A couple of years ago, we wrote about Santa Cruz’s stunning legacy of hip-hop dance, and I am still surprised this community hasn’t embraced it the way we should. Over the hill in San Jose, the Bangerz—who compose the music for the Jabbawockeez, probably the most famous hip-hop dance crew of all time—are a cultural fixture, wowing crowds at huge downtown festivals and working closely with other arts groups in the area. By comparison, Santa Cruz’s history with the Jabbawockeez—as in, the founder of the group, Gary Kendell, came out of our dance community—should be the stuff of local legend.
It hasn’t really happened yet, but we’re going to continue to do our part to make it so. The Santa Cruz studio that Kendell taught at, Motion Pacific, turns 20 this year, and Georgia Johnson’s cover story this week explores how hip-hop was one aspect of how they revolutionized the dance scene here. At the same time, it also goes a little deeper in Kendell’s history than we have before, exploring how his work with the Boom Squad changed a lot of minds about the meaning and possibilities of hip-hop dance.
I’ve been wowed by many Motion Pacific shows over the years. Congratulations to them on two decades of helping to shape how our community thinks about dance.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
KZSC: Where They Are Now
My husband, Kevin Monahan, is also in that 1978 picture on your inside pages—he is the cute one in the middle, left, with a mustache. I was not in that picture, as I had already graduated and was in L.A. working at NBC.
Kevin went on to work at EMU Systems in Santa Cruz, and invented the first sound library for musicians. So much of the ’80s music came from Kevin’s sounds. Maybe there should be a follow-up story on all of the sound developments that happened (and are still happening!) in Santa Cruz. The EMU founders are still alive (and working) and many of the ex-EMU people are still working at Universal Audio. Others are at Apple, etc. Our tenant at the original EMU house in Santa Cruz on Broadway, also a later EMU person from England, is presently at Amazon Alexa, for example.
Robin was also in last year’s 50th anniversary UCSC alumni magazine, along with several of the students from our small little “communications” group. There were about 20 of us under the guidance of Gordon Mumma, head of the electronic music studio. I was Kresge Town Hall Manager at the time, and assistant teacher to Gordon. A lot of the existing audio people in our industry came out of Gordon’s electronic music studio. I knew Robin as late as 1980, when a bunch of us got together and got a hotel room at the second-ever Billboard Video Music Awards in L.A. I stayed in L.A., started my own company, and won a Billboard Music Video Award in 1986. My ex, Rob Schafer, who also helped maintain KZSC, is still a top engineer at CBS NY, and has been so for about 40 years.
Doing radio shows at KZSC was one of the most fun things in my life. I have been a video editor for almost 45 years, doing a documentary on Jackson Browne right now for the NAMM Awards show in L.A.
But there is nothing like real-time broadcasting for a real continual adrenaline rush.
Kevin and I live in Corralitos and still do video … and support Danny Croft’s ’80s show on KZSC with contributions.
Thanks for publishing the info on KZSC.
Denise Gallant | Corralitos
Pleasure Point Posse
Hi. Enjoyed the CVB/Cracker article (GT, 12/27). Used to see them when I was playing with Square Roots, way back last century.
Here is a song by Square Roots about where the band lived: Pleasure Point. We were all surfers and wrote about what we knew: We’re the Pleasure Point Posse/We like to surf it when is glassy/We’re all locals, we’re not Aussies/We no do cocaine, it too costly.
Most of the Roots are still around. I run the Pleasure Point Horns (“rent-a-horn section”); band leader/lead singer/drummer Billy Pitrone is the leader/guitarist/vocalist with Bean Creek; bassist Chris Sandman is with Extra Large, etc.
We’re still contacted by folks worldwide, so our old guitarist put up a Square Roots tribute page: myspace.com/squarerootssantacruz.
Also of note, I’m playing with a bunch of “kids” in the prog-funk-rock-jam band Jive Machine. Three-fourths of the band are grads of Musicians Institute in Hollywood and the guitarist studied with Joe Satriani. We just killed NYE at Abbott Square.
Dan Young | Santa Cruz