.Quarry the Night

Redwoods venue hosts STS9 double-header

This weekend the renovated Quarry Amphitheatre, in a picturesque spot between the ocean and the redwoods, will host two nights of Sound Tribe Sector 9. The group is famous for their groovy melodies and tasty jams blending rock, jazz, funk and electronic genres.

“My vision is to serve the campus and the community,” Quarry manager Jose Reyes-Olivas says, adding the public should keep an eye open for future events. “The Sound Tribe shows are just the beginning.” 

For the past six years, Reyes-Olivas has overseen everything Quarry related. Prior to that, he played an essential part in the outdoor ampitheater’s much needed $7.5 million renovation.

Before coming to the Quarry, Reyes-Olivas produced some of the largest benefit concerts in the Bay Area. He got his start in 1994, freshly graduated from UC Santa Cruz himself, helping a cause all too familiar to residents today.

“The levee in Pajaro had broken in 1994, ironically,” he recalls.

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At the time, he was working for Watsonville’s Salud Para La Gente clinic, some of the first responders to the flooding.

“Bonnie Raitt had read about Pajaro and wanted to do a couple fundraisers for [Salud Para La Gente] and thus my career was launched,” Reyes-Olivas says.

Over the years, he would produce benefits with Raitt several times, along with Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Michael Franti and others before starting his own company, Sage Productions.

The Quarry’s history itself is also deeply grounded.

It operated as a working quarry in the 1800s and after the California Gold Rush it was the largest supplier of limestone to San Francisco. To this day you can still see the remnants of the old Cowell Lime Works at the base of the campus.

In 1967, two years after UC Santa Cruz was founded, modernist landscape architect Robert Royston was hired to build the Amphitheatre.

For 40 years it continued to be the background setting for ceremonies, concerts and lectures by activists and writers like Alex Haley, Delores Huerta and Angela Davis.

However, it closed in 2006 after it had fallen into disarray. Renovation fundraising started in 2014 and three years later the Quarry got its much needed facelift.

“To a certain degree I think in the original design they were trying to build it as a big classroom,” says Reyes-Olivas. “I know production, so I was looking at it from a different lens.”

Along with new seating, the Quarry received a new concrete stage, scaffolding for lights, power distribution and many of the key elements to make it an up-to-date, high-tech venue for all occasions. 

It even made an appearance in the 2020 FX miniseries Devs, filmed on the campus.

“One of the location scouts was a UCSC alum and he told his co-workers, ‘I think you should check out this place for a couple of scenes,’” Reyes-Olivas explains. “The location manager was so impressed he brought [writer and director] Alex Garland, who took to the whole campus. So it was actually the Quarry that reeled them in.”

Today, the 2,700 occupancy venue is run by Reyes-Olivas and his production team of eight students. “[The Quarry] is contemplative,” he says. “But at the same time, for live shows, it’s very badass.”

Some of the badass will be in a bottle for these shows. For a limited time, Woodhouse Blending & Brewing is selling a lighter IPA in collaboration with STS9, called “Wilder.”

“It’s something super clear and light but has the juiciness and flavor profiles of a hazy,” explains Woodhouse co-founder, William Moxham. Moxham became friends with the band after meeting them through keyboardist David Phipps’ wife, Valerie, in the local West African Drum and Dance scene.

STS9 performs Friday August 4 and Saturday August 5. Doors 6pm. The Quarry Amphitheatre at UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. $49.50 plus fees single day/$87.50 plus fees two day pass.


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