July. This time, we had a lot more multiple-choice questions, and I’m finding that Goldilocks sweet spot between questions are too easy and those that are too obscure or difficult, with a degree of fun added as well.

I still think there’s a lot of untapped promise in live trivia quizzes becoming occasions for a new kind of entertainment. It doesn’t involve late nights, or loud music, or too much drinking. It can deliver not only entertainment, but a bit of enlightenment as well. It fosters conversations and builds community. Plus, no one’s really explored the theatrical elements that could enhance a great trivia event.

We’re doing it again on Sept. 27 at Abbott Square. Please save the date and join us there. And, in case you missed it, try this one on for size:

Which of the following was never a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor?

  1. Vermonty Python
  2. Afterspoon Delight
  3. Fossil Fuel
  4. Neapolitan Dynamite

Answer at the end.

Three-Dot Gazette

Mexican Independence Day is upon us, and those who love to celebrate the color and exuberance of Mexican culture are going to want to head to Watsonville on Sept. 16 for “Fandango en la Plaza,” presented by the Watsonville Film Festival. The “Fandango” will feature dance from Esperanza Del Valle, followed by live music from Grupo Diapasón in the tradition of son jarocho. The event at the Watsonville Plaza will culminate in a live outdoor screening of the film “Fandango at the Wall,” which documents the annual tradition of a party that happens simultaneously on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. Check it out on Sept. 16 …

An intriguing part of the upcoming Santa Cruz Comedy Festival will be the Comedians With Disabilities Act, a collection of professional stand-up comics with disabilities, both seen and unseen. The show features various comics living with conditions such as stuttering, blindness, Tourette syndrome, dwarfism, autism, and others. The SCCF takes place outdoors in the park behind the London Nelson Center on Saturday, Oct. 1 …

Can it be Open Studios time again already? Not quite, but getting closer. The annual event is set to come back for the first three weekends in October, with 322 artists participating (the most ever). As in years past, the first weekend (Oct. 1-2) will be North County artists, followed by South County artists, and then a big encore weekend featuring more than 80% of all participating artists. Check out the interactive map to plan your October …

We were thrilled to hear the exceptional book-artist Felicia Rice has gotten back on her feet after losing almost everything in the CZU fires. Her Moving Parts Press was destroyed in the 2020 fires, but now it’s back in a new home, albeit a long way from Santa Cruz. Felicia had to move away, but she’s back in business in Mendocino, where she resettled after the fires …

Santa Cruz has a new sister! The latest connection in the city’s Sister Cities program is Biarritz, France, a beachside tourist city in the far southwest of France, near the Spanish border. To celebrate, the Rio Theatre is screening the documentary film “Biarritz Surf Gang” on Sept. 13 for free, so we can all get to know our new sibling a bit …

Earworm of the Week

He is not a superstar in the hip-hop world, but he is a foundational artist on the Bay Area rap scene. And though he’s been performing and recording for the better part of 30 years, there are still too many people yet to discover Lyrics Born. Tokyo-born Tom Shimura has produced an impressive body of work from his home base in Berkeley, and has blazed trails for Asian Americans in hip-hop with his deliciously funky and propulsive sound. He has played Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz many times over the years and is set to return Oct. 8. If you don’t know Lyrics Born, that Moe’s show will be a great entry into Bay Area hip-hop. In the meantime, to get a taste of this amazingly dexterous artist, check out this blistering indictment of racist attacks aimed at Asian Americans, called “Anti.”


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.

A close-up of a bug on a mural

Maybe the colorful creature above has caught your eye as you’ve roamed the county.

Last week’s answer: Yes, you’ve seen the smiling face below before, if you visit downtown Santa Cruz a lot.

a smiling cartoon character with headphones

It is, of course, from the magnificent “Surfin’ Bird” mural, on the Old School Shoes building at Cathcart Street.

the "Surfin' Bird" mural on Cathcart Street in downtown Santa Cruz

“Surfin’ Bird” is the work of San Francisco-based Brian Barneclo, whose murals can also be seen at the Chase Center (the arena home of the Golden State Warriors), Google’s offices in The City, and outside San Francisco’s oldest ice cream shop, St. Francis Fountain.

Trivia answer: Afterspoon Delight was never a Ben & Jerry’s flavor.

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.