As someone who fights a sense of doom and ennui whenever the time changes in November, I’d like a word with whoever coined “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” just to create the acronym SAD. Sure, it’s clever. But you’re not helping anyone. I’d call that Brazenly Asinine Disrespect.
Now, on with the show.
This Just In!
One of America’s greatest and most original folk musicians, Peter Rowan, will headline the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival, featuring more than a dozen other bluegrass acts, for three full days of jamming, March 15-17 at the Brookdale Lodge. The wonderful duo Tuck & Patti will play at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, as they have done for years. A week earlier, on Feb. 7, also at Kuumbwa, Blue Note Records celebrates its 85th anniversary with a quintet headlined by the great pianist Gerald Clayton. The fine Bay Area rap artist Lyrics Born makes a return visit to Moe’s Alley on Nov. 24. And the Rio Theatre will host a big splashy tribute to the immortal Bee Gees on April 13.
Be sure to check out Lookout’s 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 B9:
- The underappreciated hammer dulcimer goes to places you’ve never heard it go before with the innovative pan-global sound of House of Waters.
- Punk rock is the subject of conversation in a sure-to-be spirited event including Santa Cruz’s John Malkin at UCSC’s Institute of the Arts & Sciences.
- If you dig the sunny, Laurel Canyon-scented SoCal sound of vocal harmonies and acoustic melodies, maybe it’s time to discover Mapache.
- Somehow it’s fitting that cutting-edge psychedelic rock would emerge from Amsterdam. We’re talking, of course, of the trippy musicians known as Altin Gün.
- Playwright Sarah Ruhl puts a new twist on the ancient Greek myth with “Eurydice,” opening this weekend at UC Santa Cruz.
- The road to being a better human starts here: The Rev. Lien Shutt talks about living the antiracist life with the Buddhist wisdom of the Eightfold Path.
- There’s some hella strong musical DNA coming out off Duane Betts, the son of the unforgettable Allman Brothers guitar wizard Dickey Betts.
- Not sure why one would have to choose, but the Rio Theatre is holding a head-to-head between the two most influential bands of all time. Who’s your pick, Beatles or Stones?
- The Mission period in California is getting an overdue reappraisal, and a new film to be screened at Mission Santa Cruz is giving the Indigenous perspective on that history.
These are trying days indeed for one of Santa Cruz’s most beloved musicians and accomplished jazz singers. Earlier this fall, the luminous Tammi Brown received a devastating diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. The community rushed to her aid with a GoFundMe campaign to help her defray the costs of her treatment.
Now comes the news of a big public event to honor Tammi and her contributions to the local music scene. On Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Tammi’s friends and collaborators will come together for a show called “Tonight for Tammi.” It’s an absurdly heavyweight roster of performers, featuring, first and foremost, the legendary jazz bassist Stanley Jordan, a Tammi Brown collaborator for many years. Also on the slate that evening will be singer James Durbin, rock bassist Polo Jones, the Lauren Monroe Band featuring longtime Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, composer John Wineglass and many more.
Dylan Rose, Tammi’s friend and longtime bandmate, is helping to put the benefit show together. He said that the event will also throw a spotlight on one of Tammi’s deepest musical passions, gospel. “We wanted a strong church-choir kind of gospel,” he said. “We’ll also have the group Attune, which features many of Bobby McFerrin’s singers, because Tammi sings with him a lot. And Tanya Fitzgerald & Broken People is another group of choir singers that she works with. And Tanya is actually the granddaughter of Ella Fitzgerald.”
And this week, the word is that Tammi will also be named Santa Cruz County’s Artist of the Year for 2024, a prestigious honor that recognizes artists with national and/or international reputations who happen to reside in Santa Cruz County.
On top of all that, I’ve known Tammi Brown for years, and I don’t know anyone who is more brimming with love and kindness as she is. One of the big reasons that Tammi is such a familiar presence on the Santa Cruz music scene is that she’s incapable of saying no to anyone, whether it’s a collaboration or to sing at someone else’s benefit or show. Local show producers and musicians know that Tammi is as dependable as she is talented, always showing up for her community. And now it’s time for the rest of us to show up for her.
Folklorico in bloom
Watsonville is in the midst of a remarkable cultural renaissance right now, and November is offering a particularly rich example. On Sunday, for instance, Watsonville Brillante, the amazing mosaic public art on the downtown parking garage adjacent to the Watsonville Public Library, will present a walking tour of the magnificent artwork. Meet in front of the library at noon for a free bilingual tour.
The following weekend, Pajaro Valley Arts will present a free panel discussion called “Honoring Our Ancestors,” from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the PVA Gallery on Sudden Street downtown.
That same weekend comes an even bigger event, this one from Watsonville’s celebrated folklorico dance troupe Esperanza Del Valle. On Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18 and 19, Esperanza will present its latest performance, called “Mexico en el Corazon,” at the Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College. The “Corazon” show is a striking example of cross-cultural collaboration. Esperanza and Cabrillo College are teaming up with the University of Veracruz in Mexico to present the folk dances of Veracruz and the Gulf coast of Mexico. Currently, there are dance instructors from Veracruz instructing local dancers in some of the dances of the region.
What all these events have in common is a grounding in the past and Mexican heritage as a source of inspiration. And with the Watsonville Center for the Arts — right across the street from the downtown plaza — offering a variety of classes in dance forms, now’s the time to turn on to the richness and variety of the Mexican folk tradition in an especially vivid way.
AI event canceled
I was looking forward to a talk by author Joy Buolamwini on her new book, “Unmasking A.I.,” at UCSC’s Cowell Ranch Hay Barn, but that event has been canceled.
Earworm of the Week
I am, unapologetically and proudly, a fanboy of Fountains of Wayne. You might have heard of them, thanks to their 2003 hit “Stacy’s Mom.” But FoW is so much more than that randy ode to teenage lust. The band began producing wonderfully tuneful little pop jewels as far back as 1996, thanks to a remarkably simpatico collaboration between songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. It’s painful to choose just one FoW song at the expense of all the others — really, don’t get me started. But since we’re in the middle of football season, we’ll go this week with “All Kinds of Time,” a dreamy homage to that magical moment in the middle of a game when everything clicks in a quarterback’s mind, beautiful order emerges from the chaos and the open man emerges “in a golden ray of light.” Local fans of the 49ers will certainly think of the amazing story of our own boy wonder, Brock Purdy. But honestly, you don’t have to know or care a thing about football to enjoy the melodic brilliance and the “moment of truth” power behind this irresistible song. In 2020, Adam Schlesinger was one of the first prominent people felled by the COVID-19 virus. Like many FoW fans, I’m only now moving from grieving what we lost to appreciating what we once had. Long live Fountains of Wayne!
Santa Cruz County Trivia
Arianne Phillips, who grew up in Santa Cruz, has been nominated three times for an Academy Award. What is Arianne’s line of work in the entertainment industry?
Last week: The namesake for UC Santa Cruz’s Kresge College is S.S. Kresge, a Pennsylvanian who pioneered discount retailing in the early part of the 20th century. What famous American brand was established by Kresge? He was the K in Kmart, the once-ubiquitous discount store. At its peak, Kmart had almost 2,500 stores across the U.S. As of 2022, that number was down to three.
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.