They may slack their guitar strings, but don’t you slack off! Come honor the music and the heritage of Hawai’i at the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters show with three of the greats: George Kuo, Martin Pahinui and Aaron Mahi. George Kuo is a direct line to the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, as he brings the experience of playing alongside the guitar masters like Sonny Chillingworth and Raymond Kane. Aaron Mahi has been the longtime director of the famous Honolulu Royal Hawaiian Band. And most fans recognize the Pahinui family name in Hawaiian music. Martin makes you feel like you are at an old style front porch party with musicians trading riffs and vocals. Warm up your winter with three truly great performers at Don Quixote’s in Felton Tuesday, February 18th. Showtime is 7:30 pm.
There are many luthiers in the Santa Cruz area creating beautiful instruments, and handmade guitars are being exhibited during the month of February through March 15, 2014, as part of the very first Santa Cruz County Art of Guitar Exhibit and Festival. An assortment of instruments are on display at the R. Blitzer Gallery on the West Side of Santa Cruz, CA and you can hear these guitars being played at various venues in a series of concerts (check the main festival website for details). Performers include Jayme Kelly Curtis, founder of the festival, Kenny Hill, William Coulter, Muriel Anderson, Marty O’Reilly, and many more. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History‘s free First Friday of February event (2/7/14) will feature a Hill Guitar Company shop setup displaying how classical guitars are made, crafts activities for kids, a harmonics/physics demonstration and lecture by David Winters, guitar strap weaving, and many live performances by artists throughout the evening. A locally produced book by Jim MacKenzie and Renee Flower featuring photos and essays about local instrument builders has also been released in association with the exhibit.
Local boy makes good…always a great storyline. But when good things happen to good people, it’s even better. After attending Musicschool in Santa Cruz and plenty of wood shedding, James Durbin shot to nationwide fame during “American Idol” and has now released the CD “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”. Always a great show on his home turf, James Durbin plays The Catalyst in downtown Santa Cruz Saturday, February 15th. Showtime is 9 pm.
All you garage fans will finally have something to Dwyer-yip about in the New Year. The Crepe Place is playing host to not one, not two, but three killer bands. Orange County western lo-fi outfit The Abigails top the bill as they gear up for the release of their album “Tundra” on Burger Records. San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls are quite familiar with the stage at Santa Cruz’s alternative pancake restaurant. Their debut album was the third most-played new release in 2013 at KZSC; they are sure to feature some tracks off their upcoming Sonny (Sonny and the Sunsets) produced second LP. Los Angeles’ Froth rounds out the bill with burning, organ-grinding psychedelic jams. So throw on your denim jacket, polish up the buttons and join the throngs at The Crepe Place, Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz on Saturday, January 25th. The noise starts at 9 pm.
Santa Cruz’s own Ladies of Mehana hula halau are hosting a Santa Cruz movie premiere by writer/director Keo Woolford, shot on location in Hawai’i. ”The Haumana” (The Student) is an indie charmer, the story of Jonny Kealoha, who is working a Waikiki Polynesian revue when he is appointed successor to a high school boys’ hula class. It’s a movie by Hawaiians, about Hawai’i for Hawai’i…and for all of us to see. (Spoiler Alert: watch for the famous and much beloved singer Marlene Sai acting in this movie!). There will be a question & answer session with the film’s director after the feature. ”The Haumana” premieres Sunday, January 19th at The Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz. The box office opens at 3:3o; hula and other pre-show entertainment begins at 4:30 pm; the film rolls at 5.
The hosts of “Stirrin’ the Soup” had the pleasure of hosting two members from the Chicago-based group known as the John Hanrahan Quartet last week. John (the leader/drummer, now based in Santa Cruz) and his longtime bandmate/tenor saxophonist Brian Kephart, joined us for an exciting discussion about their show at Kuumbwa Jazz. When I heard that this group was going to perform Coltrane’s magnum opus A Love Supreme, I was impressed at the ambition of these guys – I mean, what a piece to tackle! Here’s the crazy part: these guys meet up transnationally from Chicago to Santa Cruz every few years to play A Love Supreme without rehearsal, straight from the heart and from the top of the head. I went to their show and can say with unmatched certainty that these guys are amazing. Brian absolutely tears it up on the tenor sax and the rest of the band carries the tunes phenomenally. There was something special happening inside the Jazz Center that night; several attendees of the show reported sharing a feeling of spiritual connection to the music throughout the performance. Not quite speechless, but I can only express so much via text so please, find a comfy chair, sit back, relax and check out our discussion about the music we call “Jazz” if you like, and I hope you find it as stimulating as we did. Disclaimer: It’s a long one.