.Things to Do in Santa Cruz: Feb. 22-28

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, the Mermen, Climate of Hope Forum and More


TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen’s ninth album, Opening, was selected by the U.K.’s Arts Desk as the “Jazz Album of the Year.” The record features 10 original compositions plus Gustavsen’s arrangements of works by Norwegian composers Geir Tveitt and Egil Hovland. “For me,” Gustavsen says, “playing the piano is very similar to a meditation or prayer.” Most of the musician’s material echoes his adoration for classical music and his love of Scandinavian folk music. Some of his compositions are inspired by his days playing in church decades ago. Gustavsen has played at the Athenaeum, SFJazz and performed Kuumbwa in 2018, following the release of The Other Side. Drummer Jarle Vespestad—a member of Gustavsen’s ensemble since their 2003 debut—and bassist Steinar Raknes, who joined the trio in 2021, will join the pianist. $47.25/$52.50; $26.25/students. Thursday, Feb. 23, 7pm. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. kuumbwajazz.org

THY ART IS MURDER WITH KUBLAI KHAN TX, UNDEATH, I AM, JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED It might get a bit loud. Australian deathcore outfit Thy Art Is Murder formed in 2006. The Sydney band, featuring singer Chris “CJ” McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, drummer Lee Stanton and bassist Kevin Butler, released four studio records following their 2008 debut EP, Infinite Death, which reached No. 10 on the AIR Charts. The Sydney band’s second full-length album, Hate, ignited more notoriety, debuting at No. 35 on the ARIA Charts, making them the first deathcore band ever to breach the Top 40. $27/$32 plus fees. Friday, Feb. 24, 6pm. The Catalyst, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. catalystclub.com

BRIANNA CONREY’S ‘PIANO: AN ALL-WOMAN SHOW’ Local pianist and storyteller Brianna Conrey makes her Santa Cruz debut with an extensive celebration of women composers spanning nearly 250 years of music written for solo keyboard instruments. Female composers continue to “struggle with sexism, imposter syndrome, being mothers who were also artists and gaining professional recognition.” Many second-guessed whether they had talent at all. Yet they composed anyway. “Piano: An All-Woman Show” celebrates their music and stories. An audience favorite and quarterfinalist at the 2016 Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition, Conrey is known for elegantly expressive interpretations of familiar standards and for “pushing the repertoire envelope,” resulting in “standout performances.” Critics have praised her “glittering scales,” “sparkling voicing” and “well-shaped, clarified vision.” Equally at home with words as she is with music, Conrey’s “magical,” “heartwarming” stories balance poignant observation with the “joyfully humorous.” Her writing focuses on modern womanhood, creativity and family life and has been featured in P.S. I Love You, Forge and Human Parts. $20/$25; $12.50/students. Friday, Feb. 24, 7:30pm. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. kuumbwajazz.org

MARK HUMMEL’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY HARMONICA BLOWOUT Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blowouts have carried the blues torch to fans everywhere. The Blowout started on a Sunday night in 1991 at Ashkenaz in Berkeley with four harmonica players—Rick Estrin, Mark Hummel, Dave Earl and Doug Jay. The traveling blues show has featured many top harpists, including Huey Lewis, John Mayall, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, Magic Dick and Gary Primich. The guitar spot has been just as killer with Elvin Bishop, Duke Robillard, Anson Funderburgh, Jr. Watson, Steve Freund and Charles Wheal. Blowout tours have covered thousands of miles to every corner of the U.S., Canada and a few European tours. 2023 marks Blowout’s third decade, following two years of postponements. This year’s all-star lineup features Magic Dick (J. Geils Band), John Nemeth, Sugar Ray Norcia, Aki Kumar, Bob Welsh (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite), Anson Funderburgh on guitar, Wes Starr on drums and Randy Bermudes on bass. $40/$45 plus fees. Sunday, Feb. 26, 3pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. moesalley.com

DAVE ALVIN AND JIMMIE DALE GILMORE WITH THE GUILTY ONES AND OLIVIA WOLF Roots music legends Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have been buddies for 30 years but only recently realized they had never played music with each other before. So, in 2017, Grammy winner Alvin and Grammy nominee Gilmore decided to hit the highway to swap songs, tell stories and share life experiences. Though Texas-born Gilmore was twice named “Country Artist of the Year” by Rolling Stone, and California native Alvin first came to fame in the Los Angeles punk group the Blasters, they discovered their musical roots in old blues and folk music are the same. During these unstructured shows, audiences experience classic original compositions from the two and songs from a broad spectrum of songwriters and styles—from Merle Haggard to Sam Cooke to the Youngbloods. This tour, the duo has a full band in tow, a new album, Downey to Lubbock and a slew of new yarns to share. $30/$34 plus fees. Saturday, Feb. 25, 8pm. Felton Music Hall, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. feltonmusichall.com

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THE MERMEN The Mermen’s songs have been described as “instrumental tone poems,” “sonic landscapes” and “wordless odes.” The band has been dubbed “the sound of California.” The group’s 100-plus original instrumental tunes—released on 12 records—unleash a distinct, sprawling range spanning many moods. Originally from San Francisco, the Mermen were initially rooted in instrumental surf and psychedelic sounds of the 1960s. Although they delve into many genres, the band’s founder, songwriter and guitarist Jim Thomas’ modern melodic visions are at the heart and soul of the Mermen. The Mermen always perform as a trio during their live shows: Thomas on guitar, Jennifer Burnes on bass, Martyn Jones on drums. They envelop the American sound—think Aaron Copland and bluegrass (Thomas played in the bluegrass flatpicking championships in Winfield, Kansas, in 1977). A Mermen performance is a unique musical experience with traces of influences ranging from Native American to the Ventures. During live shows, the Mermen’s songs mutate into lengthy improvised variations on a theme in the vein of the Grateful Dead and Phish—new music is often created on the spot. $20/$25 plus fees. Saturday, Feb. 25, 8pm. The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. thecrepeplace.com


FIFTH ANNUAL CLIMATE OF HOPE FORUM: ARTIVISM – CREATIVE ACTION FOR JUSTICE This year’s program will feature artists from various backgrounds who promote healing, environmental justice and community resilience through film, music, photography, poetry, murals and other art forms. A sample of the participants: Lil Milagro Henriquez, M.A., executive director and founder of Mycelium Youth Network, an organization dedicated to preparing and inspiring frontline youth for climate change; poet, singer/songwriter and teacher Bob Gómez, Watsonville’s first Poet Laureate; Consuelo Alba, Watsonville Film Festival co-founder and executive director; Xicana visual artist, muralist, cultural worker and active organizer Irene Juarez O’Connell, co-director of Food What?!, a program that engages youth across Santa Cruz County in healing relationships with land, food and each other. The audience will interact through polls, chat, resource-sharing and organized watch parties. The forum will also stream live on Facebook. Free (donations appreciated). Thursday, Feb. 23, 4-6pm. regenerationpajarovalley.org/climate-of-hope-2023

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