The Santa Cruz Music Festival is a two-day event that occupies the entire town. With food and t-shirt vendors in the streets and musical groups performing in different local venues, this festival is an opportunity not only to come together and enjoy different sounds ranging from EDM to punk rock, but to honor the community and its locale. One well-known spot in particular that has always been enjoyed by tourists and locals alike is The Catalyst.
Besides the advantage of being located in one of the most picturesque cities in California, the Catalyst Club is an acclaimed scene of music and culture that has welcomed diverse sounds since its opening in 1996. The Catalyst opened a year after UC Santa Cruz was founded, so the event center was meant for college students as a sanctuary of expression and change, but effectively attracted the entire community as well. However, according to Silicon Valley real estate expert Dawn Thomas, it didn’t begin to reach its full acclaim until Randall Kane purchased the club in 1969 and created his vision. Randall Kane, am Ohio State University English graduate and former dean of the San Francisco Art Institute, used his love for the arts as inspiration to create what the Catalyst is today: a symbol of expression. He purchased an old, run-down bowling alley on Pacific Avenue and replaced its lanes and pins with a full bar, balconies, and a stage. This became the new home for the Catalyst in 1973 and has been ever since.
According to Kane’s obituary, he is widely credited for recreating Santa Cruz as a regular pitstop for major musical acts thanks to his thriving business. Not only a place for music, at the very bar inside the club, Kane would sit and welcome newcomers and regulars alike and debate over the local news and politics. Well-known as an eclectic man who practically trademarked his rainbow-colored suspenders, Kane was revered by his entire community. As his health began to slow down, it became more difficult for Kane to run the Catalyst. In 2003 at the age of 80, he sold the venue but still kept an office in downtown Santa Cruz. July 23, 2009, Kane passed away at the age of 85 of a heart attack. The Catalyst, a renowned event center for diverse artists and music groups, is also an image of a beloved symbol of the Santa Cruz community who accepted people of all walks of life. In honor of Randall Kane, we will continue to enjoy the Catalyst as a sanctuary for us all to gather and submerge ourselves in art, expression, love, and acceptance.