Local Yuji Tojo has a bi-monthly residency at the Crow’s Nest, which he’s played for years. Fans like his eclectic blend of jazz, pop, folk, world beat, and just a flair of traditional Japanese music. What they may not realize is that he was kind of a big deal in the ’70s in Japan, before relocating to our sleepy beach town. He toured Japan (and made appearances on TV) so much, he can’t even recall exactly how many he’s done. Not that it really matters, other than to remind folks what phenomenal talent we have right here in Santa Cruz. If you haven’t seen Tojo yet, do yourself a favor and head out ASAP. AARON CARNES
INFO: 8 p.m. Crow’s Nest, 2218 E Cliff, Santa Cruz. $3. 476-4560.
Local reggae band Cruzah has been blending roots, surf rock and ska since 2013. The band is inspired by rocksteady Jamaican music and the “California sunshine lifestyle.” Following in the style of Manu Chao, Bob Marley, and Black Uhuru, Cruzah sets typically include a mix of covers and original songs. The band’s Crepe Place gig is a holiday benefit show—all proceeds will be donated to the radiology department at Cabrillo College. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 8 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
STAR LA’MOAN & THE KITCHENETTES
The best way to celebrate the shortest day of the year is to get yourself to a place where folks know what to do in the dark. Sultry vocalist Star La’Moan, the alter ego of Santa Cruz producer Marla Stone Lyons, is a creature of the night, and she’s surrounded herself with the Kitchenettes, a crack crew of players recruited largely from the volunteers running the Kuumbwa Jazz Center’s sizzling stoves (hence the name). Inspired by piquant New Orleans grooves, the stylistically omnivorous band also snacks on Delta blues, Gypsy swing, old-school R&B, swamp rock and torch songs. The solstice festivities start with a set by the classic jazz combo Speakeasy 3 featuring vocalist Stella D’Oro, a Santa Cruz band that’s expanded far past a trio in recent years (they’ll be joined by a burlesque dancer to ward off the winter cold). ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $10/adv, $12/door. 335-2526.
Classical guitarist Ken Constable has contributed to the local music scene since the ’80s, playing events and gigs, large and small, throughout the Bay Area. His technical prowess has made him one of the area’s most in-demand guitarists, and his comfort with a variety of styles, including Spanish and Brazilian music, classical, and pop keeps listeners coming back for more as he seamlessly moves from “Pachelbel’s Canon” to “Here Comes the Sun” and beyond. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Shadowbrook Restaurant, 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola. Free. 475-1511.
Thursday night is Swing Night at the Crepe Place. This month the Speakeasy 3 top the bill, featuring prohibition-era hot jazz, brought to you by Santa Cruz locals Scott Stobbe, Stella D’Oro, Jamie Brudnick, Brad Hecht and Olaf Schiappacasse. The lineup includes clarinet, banjo, trumpet, bass and saxophone. Splitting the bill are fellow locals the Post Street Rhythm Peddlers, a high-energy seven-piece playing a seductive blend of psychedelic jam-band and New Orleans jazz. KS
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
ANIMO CRUZ HOLIDAY PARTY
The holidays are here, and it’s time to start scouring the club calendars for themed parties to get you in the spirit. It’s been a tough year, so let us recommend to you something to ease your troubled mind: Animo Cruz Holiday Party. Animo Cruz is a local group that plays feel-good reggae-rock jams that will make your soul sing. The grooves are laid back, and they have a bit of a jam-band vibe going on, too. Have a few drinks, let your body take control. It’ll all be OK in 2017, maybe. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Crow’s Nest, 2218 E Cliff, Santa Cruz. $5. 476-4560.
An island band with deep roots in Hawaiian culture and music, Elima also stretches out into pop, oldies, blues, soul, reggae and rock. Since the band’s formation in early 2016, the members, whose backgrounds cover a diverse range of styles and techniques, have grown into a beloved feel-good outfit that delivers aloha whenever and wherever they perform. The band has quite a few traditional hulas in its repertoire, so dancers are encouraged to “leave their chairs, kick off slippahs and have at it when you know the song.” CJ
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Pono Reef Bar, 120 Union St., Santa Cruz, Free. 426-7666.
7 COME 11
The phrase “7 come 11” is used in craps. But it’s no gamble to head out to the Crepe Place on any given Tuesday to see local funk outfit 7 Come 11. These guys deliver every damn week. Where else are you going to get consistent grooving dance music in town, on a Tuesday? That’s what I thought. These guys are all seasoned musicians. They even have an EP out now called Light It Up, released in May of this year. Now you can create a 7 Come 11 dance party at your house. But do go see the band live, regardless. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 429-6994.
Can you believe Santa Cruz’s own Tess Dunn is turning 22 years old? What’s more, she’s turning 22 at this show, which is the perfect time for her to introduce you to music from Polarity, the first EP from her new project T3TRA. She definitely sounds all grown up on this record, which represents a huge shift into darker electronic territory. The ambient synths and dubstep hooks underline raw and personal lyrics on songs like “Oxy” and “Slum It.” Amy Winehouse would have approved, for sure. All proceeds from the show benefit Cystic Fibrosis research. STEVE PALOPOLI
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, $15/$20. 479-1854.
IN THE QUEUE
Easy grooves and vocal harmonies. Friday at Crow’s Nest
New York by way of Santa Cruz contemporary jazz standouts. Friday at Don Quixote’s
Ugly Mug Open Mic
Take a turn on the stage. Tuesday at Ugly Mug
Gothic Americana and country blues. Tuesday at Mission Street BBQ
Reggae celebration featuring the Santa Cruz Reggae All-Stars. Tuesday at Crow’s Nest