GLBT Public affairs, news, and events
Roy Orbison. His creaky, lonely, ’Blue Bayou’ was my cellphone ringtone for about six months. The thickly-spectacled rock songbird of the 1960′s is undoubtably worthy of such cellular homage; he was probably the sweetest crooner to ever grace the stage. The discovery of his ‘greatest hits’ had an unusually large impact on my musical tastes, and I still hold an affectionate place in my music library for “that guy who kinda looks like Buddy Holly”.
Orbison, plagued by melancholy throughout his career (he lost his first wife in a motorcycle accident, and two children in a fire), sung his forlorn ballads to thousands of emphatic fans ranging from every end of the musical spectrum. With a reputation for being incredibly polite, soft-spoken, and even somewhat awkward, he was a much needed break from the diva-attitudes of some of his contemporaries. Orbison wrote music for people like the Everly Brothers, recorded with everyone from George Harrison to Bob Dylan, and even had his work appropriated by director David Lynch—who used Orbison’s gloomy vocals in his 1986 film, Blue Velvet.
“Oh, Pretty Woman”, arguably his catchiest pop song, charmed it’s way up the charts, while “Only the Lonely” encapsulates an innocent sadness that Orbison so gracefully commands.
If you consider yourself a music lover and are unacquainted with Roy Orbison’s work, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to continue overlooking it. Though somewhat obscured by the larger stars of the 1960′s, Roy hammered out a devoted following until his death, and for good reason. It’s refreshing to hear about popular musicians with pleasant dispositions, and that just makes Roy Orbison’s music more likable.
Not like it needed any help.
It’s rare when the venue becomes the star, but this is the case for local landmark The Catalyst. On Friday, May 6th The Catalyst will host the premiere of “All Access Pass”, a documentary showcasing 40 years of music in Santa Cruz’s hallowed nightclub. This is a journey into the vision of the club’s founder, the late Randall Kane, featuring a treasure trove of historic live Catalyst concert footage including The Doobie Brothers, Neil Young, Greg Kihn, James Brown, Huey Lewis and The News, The Tubes, Patti Smith, Ry Cooder, The Call, Sound Tribe Sector 9 and many more. Doors open at 7:30 pm; screening begins at 8:30. Immediately following the film premiere, there will be an evening of music with long time local rock & roll favorites, Snail.
On Saturday, May 7th from 9 am to1 pm, the Coastal Watershed Council, in partnership with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, will hold the 12th Annual Snapshot Day! Snapshot Day is an annual event that provides a “snapshot” of the health of rivers and streams that flow into the Monterey Bay. Hundreds of community volunteers are needed to go out and test these waters throughout the central coast of California during this one day event. You can participate in a training session on Sunday, May 1st from 12 to 3 pm at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor’s Public Meeting Room. Then you can use your new skills and join the outdoor event on May 7th and help restore your local watershed. For information, you can call the Coastal Watershed Council at 831-464-9200 or visit Coastal-watershed.org.
I was listening to a great new show “Gypsy Caravan”, part of KZSC’s latest Spring Schedule yesterday and heard a riotous version of Katy Perry’s modern pop classic “Hot n’ Cold” done up right by a great gypsy band known as Los Colorados.This European quartet’s version of Perry’s pop confection had me dancing around the room and made me think of some other great gypsy versions of popular songs. Here are some of the really fun ones…
“Born To Be Wild” by Fanfare Ciocarlia–This version of the Steppenwolf classic is from the “Borat” soundtrack. You have to listen very closely to even recognize that this is a cover of the sixties classic, but the song is just as ebullient and Rollicking as the original from which it was born. Imagine that you have gone on a trip to the Ukraine to visit your cousin Boris and you end up at a barbecue and there is a local band playing and a gaggle of large women dancing arm-in-arm with kerchiefs on their heads and pales of water in their hands and chickens dancing in between them on little tiny chicken motorcycles. That is what this song reminds you of.
“Paint it Black” by Nayekhovichi–This cover of the Stones classic starts out very somber and quiet, with the lead singer reciting the lyrics in English with a thick Russian accent. The song then breaks into a full gypsy orchestra sound, complete with horns and ‘oompah’ drum beats. This one is fairly faithful to the original. If Mick Jagger married a Russian peasant woman, this is what their wedding music would sound like.
“Womanizer” by the All-American Rejects–Okay, this is not one of my favorite bands, and I don’t even think that they are a ‘gypsy’ band (more like a modern rock band playing gypsy dress up), but this version of Britney’s modern pop classic is done up right in this song, complete with mini accordions in the background.
“Sympathy for the Devil” by Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko and Oy Division.Another Stones classic, this time in a Yiddish/Klezmer style. The official title of this version is “Rakhmones Ayfn Tayvl” and it really isn’t until the end when they belt out “Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name!” in English that you even realize what song it is, making it even more cryptic than the original.
“Shaya and Perry (Paparazzi)” by Yoel Brach Productions–Okay, not really gypsy, but this Jewish wedding cover of the Lady GaGa classic has a very old world flavor to it, complete with loud horns and kick drums. The lyrics are changed from “Paparazzi” to “Shaya and Perry” the name of the bride and groom who polka’d down the aisle to this fun romp.
“Highway to Hell” by some Ukrainian guys–These guys have a blast updating the AC/DC classic in a fun polka style. You can tell that they love the song, and they really do their best to exude metalness from their Eastern European pores. Again, this one is completely in Ukrainian, so you have to go by the melody to recognize this rock classic.
To hear quirky covers like these from time to time, check out “Gypsy Caravan”on kzsc, Wednesdays from 2-4pm.
“Hot N’ Cold”
“Highway to Hell”
“Sympathy For the Devil”
“Paint it Black”
On Saturday, April 23rd the “Help Japan Relief Concert” takes place to help the earthquake and tsunami victims of Japan. Presented by the Santa Cruz Japanese Cultural Fair organization, the money raised will be going to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund established by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. 100% of the donations received will go to local non-profit and community service organizations in Japan for citizen-to-citizen relief efforts reaching those most in need in the most affected areas.
Local historian Sandy Lydon, who has been teaching and studying Japanese and Japanese-American history for over 50 years, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Performances include the Watsonville Taiko players, San Jose Taiko, shamisen and shakuhachi flute music by the Santa Cruz Hougaku Revue plus the Hawaiian sounds of the Ho`omana Band with hula from various schools in Santa Cruz. “Help Japan” takes place Saturday, April 23rd at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz. Doors open at 6:30 pm; slide presentation and the music begin around 7.
More info is available at jcfsantacruz.org.