Weekender: An overflowing First Friday, NorCal sound at the Rio and paging Andy Samberg
Why yes, I do know all the words to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” doesn’t everyone? I was reminded of them, in fact, the last time (and I do mean the last time) my seasickness-prone keister went out on the Chardonnay pleasure boat in Monterey Bay: “Does anyone know where the love of God goes/ When the waves turn the minutes to hours?” RIP Gordon Lightfoot.
Now, on with the show.
This Just In!
Santa Cruz County’s reigning Artist of the Year, writer and translator Stephen Kessler, will be the subject of a performance at Kuumbwa Jazz on May 20. The son of John Prine, singer-songwriter Tommy Prine, is set to play Moe’s Alley on Oct. 18. Grammy-winning Malian singer and musician Oumou Sangaré will play two shows at the Kuumbwa on July 19. Look for the underrated songsmith Eric Hutchinson at Felton Music Hall on June 7. And, a week after performing a sold-out show at The Catalyst, the India-based band Peter Cat Recording Co. swoops into Felton Music Hall for a show June 2.
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.
B9: What’s what in the week ahead
Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the “May gray” B9:
- For decades, local women writers have been recognized at the “In Celebration of the Muse” event. The tradition continues Friday on Zoom.
- Santa Cruz homegrown talents jam together from across generations when Keith Greeninger teams up with the Coffis Brothers.
- “If I had a hammer/ I’d hammer in the mo-ooorning …” OK, everybody now!
- Free Comic Book Day at Atlantis Fantasyworld on Saturday. That bears repeating, in case you weren’t listening: Free. Comic. Books.
- One of NorCal’s most underappreciated artists: Ladies and gents, lend your ears to the soulful Mr. Jackie Greene.
- Wait, Santa Cruz has a thriving ballet scene? It’s time to let Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre prove it to you.
- Sometimes you have to travel the world, but sometimes the world can come to your neighborhood park. The Scotts Valley Multicultural Fair arrives Saturday.
- You don’t see artists like the eccentric Burkina Faso-based singer Baba Commandant, rooted in the polyrhythmic funk of the Mandingo tradition. And now you can catch his act live.
- Jazz fans like movies, too, and the Kuumbwa gets that. The club’s “Jazz on Film” series at the Del Mar continues with a new documentary about the Cuban master pianist Omar Sosa.
Drink in those deep-rooted Northern California vibes with a healthy dose of Keith Greeninger (and friends)
The Rio will be the scene for some perfect-under-the-redwoods sound Saturday when Santa Cruz troubadour Keith Greeninger shares the stage with the Coffis Brothers, Nina Gerber and some other special surprise guests. Read more here.
Making the rounds at First Friday
Warmer weather (hint, hint, Mother Nature) makes Santa Cruz’s First Friday art walk all the more enjoyable, and May’s is no exception, from sculpture and photography to a thought-provoking exhibition on home and homelessness, painting in many shades and plenty else. Read more here.
Earworm of the Week
Depending on how old you are, you might remember the immortal Jackie Gleason, aka “The Great One,” as pop culture’s most famous bus driver, Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners.” Or maybe as pool shark Minnesota Fats in the super cool 1961 film “The Hustler,” or as the buffoonish sheriff in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Or you might remember him as the host of his own long-running variety show (“And away we go!”). But, concurrent to all that, Gleason had a pretty nice career going for himself as a composer within a long-defunct genre known as “beautiful music” or “mood music,” swoony, romantic, orchestrated music that flirted with jazz instrumentation. It’s unclear exactly how much Gleason contributed to the best-selling recordings released under his name in the 1950s and ’60s — it is said that he conceived of melodies that assistants then notated and session musicians created. Still, it’s kinda fun to dive into Gleason’s catalog of beautiful-music albums and imagine yourself in your swank midcentury modern apartment slugging back highballs and playing your hi-fi. One of the greats from The Great One is “Music, Martinis, and Memories,” on which you’ll find the tune “Once in a While.” The strings are kinda over the top, but that smokey, seductive trumpet solo? Wow. Bartender, I’ll have mine dry with two olives, and keep ’em coming.
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 examples are mine. This week’s word:
Segnity (noun) Sluggishness; inactivity.
Sunday is my day for hedonism and segnity.
Santa Cruz County Trivia
Actor and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Andy Samberg spent time in Santa Cruz as a college student in the late 1990s. What was the downtown business where Samberg worked part-time while attending UCSC?
Last week: The name of the company that produces vinegar in Watsonville is Mizkan, a Japan-based global food producer that manages several well-known grocery brands including Ragu and Bertolli spaghetti sauces, Holland House cooking wines and Angostura bitters. Mizkan also produces a number of kitchen vinegars, many of them at its plant on Walker Street in Watsonville, one of 13 such facilities in the U.S.
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.