At 72, Patti Maxine is one of the busiest players in Santa Cruz and she’s not slowing down. A solo performer and a member of the Island Breeze Band, ROMP, and the Saddle Pals, she’s also been in high demand by local folk musicians and Hawaiian music emissaries like Eddie Kamae and Cyril Pahanui. Anyone who’s witnessed her confident slinging of the slide guitar knows why. Still, it wasn’t necessarily by choice that the brazen stage veteran first picked up the lesser known style. As a young teen living in Roanoke, Va., Maxine sought to study the standard guitar. Her music teacher had other plans for her. “Unbeknownst to me at age 14, my teacher brought out a lap steel,” she says of her surprise introduction to a guitar whose raised strings beg to be swiped rather than pressed down. “He laid it on my lap and I played with a steel bar, and that was it for me.” Soon she was playing Hawaiian music and winning contests despite the fact that the slide was rarely ever seen in a woman’s hands. “Me and this instrument was like a match made in heaven,” she says. Nearly six decades later, after having transplanted to Santa Cruz in the mid-’70s, Maxine is now the teacher. She’s since evolved into a master lap steel player, educator and stalwart supporter of Guitars Not Guns, and this week’s afternoon show on Sunday, Jan. 9 at Don Quixote’s is a benefit for the nonprofit that keeps instruments in the hands of youth. Backed by the Saddle Pals, Maxine will bust out her lap steel and resonator guitar through a set of Western swing (“Georgia Boogie”), waltz (“Vaya Con Dios”), and rock (“Sweet Nothins’”) covers. Maxine uses her dynamic steel, which can both weep and ramble, to emulate the twist-and-turn expression usually afforded by vocal lines. With a cache of guitars—including an electric lap steel made by Colin Alder and an acoustic bamboo lap steel made by Tony Graziano, Maxine’s intuitive touch glides through any variation of sounds and styles—island hopping from one genre to the next.
INFO: 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $10. 603-2294.