.Things to do in Santa Cruz

Week of April 17




Rapper and producer Mak Nova, aka Mak Daddie The Prince, grooves and flows through a whole set before crowds even understand what hit them. With poetic—even mystical—leanings, songs like “Butterfly with Fangs” and “Walkabout” are a wondrous collision of vintage Afrofunk inspiration, modern hip-hop attitude and New Age self-empowerment. Nova’s latest single, “Oh Ah,” finds the rapper in quiet and contemplative territory, with a catchy melody carrying a message everyone can learn from: I make room for my inner child and get the scoop/and if she leads me astray/that’s just the way to the truth. ADDIE MAHMASSANI

INFO: 8pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $17/adv, $22/door. 479-1854.

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Take a true story and add a great actor—that’s live theater at its most compelling. Steve “Spike” Wong’s performance is just that in his original play White Sky, Falling Dragon, based on his father’s life, Captain Ernest Wong, USAAF. After WWII service as a bombardier, Capt. Wong returned to his Watsonville home with a secret from the past. The tension between his obligations to his traditional Chinese family and his dreams for the future clash smartly in this cross-genre exploration. What does it mean to come home? Wong has some unforgettable answers to that age-old question. Fasten seatbelts and enjoy the ride—Wong is a brilliant storyteller. CHRISTINA WATERS

INFO: 7:30pm, Actors’ Theatre, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. $35. 431-8666.



Country music is having a moment in 2024, and the Chaminade Resort is poised to make it more accessible on the West Coast. Their new series, called Nashville Nights, spotlights local favorites from that Tennessee city where cowboy hats and honky-tonkin’ are part of a regular night out. Nashville staples Love and Theft kicks off the series. They’re a duo of dudes smoking cigarettes,  drinking whiskey and pining for the one that got away—aka all the things that country music is known for. They even opened for Taylor Swift back in her Nashville days! JESSICA IRISH

INFO: 8pm, Chaminade Resort & Spa, 1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz. $65-$75. 475-5600.




Known for her electric blues, gospel and R & B sound, Shemekia Copeland is a powerful vocal force. Her songs are chock-full of empowered messages on being an independent woman who understands the complicated truths about living in America, especially as a Black woman. Songs like “Ain’t Got Time for Hate,” “Money Makes You Ugly” and “When A Woman’s Had Enough” showcase her range of electrified emotions, not to mention her incredible vocals. As the daughter of Johnny Copeland, she hails from a lineage of musical talent, yet her songs are undeniably her own. It’ll be a night of dancing. JI

INFO: 7pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $29.50/adv, $32/door. 704-7113.



The Santa Cruz mountains are in musician Johanna Lefever’s heart. While life has taken her to Alaska and beyond, she keeps returning to where she grew up to find inspiration and renewal. Saturday’s show at Lille Aeske will be special, not just because of how important the region is to this adventurous songwriter but because she is gearing up to release a second album, a follow-up to 2009’s Restless Heart. It will surely be packed full of lessons she’s learned through her travels. Multi-instrumentalist Cassi Nicholls joins the bill for an enchanting night of clear-voiced song. AM

INFO: 8pm, Lille Aeske Arthouse, 13160 Highway 9, Boulder Creek. $25/adv, $30/door. 703-4183.



Earth Day began way back in 1970. Since then, the effects of climate change have gotten noticeably worse. So, it matters now more than ever that everyone stays involved in issues that concern the planet. (That should be everyone since everyone lives on this planet!) Earth Day is great for people to gear their priorities toward environmentalism, healthy living and sustainability. It’s also an opportunity to have some fun. In Abbott Square and Downtown Santa Cruz, eco-minded vendors, face paintings, inspirational talks, the Passport Program for kids and an “environmentally-focused” fashion show will add to the festival flair. Plus, local legendary band Coffee Zombie Collective will be playing the hits. Get inspired to be better stewards of our planet. AARON CARNES

INFO: 11:30am, Abbott Square & Downtown Santa Cruz. Free.




As part of the Making California More Trans Than It Already Is Tour (#besttournameoftheyear), Santa Cruz’s dream-pop punks I’ve Never Been Here Before will be joined by June Henry (Kansas freak folk), the Reverent Marigold (Michigan possessed antifolk) and Pighati (sorrowful transfolk from San Francisco) at Shly Shly Music’s first Queer Folk Festival. Shly Shly Music is a new West Coast booking, planning and show promotion outfit highlighting queer artists and community connections. Of course, a tour lineup does not make a festival, so joining the previous four will be Half Calf, along with the Last Arizona, Stink Animal and the Bad Smells, Flat Animal and Rosiemakesjunk. MAT WEIR

INFO: 5pm, SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 426-5242.




Hard work and productivity aren’t qualities usually associated with soothing, ambient music like that made by multi-instrumentalist Laraaji and his musical collaborator Arji OceAnanda. But the 80-year-old master of the electronic zither has turned out more than 50 albums of atmospheric, soothing sound since his debut in 1978. Studying Eastern mysticism and playing a pawnshop zither on the streets of New York started Laraaji on the path to becoming one of the trailblazers of the chill genre. Laraaji, who also plays piano and mbira, has worked with elite producers like Brian Eno and Bill Laswell. OceAnanda, a trained Reiki healer, joins in on iPad synth and percussion to produce the duo’s signature sound. DAN EMERSON

INFO: 7pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $36.75/adv, $42/door. 427-2227.



Behold! Three of Earth’s mightiest galactic death metal bands will descend upon Santa Cruz for a night of organ-melting, face-hugging riffs where nobody can hear the screams (read: the back room at the Blue Lagoon). Atoll, Xoth and Atrae Bilis are together on one stage for one Monday that definitely won’t suck. Each band brings a brand of sci-fi-themed death metal, from drifting among the cosmos and galactic empires to postapocalyptic destruction. But hark! Not all is as dark and lost as advertised. Headbangers might find refuge in the songs of A Band of Orcs’ human subservient captives, Grimpire, as they sing about brutal battles, terrible times and their lord, Gzoroth. Ok, maybe “refuge” isn’t the right word . . . MW

INFO: 8pm, Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 423-7117.


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