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Local band releases debut full-length album

WATSONVILLE—Among the musical acts that performed at the first Power of Flower Festival at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in July was Pan Dulce, a band that has, in its short career, made quite a name for itself.

While the band performed on a smaller side stage at the festival, it drew an enthusiastic crowd.

“It was a lot of fun,” said vocalist Gabi Bravo. “There was a really chill, positive atmosphere in the crowd.”

Pan Dulce recently released its first full-length album, “Don’t Stop Now.” The album was completely self-made and produced.

Bravo, who also plays piano and melodica, said that the band embraces what they call “sound fusion,” a mixture of many different genres. Their sound crosses between Latin and rock, ska and reggae—with hints of R&B and funk.

This is not unlike their namesake; pan dulce are Mexican pastries that come in a number of varieties.

“There are a lot of different flavors,” Bravo said. “It seemed fitting.”

Guitarist Chris Harrison said that each member brings their own influences.

“We all have different musical interests,” Harrison said. “I think that makes it really unique.”

Pan Dulce was formed a few years ago when Bravo met trombonist Alejandro Rayburn. They met up to jam with Harrison, and eventually Rayburn’s brother Kito Rayburn (bass guitar) and Ryan Costello (drums) joined in.

Their first EP, “Not Like the Other Ones,” was released in 2016. Since then the band has been hard at work on its first full-length record.

“It’s been a slow process,” Harrison said. “We decided to do everything by ourself—writing, mixing, producing. It’s been a challenge. We had to work together, decide things as a group. We didn’t have anyone telling us what to do.”

Added Kito Rayburn: “It was a great learning experience—as a band, producers and friends.”

But playing live is the best part of being in the band, Bravo said.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” she said. “You feel the words… you really get into it. Maybe it’s cheesy, but it really is magical.”

Pan Dulce has played venues across Santa Cruz County and San Jose. For its recent album release, it held a special show at Abbott Square Market in Santa Cruz. The band’s next show, which is part of the Santa Cruz Music Festival, will be Oct. 19 at the Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.

“Ultimately, we make music for ourselves,” Kito Rayburn said. “But it’s incredible to have other people appreciating, enjoying it too.”

Harrison recalls one show where an older man who was already headed to bed heard the music from his house across the street.

“He just showed up, in his pajamas, to listen to us,” Harrison said. “That’s amazing.”

Pan Dulce’s music is available to stream on a number of services, including Spotify. Albums are currently sold at concerts only.

For information visit pandulceband.com, on Instagram (@pandulceband) and Facebook.

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