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[whitespace] Venue, Vidi, Vici

The year showed that local live music flourishes--when it has a place to play

By David Espinoza

THE YEAR 2001 brought many local talents out of the woodwork and with it more places to play ... okay, so maybe it was the other way around. One of the largest venues in town, the revamped Rio Theatre, plunged full steam ahead with live shows, from the sold-out Joan Jett to Utah Phillips. Just down the street, the Cayuga Vault art house opened its doors to poetry readings, singer/songwriters like Jeff Emery and Eli Salzman, plus an occasional rock band like Sin in Space. In the heart of downtown SC, the Jahva House now regularly hosts jam sessions every Sunday afternoon with the help of local jazz junkies, and the Saturn Cafe has an open-mic night at least once a month. Stepping in for the What Is Art? void (the building is still waiting to be demolished) was the 418 Project, which hosted many events from SC's ever-snotty avant-garde. Let there be no doubt that local music flourishes when there are plenty of spaces to play.

Setbacks of the year included the Scarred of Chaka show at the Wired Wash being canceled due to noise permit issues. In a prime example of very, very bad timing, former Jawbox members-now-called-Burning Airlines had their show at the Catalyst canceled after, well ... you know the story. The biggest loss of the year, especially for the hip-hop community though, was Palookaville shutting its doors. While P-ville has closed down a couple of times before, this time it looks like it will be permanent. It's a shame too. The Catalyst could never step to P-ville's intimate vibe--it was the consummate small club, with flags of the world on the ceiling, an inaccessible (to performers as well) couch on top of the ticket booth, 4-foot-high stage (ideal for stage diving or grabbing onto a performer's leg) and wooden dance floor perfect for breakdancing.

As for live highlights of the year ... Returning for the second annual Big Bang festival/10-night lo-fi showcase, Hate Mail Express rocked the pants off the Stevenson dining hall along with Bay Area mod-rockers the Pattern. To date, there isn't a local band around that shines better when performing without a stage, a foot away from its audience. Japan's Ruins finally paid SC a visit and butchered its instruments onstage at the Rio. It was one of those shows where the drummer plays so hard it's advisable to wear protective gear lest flying splinters of drum sticks hit you. While too many of the local punk bands lose the audience's attention after a couple of songs, Jetlag set itself apart at a number of shows from the Vets Hall basement to the Rio Theatre with its super intense hard-core. The SC-Olympia pipeline remains intact, with Mirah hitting the 418 Project and the Microphones hiding in a tent inside the Saturn Cafe earlier this year. Utah Phillips played one of his biggest shows in SC at the Rio, and East Coast indie-rock grrrls the Butchies made a big splash at the Vets Hall.

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From the January 2-9, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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