Weekender: An otterly local debut novel, festivals galore and return of the county fair
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Who, me? Oh, I’m just sitting in a bathtub filled with ice, dreaming of sleigh rides, wool scarves, and a quiet blanket of snow covering everything in sight. Hope you’re doing the same.
Sept. 11 is a meaningful day for many Americans. This year, on the local scene, it’s a day of staggering culture riches: songwriters at Moe’s, folklorico at the Boardwalk, art and wine in Capitola, stand-up at the Crow’s Nest. Be part of it.
Now, on with the show:
This Just In!
A devastating fire that took place in the wee hours of Sept. 1 has forced Michael’s on Main in Soquel to cancel all its upcoming live shows and concerts. No one at Michael’s yet knows how long it might be before it can reopen. Let’s hope it’s not too long. Michael’s has consistently provided a nice, relaxed venue for both audiences and local bands. We’ll keep an eye on the club’s plans moving forward. Elsewhere, we got new dates set for next May already as the White Album Ensemble drops into the Rio on back-to-back nights May 26 and 27. The great folk troubadour Tom Russell visits Felton Music Hall on April 1, and jazz greats Charlie Hunter and Jeff Amendola come to Kuumbwa on their yearly visit Dec. 12.
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:
- Two of my favorite things — comedy and competitions — collide headlong at the Crow’s Nest on Sunday. This could get messy.
- For downtown locals, the Santa Cruz Greek Festival seems to date back to the days of ancient Greece. Thank goodness it’s coming back.
- Uh, “Fabulous” is right there in their name. What else do you need to know about The Fabulous Thunderbirds, other than they’re coming to our neck o’ the woods?
- Joy and color and buoyant energy are all arriving at the Boardwalk on Sunday in a gorgeous package called Fiesta en la Playa.
- An under-the-radar guitar genius, Bill Frisell is known in the music world for his shape-shifting versatility and one of the jazz world’s most distinctive tones.
- If you love Capitola — and we all do — then you love the glorious Capitola Art & Wine Festival.
- Four really talented young singer-songwriters gather Sunday to share notes and songs at Moe’s Alley in “Bringing It All Back Home.”
- Buzz Osborne of the Melvins has had the best hair in punk rock for years. He’s still bringing it, with the haircut and the guitar.
- Wait, what’s this? Is it really time for the Santa Cruz County Fair again. It is!
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
Another reminder that the local actors and directors who make up Actors’ Theatre are back in business. The company’s longtime showcase “8 Tens @ 8” gets a big new reboot beginning this weekend at the Actors’ Theatre playhouse in downtown Santa Cruz. You might remember that “8 Tens” was scotched last January, waylaid by the new COVID strain. And it looked for a while that Actors’ Theatre might not survive. But here they are, picking up in September where they left off in January, and making plans to carry on with a slate of new plays next January. Through Oct. 2, you’ll have a chance to show the artists and performers at Actors’ Theatre that you appreciate their pluck and their commitment. And get to indulge in some great local theater, too …
Quick, what’s the very best movie to see on the biggest screen possible? “Bridesmaids 2”? Wrong. It just very well might be “Lawrence of Arabia,” the gorgeous 1962 epic with breathtaking vistas filmed on location in Morocco, Syria and Jordan. On Saturday, Sept. 17, for one screening only, the Santa Cruz Cinema on Pacific Avenue downtown will show “Lawrence” on the big screen. Showtime is 2 p.m. And, yes, the Santa Cruz Cinema is air-conditioned …
Tuesday is the day when a new novel will arrive in bookstores that Santa Cruzans might want to take a chance on. It’s called “A Very Typical Family” (Sourcebooks Landmark) by Sierra Godfrey. The author is a Santa Cruz native, and she uses her hometown as the setting for her debut novel, a comic romp about a woman who comes back to Santa Cruz after helping send both her older brother and sister to prison. Now, she and her estranged siblings have to come together to claim their late mother’s estate. If you like dark humor and books that aim to reveal something about Santa Cruz’s character, check it out. And report back on your impressions …
There simply cannot be a more relevant book event than Thursday’s event at Bookshop Santa Cruz, which is inviting journalist Katherine Blunt to talk about her new book, “California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas & Electric — And What It Means for America’s Power Grid” (Portfolio). I mean, right? She’ll be in conversation with the magnificent local radio journalist Nikki Silva on Thursday at 7 p.m. The only question is if rolling blackouts will affect the event. It’s free, but register before coming.
Earworm of the Week
So, maybe not everyone is eager nowadays to hear a song titled “California’s Burning.” But it’s from Dave Alvin, and when Dave Alvin sings about California, I’m listening. Alvin is the country rocker who teamed up with brother Phil Alvin to form the great neo-rockabilly band The Blasters, stood in for a while in the archetypal Los Angeles band X, and created a monumental body of work as a solo artist in a hard-edged country sound with some real Central Valley grit. He’s evoked California and places therein throughout his long career. To borrow from one of his albums, Dave Alvin is essentially the King of California, at least musically speaking. (FYI: The Blasters with Phil come to Moe’s Alley on Sept. 16, and Dave performs with Jimmie Dale Gilmore at Felton Music Hall on Nov. 19.) In this song from his album “Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women,” Alvin crackles with a smokin’ rocker that directly addresses California’s major environmental threat, fire. Although he intones, “There’s trouble in the Promised Land,” later with a ferocity and defiance that is electrifying to hear, he says whatever the fires burn, “we’ll just build it back again.” Hard to believe it’s from 2009. It feels like it was written last Tuesday.
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.
Now, where have you seen the little guy above before?
Last week’s answer: If you’re a regular visitor to the Soquel Quality Meat Market in Soquel Village, perhaps the colorful image above has caught your eye.
It’s one of the enormous caterpillars in the monarch-butterfly mural painted on an adjacent building, best experienced from the small parking lot in front of Soquel Meats.
It’s the work of Santa Cruz artist Mario Guizar.
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.