Keith Greeniger
(Courtesy Keith Greeniger)
The Here & Now

‘A lot we’re learning from this process’: Keith Greeninger celebrates new norm with livestream concert

THE HERE & NOW: For Santa Cruz County musician Keith Greeninger, online concerts aren’t merely a stopgap until things are normal again. They are, instead, a new kind of presentation for live music that will not be going away, even if COVID-19 does.

Oh, if only there were a gigantic on/off switch that could be thrown to mark the end of the pandemic and the beginning of life after the virus. But we all know it’s not going to work that way.

That’s especially true in the realm of the performing arts. Even after mass vaccination and herd immunity, it may be months, if not years, before large audiences will be comfortable gathering in small clubs or theaters again.

Keith Greeninger, one of Santa Cruz County’s most prominent singer/songwriters, is ready for that new world. For Greeninger, online concerts aren’t merely a stopgap until things are normal again. They are, instead, a new kind of presentation for live music that will not be going away, even if COVID-19 does.

On Saturday, Greeninger is hosting a free concert at his Wind River Studios in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The show is a kind of celebration of the inauguration of President Joe Biden, with a full band that includes drummer Jimmy Norris, guitarist Patric O’Connor, keyboardist Art Alm, and bassist Tiran Porter (a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer from his days with the Doobie Brothers).

Unlike many online music events, this show will not be one guy playing in front of his computer. Greeninger invested in high-speed Internet connectivity. The event will be shot on four cameras and the sound will be produced through Wind River’s state-of-the-art sound board, courtesy of local producer Andy Zenczak.

In other words, Greeninger is offering this event up as the best experience that an online-only musical event can be.

“We may have to share these experiences like this for a while,” said Greeninger, who hopes to turn the event into a monthly broadcast, even as vaccines become more widely available and music fans begin to venture back into their favorite venues. He also would like to expand the offerings to include “poets, artists, writers, thinkers.”

Greeninger said virtual concerts are never going to replace the magic and energy of live in-person performance. But the Zoom show isn’t going away. It may, in fact, grow and evolve into its own form that will be, in many ways, preferable to playing live.

“Even when society rebounds and everybody can go out again,” he said, “I think there’s a lot of what we’re learning about this process that will stay.”

For instance, virtual concerts can benefit not only audiences, but performers. “There are folks out there touring who are getting older, and touring is hard on older musicians. For some people, this has been an interesting experience to know they can stay home and perform, and reach their audience while having a lifestyle which is more healthy and reasonable.”

Still, for now, it’s all we have. Keith Greeninger & Friends — which will include a remote duet with Greeninger’s long-time musical partner Dayan Kai — takes place Saturday at 6 p.m. here.

More reasons to buy books

Lookout photo contributor Kevin Painchaud and the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s Shmuel Thaler will be showcasing their best work of the pandemic/fire/BLM year in a new book set to be published in late February. Hindsight 2020 — which I helped edit — will be a beautiful time capsule of a memorable (though who wants to remember?) year in Santa Cruz County. Bookshop Santa Cruz is planning a virtual event to celebrate the book’s publication in early March. Stay tuned.

Aptos journalist and science writer Tracie White is celebrating the recent publication of her new book The Puzzle Solver: A Scientist’s Desperate Quest to Cure the Illness that Stole His Son (Hachette). It’s a non-fiction diagnostic mystery centered on the life of famed Stanford geneticist Ronald W. Davis and his adult son Whitney who was felled by a mysterious but all-consuming illness that has left him helpless. An absorbing and heartbreaking story by a fine writer and reporter. Get it wherever you get books.

Also, Good Times music writer Aaron Carnes will be publishing a new book titled In Defense of Ska, in which he examines a much (unjustly) derided musical form that was immensely popular back in the 1980s and ’90s. Santa Cruz locals will remember the heyday of such bands as Skankin’ Pickle and Slow Gherkin. Carnes has the lowdown on all of it. The book will be released by Clash Books in the spring.

Revisiting UCSC’s ‘Deep Read’

The campus of UC Santa Cruz is eerily quiet these days, but the Humanities Institute at UCSC is going ahead with its “Deep Read” program that invites the community to engage with some of the university’s smartest people on the subject of a given book.

Last year’s program, featuring Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, culminated in a live event with the author.

This year, the book is Tommy Orange’s bestselling 2018 novel There There. Orange is an Oakland-based writer and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. His landmark book is centered on the lives of Native Americans living in a contemporary urban environment.

“Deep Read” is a kind of book club, in which those enrolled will receive weekly e-mails designed to deepen the reading experience by UCSC humanities and literature professors, as well an occasional on-line salon to discuss the book live. And then, the author himself will speak at a live virtual event March 3.

To sign up, go to the Humanities Institute’s site.

Staff coming to life

The long-delayed Staff of Life expansion into the East Lake Village Shopping Center in Watsonville finally has a new opening date. Staff will open its second store March 30, in a rapidly developing little shopping center that also features Coffeeville, Fruition Brewery and Sushi Qu. That’s soon to be one of the hottest spots in the county.

A home away from HOME

The beautiful Soquel eatery HOME is spinning off a mini satellite called HOMEfry at Discretion Brewery on 41st Avenue. Chef Brad Briske is opening the new place on Friday after the previously well-regarded Kitchen at Discretion closed in late September.

Order up the Monterey Rock Cod for me. I swear I’ll pay you back on payday.