Weekender: KSQD flexing its tentacles, Mary McCaslin celebration is on and a ukulele road trip
Here it is, already mid-October, and I’ve yet to have my first pumpkin-spiced food item. How should I break the seal for 2022? Does La Croix come in pumpkin spice?
Now, on with the show.
This Just In!
Apparently, there’s this yearly ritual that happens on Oct. 31 of each year called “Halloween”? I’ll Google it, but this year at least two local venues are hosting a free party on that night. The Catalyst will have a free DJ show in its front room, the Atrium, with a ticketed “Halloween Carnival” show in the main room. Across town, Moe’s Alley plans to bring back disco, which might be the scariest thing you’ll see all night, with a free DJ party. Elsewhere, the Rio Theatre is planning a free show of choral holiday music at “Christmas at The Rio” on Dec. 18. And the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is opening its big “Winter Wonderland” attraction Nov. 24. If you grew up in Minnesota, you’re rolling your eyes. But we’ll take whatever winter comes our way these days.
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 Tannery is the site for a colorful and bedazzling dance festival that showcases exactly the diversity of cultures we have in Santa Cruz. And it’s free.
- Want a taste of Texas-style country that’s as dry and brittle as an Amarillo cow pasture? Then you have to discover the great James McMurtry.
- One of the most insightful minds in the realm of the mind — both human and animal — comes by way of the brilliant Temple Grandin, in town next week.
- If soulful Mexican folk music tickles your fancy, Los Cenzontles is simply a marvel. They play live at Kuumbwa.
- Chicago trumpet player Marquis Hill takes listeners on a rambunctious tour through African American musical heritage, from hip-hop to gospel.
- Ever since “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues” (gulp) nearly 30 years ago, the always brilliant Todd Snider has defied pop music by being thoroughly himself.
- The world is brimming with young, smart and talented musical savants trying to get noticed. One of those is singer-songwriter Kate Bollinger, who pops in at the Catalyst.
- Pharmaceutical companies are using intellectual property law to block access to affordable medicines for millions around the world. Tamir Amin comes to town to tell us why.
- John Doe’s musical career has been an odyssey through a variety of American styles, as a singer, songwriter, poet and writer. Now he’s fronting the John Doe Folk Trio, setting stories from the industrial era to song.
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
New Era at KSQD
Santa Cruz community radio station KSQD (that’s “K-Squid” for short) is planning a big jump in its broadcast reach in the coming months. Right now, KSQD (90.7 FM) essentially covers most of Santa Cruz, but doesn’t quite reach into the more far-flung corners of the county. Soon, however, the station will be able to broadcast throughout the Central Coast region, with the purchase of two new frequencies. The new power could push the KSQD signal as far south as Carmel Valley, Hollister, Salinas and Carmel.
The station is currently raising the money it needs to purchase the new frequency, and The Squid is set to throw the switch to blast its Santa Cruz-centric signal all around the Monterey Bay at some point in February or March of 2023. K-Squid will be hosting a fundraising concert at Moe’s Alley on Nov. 17, featuring country music star (and former Santa Cruzan) Lacy J. Dalton, along with the band Edge of the West.
The station’s board chair, Rachel Goodman, said that KSQD will retain its largely community-oriented programming. “One of the things that we’re thinking about that might change for the better is special reports from all these other communities,” she said. “I mean, we can train people to produce from home, so we might get a report from Salinas or Carmel or Marina or whatever.”
But the Santa Cruz County orientation of K-Squid will remain. “People in Watsonville haven’t been able to get our signal very well, and people have been asking us about that,” she said. “So, really, we’re just trying to complete the footprint of Santa Cruz County to begin with. And I don’t mind the funky Santa Cruz brand, the weird K-Squid-ness. I think people like that wherever they are. People sport Santa Cruz T-shirts, many of them don’t live here and they love what we’re doing.”
KSQD’s potential broadcast audience with its current signal is about 175,000. With the new frequencies that could increase up to 645,000. The move is a gamble. With the new footprint comes new expenses of paying for rent on the transmitters. Goodman said she’s hoping that the potential new listeners will increase the station’s revenue accordingly.
Many fans of National Public Radio regularly tune into KAZU (90.3 FM), coming out of Cal State Monterey Bay. But KSQD is not interested in being a competitor to KAZU, which broadcasts almost exclusively national or international programming. KSQD has a few shows from outside the area — “Democracy Now” and Thom Hartmann — but mostly it’s local music, news and public affairs programming.
Are the various communities of the Monterey Bay area ready to have the idiosyncratic sound of Santa Cruz a part of their daily lives? We’ll keep an eye on it as The Squid goes regional.
Last week, we announced the death of the lovely and talented longtime Santa Cruz singer-songwriter Mary McCaslin. Her close friend and collaborator Ginny Mitchell is spearheading an effort to fulfill Mary’s final wish, to be buried in Santa Cruz (Mary and her husband left Santa Cruz years ago and moved to Southern California). The GoFundMe campaign is ongoing. But now there’s also a date for a celebration of Mary’s life and music. On Nov. 18, Mary’s friends and fans will gather at 2 p.m. for her interment at Oakwood Memorial Park in Santa Cruz. That will be followed two days later on Nov. 20 for a celebration at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Mary herself was always at the center of these kinds of community events for many years. She was always so willing to lend her support to others in the folk-music community in Santa Cruz. Now, we come together for her …
For 20 years, the fine percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Rick Walker hosted the Y2K International Live Looping Festival in various venues around Santa Cruz. The pandemic shut that down for a couple of years, but Walker is bringing it back, thanks to a new partnership with the experimental music organization Indexical. The festival will land at Indexical’s space at The Tannery on the weekend of Oct. 22-23. That’s preceded by a special tribute to the live loopers of Mexico at Robbie’s Subs and Pizzas (the former Joe’s Subs and Pizzas at Water Street and N. Branciforte Avenue). Looping is a performance technique in which a musician lays down a rhythm or a melody and records them in real time, to improvise with the newly recorded tracks, a kind of collaboration with oneself. Walker, a veteran of several landmark Santa Cruz pop/punk/rock bands back in the day, has been a leading proponent of looping technology, and the improvisational art it creates. Check it out …
If you’re looking for a great California road trip, might we suggest Cambria in San Luis Obispo County on Oct. 28-30? That’s the place and time for the annual West Coast Ukulele Reunion for uke lovers from all over. It all happens at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, and you can bet the place will be crawling with Santa Cruzans. Two of them, in fact, Rick Zeek and Rhan Wilson, will be leading Ukulele Gospel String Along on Sunday morning at the camp. Registration to stay at the camp is $384 per person, which gets you two nights, five meals and six uke workshops. Ask your favorite local uke lover. Chances are you can catch a ride.
Open Studios wraps up this weekend, with a special “encore” weekend of selected artists throughout Santa Cruz County. Open Studios is always an eye-opening and fun event and the variety of artists is nothing less than spectacular. The whole event serves as a great cross-section for the creative community in these parts. Other places this size just don’t have this kind of bounty …
Earworm of the Week
We’re in the teeth of autumn and that’s a time when many people, regardless of how old they are, really feel their age. The one thing people want to hear more than anything else as they get older is, “You’re not done yet.” It’s not always easy to shake off the feeling that, once past a certain age, you’re just yesterday’s flowers. But there’s a lovely song that will remind you that the opposite is true, that you’re obsessing about age is meaningless. It’s called, fittingly, “Late Bloomer,” and it comes to us from the singing sister duo of Laura and Lydia Rogers who perform as The Secret Sisters. They’ve been around for about a decade, producing wonderful country-sweetened harmonies and this one is one of their finest, as it chimes with a truth we should all take to heart: “It doesn’t matter when you bloom,” the song says. “It matters that you do.”
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 week’s image, above, is an automotive one, so it’s not always in a fixed place (hint: but it usually is).
Last week’s answer: A prominent tree in town was planted in the memory of William T. Franks. In fact, the tree above sits in probably one of the central intersections in all of Santa Cruz, at the very head of Pacific Avenue, just across from the Town Clock.
If anyone knows anything about Mr. Franks or why this cedar was planted in his name, let us know. He was meant to be remembered.
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.