Visiting the Bay Area from Chicagoland, I found myself in a somewhat surprising location. It was not a typical place for tourists, Shanty Shack Brewing in Santa Cruz, CA In fact, the brewery is quite the opposite of touristy as it has become a place for the community to gather. (Full disclosure, I had a special reason to be there.) Once there, however, I was captivated by the venue and the music. The homey “backyard” was noteworthy by the paintings on the building and the stage where the musicians were preparing. People at tables were enjoying beer and food from the food truck and chatting pleasantly. There was a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere as the audience readied themselves for the performance.
Operated by Co-Owners Brandon Padilla & Nathan Van Zandt, the brewery is open almost all the time: Monday – 11-8, Tuesday – 11-8, Wednesday 11-8, Thursday 11-8,Friday 11-9,Saturday 11-9, Sunday 11-8
Nathan was kind enough to answer some questions about Shanty Shack Brewing Co.
-Your website (www.ShantyShackBrewing.com) concludes that “You can now find a space full of vibrant art, local music, and a community of people happily enjoying Brandon and Nathan’s craft.” Has Shanty Shack come close to your original vision?
Yes, this is the vision we had. We are especially pleased that people come for our art (beer) and stay for and enjoy other people’s art and in that sense, we become a community.
-How do the two of you divide responsibilities?
The two of us began doing everything together but that did not go well. About two years ago we decided to divide our work so that Brandon takes care of the back end and Nathan takes care of front end, greeting, marketing and so on.
-Can you share what it was like when you first opened in terms of the beer choices, number of customers and whether you had entertainment?
Before we opened we were doing home brewing and serving at home parties and special events so we had regulars who were cheering us on and they were very pleased when we opened for business December 2016.
The first year, the brewery served 120 different beer and the next year about 140. Some of the flagship beers rotate but they have somewhat different ingredients each time so they are the same but different. This keeps things more interesting.
-Your website is very clear about which music groups and which food services you are offering at a given time.
-How do you choose the music groups
My (Nathan’s) fiancée is in charge of selecting the bands. She knows many of them and hires them repeatedly. In other situations, she replies to cold contacts to see if the group is right for Shanty Shack. There is music 5 nights a week.
-What determines the choice of food providers?
Before Shanty Shack had its own kitchen, they would connect with food trucks and developed a relationship with several of them. The kitchen was actively functioning before COVID-19 so now the food situation is slowly getting back to where it was.
Thanks to Nathan.
The music that night was provided by The Baylands. The audience that night was great, listening appreciatively, clapping and dancing. I was curious about the band the very pleasant and unique sound that is their signature. Following is a Q&A with the band.
– Is the band always composed of the same people?
The band is always composed of the core four (Corinne Keer [keys/vocals], Erika Keer [vocals], Lauren Lashmet [vocals/rhythm guitar] and Leah Mosier [lead guitar/vocals]). We wanted to form a female fronted band with catchy harmonies and elaborate guitar instrumental sections. The four of us would gather together to write acoustic songs. Once we wrote songs we were proud of, we expanded on our sound by adding more people to our band. Now, we have three stable instrumentalists in addition to the four of us: our drummer, Jon Morataya,our bassist, Eric Weiner Garcia, and sax player, Kevin Moy.
– What are the names of the people in the band?
Corinne Keer, Erika Keer, Leah Mosier, Lauren Lashmet, Jon Morataya, Eric Weiner Garcia, Kevin Moy
– When did you first gather as a group?
Corinne and Lauren started to play music together in 2017 when they were roommates in a house in the Palo Alto area. Soon, Erika, Corinne’s sister, started joining their jams and adding her lovely voice to the mix. Lauren started dating Leah in 2018, and soon Leah was a core part of the band. Over the last three years, the Baylands have spent many hours songwriting, playing instruments, and collaborating together. We’ve had various instrumental contributors and performed in a variety of shows in the Palo Alto/Denver area. Lauren and Leah have also both recorded solo albums (searchable under Lauren Lashmet and Leah Mosier), which Erika and I contributed our voices to. When COVID hit in 2020, we decided it was a good time to hunker down and work harder on music. We tried to build songs that played to the strengths of each bandmate and showcased what we are best at making: guitar heavy jams that have ample harmonies, a classic/vintage feel, and vivid storytelling.
– Did you have a specific goal other than focusing on California for inspiration?
I think, truly, our goal is to have fun. We started as friends who loved to create. However, our band evolves, that will be our primary goal.
We’ll never be “cool.” I don’t think any of us has that vibe. Instead, we approach music as a creative endeavor built on the embracement of imperfection and authenticity. All of us are inspired by the power of music and the creative process. Each of us contributes songs to the band, and all of us love the satisfaction we feel when we learn a hard riff, nail a difficult harmony, or come up with the right chord progression.
The more we perform live, the more our music becomes an avenue through which we connect with our community, and a way of spreading joy, love and self-acceptance out into the world.
As a band, we say we are inspired by California in the sense that we admire and draw from the beauty of the California landscape when we write. However, that’s not all we are inspired by. We each bring a unique perspective to music and write about topics like self love, LGBTQIA+ rights, nature, the ups and downs of relationships, and friendship. We each bring a unique perspective to music. Our sound is also inspired by the singer/songwriter tradition of the sixties and seventies. We are warm-toned, bright, and joyful.
– How did you happen to be performing at Shanty Shack?
Leah and Lauren recently moved to the SF Bay Area and were exploring local breweries in the area when they came across Shanty Shack. They immediately were captured by the community feel of the brewery and soon Shanty Shack became their favorite place to listen to live music in Santa Cruz. It was amazing to see the joy music brought to people after a year of isolation and they couldn’t wait to integrate more into the local music scene. They met Nathan, the owner of the Shanty Shack and shared The Baylands music with him. He liked our sound! The rest, as they say, is history.
– Where else have you performed?
Cafes, Open Mics, and bars in the Bay Area. Our next gig is at Habana Club in SF.
The Baylands goes on around 8 pm!
October 23rd, 2021
– What are the band’s hopes for the future?
We love sharing our music with others. We hope to inspire women around the country to pick up guitars, write songs with meaning, and to lead through music. As a group, we hope to keep performing and playing shows. In the short term, we have two more songs being released as singles (Northern Lights in October and You in November). And we hope to record more this year, ideally creating an album sometime before 2021 ends.
More about Baylands
Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise noted.