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Songwriter Contest Finals!

By the time these words are printed, the semifinals of Zelda's Songwriters' Showcase will be all wrapped up. It's been quite a haul whittling the pool of 70-some contestants down to eight; there's just no getting around the fact that a tried-and-true structure involving verses, a chorus, a bridge and some kind of tasty hook works a whole lot better than three chords and a meandering journal entry (although in some extraordinary cases, that works too). Other times it was a crying shame to cut any of the contestants in an evening, who all in some way seemed worthy of the grand prize recording session at MARS Studios. But after eight weeks of preliminary rounds and two weeks of semifinals, the judges have narrowed it down to the final eight contestants, who will all perform this coming Tuesday, Feb. 10, at Zelda's in Capitola at 7pm. Come down and support the finest songwriters this town has to offer. And feel free to buy the judges drinks for all their hard work.

So Much Flow, So Little Time

Ever get that not-so-fresh feeling? In a freestyle battle, it's what happens when you watch an MC mumble and stumble on the mic, prompting boos and jeers from the audience. Indeed, it was an unforgiving crowd at the 418 Project last Wednesday night for the Serendipity Project's monthly freestyle battle hosted by the Serendipity Project (who also perform with Soul Majestic on Feb. 4 at the Catalyst "Dollar Night"), but what else would you expect at an event where the primary goal is to lyrically tear your opponents apart in as ruthless and clever a manner as possible? Even the audience joined in the fun; anonymous digs like "I don't know what he's saying, but it sounds tight!" or just a simple "Uh-oh!" viciously articulated audience disapproval. But a particularly tight and creative rhyme evoked hoots and hollas louder than an Arsenio Hall audience, and for good reason. The variety of talent was wide, with over 20 MCs from all over California fighting for the $100 prize (and at least another 10 were turned away because of time constraints). The final verdict from the audience was so close that the prize was split between the last two finalists, Thesaurus from Monterey and Tantrum from Union City. Standout displays of lyricism from San Diego's Odyssey and the S.F.-based Felonius Crew's Infinite proved them worthy contenders--I wouldn't be surprised to see either one of them winning some battles in the future. In an amazing display of skill, Infinite took apart a kid called Jabberjaw piece by piece, first making him out to be a truck-driving fisherman, then concluding that he's "9021-Over." Next time I'll bring a tape recorder to preserve some of the better digs for posterity, but in the meantime here's a juicy one from Thesaurus demolishing the Serendipity Project's Knowblest: "Have you been in the bathroom?" Thesaurus asked the crowd, "You better go look, 'cause this dude looks like the shit I just took!" Ouch.

He Came, He Saw, He Conquered

Sometimes I wish I was Darth Vader, with the power to force the people of Santa Cruz to go to particular shows that just don't get the attendance they deserve. Had I exercised this ominous power for the Hamell on Trial show at Henfling's last Thursday night, scientific studies show that an astonishing 93.7 percent of the audience would've laughed their asses off and loved the show, 5.2 percent would've been grossly offended by the Catholic priest jokes, 1.1 percent would've drooled and mumbled about petting kitties--because they're fucking insane and that's what they do--while the remaining 6.4 percent would've just sat in the corner shaking their heads at the mathematical impossibility of it all. As it turned out, an enthusiastic group of roughly 30 people screamed "Fuck it!" at the tops of their lungs and enjoyed every minute of his wildly, raunchily, sweetly, wordily hilarious performance. If you've never heard him, read the article from last week's Metro Santa Cruz online or go check out his website at www.hamellontrial.com. The fate of rock & roll hangs in the balance.

Mike Connor

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From the February 4-11, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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