CHINA CATS NEW YEAR’S EVE EXTRAVAGANZA The Grateful Dead put on some of the most brilliant New Year’s Eve shows. With three-four-hour—sometimes more—shows and all of the pre and post-performance hoopla, fans always knew they would be in for something extra special. One year, famed promoter Bill Graham appeared at midnight as “Father Time”—he hovered high above the audience, riding a glowing Godzilla-sized joint. Then, Jerry, Bobby, Phil, Keith, Mickey and Billy returned for their third set—spanning over an hour—and a three-song encore. While the Veterans Memorial Building wouldn’t be able to accommodate a recreation of any of Graham’s “Father Time” spectacles, the China Cats have proven their ability to carry on the legacy of the Dead’s monster repertoire with an infectious energy that inspires nonstop dancing. Matt Hartle (lead guitar and vocals), Scott Cooper (rhythm guitar and vocals), Steve Sofranko (keys and vocals), Rockin’ Roger (bass and vocals) and Michael Owens (drums) might not be the Grateful Dead. Still, they’re dedicated to the band’s music and aware of the coveted New Year’s Eve shows. Who knows what they’ll bring to their Santa Cruz New Year’s Eve Extravaganza? One thing is guaranteed: It will be one hell of a night. $45/$50. 8pm. Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz. thechinacats.com.
GATHERING IN GRATITUDE Originally called the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery, The 418 Project—a nonprofit “movement arts center”—was founded in 1993 by modern dancer Rita Rivera shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Rivera began sharing the space with Samba, Capoeira and African dance communities to keep the center open, leading to its organic metamorphosis into downtown Santa Cruz’s avant-garde melting pot. As 418 turns 30, party people are invited to celebrate ground zero for artistic fusion. Enjoy cocktails, vegan eats and hot cacao elixirs while a massive Origami mobile—made of thousands of hand-folded paper birds—suspended overhead blows your mind. Get your boogie on as Latin bass and afro beats carry you through the night with the assistance of a dazzling disco ball and big-screen video expedition. The event was concocted to represent a metaphor for the nonprofit’s diverse artistic offerings. So, the versatility of entertainment will be endless and unexpected. There’s a little bit of everything from roller dance, poetry and Samba pop-up performances to visual theater, spoken word, musical sets and a set from hip-hop group Mic Drop. The best part is that ticket sales benefit Santa Cruz working artists. $36-250. 8pm. The 418 Project, 155 S. River St., Santa Cruz. the418project.org.
GIMME GIMME DISCO: A DANCE PARTY INSPIRED BY ABBA “I don’t know much about dancin’, that’s why I got this song/ One of my legs is shorter than the other, and both my feet’s too long.” Don’t worry. Even those who fit the description of a “Dancin’ Fool”—Frank Zappa’s acid-tongued homage to the disco era—the Scandinavian pop outfit’s cherished hits will drown out all of your dance jitters. From the softly lit harmonies of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” to the anthemic disco ball spinner “Dancing Queen,” a soundtrack laden with the tunes that put Sweden on the disco map will echo throughout downtown Santa Cruz. Leisure suit onesies, nine-inch platform boots and abundant exposed chest hair are encouraged. $20-75 plus fees. 9pm. The Catalyst, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. catalystclub.com.
HARRY AND THE HITMEN AND BOBCAT ROB Harry and the Hitmen’s education in funk, soul, R&B and otherwise runs so deep the local group has recreated entire shows—while employing their own style—down to a complete horn section. One of their greatest and most challenging was a Stax Revue concert from 1967 that featured everyone from Booker T & the MGs to Otis Redding. Until the pandemic, the Hitmen had a New Year’s Eve Crepe Place tradition that had been going on for more than a decade. The blue-eyed soul men will be back and likely have something saucy in store in addition to the countdown and balloon drop. Tickets usually sell out, so get them while they’re out. Also performing, Bobcat Rob and the Nightly Howls is a self-described musical contradiction—“songs that are as uplifting as they are haunting.” And frontman Bobcat Rob’s voice has been likened to “honey drizzled over burning coals.” All good stuff. $30/$40. 8pm. The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. thecrepeplace.com.
LOS LOBOS AND MATTSON 2 Check out this week’s cover story for everything you wanted to know about Los Lobos and why their Santa Cruz New Year’s Eve show will be exceptional. Openers Mattson 2 come with their own brand of musical magic. San Diego identical twins Jared and Jonathan Mattson have created a world where Dick Dale’s retro reverberated surf rock melds with Horace Silver’s and Art Blakey’s original variation of hard bop delivered by The Jazz Messengers. Mattson 2 is unlike anything you’ve heard before, just like Los Lobos had been when they first arrived on the scene five decades ago. $85.05 plus fees. 9:30pm. Rio Theatre,1205 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz. folkyeah.com.
MARTY O’REILLY WITH QUINN DEVEAUX: ROARING ’20S NYE PARTY Marty O’Reilly performs every show as if it’s his last; he’s not done performing until he’s sweated every last drop of sweat he has. Trying to categorize O’Reilly’s music is like finding a corner in a round room. Usually, fans who attempt to describe his music sound like they’re struggling to explain a dream in the morning. Meanwhile, Quinn DeVeaux has one of the most powerful voices on the planet. He recently contributed his bluebeat soul vocals to the California Honeydrops’ 2022 tunes “Take You Back” and “Very Best Thang.” There will be a photo booth at the show and a champagne toast at midnight. $30/$35 plus fees. 9pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. moesalley.com.
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