Michael Franti & Spearhead michaelfranti.com
Michael Franti knows all about the power of music. He knows how it can inspire, uplift and make people want to dance or cry. He felt it firsthand recently when he heard the children's chorus at New York's PS22 elementary school singing "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)," the celebratory first single from Franti's tenth studio album, All People. "It moved me to tears, to hear these kids singing, 'Everybody wants me to be who they want me to be.' That's who I wrote 'People' for. To let them know, your mission in life should be to be yourself and to embrace the diversity of others." It's a rule the barefoot, 6-foot-6 San Francisco based singer-songwriter-guitarist and philanthropist has diligently followed over the past two decades, proactively creating and supporting numerous environmental, humanitarian and social causes. It explains the evolution of sound on All People, colossal dance beats and dizzying electronic effects taking the fore, as well as a lyrical sincerity that has always had Franti singing about what moves him most. All People is the follow-up to Franti's wildly successful 2010 release, "The Sound of Sunshine", his highest charting album to date.
We are so glad to welcome Michael and Spearhead to Santa Cruz Mountain Sol!
Angélique Kidjo kidjo.com
Angélique Kidjo is a Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and activist from Benin, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. Time magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva". The BBC has included Kidjo in its list of the African continent's 50 most iconic figures. The Guardian has listed her as one of its Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World and Kidjo is the first woman to be listed among "The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa" Forbes magazine."Village traditions, cosmopolitan transformations, female solidarity, African pride and perpetual energy have been constants in Ms. Kidjo's recording career."
"Her clear, evocative voice provides a constant through songs that
convey exhilaration and longing."
- USA Today
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers nickibluhm.com
For Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers' much-anticipated sophomore album, Loved Wild Lost, the band teamed with producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter). The result is their most compelling collection of songs to date. "After three solid years of playing as a band across the country, we have had time to learn, reflect and grow. This album displays a departure into the deeper and more contemplative themes of people in transition and the struggle to retain the energy and optimism of youth as life becomes more complex."
"The longer something moves away from its inception point, the more it takes on a life and a narrative of its own," adds Nicki's husband and the band's musical director, Tim Bluhm. "In these songs, I think you can clearly hear that happening; idealism and optimism losing control to the forces of inertia and a life of constant traveling. Happiness becomes an intention and love becomes a long-term study of oneself and of one another."
Spirit of '76 with Melvin Seals
The "Spirit of 76" band will be recreating a show originally played by the Jerry Garcia Band. This show's lineup features Matt Hartle, Jerry Brown, Mark Corsolini, Paul Garcia, Roger Sideman, Steve Sofranko and special guest Melvin Seals. Melvin is best known for his long friendship and musical partnership with cultural icon and guitarist Jerry Garcia and the smile of his that lights up the room. Melvin spun his B-3 magic with the Jerry Garcia Band for 18 years and in doing so helped pioneer and define what has now become "Jam Band Music".
Keith Greeninger keithgreeninger.com
As a singer-songwriter, Keith paints intricate portraits of the human condition with powerful melodic images, deep engaging guitar rhythms and husky, heart-wrenching vocals. His masterfully crafted tunes and powerful presence have earned him the top songwriting awards at the prestigious Telluride Blue Grass Festival, The Kerrville Folk Festival and The Napa Valley Folk Festival. Keith has toured the national Folk and Americana circuit extensively for over two decades. He's performed at festivals and legendary venues, appeared on countless national radio shows, and shared stages with dozens of the country's best-known artists. Keith's records and personal appearances have garnered him a legion of devoted fans, and the respect, admiration and appreciation of music critics far and wide.
Yonder Mountain String Band yondermountain.com
For nearly 17 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock n roll and improvisation. YMSB has always played music of their own design, in the process attracting a devout coterie of fans that often resembles a tight knit family on an epic musical journey as Yonder traverses the country with an ever-rigorous tour schedule. Yonder is a quintessential ensemble honing its craft night after night on the road, and the fans are there to experience it in real time. The result is music that doesn't stand still, it's always progressing and breaking unprecedented ground.
Keller Williams Grateful Grass feat. Michael Kang & Keith Moseley kellerwilliams.net
Keller's Grateful Grass delivers anything-but-traditional bluegrass versions of Grateful Dead favorites. Grateful Grass often times has a rotating lineup and has included collaborations with The Keels, Keith Moseley (SCI), Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band), Michael Kang (SCI), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green, Mark Beneveto Trio) and more!
Youthful West Coast singer/songwriter Brett Dennen, with a fragile, high-pitched voice that makes him sound at times like a cross between Tracy Chapman and Neil Young, first drew attention in 2004 with the single "Desert Sunrise." The tune, with its easy groove and soulful phrasing, garnered enough spins on KCRW to warrant the release of his self-titled debut the following year. In 2006, Dennen signed with Dualtone and released So Much More. Hope for the Hopeless followed on the same imprint in 2008. Dennen's fourth studio effort, Loverboy, which featured subtle African rhythms and more of a pop veneer, arrived in April of 2011, followed in 2013 by the sparser acoustic-based Smoke and Mirrors.
Golden Gate Wingmen simonsaysbooking.com/ggw.html
After the surprise announcement of the end of Furthur, fans of improvisational jam music were left to wonder what is next. Within days, the answer was evident, Golden Gate Wingmen. The band contains members of the highest quality, and from the first show were performing original material (mostly songs from John Kadlecik's first album release under his own name.) The band premiered to a sold out audience on November 5 2014 at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael CA. Fans can expect both boundary thrashing original music, and material from the song book that they love, forged in an altogether new cauldron, the results of which will be unique to each night's performance.
Tim Flannery & Lunatic Fringe timflannery.com
He is one of the enduring hard men of professional sports, logging 34 of his 55 years with professional baseball. Of those years, he has spent a jaw-dropping 25 on the hallowed fields of the Major Leagues as both a hard-charging player and a steely-eyed field general. He has been to the World Series four times- once as a player and three times as a coach, finally wrapping his battered, dusty hands around the World Series Trophy in 2010... and yet again in 2012.
Impressive credentials for any man, but here's the thing- baseball is only a part of his story.
He is also a prolific and talented songwriter, currently preparing to release his eleventh album in 15 years. That's right- this ferociously hard-working baseball legend is also an award-nominated musician who regularly packs venues across the globe. He is a seasoned fingerstyle legend of Americana music with a gift for crafting potent, resonant songs and delivering energetic, emotional live shows.
New Monsoon newmonsoon.com
San Francisco rock quintet New Monsoon is the collaborative vehicle for the vocal and instrumental prowess of founding members Bo Carper (acoustic guitar and banjo), Jeff Miller (electric guitar) and Phil Ferlino (keys). Now well into its second decade of national touring, the band also features the muscular rhythm section of Marshall Harrell (electric bass) and Michael Pinkham (drums).
Rodney Crowell rodneycrowell.com
Great songwriters are said to reveal themselves through their work; their candor and transparency of soul is the key to the listener's empathic heart and the culture's admiration. But the lions of country songwriting, idolized and covered in magazines as they are, can sometimes feel like statues carved in marble, not fleshy, visceral human beings who've been scared, scarred and small just like us. And that's why Rodney Crowell, who completed an astonishing personal pilgrimage from great American songwriter to laudable author with his 2011 memoir Chinaberry Sidewalks, stands apart.
We meet in those pages someone we thought we knew: the wiry and slender guitarist in Emmylou Harris's first Hot Band, the young protégé of Guy Clark and Mickey Newbury, the icy cool country star and Grammy-winner of the 1980s, the long-time professional partner and husband of Rosanne Cash, the Cherry Bombs band-mate of Vince Gill and Tony Brown, the comeback kid of the 2000s whose incisive, quasi-autobiographical album cycle secured him a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association. But in Chinaberry Sidewalks, his acclaimed book, we get a portrait of the artist as young man and boy, a story that's more than incidental to the artist he'd become. We recognize the wrinkles and complexities and wounds that would make his lyrics so relatable and shaded. We discover why Crowell has said that in the genetic mingling of his articulate, word-loving mother and his country musician father, he believes he was born to write songs.
Crowell's work and career sets a benchmark for commercial success and lifelong artistic ambition and integrity in country music. His compositions, including "Til I Gain Control Again," "I Ain't Livin' Long Like This," "Song For The Life" and "Ashes By Now" have been widely and successfully covered by legendary singers. But he led the way as a recording artist, achieving a dazzling run of radio hits in the 1980s, followed by a series of more personal albums in the 2000s that secured his place as much more than a chart-topper. He's had songs as an artist or writer in the top ten in every decade since the 1970s, including latter-day landmarks "Please Remember Me" and "Making Memories of Us." He's a Grammy Award winner, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association.
Stu Allen/Justin Purtill facebook page
Stu & Justin will be performing a set of music from the Jerry Garcia/John Kahn period.
Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) alomusic.com
"We've never fit into any quickly digestible category," says ALO's keyboardist/singer Zach Gill. "It's just a different kind of experience."
With its delightfully vibrant blend of inventive musicality and genre-blurring reach, Sounds Like This sees ALO operating with fresh verve and vitality, their always-kaleidoscopic funk pop 'n roll aglow with exceptionally ebullient songcraft and deliriously danceable grooves. The California-based band's fourth Brushfire Records release showcases their unfettered passion, wit, and imagination while simultaneously exploring hitherto uncharted musical terrain. Invigorated by an unstructured approach to the studio process, ALO have accessed new avenues of resourcefulness, resulting in a truly distinctive collection of songs that adroitly captures all the glorious ingenuity and adventure of the band's legendary live sets.
Sharing a common love of music and life on the road, Fruition were originally brought together by the lure of adventure. For the last six years, the Portland, Ore. string infused quintet has racked up the miles playing sold out shows in their adopted hometown and garnering new fans across the country. Fruition released "Just One of Them Nights" in 2013 and it's an album that finds the band tackling the many struggles and successes that come along with living a vagabond lifestyle and the search for artistic clarity.
Ani DiFranco righteousbabe.com
After 20 years in the music biz, self-described "Little Folksinger" Ani DiFranco is still technically little, although her influence on fellow musicians, activists, and indie-minded people the world over has been huge. She still proudly identifies as a folksinger, too, but her understanding of that term has always been far more expansive than a bin at the record store or a category on iTunes, with ample room for soul, funk, jazz, electronic music, spoken word, and a marching band or two.
Santa Cruz Dead All Stars
Remembering Jerry Garcia featuring members of China Cats, Shady Groove, and Slugs and Roses.
Dead Winter Carpenters deadwintercarpenters.com
Hailing from North Lake Tahoe, CA, Dead Winter Carpenters blends Americana roots-rock with a tinge of straightforward 'tell-it-like-it-is' Alt. Country to bring hard-hitting performances that are as edgy as they are whimsical. The band pushes and pulls at musical boundaries with top-notch, live performances while walking the line with unexpected musical flair. With an unbridled spirit, and an authentic approach to the art of songwriting, the experience of an evening with Dead Winter Carpenters epitomizes what live music is all about.
7 Come 11 facebook.com/7come11
7 Come 11 is a Hammond Organ driven outfit that brings grooves reminiscent of the work of legends such as the funky METERS and the JB's while plunging into inspired jams and raging homages to powerhouse rock acts of days past like Zeppelin.
With the the ferocious drumming of Beaumont Bradbury, Gianni Staiano's mighty Hammond Organ, his Clavinet and his incredible footwork on the bass pedals, this group brings astonishing energy to the stage.
Emily Elbert emilyelbert.com
Known for her strong melodies, straight-to-the-heart vocals, and intricate guitar work, Emily’s music fuses old-school R & B styles with progressive influence and insight. She has performed at some of the best listening rooms, clubs, and theaters in the country, from the Brooklyn Bowl and the Kessler Theater to the Hotel Café and Club Passim. Emily has also opened for/toured with artists including Leon Russell, G. Love & Special Sauce, Crystal Bowersox, Tuck & Patti, Richie Havens, Kaki King, Emily King, Livingston Taylor, Joan Osbourne, Ruthie Foster, Kate Voegele, Ben Taylor, Marcia Ball, the James Hunter Six, L.A. Guitar Quartet, Patty Larkin, and many more. She has also worked for the U.S. Embassy, leading cultural outreach workshops and performing music in Thailand, Indonesia, Scotland, Palestine, and Israel.
Pat Hull pathullmusic.com
Pat Hull's lyrically and vocally charged songwriting "goes in the direction of gently reinventing the genre rather than obeying its exhausted axioms" (Deli Magazine).
Rhan Wilson & Rick Zeek rhanwilson.com
Playing as "Brookside", Rhan and Rick are joined by Terry Sheilds on bass and Bruce Wandmayer on pedal steel.
Miss Lonley Heaerts misslonelyheartsband.com
Railroad Earth railroadearth.com
Railroad Earth's music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, "Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them." Sheaffer continues: "The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They 'want' to be approached that way - where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about."
So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: "I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums." Tim Carbone takes a swing: "We're a Country & Eastern band! " Todd Sheaffer offers "A souped-up string band? I don't know. I'm not good at this." Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: "Rock & roll!"
SambaDá was formed in 1998 in Santa Cruz, California, by capoeira master Papiba Godinho, saxophonist Anne Stafford, and drummer Gary Kehoe and has gone on to conquer clubs and festivals across the country with its explosive Carnival-like performances. The band is known for its high-energy percussion, danceable grooves and visually dynamic show.
Zappa Plays Zappa zappaplayszappa.com
Guitarist Dweezil Zappa has cocooned himself away in the studio engineering his own metamorphosis. "In order for me to play my father's music correctly I needed to understand the fundamentals of his music more thoroughly, which meant a lot of studying." His goal was to emerge as a "better musician" as well as a "better guitarist." "Prepping for the tour has been like preparing for a medieval battle where going into it your sharpest weapon is a spoon. But I'm pretty deadly with that spoon now."
Naked Bootleggers facebook page
Local favorites from the the Santa Cruz Mountains bring a fresh approach to OLD TIME MOUNTAIN MUSIC. Reviving the standards of yesterday while writing standards for tomorrow, bridging the gap between old time and contemporary music with captivating vocal harmonies, lyrical creativity and that high lonesome sound of old.
The Motet themotet.net
Hailing from Colorado, the Motet is a world-class improvisational funk band that has dedicated more than a decade to the healing powers of funky dance music. Although the early years of the band saw a constantly revolving cast of musicians, the most recent incarnation has been touring the country for the last several years developing a new and unique style with roots in funk, afrobeat, disco, electronic music, and soul. This new Motet has quickly gained a reputation for throwing infectious dance parties everywhere they go, creating a deep rapport between band and audience.
McCoy Tyler Band mccoytylerband.wix.com
The McCoy Tyler Band is a progressive acoustic trio based in Santa Cruz, CA. Their music fuses elements of traditional folk, bluegrass, old-school country, blues, and more. Tyler's impactful songwriting and unique arrangements paired with the band's high-energy live set make them one of the most intriguing up and coming bands in the Bay Area and beyond. Rooted deep in the customs of traditional American music, The McCoy Tyler Band seeks to pay homage to such traditions while incorporating their own unique style of lyricism, arrangement, and performance.
Dan Bern danbern.com
Dan Bern is best known for his prolific songwriting and electric live persona. He has released eighteen albums since 1997 and built a loyal following based on prodigious touring and output of songs in all forms. Since 2007, Bern has also focused his talent and sharp wit on writing songs for movies and other projects. He composed over a dozen songs for the Jake Kasdan/Judd Apatow spoof-biopic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and composed songs included in Apatow’s Get Him to the Greek, starring Russell Brand. Bern’s song One Dance was also included in Kasdan’s first film Zero Effect starring Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, and Ryan O’Neal. Bern wrote a number of the songs in Walk Hard and Get Him to the Greek with fellow songsmith Mike Viola. He has also written with Marshall Crenshaw, Peter Himmelman, Greg Prestopino and many others.
James McMurtry Band jamesmcmurtry.com
The son of acclaimed author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment), James grew up on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. His first album, Too Long in the Wasteland (released in 1989), was produced by John Mellencamp and marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill. In 1996, McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for his Longform Music Video of Where'd You Hide The Body. 1997's It Had To Happen received the American Indie Award for Best Americana Album.
In 2004, McMurtry released the universally lauded Live in Aught-Three on Compadre Records. 2005's Childish Things garnered some of the highest critical praise of McMurtry's career and spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Americana Music Radio Chart in 2005 and 2006. In September 2006, Childish Things and "We Can't Make It Here" won the Americana Music Awards for Album and Song of the Year, respectively. McMurtry received more Americana Music Award nominations for 2008's Just Us Kids. This album marked his highest Billboard 200 chart position in more than 19 years.
In 2009, Live in Europe was released, capturing The McMurtry Band's first European tour and extraordinary live set. Along with seasoned band members Ronnie Johnson, Daren Hess, and Tim Holt, the disc features special guests Ian McLagan and Jon Dee Graham. Also, for the first time ever, video of the James McMurtry Band's live performance is available on the included DVD.
The poignant lyrics of his immense catalog still ring true today. In 2011, "We Can't Make It Here" was cited among 'The Nation's' "Best Protest Songs Ever." Bob Lefsetz writes, "'We Can't Make It Here' has stood the test of time because of its unmitigated truth."
Never one to rest on his laurels, James McMurtry continues to tour constantly, and consistently puts on a "must-see" powerhouse performance. 'The Washington Post' noted McMurtry's live prowess: "Much attention is paid to James McMurtry's lyrics, and rightfully so: He creates a novel's worth of emotion and experience in four minutes of blisteringly stark couplets. What gets overlooked, however, is that he's an accomplished rock guitar player....it's serious stuff, imparted by a singularly serious band."