.Music Picks: Nov. 13-19

Santa Cruz County live entertainment picks for the week of Nov. 13




As we come to the end of 2019, Helmet wraps up their 30th anniversary spreading the gospel of metal on this glorious rock we call Earth. Throughout the ’90s, Helmet continued to defy genres, breaking onto MTV and the radio while influencing the musicians who would form System of a Down, Mastodon and others. While the band has continued to change, with founder Page Hamilton as the only constant, it still pulls no punches when it comes to the drop-D chords. MAT WEIR

9pm. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $20. 423-1338.


FRIDAY 11/15



Jaze Earl used to rap under the name Juba Zaki. He also used to rap in Rue Des Pêcheres, a nine-piece bilingual hip-hop group out of Belgium that alternately spat in English and French and mixed musical genres like an experimental, international stew. These days, Jaze may be on his own, but he sounds as nimble and confident as he did back in Brussels atop a bed of bass, brass and percussion. In either situation, he stays on the top of the beat, his flow weighty, well-knit and pouring forth like a tapestry unfurled. MIKE HUGUENOR 

9pm. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 429-6994.


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When Devo hit Middle America with jerky New Wave hit “Whip it,” the band explained in interviews that the song provided life advice for anyone dealing with problems. Weirdo funk-punkers Thumpasaurus have their own life-advice song with the crunchy “Mental Karate.” (“Mental karate, choppin’ all the bad thoughts.”)  Who knows, maybe it’s operating on a deeper level of social satire. The robotic “Evil” likens society’s obsession with news to porn addiction. And brutally New Wave track “You Are So Pretty” is just weird, with nothing but Jennifer Lawrence memes in the video. They’re probably just messing with us. AC

9pm. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12 adv/$15 door. 423-1338. 





A few years back, alternative rapper Open Mike Eagle and comedian Baron Vaughn started doing live shows in L.A., showcasing the best comedians in the black community. The idea was to discuss nuances in social issues, demonstrate a wide range of opinions and show that “black entertainment” isn’t a monolith. Then this year, they landed a half-hour show on Comedy Central. They’re back to the live format, but this time as a touring act. AC

7 & 9:30pm. DNA’s Comedy Lab, 155 S. River St., Santa Cruz. $20 adv/$25 door. 900-5123. 



In Venezuela, if you want to par-tay, chances are you’d pop on one of Los Amigos Invisibles’ 11 explosively danceable albums. Or better yet, you’d go check out the band live and get immersed in the funky, disco-infused electro-pop grooves. The group, which started in 1991, quickly gained an international audience when signed by David Byrne to his eclectic Luaka Bop record label. The group plays the best kind of dance music. Not only does it have wide-ranging influences, but it sneaks in some sophisticated lyrics, which you may not fully hear since you’ll be dancing so hard. AC

9pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30. 479-1854. 


SUNDAY 11/17



The hip-hop oriented Dancehall sound that emerged from Jamaica in the ’80s has often been criticized for glorifying violence and for generally being misogynist. There’s some truth there, but it’s painting the music with too broad of a brush. You have to look at each individual artist. One of the best—and one of the few women dancehall artists from this era—is Sister Carol. Her music is uplifting, and her ability to spit out verses at lighting speed will put a smile on your face, no matter how much you claim to like dancehall or not. AC

9pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15 adv/$20 door. 479-1854. 



Incendio are, in a word, caliente. Virtuosic and infectious, the quartet plays world-fusion with a distinctly Latin flavor, filled with pyrotechnic acoustic guitar work and galloping Cumbia rhythms. Though almost entirely Californian (and extremely well trained in classical guitar), you’d be forgiven for thinking the band formed naturally, dust made into flesh in a swirl of hot breeze off the Chihuahuan Desert. On Sunday, they play Michael’s in the height of the afternoon heat, a perfect time to come inside, cool off with a beer and sweat it out on the dancefloor. MH

2pm. Michael’s On Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $12 adv/$15 door. 479-9777


MONDAY 11/18


Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón possesses a radiant sound with a molten core that never loses its beautiful sheen. While he interpreted the music of Monk and Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Joe Henderson as a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, Zenón has defined himself as a composer and bandleader by delving deep into the music of Puerto Rico, where he was born and raised. He returns to Kuumbwa celebrating the release of his recent album Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera, which pays tribute to the legendary Puerto Rican vocalist. Zenón’s instrumental arrangements explore an array of Rivera’s best known songs, evoking his rhythmic inventiveness and powerful presence. ANDREW GILBERT

7pm. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50 adv/$36.75 door. 427-2227.


  1. Hi Aaron,

    Joanna Newsom is performing at the Sunset Center in Carmel (Fri, 11/22) down the coast and I know when I lived in Santa Cruz there was a h u g e Indie scene. If you are interested in doing an article on this humorous and talented harpist, please let me know! Thank you, Allison


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