Santa Cruz's admission tax, the means by which the city hopes to make money on its new basketball franchise, has been a sore point with musicians and concert promoters.
Many, who used to regularly bring concerts to the Civic Auditorium, shun it now, in favor of San Jose or the Mountain Winery.
Melody Walker, scheduled to play the Backstage Lounge at the Rio Theatre Sunday night, considered canceling when she found out that they had to pay a tax in advance to perform.
Instead, they opted to play for free and hope they get some donations to defray costs.
"*NOT CANCELED* :) The show must go on, right? :)," she wrote on a Facebook page about the concert.
"As you may have heard, we can't officially charge admission, or even name a suggested donation for this show as the City of Santa Cruz "admission tax" guidelines would require us to PAY IN ADVANCE to play in Santa Cruz (http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=250). Therefore, it will be a FREE SHOW (all are welcome!) with donations gladly accepted. See you there!"
The city's Admission Tax web page explains the tax this way:
"The tax is 5% on the price of admission or registration for events within the city limits of Santa Cruz. For example, an admission of $5.00 would be taxed $.25; for a total of $5.25 to be collected. The tax collected is remitted to the City Finance Department."
It requires promoters or musicians to pay a depost based on an estimate of how much the event will earn.
Walker and Groopman say they can't even suggest a donation fee, or it would be subject to the tax. So, they played for free, rather than cancel the show in protest.