Cover Stories

Best Arts & Entertainment

bo artsCategory: Winner
Art Gallery: Museum of Art & History
Local Band: Extra Large
Billiards: Fast Eddy’s
Dance Club: Motiv
Dance Studio: Pacific Arts Complex
Festival: Capitola Art & Wine Festival
Karaoke: Coasters
Local Solo Musician: Joe Ferrara
Movie Theater: Del Mar Theatre
Music  Venue (Dedicated): The Catalyst
Music Venue (Bar/restaurant) : The Crepe Place

Music Venue (Cafe/Coffehouse): The Abbey
Nightclub DJ: Motiv
Public Art: Live Oak Stories
Radio Station: KZSC
Theatre Company: Shakespeare Santa Cruz

bo ae MAH SculptureArt Gallery: Museum of Art & History
Since Nina Simon took over as executive director of the Museum of Art & History in April 2011, the previously cash-strapped Downtown Santa Cruz institution has been completely transformed into a mecca for local creativity. Each new exhibit and event is proof that the museum can consistently outdo itself with fresh and innovative ways to engage community members of all ages. Art enthusiasts know this is the best local spot to admire work in numerous mediums—from sculpture and fashion to film to paintings—by local and international artists. 429-1964,

Runners-up Felix Kulpa, Davenport Gallery, The Abbey

(Local) Band: Extra Large
It takes a whole lot of energy and soul to be named “Best Local Band” nine years in a row, but Extra Large proves time and time again that it has what it takes. The band’s ever-expanding fan base consistently packs the dance floor at venues and festivals around the Monterey Bay area, hungry for its spicy Latin-flavored blend of funk, blues, reggae and jazz. Locally born and raised, this band really knows how to get the party started.

Runners-up: Eliquate, Coffee Zombie Collective, Wooster

bo ae eightballBilliards: Fast Eddy’s
The family-run business has been a local favorite for more than 30 years. People first come to Fast Eddy’s for its 19 regulation-size pool tables, bar, arcade and jukebox, but they keep coming back year after year for its laid-back atmosphere, affordable prices, stellar customer service, and all-around camaraderie. 462-1882,

Billiards morphed from a lawn game that smacked of croquet and was played during the 15th century in Northern Europe. Locally, Fast Eddy’s has evolved over the decades, becoming one of the few local businesses to garner the most consecutive Best Of wins.

Billiards play moved indoors and onto wooden tables more than 300 years ago. The green cloth is in place to simulate grass. Back to the balls: They were shoved, not  struck, with wooden sticks dubbed “maces.”

You’ll find 19 pool tables within Fast Eddy’s. Plus: Private party and tournament rooms. It’s the largest pool palace along the  Central Coast.

8-ball began in the early 1900s and became popular under the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company. Initially, the game was played with seven yellow balls, seven red and one black.

Runners-up Surf City Billiards, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz Billiards

Dance Club Nightclub DJ: Motiv
Big-city club atmosphere and specialty cocktails, plus a swanky upstairs lounge, and a number of hyped local and touring DJs spinning on the turntables all night long, make this downtown hotspot the place to be. Dubstep, reggae, Top 40, pulse-pounding beats are a guarantee so it’s no surprise that Motiv takes the title for both Best Dance Club and Best Nightclub DJ. 429-8070,

Runners-up (Dance Club) Blue Lagoon, Moe’s Alley, The Catalyst (Nightclub DJ) DJ AD, DJ MLE WAX

Dance Studio: Pacific Arts Complex
Since opening in September 2012, Pacific Arts Complex (PAC) has fostered a vibrant dance community made up of talented local youth. Located in the former Greenspace building on Soquel Avenue, the dance studio is run by Leslie Johnson, founder of FLEX Dance Company, Mireya Nunez, the former manager of the kids program at Santa Cruz Dance Company, and David Bortnick, a dance teacher, choreographer and videographer. Young and inspired, the trio has worked hard to create a self-proclaimed “second home” for their students. Whether the PAC team is empowering students through their numerous classes—they offer everything from hip-hop to jazz to ballet to acting to video production—or bringing in guest choreographers to teach them new styles during “Monday Madness,” they’re helping nurture the future of dance in our community. 471-8142,

Runners-up: Motion Pacific, Santa Cruz Dance Studio, Dance Center

Festival: Capitola Art & Wine Festival
More than 150 local artists, wine straight from the Santa Cruz Mountains, and a picturesque beach backdrop, make this fest a repeated winner once again. Visitors sip and stroll through the numerous booths lining the Capitola Esplanade, but they can also enjoy live music and dance performances on the Bandstand Stage. Amazing photography, paintings, and more await at this September event. Sept. 14-15, Capitola Esplanade, 475-6522,

Runners-up Greek Festival, Earth Day, Blues Festival

Karaoke: Coasters
Offering karaoke five nights a week, Coasters Bar & Grill, located inside Boardwalk Bowl, is the place to be in Santa Cruz if you want to rock the mic. Whether you aspire to be the next Britney Spears, Jay-Z or Tim McGraw, at Coasters, you can shed your inhibitions and take your talent out of the shower and into the limelight. Just think: James Durbin got his start singing karaoke in Santa Cruz.

Runner-up I Love Sushi

bo ae popcornMovie Theater: The Del Mar
The historic Del Mar Theatre earns the coveted No. 1 spot once again this year for its wide variety of indie, foreign films and an occasional big-budget Hollywood movie. Its welcoming community atmosphere and fun midnight movie selection also factor into the appeal. This is the place to see the next Oscar contender or your favorite cult classic for the 50th time (The Big Lebowski, anyone?). Take note: All three winners in this category—The Del Mar, The Nick and Aptos Cinema—are all part of the hugely successful locally owned Nickelodeon Theatres. 426-7500,

Popcorn: Date of discovery, thousands of years ago by the Guatemalans. The Brits who came to America learned more about popcorn from the Native Americans. Over time, Nickelodeon Theatres eventually won accolades for its fresh take on the treat.

Del Mar Theatre is part of Nickelodeon Theatres, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this fall. Bill Raney founded it with his wife, JoAnne, in 1968. Berkeley architect John Elphick was hired to design the original moviehouse on Lincoln Avenue in Santa Cruz.

Jim Schwenterley took over ownership of The Nick in 1992. By the mid-2000s, he had revamped The Del Mar Theatre. Several years ago, Aptos Cinema entered the fold. On the horizon: A new, inventive slew of movie-related events for locals and film lovers. Stay tuned …

Runners-up: The Nick, Aptos Cinema

Best Music Venue (Coffeehouse): The Abbey
The Abbey’s got it all: a diverse selection of tasty coffee and tea, homey décor, a friendly young staff, and free, live acoustic music sets almost every weekend. A great spot to hear local and touring performers—from indie-pop to Americana—The Abbey has quickly become the hip new hub for art lovers to get their caffeine and music fix, without breaking the bank. 429-1058,

Runners-up: The Ugly Mug, The Crepe Place

Best Music Venue (Dedicated): The Catalyst
For more than 40 years, The Catalyst has helped put Santa Cruz on the map by consistently bringing in A-list musicians to perform—from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Pearl Jam to Neil Young. Today, it continues that tradition, boasting the most diverse lineup in town. Hip-hop, reggae, punk, country, electronic and pop music fans alike count on The Catalyst to bring its favorite local and touring artists to the stage. 423-1338,

Runners-up: Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Moe’s Alley, Rio Theatre

Best Music Venue (Restaurant): The Crepe Place
It’s one thing to master a delectable gourmet crepe, it’s another to serve them up fresh and hot daily while hosting an impressive lineup of musicians night after night. But The Crepe Place has proven time and time again that it can do it all. Rarely charging over $10 for its concerts, the intimate venue brings Americana, electronic, indie-pop, rock and country artists—local and touring—to locals’ fingertips. Few other music venues get you as close to your favorite performers as this hip haunt. 429-6994,

Runners-up: Moe’s Alley, The Catalyst, Don Quixote’s

Public Art: Live Oak Stories
The students of the 2011-2012 Change 4 Good Program at Live Oak Elementary School partnered with The Community Psychology Research and Action Team at UC Santa Cruz to produce “Live Oak Stories,” a colorful and powerful mural at the school that demonstrates the ways in which the Live Oak community is united through its shared stories. With the goal of inspiring others to make a difference in the community and the world at large, the students created a unique piece of art that spreads the messages of love, peace, unity and diversity, while promoting communication and education, and honoring the history of Live Oak. A true testament to the creativity and thoughtfulness of the youth in our community, there’s no question as to why our readers voted it the best local public art. 1916 Capitola Road, Santa Cruz, 475-2000,

Runners-up: The Abbey, The Tannery

Radio Station: KZSC
After numerous consecutive years of being defeated by KPIG, UC Santa Cruz’s student-run radio station, KZSC, has finally come out on top. Founded in 1974, the non-commercial, educational public radio station plays everything you can think of—from classical to rock to hip-hop to country—with numerous shows throughout the day to satisfy every earbud. Edgy, daring and about as hip as you can get around these parts, KZSC now has the best kind of gold star to prove it. 88.1 FM,

Runners-up: KPIG, KUSP

Solo Musician: Joe Ferrara
You’ve got to have a strong, dedicated local following to beat out the likes of Santa Cruz’s most publicized musicians of the moment: Chris Rene and James Durbin. But Joe Ferrara’s years of performing at Shadowbrook combined with his cult following of comic book enthusiasts at his shop, Atlantis Fantasyworld, have cemented his spot at the top of this category this year. A soulful singer and guitarist who can play just about anything—he once performed 185 different songs, without sheet music, in 12 hours at Shadowbrook—Ferrara is a local gem, and one heck of a nice guy to boot.

Runners-up: Chris Rene, James Durbin

Theater Company: Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Since 1981, theater enthusiasts have traveled from far and wide to see Shakespeare Santa Cruz tackle some of the playwright’s greatest works. To make this summer’s theater season extra special, SSC will produce all three plays—“The Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry V” and “Tom Jones”—in the majestic Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. How do you beat theater under the trees?  1156 High St., Santa Cruz, 459-2121,

Runners-up: Cabrillo Stage, Jewell Theatre, Loose Cannon

bo ae poolbottom

Contributor: Jenna Brogan

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