.Things to Do in Santa Cruz



A treatise on the importance of spirituality might not be the first thing that comes to mind when most people picture Rainn Wilson; they will more likely remember a man obsessed with beet farms who once accidentally recreated a famous speech by Mussolini. Wilson had infinite memorable moments as Dwight Schrute on The Office, but he’s moved on from Scranton. His new book, Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution, incorporates humor and pop culture into his exploration of the spiritual practices that might save the human race. Not bad for an assistant [to the] regional manager. JESSICA IRISH

INFO: 7pm, Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $27. 423-1854.



When the pandemic hit, the vibrant, diverse metal scene that had risen in the Central Coast like an army of the damned was quickly eviscerated. Some bands disbanded, while others moved out of the area or state. Then there were the vicious ones who stayed, survived and continued to rain audio hellfire on starving ears. San Jose’s death metal duo Aseptic was one of those bands. Aseptic delivers old-school, extreme death metal for fans who like their metal brutal and their imagery delightfully disgusting. This Friday, prepare for an all-night cavernous showcase with the unholy assault of Sakrificer, Trencher, Phantasmal Abyss and Celestial Force. MAT WEIR

secure document shredding

INFO: 8pm, Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 423-7117.


Poetry enthusiasts won’t want to miss In Celebration of the Muse for a rare encounter with outstanding new poems created by regional poets. They’re guaranteed to be blown away or at least emotionally intrigued by the annual no-holds-barred reading produced by The Hive Poetry Collective this year. Eighteen women readers—each selected under blind jury conditions—will offer musings on the deep and delightful aspects of life, the Bardo, eternity, love, death, rites of passage, past heartache, present epiphanies, animal guardian spirits, the whole nine yards and beyond. CHRISTINA WATERS

INFO: 6:30pm, Cabrillo College HORT Building 5005, Aptos. Free.


It’s unclear whether the Brothers Comatose ever leaves the road. Legend has it they’ve even shown up at gigs on horseback. As far as string groups go, however, these guys really bring the rock ‘n’ roll. Brothers Ben and Alex Morrison grew up in Petaluma, jamming nonstop with friends and family in their living room to ’60s and ’70s rock favorites. They have continued covering those songs and performing originals throughout the country well into adulthood. Guitar Magazine calls their style an “upbeat brand of Americana with lots of twang, a dash of wit and a splash of surrealism.” ADDIE MAHMASSANI

INFO: 9pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 479-1854.



The Polish Ambassador has nothing to do with piroshki or diplomatic embassies; he’s an artist building beats and creating danceable tracks to keep his audience moving. Hailing from San Francisco, the Polish Ambassador blends hip-hop, electrofunk and chill soundscapes that create dreamlike visions in the heads of those who listen. Songs like “Skiff Rider” start with an ’80s-inspired, Tron-like track that transports its listeners to a neon-lit past, while other songs evoke the sounds of the best eras of hip-hop. Polish or American, the Polish Ambassador is a man of many talents. JI

INFO: 8pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $37/adv, $42/door. 704-7113.

The Polish Ambassador crafts chill soundscapes at the Felton Music Hall.


Maya McNeil and Ben Pearl comprise the Lilac and the Apple. As a folk artist, McNeil fuses her songcraft, medicine and holistic health background to bring out music’s healing power, like a contemporary bard. The music conveys specific moments of Maya’s life as well as ancient, universal experiences of humans. Ben Pearl is the talented multi-instrumentalist backing Maya. Together, they play folk music inspired by the genre’s connection to social movement and the human experience—connections that foster a healing environment for the audience. Joshua Lowe and Patti Maxine are supporting acts for the Lilac and the Apple. ISABELLA MARIE SANGALINE

INFO: 7pm, Lille Aeske Arthouse, 13160 Highway 9, Boulder Creek. $25/adv, $30/door. 703-4183.

Maya McNeil and Ben Pearl play in Boulder Creek.



Karen with a K is a satirical garage-rock musical (named after a certain viral Internet meme)  created by Santa Cruz-based singer-songwriter Laura February Strange. According to the creator, the protagonist Karen is stumbling through a terrible day, and her various tribulations are spelled out in about a dozen songs written by Strange and performed by Strange Bedfellows. The group comprises veteran local musicians Strange, Scott Kail, Jojo Fox, Jack Hanson and Orbrad Darbro, and vocalists Stephanie Madrigal, Bonny June and Judy Appleby. One local critic says the show should be on Broadway and he meant it. DAN EMERSON

INFO: 5pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $35-$45. 427-2227.


The year is only four months in, and the world’s Doomsday Clock looms at 90 seconds till midnight. People now need love, understanding, and a way to see the humanity in each other by sharing common feelings, dreams and goals across seemingly different cultures. And that’s precisely one of the themes thread throughout the 2022 film Stranger at the Gate. This amazing documentary follows Afghan refugee Bibi Bahrami and her mosque when they discover Richard “Mac” McKinney—an ex-Marine with severe PTSD—has a secret plot to blow up their community center. Through kindness, grace and communication, this would-be tragedy transforms into a powerful message of hope. Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month after the screening and join a live stream discussion with Bahrami and McKinney. While this event is free, attendees are encouraged to register on the library’s website. MW

INFO: 2:30pm, Capitola Branch Library, 2005 Wharf Rd., Capitola. Free. 427-7705. 



There’s no better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with a bunch of punks-turned-mariachi musicians. The alter-ego of LA-based rock band the Bronx, Mariachi El Bronx periodically surfaces for a night of traditional Mexican tunes with punk infusion. Their transformation is near total, with sombreros, a glorious horn section and colorful charro suits taking center stage. Since recording their first album under the name in 2009, Mariachi El Bronx has evolved into a force just about as powerful as the Bronx, even performing between segments on the El Rey Network wrestling program Lucha Underground. AM

INFO: 7pm, Catalyst, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $27/adv, $32/door. 713-5492. 


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