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Wild in the Streets

Orquestra Gitano
Salsa Fresca: One of many groups set to entertain this weekend, Orquestra Gitano should spice up Celebrate SC festivities with its hot Latin jazz.

Celebrate SC pulls together the best food, wine, brews and jazz the county has to offer for a two-day downtown blast

By Karen Reardanz

SUMMER'S IN THE AIR, and one surefire sign is the now-seasonal rite of passage known as Celebrate Santa Cruz, the Downtown Association's brainchild. A hedonistic celebration of everything delicious--food, wine, art and jazz--this year's festivities provide more than just an excuse to parade down blocks of closed-off Pacific Avenue and revel in the freedom of cavorting in the streets. It's also a reason to toast the exemplary goods Santa Cruz has to offer.

Whether the two-day fête finds you breathing in the heady aromas of local wines, gulping down portobello mushroom sandwiches and chocolate tortes, or grooving to the strains of some of the finest jazz music on the Central Coast, one thing is certain--nobody leaves this party unsatisfied.

Area vintners--Roudon-Smith, Hallcrest, Devlin, River Run, Trout Gulch and Storrs--trek up the coast or down from their mountain perches to set up two conveniently located "sipping stations" for those of the legal drinking persuasion. Allowing an opportunity to imbibe in small samplings of the sweetest, the driest and the most tantalizing of the gods' nectar, lovingly packaged in a commemorative wineglass no less, these stations could just be the sweet mothership to guide you through the two-day shindig.

If handmade brews are your quaffing choice, Seabright Brewery and Santa Cruz Brewing Company are the suds-delivery systems of the fest.

As a needed companion to all this liquid indulgence, a handful of restaurateurs will be on hand to tease the palates of the gathered with an array of edible offerings from around the world. Costa Brava, Manila Turo-Turo, Pizza My Heart and even Oswald will dish up enough finger foods, hearty victuals and devilish treats to quell the appetites of even the most peckish spectators.

Artisans supply the aesthetic goods, with over 120 of 'em lining Pacific Avenue, showing off hand-crafted jewelry, textiles, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, photography and more for the viewing--and buying--pleasure of festival-goers. One of the highlights of last year's festivities, these art booths promise to be a focal point of this weekend's merriment.

Of course, no celebration would be complete without music, and Celebrate Santa Cruz lets no one down with its Kuumbwa-picked lineup of jazz musicians carefully chosen to carry the festivities through the day and on into the evening hours. Representing all spectrums of the jazz world, these musical masters lilt out enough bebop, improv, swing and salsa to keep you glued to the stages all day long.

Things get cooking when Orquestra Gitano and its Afro-Cuban infused, Puerto Rican-peppered dance sounds move everyone to frolicking in the streets. The Monterey Jazz Festival Honors Band then emerges from the hallowed halls of Monterey and Santa Cruz high schools to show off some of the finest young talent in Big Band land, while SF's Dmitri Matheny kicks off his West Coast tour playing the flugelhorn like nobody's business and astounding audiences with his quintet o' plenty. Spirit Talk, Tranceport, Steve Czarnecki and a host of others round out the bill.

There's no reason to leave the wee ones at home, either--Cotton Tales opens its doors both days to children of all ages for a personalized dose of face painting, music and magic tricks.

So dust off your party shoes, fish out the sunscreen and reacquaint yourself with all the delights that makes Santa Cruz the center of the universe.

Celebrate Santa Cruz takes place Saturday­Sunday, 10am­6pm each day, in downtown Santa Cruz. Admission is free. For more info, call 429-8433.

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From the May 15-21, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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