Starting in the northern part of the San Lorenzo Valley, Boulder Creek, there are three different venues to hear free live music by local musicians.
Barry Tanner, a longtime musician who’s a member of several bands, has created the Bullwinkle’s Hat Project for local musicians to express themselves — people who would otherwise never have a chance to meet and play “sexy blues rock” in public.
Tanner said he “feels blessed to be able to create a spot for the local talent to connect, and also for people who love to listen to this kind of music. We’re building our own little New Orleans — trying to get people back together again.”
Since the group plays in many different venues, Tanner said, it’s best to find out what’s happening by contacting the artists at email@example.com.
The well-known harmonica player from the Boulder Creek Fourth of July parades, George Galt, also has a jam night at the BC Recreation Center.
“It’s a free jam session for everyone and all instruments,” he said. “It’s important for people to have a place to play together and have some fun, regardless of their level of talent.”
Like with karaoke, the audience can join in and practice or listen and dance on the first Saturday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m., directly behind the fire station.
There are also many free events at the old community hall in the center of Boulder Creek at 13118 Highway 9, a haunt now known as Joe’s Bar.
Owner Karin Ann Park, a 32-year resident said, “The bar is always a lively place, because we like to help people celebrate the important events of their lives, good or bad.”
When asked about the name Joe’s Bar & Community Center, which is emblazoned on the watering hole’s giveaway pens, Park explained, “Back in the 1800s, even the priests would stop in the community hall to roll the dice and partake a little — just to celebrate the ‘unsung heroes’ of the day.”
Since the live music at Joe’s Bar happens only on special occasions, visitors need to check the posters on the establishment’s front window or go inside and ask for information.
Traveling south to the Brookdale Inn & Spa, in the heart of Brookdale at 11570 Highway 9, “Karaoke Jo” Washburn orchestrates Wednesday nights from 7 to 11 p.m.
Washburn said she’s “trying to create a space where people feel empowered to do something they never thought they’d do — stand in front of a crowd and let their love and soul come out, even if they are a bit off-key.
“When it comes to karaoke, everybody gets better with time, and the audience is always supportive.”
Traveling southwest to the Trout Farm in Lompico, the restaurant-bar offers a diverse makeup. In addition to the pool, there’s a dining area, a dance floor, a pool table for the sharks and an outdoor deck for smokers.
“Karaoke Ken,” who holds court Thursdays from 7 p.m. to midnight, said: “It’s great to live in a place where so many people love music and there are such good dancers. It’s as if I’m not even working.”
Ken also leads the karaoke singing at Malone’s Bar and Grille in Scotts Valley every Saturday between 8 p.m. and midnight. He says he feels blessed to live in a place with so much talent.
Lyse McGilvery is a freelance writer who describes herself as a barefoot dancer who has lived in Boulder Creek since the earthquake of 1989.