THE HERE & NOW: The Dream Inn looks to recapture the magic of a crazy Halloween experiment; the life and legacy of Jory Post to be celebrated; Cali Roots kicks the can down the road; the county has a new poet laureate; food trucks forever
No, a “vertical concert” isn’t using your earbuds while skydiving. Nor is it flying over Coachella strapped to a drone, or making the three members of Green Day stack on top of each other like a team of acrobats while performing “American Idiot.”
A “vertical concert” is what the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz hosted last Halloween. The great five-piece LA band Los Lobos came to town and performed on a makeshift stage by the hotel’s pool, while their audience was arrayed (mostly) above them, socially distanced, enjoying the show from their respective patios of the 115 rooms that overlook the pool area.
It is a curious innovation borne of the pandemic and, according to the Dream Inn’s general manager and vice president Darren Pound, an enormous success.
“The band had a wonderful time,” said Pound. “The guests decorated their suites with their favorite Los Lobos memorabilia. And, it was Halloween night, so about 80 percent of our guests were in costume. It was a very memorable night.”
So memorable, in fact, the Dream Inn is planning to go vertical again.
To this point, the landmark coastal hotel will soon be announcing five dates in their vertical concert series, all in keeping with pandemic protocols, beginning March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day — with a show by the Monterey-based Black Irish Band. That will be followed by another show in April, two in May and, following a concert-free summer, another back-to-back set in late October, including Halloween night.
The contracts are still being finalized, but Pound did say that Los Lobos will return for one of those dates.
The idea first came about in 2019, long before COVID-19 made it necessary. Pound wanted to stage a ukulele festival on Cowell Beach below the enormous edifice of the hotel and create a way for the hotel’s guests to enjoy the show while hanging out on their patios.
The pandemic put the kibosh on that idea, but Pound refocused his sights on the pool area, brought in a sound company to assess the acoustics (the Bay Area-based Right Sound Co.), and jumped into the fray.
“The team and I spent a lot of time thinking how to get people in safely,” he said. “We didn’t want masses of people in a room, making sure that we were strict about two to four people maximum in a guest room.”
Baine's #BOLO Box
Be On the Lookout for:
• A magnificent buffet of food-truck options will be on display Sunday, Feb. 7 as part of the Food Trucks A Go Go program. The trucks will be part of the monthly Westside Marketplace in the parking lot of the old Wrigley building on the (far) Westside of Santa Cruz. That’s at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that Sunday.
• Ambitious visual-arts project titled “The Califas Legacy Project” is set to launch around the work of longtime UC Santa Cruz artist Eduardo Carrillo, involving no fewer than nine regional arts institutions. That includes an online reception Feb. 3 sponsored by UCSC’s Sesnon Gallery. We’ll have much more on this going forward.
• KSQD (90.7 FM) in Santa Cruz is celebrating its second birthday (they grow up so fast!) with lots of collaborative projects on air Feb. 15 … Your reminder that the Kuumbwa Jazz Center continues to kill it with its “Mondays at Kuumbwa” series of online concerts. Check out the latest with the fabulous Patti Maxine.
Not everything was worked out exactly beforehand. Guests were encouraged to order room service during the concert, but often could not hear the knock on the door at delivery.
The vertical concert isn’t a cheap ticket. Room rates plus concert for last fall’s Los Lobos show started at $449 (the best seats in the complex came in at $849). But Pound said that, even once the world has moved past the pandemic, he feels the vertical concert is something that the Dream Inn can continue with, into the uncertain future for live music, all in an effort to capture the magic of last Halloween.
“We had about 75 people down on Cowell Beach dancing and having a wonderful time,” he said. “If you remember, that was a full moon night. It really brought it all together.”
Those of us who knew him are still mourning the loss of the great Jory Post, Santa Cruz writer and artist, who died Jan. 16 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 70.
Friends and family of Jory will all come together in tribute to a man who made a name for himself as a poet, a novelist, an editor/publisher, and a visual artist on Friday, Feb. 5, appropriately, in the Zoom Forward! online reader series that he himself hosted and organized throughout the pandemic.
Jory, who had made his home in Santa Cruz since childhood, had been a teacher professionally, and he was good enough at playing poker to have won several tournaments. But at heart, he was a creator, both on the page and in the realm of visual arts, and he had been particularly busy and accomplished since his cancer diagnosis in late 2018.
He was an inspiration for any creative soul and leaves behind so much poems and stories. Many of the most prominent folks in the Santa Cruz literary community will be on hand to read and enjoy Jory’s work. Please join us.
Roots go deep (into next year)
In what might be the first of several such announcements from across the music industry, the long-standing California Roots Festival in Monterey has announced that they’re putting off their 2021 festival and moving the whole shebang into May 2022.
Acts like Rebelution, Ice Cube, Damian Marley and Sean Paul will be performing. All tickets purchased for the 2021 festival will be honored in 2022.
For what it’s worth, the famed Coachella festival in Southern California is, as of this writing, still scheduled for April, though the festival’s organizer, Goldenvoice, is considering moving the festival back to the fall. (Festivals generally prefer the word “postpone” instead of “cancel” so as not to have to refund all their pre-sold tickets.)
South by Southwest, the other big-ticket spring music event, has announced an on-line event for March. And, if you’re wondering if Burning Man is happening this year, so is everyone else. The word from Black Rock City now is a definite maybe.
New poet laureate
Sure, Joe Biden hogged all the headlines. But you may have missed that Santa Cruz County got a new Poet Laureate. David Allen Sullivan, a long-time Santa Cruz poet and a fixture at Cabrillo College where he has taught for decades, was named to the ceremonial post of Poet Laureate in January for 2021-22.
Sullivan, who follows Danusha Lameris in the post, is poised to launch a new program called “Agents of Change,” in which he hopes to bring local poets together with local visual artists to interpret the tumultuous times in which we’re all living.
“The idea is to have people submit their artwork, one piece per artist, publish it on a website, and have people write a poem about their favorite piece of artwork,” said Sullivan. Once we’re all able to gather together in crowds, the combined art/poetry will be displayed in a proper gallery.
We’ll keep an eye on “Agents of Change” as it evolves.