.Things to Do in Santa Cruz: Feb. 8-14

Bitchin Bajas, Leo Kottke, the Lone Bellow and More


BITCHIN BAJAS Chicago psych trio Bitchin Bajas’ Bajascillators might have only four tracks, but each of the 2022 release’s four tunes surpasses the 10-minute mark. Layers of minimalist loops that peak into lush HiFi currents of ecstasy running concurrently. Keys, reed and woodwind instruments percolate, distending and hovering with purpose; this isn’t the music of some kid messing around with a MIDI in the basement. Bajascillators might sound that way at first listen, but the Bitchin Bajas approach is calculated, and every move ensures that listeners will never grow bored. The trio’s magic trick: unleashing epic tracks—one song clocks in at 14 minutes—that feel like they happen super quickly. Cooper Crain, Rob Frye and Dan Quinlivan are creative master mind-effers. That’s not meant to be a negative thing. $20. Wednesday, Feb. 8, 7pm. The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. folkyeah.com

THE COMING OF AGE OF AMERICAN ART MUSIC: THE BOSTON SIX COMPOSERS The music is stunning—described as “Mendelssohn with an American twist”—ranging from dreamy, alluring and jokey to mighty and intense and the players include local luminary Kate Alm with members of Symphony San Jose. This unique performance will be one of the month’s most impressive live musical performances. $35 plus fees. Thursday, Feb. 9, 7:30pm. Peace United Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz. distinguishedartists.org

MATT HECKLER WITH JOHNO LEEROY Matt Heckler is “the fiddle player you want to believe still exists. Veering from Appalachia to Romania, Ireland to the Catskills, his music is definitively unsafe and entirely his own.” Meanwhile, Denver-based country/folk singer-songwriter Johno Leeroy opens. He describes himself as a “songwriter, story delivery artist and traveling T-shirt salesman, who crafts modern Americana, country and soul music while paying homage to the traditional roots style of writing and recording.” $16/$19 plus fees. Friday, Feb. 10, 8pm. Felton Music Hall, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. feltonmusichall.com

LEO KOTTKE Along with John Fahey, Leo Kottke is one of the most influential acoustic guitarists, bringing a unique sound and virtuosic flourishes to the instrument. His propulsive fingerstyle playing heard in his solo instrumental work has cemented his reputation as a true innovator. The two-time Grammy nominee’s inspiration can be found in everyone from Mississippi John Hurt to John Phillip Sousa. Such versatility has translated into collaborations with some of the most talented musicians in the world, including Lyle Lovett and Phish bassist Mike Gordon. Kottke’s 1971 major-label debut, Mudlark, positioned him as a singer-songwriter, despite his own wishes to remain an instrumental performer—in the liner notes to 1972’s 6- and 12-String Guitar, issued on Fahey’s Takoma label, Kottke describes his voice as “geese farts on a muggy day.” $30-45 plus fees. Saturday, Feb. 11, 8pm. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. riotheatre.com

CYRILLE AIMÉE Acclaimed singer Cyrille Aimée is an improvisational wizard. The New York Times called her a “rising star in the galaxy of jazz singers.” The Grammy-nominated vocalist went from busking throughout Europe to dazzling audiences at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals, performing on Broadway and wowing the infamously brutal audiences at the Apollo in New York City. Aimée won the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition and co-starred with Bernadette Peters in a Stephen Sondheim tribute at the renowned City Center in New York. The performance inspired her to dig deeper into Sondheim’s repertoire, resulting in her most recent album, Move On: A Sondheim Adventure. Pianist Sam Hirsh, bassist Max Gerl and drummer Anthony Fung will join Aimée in Santa Cruz. $42/$47.25; $23.50/students. Monday, Feb. 13, 7pm. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. kuumbwajazz.org

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THE FRIGHTS WITH SAD PARK The Frights, an infectious West Coast surf-punk outfit, initially formed as a prank. The “prank” turned out to sound way better than expected, and the outfit found success. Almost despite themselves, moving from the tiny San Diego indie label Postmark Records, which issued their early EPs and their 2013 debut, all the way up to the revered punk label Epitaph, which released their 2018 record Hypochondriac. The Frights’ 2020 Everything Seems Like Yesterday represents the talent of “home studio” singer and guitarist frontman Mikey Carnevale. Originally, Carnevale was going to release everything as a solo album but changed his mind after playing the new material during 2018 shows in San Diego and L.A., back when most of the material was written. If you like bands like FIDLAR, you’ll dig the Frights. Los Angeles emo punk rockers Sad Park—vocalist and guitarist Graham Steele, bassist and backing vocalist Sam Morton and drummer Grant Bubar—released two EPs, Sad Park and Good Start, Bad Endings. In 2018, they released their full-length debut, Sleep, which grew their fanbase exponentially. $25/$30 plus fees. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 8:30pm. The Catalyst Atrium, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. catalystclub.com

THE LONE BELLOW WITH TALL HEIGHTS “One of the reasons we went with Love Songs for Losers as the album title is that I’ve always seen myself as a loser in love,” the Lone Bellow lead vocalist Zach Williams says. “I’ve never been able to get it completely right, so this is my way of standing on top of the mountain and telling everyone, ‘It’s okay.’ The songs are looking at bad relationships and wonderful relationships and all the in-between, sometimes with a good deal of fun. It’s us just trying to encapsulate the whole gamut of experience that we all go through as human beings.” Love Songs for Losers follows up the group’s 2020 chart-topping Half Moon Light—a critically acclaimed effort that marked their first outing with the National’s Aaron Dessner as producer—which spawned the Triple A radio hits “Count On Me” and “Dried Up River” (both hit No. 1 on the Americana Singles chart). After sketching Losers’ 11 songs in a church, the band spent eight weeks at Roy Orbison’s home on Old Hickory Lake, carefully crafting their most sprawling and varied work. Note: This show has been moved from the Rio Theatre. All tickets purchased for the show will be honored. $30.50/$119 VIP plus fees. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 8pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. folkyeah.com


THE CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES DILLER LECTURE WITH GERSHOM GORENBERG: ‘THE SECRET WAR AGAINST THE NAZIS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST‘ At the midpoint of World War II, an Axis army under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was on the brink of conquering the Middle East. Historian Gershom Gorenberg’s War of Shadows reveals the espionage affair that led to the British victory against Rommel at El Alamein—turning the tide of the war and preventing the mass murder of the Jews of Egypt, Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. Gorenberg (Kresge ’76, Religious Studies), an American-born Israeli journalist, covers Middle Eastern politics and the interaction of politics and religion. He is currently a senior correspondent for the American political magazine The American Prospect. Free (Registration required). Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6pm. UCSC Cowell Ranch Hay Barn, 94 Ranch View Road, Santa Cruz. thi.ucsc.edu

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