By Julie Horner
Running from the chilly shadow of Ben Lomond Mountain this early November, I set out to take in a little sun down through the neighborhood at Junction Park. All was predictably warm and bright and I breathed deeply the sweet freedom of living in the mountains.
Not long ago last summer I was heading to the Junction for a plunge and was drawn in by the sound of liquid sunshine – a saxophone being played conversationally by Brian Valdivia in his front yard. A founding member of Boulder Creek’s Take 1 ska metal band, without saying a word he initiated a musical dialog that was answered by the buzz of nature and families heading to the river that day. Heads turned and smiles bubbled to the surface; the energy at that little corner of the universe was popping, people were drawn in and all was well with the world.
Take 1 got its name just up the street at Barry Tanner’s PASS recording studio (in the former US Post Office building on Pine). Brian and band mates Yeshe Jackson (lead vocals, guitar), Jon Golling (bass) and Marcus Thayer (drums) have rehearsed weekly there for the better part of six years and while recording just for fun laid down tracks so good the first time around that they could call it a wrap at “take one!”
Take 1’s music is a blend of many styles. With a backbone of Rocksteady and ska, Brian said that metal “started creeping in” to form a confluence of sound and rhythm, energy and emotion that is compellingly unique and completely danceable. Smooth melodies are punctuated by strong steady grooves, driven by Marcus on drums. “He’s just an animal back there,” Brian said. Brian’s soulful saxophone weaves in and out sometimes taking the lead, other times staying back to hold down the groove with Jon on bass.
Yeshe is a major source of new songs, recording and sharing melodies and lyrics he’s dreamed up with the rest of the band, each member contributing his own nuance of color and texture to the mix. It is the original songs, laced with humor, introspection, world consciousness, and not-too-heavy social commentary that make Take 1 more than a dance band.
The talent in Take 1 reaches beyond writing and performing infectious music. Yeshe is a fine artist with his own painting studio who apprentices at The Gilded Lily tattoo in Felton, and his original watercolor rocks the cover of Take 1’s latest album, Rise of the Leviathan. According to Brian, Marcus is a “ripping” old school pool skater. Jon collects dance hall and reggae vinyl and is the “baddest DJ this side of the West Indies” with his Rugged Sounds International. And Brian is a nanobrewer who co-owns Toast and Prost, which pairs craft brews with artisanal bread for local tastings.
With several recording efforts under their belt, Take 1’s live music has evolved into a greater experience that involves spontaneous musical interplay and getting up close with the audience in a way that brings people into an open awareness of themselves and those around them. Brian’s favorite venue? “Playing music in a place you’re having fun,” like Joe’s Bar where the band is two feet from the audience for ultimate interaction and unity. Brian said it’s like helping people take the blinders off to create connection for an atmosphere of positivity and acceptance, where the good vibes are enjoyed freely. Experience Take 1 at Margaritaville in Capitola on December 13!
On the Web: http://www.reverbnation.com/take1santacruz
Julie Horner is a Boulder Creek based Irish-American folk musician and writer / firstname.lastname@example.org