Music Picks Dec. 27—Jan. 2

Live music highlights for the week of December 27, 2017

Mermen play Saturday, Dec. 30 at Moe's Alley

Live music highlights for the week of December 27, 2017




Holidays got you down? Maybe your uncle had one too many dips in the spiked eggnog? Or maybe you’re one of the many locals in the service industry who doesn’t really get any time off? Then get ready for this Thursday as the Catalyst hosts the Santa Cruz Homegrown After Xmas Party featuring a wide array of local talent, including Alex Lucero, Travis Cruse, Etienne D. France, and Anthony Orlando. This year, Gina Rene headlines the show with her rich and sultry voice that spans across genres. MAT WEIR

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-4135.

FRIDAY 12/29



When record producer Al Bell, co-owner of the legendary Stax Records, calls you “one of the best live soul bands [he’s] ever seen,” you know you’re doing something right. Such is the case for the Monophonics, a Bay Area psychedelic soul outfit that layers smooth, trippy vocals over tight grooves and driving horns. Drawing inspiration from classic funk and soul bands such as Funkadelic and Sly & the Family Stone, the band has a foundation built on respect and technical understanding of the classics, but its San Francisco-infused rock and psych elements push it into territory occupied by only a few other bands. CJ

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.

FRIDAY 12/29





Holiday season means a few things in Santa Cruz: downtown is decorated, we have a truly Californian parade, and the White Ensemble rings in the new year with their covers of songs from the Beatles and more. This year, the boys honor the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour by tackling them on Friday night. Saturday night, they perform their “Player’s Choice” set, rendering covers from all of the Fab Four’s albums. Saturday night, they’ll also be joined by Beggar Kings, the 13-piece Rolling Stones cover act who will include a tribute to the late, great Tom Petty who was taken from us this year. Both nights will also include a guitar raffle benefiting the Guitars Not Guns nonprofit. MW

INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 423-8209.




Eight years ago, the world lost pop icon Michael Jackson. But his music remains an essential part of international pop culture. It’s not unusual to see young people who were born decades after Jackson’s musical peak dancing and singing along to his jams—and there’s no sign of that stopping anytime soon. Bay Area 14-piece band Foreverland pays tribute to the artist and his music in soul-shaking style, with four lead vocalists, four horns and a six-piece rhythm section. If you haven’t seen this musical force in action, you’re missing something special. CJ

INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $25. 335-2800.




The Mermen’s newest album, We Could See It In the Distance, is the perfect title for paddling out from the last 12 months and into the hopeful sunrise of 2018. For 28 years, the Mermen have been one of the key leaders in surf music revival and continue to produce original and inspired tunes as mellow as the beach and as turbulent as the surf. If you haven’t seen them yet, then catch the next wave to Moe’s Alley and ride out this dumpster fire of a year with a barrel roll into the future. MW

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz., $12/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.




How long could one man tour the country shredding his guitar while wearing a KFC bucket on his head and a Mike Myers mask over his face, and have people still interested? Apparently a really long time. From his early days of playing in obscure Bay Area club bands like Deli Creeps to joining the monster that is Guns N’ Roses, Buckethead has maintained a certain mystique, and kept his oddball solo project alive. He plays in a variety of styles, but specializes in metal, and plays his guitar like a lighting rod shooting out liquid audio beams into your ear at light speed. AC

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $28/door. 429-4135.

SUNDAY 12/31



Local singer-songwriter Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra are headed to Moe’s to ring in the new year. A Santa Cruz original, O’Reilly and company formed in 2012 and have since earned a place in the national roots scene, even getting a nod from NPR about their soulfulness. Pairing electric guitar with fiddle, percussion and bass, the band nestles nicely into the space where roots music transitions into gritty rock ’n’ roll, picking up some country gospel, blues and folk music along the way. Also on the bill: rock, soul and gospel four-piece Whiskerman. CJ

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.

SUNDAY 12/31



“Dan Juan is a band.” This is the single-sentence bio on Dan Juan’s Bandcamp page. It’s actually quite informative, as you most likely assumed that Dan Juan was the name of some guy. There is a Dan in the band, but his last name is Talamantes. He even has a different band called Dan Too. He really likes his first name! Dan Juan, the band, is a four-piece indie-folk band, that mixes psychedelic elements with a bit of Americana. The four-song EP The Last Juan is a laid back, reflective collection of songs that will get you hooked on every Dan-related band out there. AC

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.



Celtic, Balkan, jazz and more. Wednesday at Michael’s on Main


Funk and soul. Thursday at Moe’s Alley


Mountain music out of Colorado. Sunday at Lille Aeske


South Bay reggae. Sunday at Catalyst


Grateful Dead tribute. Sunday at Don Quixote’s

Contributor at Good Times |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on community, collaboration, the future of work and music. She's a regular contributor to Shareable and her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Yes! Magazine, No Depression, UTNE Reader, Mother Jones and Launchable Mag. More info: Follow her on Twitter at @CatJohnson.

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