Former congressman Denver Riggleman.
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Jan. 6 insider Riggleman in Soquel, Kottke at the Rio & discover the music of Ondara

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

The holiday-themed shows and performances are coming on strong this month. If you can’t catch a show or a party, you can always go out and sing in the neighborhood, door to door. Yes, that’s a thing that people do this time of year.

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

There are few guitarists with a more distinctive sound than the great Leo Kottke, who has been booked to perform live at the Rio in Santa Cruz on Feb. 11. Also returning to the Rio will be the avant-garde group The Residents (April 15). And ABBA fans will be thrilled to hear about Mania, an ABBA tribute act that will bring their show to the Rio on March 9.

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. With the recent death of the luminous Christine McVie, maybe now’s a great time to check out the tribute act Fleetwood Macrame at Felton Music Hall.
  2. One of those only-in-December moments comes Saturday when the choral group Cantaimo! performs “Concert for a Winter’s Eve” in the inspiring surroundings of Holy Cross Church.
  3. One of the greatest recordings of the 1970s, Little Feat’s “Waiting for Columbus,” is celebrated by the band who made it famous, live at the Rio.
  4. If you’d vote for Paul Simon’s “An American Tune” as the new national anthem, then you’ll be at home at Kuumbwa’s wonderful Simon tribute, available both in person and livestreamed.
  5. The Irish do Christmas quite like no other culture in the world, and if you’re taken with that kind of romance, “A Celtic Christmas” is the place to be.
  6. Why, yes, I do dig aggressive surf guitar from guys in lucha libre masks. Why do you ask?
  7. There is only one holiday-themed ballet that the whole world wants to experience this time of year. You know what it is.
  8. Some folks like their holiday cheer with a different flavor, a taste of Fishbone perhaps.
  9. And if you’re a Lookout member, please come by and celebrate the season with us all at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Let’s clink glasses together!

Report from Jan. 6 Committee

It’s not often that those of us in lil’ ol’ Santa Cruz get to meet anyone face to face who’s played a high-profile role in the battle to save American democracy. But on Friday, that chance will come when Denver Riggleman visits the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods in Soquel.

Riggleman is a former Republican U.S. congressman from Virginia, a data analyst and specialist in disinformation, and he worked on the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol. He’s also the author of “The Breach: The Untold Story of the Investigation Into January 6th,” published in October. You might have seen him in a segment on “60 Minutes” recently.

Riggleman is visiting town to chat with outgoing 3rd District Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty in a free event at Wellstone. He’ll be there to give us a front-line account of the battle between truth and lies at the core of American government, and — spoiler alert — the news is not good.

Supporters of President Donald Trump attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021
Supporters of President Donald Trump attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In a phone call from a Virginia hotel room before his flight to California, Riggleman told me that the government, the news media and the American people are all ill prepared for the kind of sophisticated disinformation attacks taking place online these days.

“There’s this digital decentralized coordination going on out there using jokes, memes, coded language and hashtags,” he said. “And violence can happen from that, just based on how people share that type of information. So you never know where it’s coming from. It’s so easily decentralized. And when you have decentralized sort of activities like that, they can be very dangerous, and very hard to predict.”

Social media, in particular, is providing new platforms and new tools to radicalize people based on false information, using methods of persuasion and control that the human mind has little defense against.

“I just don’t think the government can keep up,” said Riggleman. “I don’t think their technologies can keep up. I think it has to be a private-public partnership. And I do believe that we have to have individuals, nonprofits, universities, federally funded research centers, whatever. We need to have those kinds of organizations looking at this problem.”

Even in the short time since “The Breach” has been published, Twitter has been turned upside down by Elon Musk, and disinformation shaped the 2022 midterm elections.

“We’re seeing a reintroduction of some of the worst types of characters on digital media,” he said. “I wonder if the two-party system in America can even survive social media at this point. And that’s really where I’m at. Can we survive this?”

Denver Riggleman will be in conversation with Ryan Coonerty at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, 858 Amigo Rd., Soquel. It’s free, but email Wellstone to RSVP at

Earworm of the Week

You might expect an African musician to be influenced, at least a little bit, by traditional African music. But for 30-year-old Kenya-born singer-songwriter J.S. Ondara, the lodestar was Bob Dylan. He was so enamored of Dylan, in fact, that he moved from Nairobi to Dylan’s native state of Minnesota and, like Dylan, adopted a stage name. (That stage name, Jay Smart, has since been abandoned; now, he performs simply under his surname.) What Ondara has that Dylan never had is a knockout singing voice — sweet and willowy, wide-ranging and emotive. And he’s put it to use in an ambitious career, jump-started by 2019’s “Tales of America,” which got a Grammy nomination, followed by a terrific collection of songs in 2020 that is one of the best musical documents of the COVID-19 shutdown you’ll find. His new concept album, “Spanish Villager No. 3,” is Dylan-esque, at least in its restlessness to find new expressions in songs. A great way to get an intro to Ondara — who could well become one of the most important musical artists of the 2020s — is his song “Saying Goodbye,” which deftly brings together a gorgeous melody with a vocal talent that can bring every color out of that melody. Tying your star to Bob Dylan is always a risk — but in no way is Ondara some kind of Dylan-lite. His music is his own. If the Dylan comparison makes any sense — beyond the Minnesota connection — it’s in Ondara’s vision to reinvent himself with every new release and his quest to bring something new to the world. This man is going to do great things, if he can find an audience.


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 building with a "fallout shelter" sign on it

Above is a symbol that was relatively common back in the 20th century, but not so much these days. Do you know where it is?

A sign reading "Lost Soles"

Last week’s answer: Interesting sign above offering a service, right? Maybe you’ve seen it walking along East Cliff at Pleasure Point.

Outside the O'Neill house in Pleasure Point

It’s a gathering place for loose shoes on the beach, near Jack O’Neill’s house walking toward The Hook. If you’re missing a shoe (or two), it’s always a good place to check.

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.