Weekender: Concert as psychedelic therapy, hot rods return and let gospel be your guide
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And now comes the Halloween hangover. Memo to those guys dressed as Cheech & Chong whom I met on Halloween out on Pacific Avenue: I appreciate the gesture and all, but you’re supposed to give away candy. It’s not called Halloweed.
Now, on with the show.
This Just In!
Those one-of-a-kind purveyors of aggressive surf rock known for their lucha libre masks called Los Straitjackets are heading into Moe’s Alley on Dec. 11. Also, a big New Year’s Eve show has been announced at the Rio, the great Los Lobos. Bass player Sam Grisman — that would be the son of David — comes to Moe’s Alley on Jan. 15. And the brilliant folkie singer-songwriter straight outta West Virginia, Sierra Ferrell, is set to perform at the Catalyst on May 1, 2023 (Wow, that seems a long ways away, doesn’t it?).
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 San Lorenzo Valley’s own Taylor Rae comes home to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Park Hall in Ben Lomond. She’s a special talent.
- If you’re hanging around West Cliff Drive on Saturday afternoon, you’re in for a treat. Hot Rods at the Beach at the Boardwalk goes for a ride.
- The greatest midnight movie of all time is still carrying the powerful message almost 50 years later: “Don’t dream it, be it.”
- The thrills are in Scotts Valley this weekend, at the Tim Brauch amateur skateboarding contest.
- Sometimes you just want a guilty pleasure. Sometimes you just wanna hear a Spice Girls tribute band.
- … And sometimes you just want something that you’ve never experienced before. That might be avant-garde percussionist Booker Stardrum.
- Hoops alert! The Sea Dubs are back. Opening night for your Santa Cruz Warriors at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Friday.
- The Brookdale Lodge might not make you laugh, but comic Louis Katz will.
- Soulful and smooth R&B artist Son Little has a dreamy vibe to his sound that really sneaks up on you. See him at Moe’s this weekend.
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
A psychedelic moment?
Fascinating cultural moment coming up at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. On Nov. 12, the Civic will host a musical concert — no big deal, right? But this one is unusual. The artist is known as East Forest, an ambient musical artist out of Portland, Oregon, known for his often stately and meditative compositions. But he’s not calling his Civic show a concert. It’s being dubbed a “ceremony.”
East Forest is teaming up with Numinus, a wellness/health startup based in Vancouver, British Columbia, which specializes in psychedelic therapy, to present an event that is part concert, part meditation ritual, where the audience — if that word is even applicable in this case — will be able to experience the show sitting on yoga mats or even lying down. It is, said the artist, a new form of mass gathering.
East Forest, by the way, has released a recording called “Music for Mushrooms: A Soundtrack for the Psychedelic Practitioner.” But the producers of the event say that they “do not condone nor endorse the use of illegal substances at this event.”
You might remember that the Santa Cruz City Council voted in 2020 to decriminalize possession of some naturally occurring psychedelic substances, such as magic mushrooms. And Santa Cruz was once the headquarters for MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), the funding and research arm of the movement to use psychedelics in therapy for addiction, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We’ve been hearing for a few years now about a revolution in the use of psychedelics for therapeutic uses, but have seen little evidence percolating up to a visible cultural level. The Nov. 12 event might be that moment when psychedelics come out of the shadows. Of course, we live in a nation where the backlash always accompanies the cultural lurch forward. So events like the East Forest “ceremony” have to exist without drawing undue attention. And that’s probably a good thing. The indiscriminate and irresponsible embrace of psychedelics back in the days of Timothy Leary drove these substances and their potential for good underground for 50 years. Now, wholesomely branded entities like Numinus are bringing things like ketamine and MDMA out into the light and folding them into a drive for self-betterment.
One thing seems certain as we sail into the new era of psychedelics: If these substances get into the mainstream, Santa Cruz is likely to play a very visible role. Stay tuned.
Earworm of the Week
Traditional gospel music might not be a regular on your playlists. But occasionally, a gospel song can spill outside the confines of the church and be relevant to everyone’s struggles, regardless of religious beliefs. More than 50 years ago now, an evangelical pastor from Chicago named T.L. Barrett released an unheralded American classic called “Like a Ship (Without a Sail),” powered by the backing vocals of the Youth For Christ Choir. The song was released in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement and it convincingly expresses determination and faith in the face of darkness and chaos. These days, when it seems like the American experiment is beginning to unravel in real time, a boat tossed about on an indifferent sea is a potent metaphor. And the blues-flavored call-and-response between the pastor and the angelic voices behind him is sure to energize the soul. Looking for a song of hope and purpose to guide you as you head to the polls on Election Day? Congratulations, you’ve found it.
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 enigmatic stranger above is part of one of the county’s most nostalgic tableaus. Have you seen him?
Last week’s answer: Those extremely happy chili peppers (and obvious besties) above are there to welcome you to the great Soquel taqueria El Chipotle.
If you’re hankering for huevos con nopales y chorizo, you can’t find it better anywhere else. Just ask these guys.
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.