Cap's business music to Vallejo's ears /By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 11/30/2009 01:00:29 AM PST

Vienna was a little too stuffy, so Ariane Cap moved to Vallejo.
The 38-year-old bass player said she began her formal musical training on piano in her native Austria at age 5. She speaks English, German, Latin and ancient Greek. Hers was an intensely academic family, she said.

"My parents are both scientists," Cap said. "My father is a renown physicist in Austria. It's not that they weren't supportive of my music. They were. They bought me the instruments, got me lessons. But I don't think they completely understood how important it was to me."
Though she said she can now appreciate that science and music are two sides of the same coin, as a youngster, that was harder to see.

"In my family everything was theoretical, and I'm so into intuitive fun, and in my family, there wasn't room for that," she said. "I can see now that they're similar, but at the time, it seemed like a marriage with irreconcilable differences."
An au pair job in Boston at 18 first brought Cap to the United States, where she got her first taste of the bass guitar, which was to become her signature instrument.
"I was playing guitar and piano in this band, and the bass player went to Thailand and never came back, so I became the bass player," she said. "I come from an analytical world. I had all the theory, but the bass is so rhythmic, it's really such a female instrument, with such a connection to the earth."
Cap student Julie Lawyer, 70, of Benicia said she is improving her bass-playing skills for her five-member, all female band, The Hot Flashes. She's been playing about a year, she said.

"I love music, and usually bass players can find a spot in an ensemble because everyone else wants to be up front, to be the star," Lawyer said. "And I picked Ariane because I heard a podcast she was a guest on and was blown away. The way she plays is very eloquent, musically."
Cap said she returned to Austria to earn a Master of Science degree in marine biology.

"It was just part of the family obligation," she said.
Cap met her husband at about that time and then began studying music at the University of Vienna, which granted her a musical scholarship to the University of Miami. She brought her husband, composer Wolfgang Wein, along.

"We drove around and we really liked California, especially the Bay Area, but we couldn't afford a house anywhere," she said. "Vallejo wasn't even on our radar, but we have some friends with a beautiful house here, so we bought a house here."
For the first several years, Vallejo was strictly home base, she said.

"Vallejo was just a place to lay my head at first," Cap said. "I'm in three bands and was very busy, and so was my husband, who creates music for toys and games. It didn't even occur to me to start a business here."
Cap plays acoustic world folk rock with The Palm Wine Boys, works with a wedding band from Napa and with a psychedelic rock 'n' roll circus for children called the Sippy Cups.
But, people began asking for lessons, and at first Cap conducted those out of her home. Then she rented a place.
Cap says that despite not yet being open for group lessons, which begin in January, Step Up Music, 1716 Sonoma Blvd. already has some 15 students. Some come from as far away as Sacramento and Berkeley for lessons on bass, piano and musical meditation techniques like Orff, for people with little or no musical background.
The move to the states and Vallejo in particular provided Cap the freedom she felt she needed to express herself, she said.
"The people are different. Here it's multi-cultural, very rich culturally. In Vienna, there's a lot of classical history -- it's really only jazz or classical. I especially enjoy the world musical influences here," she said.
And as a vegan, Cap said she appreciates the "wealth of food choices."
And the weather.

"I hate the cold. That's why I'm here," she said. "And the people. They're so open here, outgoing and inclusive. In Austria, they tend to be a little more reserved. We're loving Vallejo."

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or rzrihen@timesheraldonline.com.

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