Midnight in Santa Cruz

Coming out of the Art Deco darkness of the Del Mar after the late show I note it is past midnight and Pacific Avenue looks oddly twisted, the street wiggled down to one lane curling snakelike among dense foliage like the old Garden Mall and, amazingly, it is.

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Corny Fun and Good Harmony in ‘Plaid Tidings’

The Plaids do their holiday take on 'Matilda' in Plaid Tidings. Photo by Jana Marcus.

Not everything went well for Mom on this holiday trip out West. First there was the missed flight, and then there was the other missed flight, and then the fellow passenger who blabbed all the way to Chicago. But Saturday night at the Cabrillo Crocker Theater, things started to look up. That’s when the four stars of Plaid Tidings launched into “Strangers in Paradise,” followed closely by “Sh–Boom,” “Mambo Italiano” and a slew of jazzed-up holiday numbers as only a quartet of clean-cut fraternity brothers from 1950s middle America could perform them.

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The Box Sets of 2011

Elvis Costello is asking his fans not to buy his $262 box set, which he considers grossly overpriced.

Ah, Nevermind. Although the Pixies’ Trompe le Monde, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ BloodSugarSexMagik and A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory were all released on the same day in 1991 as Nirvana’s breakthrough album, only Nevermind received the 20th-anniversary box-set treatment this year.

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Klezmatics: They Did It Oy Vey

The Klezmatics aren’t your average Jewish music band. When the group plays Klezmer music, a vibrant Jewish style filled with lively violin, they bring in styles from everywhere—salsa, the blues, even Irish music. “It widens the colors and possibilities for arrangements,” says Lori Sklamberg, co-founder and vocalist for the Klezmatics. The beauty is in experimentation.

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Pop-Up Cards at Makers Factory

Just wait til we take the glitter to this thing. Photo by Samantha Larson.

The new Makers Factory—installed in its Cruzio building offices for two weeks now—invites the Santa Cruz community to drop by their downtown space for their first public event: making personalized lasercut holiday popup cards and decorations.
“Popup cards are a traditional form of greeting card,” says Makers Factory co-founder Chris Yonge. “The problem is that they require some planning and they require some skill and handiwork.”

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Celebrating Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Roots

Peter Rowan plays the Digital Media Factory this Sunday for Bill Monroe Day. Photo by Ronald Reitman.

If bluegrass music were a family-run company, mandolin-picker Bill Monroe would be founding CEO. That’s why Ginny Mitchell of Santa Cruz Live TV is bringing guitar maven Peter Rowan, who played with Monroe as one of his “Bluegrass Boys,” to the Digital Media Factory. The honorary day is set for Sunday. Dec. 4 for Bill Monroe Day in Santa Cruz. Mayor Ryan Coonerty proclaimed it so.

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Santa Cruz Poet Releases Career Collection

Robert Sward, Santa Cruz Weekly poetry editor, with Toby

When Robert Sward arrived in Santa Cruz in 1985, he instantly became the area’s most nationally famous resident poet.  Thanks to his much-anthologized poem “Uncle Dog: The Poet at 9,” the first he ever published and one that remains a classic 50 years later, local writers knew Sward’s name and welcomed him as a borderline celebrity.  Ever since then he has thrived here as a prolific poet, novelist, journalist, teacher and, in recent years, poetry editor of the Santa Cruz Weekly.

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The Heavy Metal Perfection of Mammatus

Mammatus plays 105 Pioneer Street on Saturday, Nov. 26.

The members of Santa Cruz experimental metal band Mammatus have a time-tested method to ensure that all their music reaches a high standard. They look for what they call the Yes Factor—that moment during practice when a song comes together and everyone knows it. “That’s what we’re always looking for, the part of the song that gives you goosebumps. It’s all about finding that magical moment,” says guitarist Nicky Emmert. He adds, “It takes us a really long time to write a song.”

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