The big top of the Flynn Creek Circus in the Capitola Mall parking lot in December.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Circus returns for a good cause, get literary at Gabriella Cafe and a song for spring

Hi friends,

We’re serving up an abbreviated version of our newsletter this week, until I can get back into town from vacation to shake the trees for more reasons to love Santa Cruz County. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Before we get on with the show, don’t forget to 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

B9: What’s what in the week ahead

Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the Kelly-green B9:

  1. In the wake of last weekend’s Alfred Hitchcock Festival, here comes (a completely unrelated) live show from underrated British songsmith Robyn Hitchcock.
  2. Have a fine dinner and get to schmooze with Santa Cruz’s own bestselling novelist Karen Joy Fowler at the European-style Gabriella Cafe. It’s a very welcome-to-springtime thing to do.
  3. Remember the dazzling Flynn Creek Circus show from the holiday season? Well, it’s back, one day only, for a new show designed to help locals displaced by the January storms.
  4. Yep, she’s a legend. Bonnie Raitt and her distinctive and seductive bluesy guitar land at the Santa Cruz Civic.
  5. Big treat for those who dig African music — the Mali-born couple Amadou & Mariam bring their bold “Afro-blues” sound to the Rio Theatre.
  6. It’s a deliciously kaleidoscopic mix of styles — funk, dance, disco, salsa — you can expect from the Venezuelan trio Los Amigos Invisibles.
  7. Do you miss the incomparable musical genius Prince as much as I do? Scratch that itch with the tribute band The Purple Ones.
  8. Explore the experience of joy through poetry and the written word with poets Ross Gay and Chris Mattingly at Bookshop.
  9. The brilliant onetime-punk indie singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has a lot of colors on his palette. He’ll display them all at Kuumbwa on St. Paddy’s Day.

Earworm of the Week

There might be no more overrated term when talking about musical artists than “underrated.” But sometimes, it can’t be avoided. The naked truth is that Graham Parker is underrated, even overlooked. The British-born singer-songwriter, now 72, emerged from the post-punk scene in the U.K. in the late 1970s, fronting his own pub-rock band, The Rumour. If casual fans have heard of him at all, they often view him as a poor man’s Elvis Costello. In fact, Parker eventually shed his early angry-young-man roots to produce a stunning catalog of work featuring many fine, underappreciated albums, most notably as a middle-aged artist in the 1990s and 2000s. I have an entire playlist of Graham Parker tunes I return to again and again, but one of my favorites is quite pertinent right now. For a snarly pub rocker, Parker is capable of creating some gorgeous love songs, such as the stellar “First Day of Spring” from 1995. As we move into spring after a tempestuous winter, settle into this beautiful melody setting off lovely lyric lines such as “The sky might be massive up above/But it is not as true as love.” Enjoy it on the first day of spring, and for many days after.


All the Earworms in one place

For those who’ve been following my Earworm of the Week, I’ve assembled a playlist that contains them all.

Thank You, Mr. Johnson

For all you writers, readers, and other lovers of language, we offer up a forgotten or archaic word from Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary in hopes that it might find a new life in today’s popular vocabulary. The definitions are Mr. Johnson’s; the usage suggestions are mine. This week’s word:

Guttle (verb) To feed luxuriously; to gormandise. A low word.

I’m not much of a gambler; I’m just going to Las Vegas to shamelessly guttle myself.

Santa Cruz County Trivia

She has her name immortalized on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame for a career in television in which she played recurring roles in several popular TV series, mostly in the 1970s and ’80s. But she might be best known as the namesake of a distinctively retro Hollywood hotel/resort that she and her real-estate developer husband opened 50 years ago. And, most relevant to locals, she was a native of Santa Cruz. Who is she? Text me the answer.

Woodstock's Pizza at night in downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Last week’s answers: There are several small businesses in downtown Santa Cruz whose names reference or directly quote from 1960s-era hit pop/classic rock songs. How many can you name?

I can count at least five:

Go Ask Alice, an herb and tea shop on Pacific Avenue, the name referencing a line from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

Pizza My Heart, on Pacific Avenue (and several other locations as well), a pun on Janis Joplin’s “A Piece of My Heart.”

Love Me Two Times, a vintage clothing shop on Walnut Avenue, references a hit by The Doors.

Good Vibrations, the adult boutique on Cooper Street, references the Beach Boys’ famous hit.

Woodstock’s Pizza, which not only makes reference to the famous music festival, but to the well-known song, written by Joni Mitchell and recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The Catalyst
(The Catalyst)

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.