Weekender: RIP Pee-wee, spotlighting one of our own, a powerful ‘Will’ & Sleepy John’s goodbye

Hi friends,

I’m thinking this week of the time that Paul Reubens, the actor behind Pee-wee Herman, visited Santa Cruz many years ago as a guest of the Santa Cruz Film Festival. I got to meet him only briefly, but he struck me as a sophisticated and bright man who, at least at that time, was trying to create a lane for his career beyond Pee-wee. I wish I could have told him what an enormous presence Pee-wee was in our house. RIP.

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

Newly booked upcoming shows this week include the genre-blurring jazz quintet Butcher Brown at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Dec. 8, soulful organ man Melvin Seals & the JGB at Felton Music Hall for back-to-back concerts Nov. 1 and 2. Dope Lemon, the nom de stage of Aussie singer/songwriter Angus Stone, drops in at The Catalyst Oct. 17. And look for the edgy and adventurous trumpet player known as Balkan Bump at The Catalyst on Dec. 2.

Be sure to check out Lookout’s carefully curated and constantly updated planning guide, Down the Line, for the staggering riches and amazing choices awaiting Santa Cruz audiences. It’s our look ahead at the best shows, concerts and events through the rest of the year at clubs, stages and venues all over the county.

The logo for Baine's Nine

B9: What’s what in the week ahead

Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the It’s-August-already?!? B9:

  1. The city of Watsonville is ready for the annual celebration of its remarkably intimate relationship with the strawberry. Go for the pie-eating contest; stay for (your own piece of) the pie.
  2. The greatest play ever written? Let the debate begin, but somebody’s going to cast a vote for the all-too-relevant “King Lear.”
  3. It’s too easy to overlook the chill vibe of Capitola’s Twilight Concert series, next week welcoming the epic beach band Extra Large.
  4. Discovered the otherworldly vibe of the Quarry at UCSC yet? You got two chances this weekend with the mind-expanding sound of STS9.
  5. One of the most innovative string quartets in these United States, the celebrated Kronos Quartet, drops into the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
  6. Santa Cruz Shakespeare dives into perhaps Western literature’s first romantic comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew.”
  7. For many of us non-aquatic mammals, exploring the mysteries of the sea is best done in a nice, dry bookstore on land.
  8. A wonderful way to experience not just the Cabrillo Festival, but Santa Cruz in the summertime, is the festival’s annual al fresco dinner Friday.
  9. Known for their moody, jazz-flavored instrumentals of well-known pop songs, The Bad Plus is still taking the path that no one else bothers to take.

‘Will’ thrills


A scene from Santa Cruz Shakespeare's

(Via RR Jones)

Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will,” the story of two actors and friends of Shakespeare who take it upon themselves to collect all of Shakespeare’s plays, is perfectly at home in the Grove at DeLaveaga it only seems as though it was written for Santa Cruz Shakespeare to perform. Read more here.

Spotlight on Spotlight Awards


Flooding in Pajaro after a breach of the Pajaro River levee

(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud joins writer and poet Nikia Chaney, muralist Augie Escobedo, mixed-media artist Heejin Lee and writer and poet Madeline Aliah as first recipients of the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission’s Spotlight Awards, and they’ll be honored at a First Friday reception. Read more here.

One last round for Sleepy John

Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon marks the last airing of “Please Stand By,” the KPIG-FM show “Sleepy” John Sandidge has hosted for more than 30 years, and with a who’s-who guest list, it promises to be a must-listen. Read more here.

Earworm of the Week

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, the ideal place to reconnect with Woody Guthrie's

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, the ideal place to reconnect with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)

I have two summer rituals that, not coincidentally, always happen at the same time. The first is to spend a couple of hours alone hiking at Henry Cowell. The second is to listen again to “This Land is Your Land.” This week’s EWW is perhaps the most familiar song, at least to Americans, of the past 100 years, a song you and I have heard a thousand times, and that might not be an exaggeration. I say “you and I,” because that’s who the song is addressing. It belongs to you and me. Woody Guthrie’s masterpiece is not merely an American classic. It’s the American hymn. And it deepens a little bit every time you and I hear it. Patriotic? Sure. But it doesn’t talk about country or nation. It talks about “this land,” and that takes it out of the abstract and the political. It’s not a spiritual in the sense that it evokes God or Scripture. But the descriptions — “that endless skyway,” “that golden valley,” “diamond deserts” — glow with a sense of spirituality. When it talks of a voice calling from some indefinable somewhere as the fog is lifting, it reaches into the mystical. Of the million and one recorded versions of the song, one I go back to repeatedly is by the singer-songwriter Mathew Houck, who records under the name Phosphorescent. Spend a moment with it, and you know where to listen. It’s mentioned right in the song’s famous chorus.

All the Earworms in one place

For those who’ve been following my Earworm of the Week, I’ve assembled a playlist that contains them all.

Santa Cruz County Trivia

In the summer of 1992, something happened in Santa Cruz County that religious pilgrims all over the world regarded as a miracle. What was it?

The cover of Marc Randolph's book,

Last week: What multibillion dollar company was conceived on a Highway 17 commute between Scotts Valley and Silicon Valley? It was, of course, the mighty Netflix, once upstart purveyors of DVD by mail (remember the red envelopes?) and now the reigning titan of the streaming wars. It all began way back in 1997 with the daily commute over Highway 17, an idea conceived by carpoolers and Santa Cruz tech workers Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. The whole story is there in Randolph’s book “That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea.” Really fun and enlightening read.

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That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints, or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.

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