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[whitespace] Jason Schimmel Forget Me Not: Jason Schimmel of Estradasphere (standing) is a name to remember in local rock.

Photograph by George Sakkestad


Get In the Groove

A guide for instant band success

By David Espinoza

FOR MUSICIANS new to town, we've compiled a list of tips on getting a band established in Santa Cruz. Keep in mind that 71 percent of this advice is true and will most likely attract the attention of the FBI.

Finding a Permanent Practice Space. Try setting up out in front of Borders on Pacific Avenue. (Especially for gutter punk bands: it will be about three minutes before the fuzz shows up--but, hey, that's how long most gutter-punk sets are anyway.) Abandoned warehouses and toolsheds are also good spots to practice--mind the pesticide residue. Sound proofing is a must! Try old futons from the Goodwill or Salvation Army--just be sure to have lots of ventilation. When all else fails, don the tie-dye and retreat to the woods for a full-moon drum circle.

Gigging. Local ordinance SC311 mandates that any rock-oriented band with members under the age of 30 must play the UCSC Pizza Junxion or Stevenson Rec Room at least three times a year or face the penalty of being dubbed a wanker by the Streetlight Records Employees Union (SREU), Local 162. Only from that level may a local band move up to such coveted spots as Callahan's on Water Street (now with stain-free carpet!), the Vets Hall basement and eventually the Thursday night showcase at the Catalyst.

Radio Play. With two local stations that cater to a wide if not constantly changing array of music, KZSC 88.1 FM and pirate station Free Radio Santa Cruz (FRSC) 96.3 FM are a band's best bets for getting airplay. While FRSC is hard to find, since its programmers are usually on the run from the FCC, KZSC is comfortably nestled in the trees behind Crown College. With any luck, your music may find a spot somewhere between all-Belle and Sebastian weekends.

Names to Remember. Any highbrow guitarists looking for gurulike notoriousness must first outshred Estradasphere's Jason Schimmel or Netwerk Electric's Jason Conception (they are two different people). Conversely, no one gets more debased than the Lowdown--the band doesn't even have a website.

Do's. Shop at Steve's Music World on Ocean Street (provided you're looking for a challenge or some amusing stories). Another less visible gear shop is More Music at 121 Maple St.--positive vibes register there at an eight. Feed the street musicians--some are actually quite talented, like dobro man David Scully.

Don'ts. Don't even try to get into a staring match with greaser-punk and Riff Raff 500 lead singer Troy--you will lose. Don't think that singing about reefer liberation will win you popularity--it's been done so many times that Santa Cruz has an unofficial holiday in April specifically for it.

General Things to Know. All funk bands that start a jam in the key of E will be banished to Monterey--period. The same thing goes for generic covers of Hendrix, Marley and the Dead. If you're not familiar with the Americana genre, now would be a good time to start. Try listening to KPIG (107.5 FM) or talking with anyone who looks over 40 (just to be on the safe side). Like an unkept army latrine, quotas for surf punk bands, melodic punk bands and ska-punk bands are almost always overfull in Santa Cruz. We are, however, short on Norteña groups, hip-hop MCs and Britney Spears look-alike karaoke singers.

(David Espinoza writes Metro Santa Cruz's Sights & Sounds column.)

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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