Think Santa Cruz is soundproofed by the surrounding mountains, one snaky Highway 17, and that thing called the Pacific Ocean? Think again. A couple of acts have eschewed the confines of small town beach living and taken their big sounds to some big Hollywood spotlights. Congrats are in order to Wooster and James Durbin, two very different acts whose musical pursuits have recently put a star next to our town on the musical map.
Shuffling together a taut rock and reggae concoction that pops with tasty nuggets of suave blues, seductive soul and edgy funk, Wooster took the Ford-sponsored “Gimme the Gig” national contest by storm. Out of 2,500 applicants, the septet led by Brian Gallagher was chosen as one of the top seven finalists to hit the infamous Whiskey A Go Go stage in Los Angeles last month to strut some serious goods in an attempt to win a recording session with no other than Don Was. Though it returned sans a contract, Wooster’s rise in the ranks during the seven-month contest and subsequent Hollywood exposure have added to the local band’s sweltering reputation.
And then we have James Durbin, the 21-year-old local kid whose YouTube clips have gone viral. Cementing his spot on this season of American Idol, Durbin’s story could already make an emotive television movie-of-the-week. Despite the odds, the singer who battles Tourette’s and Asperger’s has made it into the top 24 spots after first belting out his best in front of celebrity judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson during his San Francisco audition. The former performer in Santa Cruz Musicscool’s Guitarmy has now taken the massive pipes he honed in town to Hollywood—and is singing to international ears. Stay tuned.