.Things to Do in Santa Cruz: Dec. 14-20

Gangstagrass, Hari Kondabolu, Flynn Creek Circus and more


2022 ‘PORTER GULCH REVIEW’ READING AND ART SHOW Every spring, David Sullivan’s 1B class at Cabrillo College celebrates the diversity and creativity of our community. The Porter Gulch Review has become an annual tradition: The imaginative collage of literature and arts journal that features prose, poetry and artwork from poets, novelists, photographers, artists and other eccentrics from the Santa Cruz area and beyond (submitters are not limited to Santa Cruz). In addition to the 2,000 print copies given away free of charge, a more extensive version is available online, including student book reviews and critiques. Formal attire is suggested. Free. Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7pm. Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Horticulture Center, Rm. 5005, Aptos. Covid vaccine card or proof of negative test required. cabrillo.edu/porter-gulch-review.

FISHBONE WITH SON ROMPE PERA AND JER “The story is as real as it could get; it’s our life under a magnifying glass,” Fishbone bassist and co-founder John Norwood Fisher says of the band’s definitive documentary Sunshine. “The stuff with [former member and co-founder] Kendall [Jones] is painful, but I began to understand the nature of perception and reality. I found a space and don’t need to blame him or anybody.” Beyond the real-life drama, Fishbone remains a dominant source of inspiration for bands and musicians of every ilk. Punk, funk, ska, metal, soul and reggae erupt into multi-sensory journeys of neon, dreadlocks, mohawks, keytars, saxophones and a cyclone where nods to Sly & the Family Stone, the Toasters and Black Flag meet in the center. Songs like “Party at Ground Zero,” “When Problems Arise” and “Everyday Sunshine” sweep listeners into a world that’s part literal, part social commentary, part imagination and all fun. Openers Son Rompe Pera unleashes Cumbia punk, and Jer does the ska-punk thing. $30/$35 plus fees. Wednesday, Dec. 14, 8pm. Catalyst Atrium, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. catalystclub.com.

GANGSTAGRASS  Bluegrass and rap? Who would have thought? Gangstagrass multitalented founder Rench apparently knew the genres would work together like bacon and maple syrup. The mashup works so well the band’s name has become a genre. “There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their playlists than you think,” the Brooklyn hip-hop/country producer and singer-songwriter said. It all began with “Long Hard Times to Come,” a song Rench penned for the popular FX Nuvo-western Justified, which opened every episode with the tune during its six-season run. From there, it was off to the races. MCs R-SON and Dolio the Sleuth trade verses, Dan Whitener on banjo, Brian Farrow on fiddle and Rench on guitar and beats—frequent three-part harmonies come barreling into the mix, adding another notch to the band’s list of endless abilities. Gangstagrass shows are known for spontaneity—the stage is where the band develops new material and furthers their destruction of the boundaries between two genres that had once been considered incompatible. Gangstagrass’ 2020 No Time for Enemies, featuring “Ride With You,” racked up over a million streams shortly after it went live and eventually reached No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass charts. The group’s current tour marks the first chance fans will experience the songs from No Time for Enemies live. $20/$25 plus fees. Friday, Dec. 16, 8pm. Felton Music Hall, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. feltonmusichall.com.

!!! (CHK CHK CHK) WITH TOLLIVER The Sacramento-born, NYC-based electronic-punk flavored !!!—dubbed later as CHK CHK CHK for promotional purposes—formed when members of Black Liquorice and Pope Smashers merged during a 1996 tour. The mission has been and always will be, “Never try to repeat yourself, and always keep an innocence,” de facto frontman Nic Offer told Pitchfork. !!!—LCD Soundsystem’s carefree punk rock nephew with ADHD—is one of the bands who helped ignite the passion of the “millennial dance-punk craze,” but they’ve managed to stick around long after that fire went out. The longevity of !!!’s modish zaniness is invulnerable because they do what they do on their terms without worrying about what’s in or fashionable. The group’s latest Let it be Blue is nothing like previous records. Their world-funk meets pop is a far cry from their roots. The outfit’s cover of R.E.M.’s teary-eyed homage to Andy Kaufman, “Man on the Moon,” sounds like Daft Punk and the Pet Shop Boys on a roller rink in San Fernando Valley circa 1979. So far, !!! has stuck to Offer’s vision. $22/$25 plus fees. Saturday, Dec. 17, 8pm. Felton Music Hall, 1 205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. riotheatre.com.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHORALE With director Christian Grube—emeritus professor of choral conducting at the Berlin University of Arts—at the helm, the Santa Cruz Chorale is in good hands. The talented group of singers will perform a treasure trove of traditional and contemporary pieces, including works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Eric Whitaker, Dietrich Buxtehude and others. The Chorale will be joined by musicians of the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta and will also perform carols from around the world, including the Ukrainian “Carol of the Bells.” The concert will be shorter than usual, without an intermission, and since the audience size will be smaller, make sure you get tickets early. $30; $25/seniors; $5/students. Saturday, Dec. 17, 8pm and Sunday, Dec. 18, 4pm. Holy Cross Church, 123 High St., Santa Cruz. Masks and proof of vaccination required. santacruzchorale.org.

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SUNDAY AFTERNOON BLUES SERIES: MARK HUMMEL AND JUNIOR WATSON Harp master Mark Hummel and guitar guru Junior Watson have performed together for over 40 years. They’ve collaborated on multiple blues records, including 1990’s Hard Lovin’, 1997’s Lowdown To Uptown and 2000’s Blues Harmonica Meltdown One. Both bluesmen are prolific specimens with resumes longer than Crime and Punishment. Watson has toured with Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Canned Heat, Kim Wilson and many others. More impressively, he’s recorded over 150 sessions with everyone from Jimmy Rogers and Charlie Musselwhite to Big Mama Thornton and Shakey Jake. Hummel, meanwhile, published a book about his musical adventures, Big Road Blues: 12 Bars On I-80; in 2019, he was nominated for his seventh Blues Music Award in the “Best Instrumentalist: Harmonica” category; his 2020 tribute to Bluebird/RCA Victor blues musicians of the 1930s and 1940s, Wayback Machine, marked the musician’s 29th record. Hummel appeared on the 2022 album East Bay Blues Vaults 1976-1988, featuring Brownie McGhee, BBQ Barnes, Sonny Rhodes, Bob Kelton, Paris Slim, Cool Papa and several others. $20/$25 plus fees. Sunday, Dec. 18, 4pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. moesalley.com.

HARI KONDABOLU WITH KATIE-ELLEN HUMPHRIES A few years back, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an audience member shouted, “Hail Trump” during Hari Kondabolu’s set. This person then asked the comedian what his “portfolio” looked like. Without skipping a beat, Kondabolu responded by thanking the man for writing his future material and telling him, “Oh son, I’ve just done a special on Netflix; I’m doing okay.” The Bobcat Goldthwait-directed Netflix special, Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives, hit the streaming giant in 2018 and skyrocketed Kondabolu to one of the most popular socio-political comedians in the game. The trio of subjects fuel his comedy: race, inequity and Indian stereotypes. The former writer for the Chris Rock-produced Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell used to be an immigrants’ rights organizer, but he doesn’t force-feed his ideologies to audiences. Kondabolu’s beloved mango bit: “Brown people love mangoes. So much so that we tell stories about the best mangoes we’ve ever eaten—not the exciting or unusual circumstances surrounding the consumption of said mango, but just the taste of mangoes past. The mango is the event.” New York City-based comic Kate-Ellen Humphries on trying to get some alone time: “I just make plans with friends in Vancouver.” $25/$30. Tuesday, Dec. 20, 9pm. Catalyst, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. catalystclub.com.


FLYNN CREEK CIRCUS ‘WINTER FAIRYTALE’ The “Winter Fairytale” is an original holiday circus with a narrative powered by wild acrobatics, uproarious comedy and extreme skill. The Woodsmen, the Fairy and the Spring Sprite, are just a sampling of the imaginative characters you will meet during the Flynn Creek Circus’ magical holiday adventure. The heartwarming tale is an eclectic blend of multicultural folklore that speaks to the “quiet darkness” of winter and the value of self-reflection. “Winter Fairytale” ensures a memorable, family-friendly holiday experience. $23-180. Friday, Dec. 16, 7pm (runs through Jan. 1; days and times on website). Capitola Mall under the Big Top, 1855 41st Ave, Capitola. flynncreekcircus.ticketspice.com/winter-fairytale.

FELTON COVERED BRIDGE HOLIDAY MARKET At nearly 150 years old, the 80-foot-long Felton Covered Bridge is a California Historical Landmark and the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also a unique setting for a holiday market. Forget Amazon; the Santa Cruz Mountains’ locale boasts 35 artisans selling one-of-a-kind handmade arts and crafts unavailable online. The Holiday Market is the ideal opportunity to finish any last-minute shopping while supporting local artists. After shopping, stick around for food, drink and live music; the big guy in the red suit might even drop in. Free. Saturday, Dec. 17, 11am-3pm. Felton Covered Bridge, 6265 Hwy 9 Felton. slvchamber.org.

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