Santa Cruz live music highlights for the week of April 10
Is there a better band name than Hans Gruber & the Die Hards? It’s almost impossible to not crack a smile after saying it. Somehow, it makes sense that the group would pack a tight-knit, ska-punk sound explosive enough to detonate Nakatomi Tower. On Wednesday, they’re pulling the big heist—er, show—at the Blue Lagoon, with local wrestling accompaniment the Randy Savages and Reno’s own Lil’ Cap’n Ahabs, Boss’ Daughter. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.
In Latin America, Celso Pina, the king of Cumbia, is an electrifying figure. Also known as “the Accordion Rebel,” Pina has been at the top of the cumbia genre for decades, famous for his infectious mix of Mexican accordion music, native rhythms and tropical instrumentation—all of which is infused with a celebratory, pan-Latin American spirit. A forward-thinking musician, Pina has often collaborated with world renowned artists like Cafe Tacuba, Control Machete and Lila Downs, bringing cumbia music into the new millennium and keeping the genre relevant to younger generations. MIKE HUGUENOR
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30 adv/$35 door. 479-1854.
White noise can be peaceful or a nuisance, depending on one’s mood. Likewise, Emael’s mix of organic instruments and earthy-yet-otherworldly electronic beats whir and blend to create glitchy, discordant sounds which soothe as much as they disrupt. The group pours multiple genres in the ’ol mixing pot and have come up with a fresh and delicious potion of eclectic “indie chamber pop.” Chanting vocals and repetitive lyrics add to the witchy, fantasyland cadences, almost like Emael are casting a powerful musical incantation on their captive audience. AMY BEE
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $7. 429-6994.
Pop music is at its best when tinged with all those icky dark emo feelings. The Prids know how to turn what might be merely fluffy into something weightier, with dreamy sonics swirling above heavy bass lines that promise a storm but never break. The clever lyrics and anthem-esque, doubled-up vocals flash through the storm clouds in brilliant forks of light, illuminating the secret heartache on every young emo’s face. The Prids could be looked at as Pixies Lite or R.E.M. Ebon, which is really a compliment (and an improvement?) either way. AB
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
If you haven’t heard the name Joe Kaplow, you probably aren’t a local. That’s OK, we won’t tell. But don’t worry, there’s a chance to get acquainted with Joe and his band—celebrating their debut record release, Time Spent In Between—at Michael’s on Main. Kaplow’s music is a timeless mix of blues, folk and country, with a head filled with too much thinking. Luckily, he takes his stories, ideas and metaphors out of his mind for long walks through sun-soaked melodies and into steep canyons of emotion. MW
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $12 adv/$15 door. 479-9777.
You know Stevie Ray Vaughan was good, because in every photo he’s making that “guitar legend” face like he’s feeling every note. His older brother Jimmie is a bit more subtle, although no doubt a hipster-retro cool guy. He’s no less of a remarkable guitarist, though. Jimmie founded the Fabulous Thunderbirds in the ’70s, but has also released several impressive electric blues albums of his own. His approach to the blues is just so damn cool. Come on, look at those shades! AARON CARNES
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $45. 423-8209.
Rapper Leikeli47 is fierce. Her flow sounds like a call-to-arms, especially set to her upbeat, energy-infused beats. Sometimes personal, sometimes political, it all has the same fearless vibe. But perhaps all of this, while worth noting, is second to the enigma of the rapper herself, who only performs wearing a mask. Who is she? What is she hiding? Or maybe she wants the attention taken off her as a person, so that we can focus on the razor-sharp lyricism she drops in her songs. She moves comfortably from hardcore rap to R&B. And her music is really fun. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $16/adv, $20/door. 423-1338.
KURT ROSENWINKEL STANDARDS TRIO
Kurt Rosenwinkel was barely 20 years old when he dropped out of Berklee to hit the road with vibraphone legend Gary Burton, taking over a chair that had launched the careers of Pat Metheny and Mick Goodrick. He’s more than lived up to the promise of that auspicious gig, establishing himself as one of the most eloquent and influential guitarists of his generation. While he’s an esteemed composer, Rosenwinkel is touring with a trio that focuses on his arrangements of classic jazz tunes, featuring drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. and Italian bassist Dario Deidda. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50 adv/$36.75 door. 427-2227.
The amount of international talent coming into Santa Cruz area can be dizzying. But for those with adventurous tastes, this is one show in particular that shouldn’t be missed. An iconoclastic guitar wizard, Mdou Moctar taught himself to play on a homemade guitar before getting his hands on the real thing. By then, he had already carved out a unique voice, fusing traditional Tuareg harmonies with raga, psychedelic and an undeniable, if unorthodox, pop sensibility. Performing blazing rock pyrotechnics in traditional garb, Moctar is a testament to the power of music worldwide. MH
INFO: 7 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $16 adv/$20 door. 335-2800.