Local library wants teens to get loud at its Battle of the Bands
Let’s face it, the last place you’d think to unleash a rock band is at a public library. Making noise at a building of books isn’t exactly known as kosher because we’ve all grown accustomed to that stereotypical image of the grumpy librarian—glasses low on the bridge of her nose, fingers up to her lips shush-ing away, white hair knotted in a bun, and seriously lacking any cool factor.
Think again, says Santa Cruz’s Matt Lorenzo, a former library’s assistant and coordinator of the 2010 Teen Battle of the Bands on Saturday, July 24 at 1 p.m. Organizing the teen music competition for a second year in a row, the 32-year-old (whose mom is a local librarian) is giving the library a facelift and turning it into a temporary rock venue at the behest of the Santa Cruz Public Library system itself. (Insert voice of Gary Coleman doing a ‘What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?’ doubletake here.)
“The library is much more than books on a shelf or in-depth reference questions,” he says. “This concert was a reason to get kids in to show them that the library is a cool place to come. They can come to learn, feel safe and have fun. We want to encourage kids to move forward with their creativity—whether it be through music or any part of creative arts.”
This Saturday, teens will be amassing outside the Santa Cruz Central Library to rock out for some hefty prizes: recording studio hours at The Compound, Gadgetbox, Indigital, and Paradise studios, gift certificates to More Music, and rehearsal time at Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios. The family-friendly competition caps off the library system’s Summer Reading Program as a thank you to local youth. With City Manager Martin Bernal joining as a guest judge, and Mayor Mike Rotkin giving opening introductions, five bands with members ranging in ages from 12-21 will take the outdoor stage. Black Sand, Black Wood Drifters, Blue Weekend, Funky Dosage, and returning champs Rapid Fire are set to perform, with every band taking home prizes. A free raffle will keep things moving in between sets, and the Santa Cruz Roller Derby Groms will be on hand to skate the prizes to winners.
Despite having been laid off last year from his full-time position with the Santa Cruz Public Library’s Youth Services Department, Lorenzo continues to work on-call and is as enthused as ever about the Battle of the Bands he started. Last year, the BOTB lured more than 230 people in attendance and successfully signed up more than 20 teens for their first library cards. This year, Lorenzo expects higher numbers and hopes the event will get people to remember that “the libraries are still here to serve them, and we’re still fighting for them. Having been laid off myself, I know what it’s like. But we’re still doing our best.”
Nick Wallace, a 17-year-old guitarist, pianist and mandolinist who participated in last year’s inaugural concert, will perform with high-energy funk maestros in Funky Dosage. Bringing a danceable set to the lineup, Wallace and crew will play for what he describes as an engaged, multi-generational audience.
“It brings together a couple of different worlds that might not otherwise meet,” Wallace says of the contest that pairs up the topics of reading and rock. “It’s a great opportunity for people to try new things. Maybe a music fan who doesn’t usually read will decide to pick up a book or vice versa. Music and books are both great ways to take you away from your everyday life—they both have a certain magic that can do that.”
The 2010 Teen Battle of the Bands takes place 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, at the Cruzio Parking Lot next to the Central Branch Library, 224 Church St., Santa Cruz. Free to watch. For more information, go to santacruzpl.org/teens/places/botb.