Manager, roadie, singer, booker and promoter Nora Cruz enters the room like a woman in pursuit of a noble mission. With high heels and a short skirt, Cruz is a head turner—and, full of passion about her new CD, Six is Enough, recorded with her band, the Nora Cruz Sextet. “It’s my first CD in 26 years,” Cruz says with a laugh. After studying opera in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. for several years, the big-voiced vixen visited Santa Cruz in 1985 when she was 22 years old.
“I ended up getting married, pregnant and starting my band with my ex-husband—Soul to Soul,” she says. Eventually the moniker changed to the Nora Cruz Band when it became obvious that audiences craved her vocals. After debuting at The Catalyst, the band began performing at the venue several times a month—opening for legends like Jeff Healey and Tower of Power. An innocent mid-western girl who jumped into the deep end of weird head first, Cruz was an immediate local favorite. Six is Enough, a tribute to the R&B sound of a bygone era, was recorded at Gadgetbox Studios with owner and producer Andy Zenczak, who was able to provide the band with a Hammond B3 with a Leslie amp. “I told him I didn’t want it over-produced, not a lot of mix on the vocals—I wanted it to sound like we sound live. I wanted it raw,” explains Cruz. “I sat with him step-by-step until one in the morning and told him what I wanted to hear in the mix, and it was like painting a picture. We only recorded every song twice and then I would move on. The band did a few overdubs—but the vocals were raw.” Hear the album live this Saturday at The Crow’s Nest.
INFO: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. Crow’s Nest, 2218 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. $7. 476-4560.