.Things to do in Santa Cruz

Week of December 27




Santa Cruz favorites Papiba & Friends have been delighting crowds for years, and their first post-Christmas show will surely add to their reputation as supreme bringers of the party. Brazilian-born Papiba Godinho fronts this trio of musicians, bringing a fusion of bossa nova and samba roots to the reggae influence that Santa Cruz audiences love. Some funk, jazz and soul suffuse their sound and simmer there. It’s not music made for sitting still—a tapping foot will lead to a swaying hip, which will undoubtedly lead to the kind of dancing that makes time fly. JESSICA IRISH

INFO: 8pm, Crow’s Nest, 2218 East Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz. $6. 476-4560.



Lee Fields PHOTO: Rosie Cohe


Some call him “Little JB” in honor of his sound, bringing to mind one of the all-time greats, James Brown. In a truly just world, Lee Fields would be name enough to grab any music fan’s attention. He’s got deep, gorgeous vocals and engages with his audience in an old-school, joyous way. And his fashion choices are STUNNING (check out his Tiny Desk Concert for a glimpse of the most amazing sequined jacket ever worn by a human person). Lee Fields embodies the very essence of soul music. JI

INFO: 8pm, The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. $34.65. 831-423-1854.



The local jazz quartet led by Jenny O’Leary digs deep into their bag of tricks to produce jazz, blues and even bossa nova covers of popular music. Their vibe is the perfect soundtrack to don those electric boots and mohair suits and wave goodbye to 2023. However, if old acquaintances are not forgotten (via music), Discretion Brewery has a bountiful menu of craft beers to help. For those who want to give themselves an extra treat for getting through the year, Discretion’s kitchen has plenty of items to end the year on a high note. MAT WEIR

INFO: 5:30pm, Discretion Brewery, 2703, 41st Ave., Capitola. Free. 316-0662.



Jerry’s Middle Finger PHOTO: Jason Steger


Jerry’s Middle Finger launches a many-month tour this weekend right here in Santa Cruz, where some of the world’s most ardent Deadheads live. Since its 2015 inception, the group has steadily grown its reputation as the premiere Jerry Garcia tribute band, and crowds of Deadheads gather for their high-energy—many attest “magical”—performances. JMF is anchored by lead guitarist, vocalist and Garcia disciple Garrett Deloian, who promises, “Whether you saw Jerry 500 times or were born after his time on earth, this much is true: JMF will make you feel like he’s still here.” ADDIE MAHMASSANI

INFO: 8pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $27/adv, $31/door. 704-7113.



Is Santa Cruz-based Space Heater a funk band? Or are they a jam band? The answer is both, depending on the song or even the moment in the song. Drawing on deep funk influences ranging from James Brown and Prince to Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, the Heaters can fill a dance floor with irresistible grooves while packing in enough soloing talent to ignite lift-off, rocketing everyone into the cosmic jam stratosphere. DAN EMERSON

INFO: 9pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.



Born under the big trees of Boulder Creek but hailing from both sides of the tracks in Aptos, Heavy Blazer is not for the clean-cut. In fact, someone once described them as “heavier than two buffalos screwing in the mud.” The psychedelic stoner metal trio is for fans of Fu Manchu, Bongzilla, Red Fang . . . and giving the DARE program the middle finger. Their live shows are an unforgiving assault on the mind and societal morals, raining heavy, acid-fueled riffs to anthems such as “Government Check,” “Highway 9” and “Zombie Stripper.” They are joined by local heshers Rumble Steelskin and El Normbo, featuring some local guy named (checks notes) Jimbo Phillips. MW

INFO: 8pm, Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Free. 423-7117.




Jive Machine is a local band that knows how to throw a party. Their distinctive fusion of funk, blues and prog rock is the sound of many a Santa Cruz night, whether bringing down the house at the Crow’s Nest or getting people dancing in the street at one of their recent pop-ups downtown. They list the virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix, the horns of Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans flare of the Meters as influences. Pop-funk singer-songwriter Trianna Feruza—billed as “Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse’s lovechild”—joins the celebration. AM

INFO: 8pm, Crépe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. $30. 429-6994.



Since their debut Santa Cruz gig eight years ago, bluegrass juggernaut AJ Lee & Blue Summit have been on a steady roll, winning over audiences on the road and gathering enough honors and “Best” awards to fill a trophy case. They’ve been called a bluegrass band, but that’s just one of the colors in their musical palette; Blue Summit likes to stir in country, soul, swing rock and jam elements to the mix. They’re looking forward to 2024 and the release of their third (as yet unnamed) album, produced by Lech Wierzinski of the California Honeydrops. The Coffis Brothers band will open the New Year’s Eve show. DE

INFO: 10pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $45/adv, $55/door. 704-7113.



Heading into their fifteenth year together as a band, much-loved local Grateful Dead tribute band the China Cats keeps the spirit of the ’70s alive by honoring the Dead’s music the way only hardcore fans can. Whether it’s covering fan favorites or keeping the improvisational jam going, they keep the dancers dancing, the twirlers twirling and the trippers in a good head space (okay, those are often the same person). Adding an extra dash of authenticity, they’re ringing in 2024 with their own version of Shakedown Street, with local vendors selling their arts and crafts and a liquid light show to steal your face. MW

INFO: 8pm, Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz. $45. 454-0478


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