.Music Picks: May 15-21

Santa Cruz live music highlights for the week of May 15, 2019





Ingestion of the toloache plant is known to cause euphoria, hallucinations and even spontaneous feelings of love. Its flower—a white, five-petaled bulb—is known as the “angel’s trumpet,” an instrument whose silent tone announces a bottomless mysticism beneath. Appropriately, Flor de Toloache, NYC’s first all-female mariachi group, has chosen this flower as their namesake. The Grammy-winning and boundary-pushing Flor de Toloache puts a modern spin on an enduring art form, shedding new light both on its natural beauty and its raw mystic power. MIKE HUGUENOR

INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa, 320-2 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz. $26.25 adv/$31.50 door. 427-2227.


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Sajeeb Saha, who goes by Jai Wolf, started producing electronic tracks in 2011. Just a couple years later, he released his official debut single “Indian Summer,” which reached No. 31 on the Billboard charts. It’s a simple, uplifting song that relies more on its triumphant melody than its danceable beat to carry it. As he’s continued to release singles, many of which also charted, he’s followed this format and inserted an infectious pop sensibility into electronic music that sounds like the sun rising on a night of joyous partying. AC

INFO: 8 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25 adv/$30 door. 423-1338.



You know that saying, “The grass is always bluer on the other side?” What? You don’t? Well, it’s a pretty recent phrase. This is it’s first time in print, in fact, but I have a feeling it will take off any day now, just like Front Country’s modernized take on bluegrass did. With a powerful main vocalist, and woodsy covers of King Crimson, tUnE-yArDs and Don Henley, Front Country stretches the borders of bluegrass into the world of pop, without sacrificing the core sensibilities of the genre. The grass really is bluer. MH

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10 adv/$15 door. 479-1854.





Carsie Blanton is a folk artist with a feisty, brash sense of humour—a playful but genuine take on sexuality with political edginess. Musically, she’s always willing to break with genre; if she feels the country song needs some jazz riffs and a quip about masturbation, well, she’ll go ahead and follow what her strange muses have urged her. After all, as Blanton says herself, making people feel comfortable isn’t a priority for her anymore. AMY BEE

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12 adv/$14 door. 429-6994.  



In a jazz scene crowded with excellent singers who can accompany themselves, Champian Fulton ranks among the best. She recently released her 10th album, The Stylings of Champian, but for this date she’s focusing on songs from her acclaimed 2016 project After Dark, a tribute to Dinah Washington. One of jazz’s most influential singers, Washington was just as commanding singing blues, R&B and pop. Champian concentrates on the standards that the Queen remade in her inimitable style, bringing a snappy blues feel to classics like “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” “Blue Skies” and “Mad About the Boy.” ANDREW GILBERT

INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $26.25 adv/$31.50 door. 427-2227.





Merriam-Webster defines “grody” as, “Nasty, disgusting, revolting.” Clearly, the band Grody has picked the perfect name to describe their buzzsaw-death-grind sound. On the heels of a self-titled debut, the Northern California five-piece will hit the Blue Lagoon on May 18 with local heshers Dead War and Blood Omen, along with San Jose’s Cult Graves. MAT WEIR

INFO: 9 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.



If you don’t know the name Eliza Skinner, you’re probably familiar with her work. Not only has she written several Funny or Die skits (including the viral “Mary Poppins Quits” with Kristen Bell) and co-produced Adam Ruins Everything in 2015, she is also currently a writer for The Late Late Show With James Corden and his infamous carpool karaokes. But when she steps out from behind the scenes, Skinner is a one-woman tour de force of comedy who has no problem tackling life’s challenges one joke at a time. MW

INFO: 7:30 and 10 p.m. DNA’s Comedy Lab, 155 S River St., Santa Cruz. $20 adv/$25 door. (530) 592-5250.





Mac Demarco’s music has been called “blue wave” and “slacker rock.” He’s fond of calling it “jizz jazz,” which might be worthy of analyzing somewhere else. The most pragmatic label would be folk rock, with some Ariel Pink underpinnings and a light sprinkling of island music. DeMarco’s tunes have an acoustic feel, even when synthesizers and digital equipment are obviously in play. It’s almost like what an alien being would create to replicate what human acoustic music might sound like. The effect is nostalgic and warm, yet also cold and calculating music that’s kinda creepy-crawly, but still enjoyable—like your favorite ASMR video. AB

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $55.99 adv/$60.99 door. 423-1338.





What happens if you mix traditional bluegrass with traditional Latin music? I know this sounds like a riddle, but it’s actually an apt description of Buenos Aires-based, four-piece acoustic band Che Apalache. Founded by North Carolinian Joe Troop, the group is a byproduct of his time spent teaching young Argentinian musicians how to play bluegrass. Once he and three of his best students formed a band, it was bound to take shape as a hybrid of their collective cultures and musical influences. They call it Latingrass, but you have to hear it to get a sense of this culturally complex, fascinating project. AC

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s On Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $20. 479-9777.



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