January 18, 2015

Kenny Loggins & Michael McDonald ~ January 18, 2015 @ SOhO

This Is It!

photo by paul dunkley
Three large tables sat in front of the stage, chairs lined the dance floor labeled with patron’s names, and the bar was roped off for standing room only. This is what SOhO’s 20th Anniversary & “Friendraiser” performance featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald look like upon arrival at 6 o’clock.

The artists involved in the “Friendraiser” Series donate their time and talent, with all proceeds going to fund venue upgrades so that SOhO can continue to bring live music to Santa Barbara. Patrons paid anywhere from $70 (standing room) to $300 (tables) tonight to enjoy an evening of music with Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. The standing room area, aka the bar, was packed with people holding their ground. “I’ve been here since 6!” stated one female patron, solidly holding her ground next to the restroom doors. I pitied the fool who would try to stand in front of her.

I elected to take an abandoned dinner table on the rise located in the back of the bar, one with a chair and a good view of the television that transmitted the show for those of us not so bold to brave the crowd.

The anticipation was tangible as we waited for the duo to take the stage. Loggins and McDonald did not disappoint, starting off with McDonald’s hit “Minute by Minute” then moving smoothly into “Heart to Heart.” Michael McDonald has one of those remarkably soulful voices that makes you stop and remember, “oh yeah, this is really good.” Loggins is no slouch in this area either, following up with “This Is It” and a solo acoustic sing-a-long version of  “Danny’s Song (Ain’t Got Money).”    

And apparently Kenny Loggins wrote every hit song for every hit movie in the 80s, with the duo choosing to perform “Dangerzone” and of course… “Footloose.” Playing 14 songs of their own, with two short breaks, the duo ended the night by getting funky with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City,” sending the already rambunctious crowd into a fervor.

Make no mistake, this was it!

November 30, 2014

Toad the Wet Sprocket ~ November 30 @ SOhO

A Walk On the Memory Lane 

If you were alive in the 90’s you know Toad the We Sprocket. I thought I knew them vaguely, until I saw them live at SOhO this last Sunday. It turns out I knew them quite well. 

“They mean so much to so many,” according to opening act Cory Sipper. “People came up to me when they heard I was opening for Toad, saying things like, ‘You don’t’ even understand… I played them in college, at my wedding… for my kids.’ I understand.”

It was obvious the crowd at SOhO that Sunday night felt the same. Looking through the crowd you could see the who’s who of the local music scene along side parents out for the night, all here to catch an intimate glimpse of the Santa Barbara born band. (Fun trivia: TTWS’s song “Little Heaven” was featured in the 1992 movie Buffy The Vampire Slayer. What other local Santa Barbara band’s claim to fame is from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise?)

Hearing the familiar upbeat progression of the music and
Glenn’s poignant vocals as they opened with “The Moment” brought a pain to my stomach as I was whisked away, back to high school and the angst of growing up. The music is upbeat, but the lyrics can be heart wrenching, creating a weird balance in the emotions. “Glen is an amazing lyricist,” proclaimed Michael Cantillon, keyboardist for Beta Play, just off tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket. “Tommy (lead singer) has been writing songs with him. Glen definitely brings out the best in Tommy.”

As the crowd sung every word of every song along with the band, it was evident that the music meant a lot to a lot of people. Toad brought us through a journey of 23 songs, including their biggest hits “Something’s Always Wrong,” “All I Want,” and ending the night with my favorite, “Walk on the Ocean.” It was definitely a night with a walk on the memory lane.

Think you know Toad?

All I Want: (chorus)
All I want is to feel this way
To be this close, to feel the same

Something’s Always Wrong: (chorus)
It seems we meet
In the spaces
In between 

Walk on the Water: (chorus)
Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone 

October 18, 2014

New Noise Conference & Festival – Saturday, October 18th

We Came To Rock

What better way to let off some steam than to rock out to some good ole punk rock? Am I right?

Well a packed Velvet Jones agreed with me on the 4th night of the New Noise Conference & Festival. The showcase held a lineup of heavy punk rockers all bringing a unique twist to the “punk rock” genre. False Puppets is somewhat poppy; Dark Waves is, well, dark; Plague Vendor is heavy; and Joyce Manor is straight punk rock. This was a nice sampling for those who enjoy their punk. 

According to promoter Eddie Numbskull, Plague Vendor was the must-see band of the night. Recently seen at the Warped Tour and Riot Fest, Plague Vendor has built a reputation for a wild on-stage performance reminiscent of a young Iggy Pop. “They’re like The Refused with no social content,” according to New Noise attendee Matt H., “But I like it.” The southern Californian band is young and exploring with sound, mashing up heavy guitar riffs with manic lyrical hooks that take you from zero to one hundred in sixty seconds. The impression they left was huge. 

The showcase produced what it promised, a night of great new punk rock, and Santa Barbara came out to rock!

October 17, 2014

New Noise Conference & Festival – Friday, October 17th

Experimenting with New Noise

New noise can mean many things. Perhaps it is a new sound for the listener; perhaps it is a new sound for the performer. I decide to explore both meanings on the 3rd night of the New Noise Conference & Music Festival.

Friday night touted four great showcases throughout downtown Santa Barbara, ranging from New Soul to California Reggae. I decided to go with something local and something new from two different genres at two different venues. It was not a hard choice since the two venues are literally next door to each other, making the jump between the two quite easy for me.

Blind Tiger hosted an indie pop showcase with sets from locals Kyran Million and the Blues & Greys, followed by Brooklyn’s own Deluka. You may know Kyran from the local band Indian Trading Furs. Well, he’s gone solo. This was my something new for the artist. I asked Kyran what we could expect from his solo material. “I would call it a ‘lapse of consciousness’,” Kyran confided, “To the effect that I’m not scrutinizing every minuet detail in the creative process. After this purge I will ‘come to’ and analyze, taper, and fix all the un-established ideas.” The raw acoustic set that followed showed a depth of emotion and talent that I look forward watching grow from seeds to flowers in the near future.
Onward to something new for the listener – me! LA’s Nick Waterhouse playing at Velvet Jones was the show recommended to me most by the people I asked. “I've been following the new soul movement a bit,” confessed New Noise co-founder Matt Kettman, “Nick's a great example of someone taking a traditional style and putting a new spin on it.” Looking like a modern day Buddy Holly, Nick immediately got the packed house dancing to a wild mix of guitar riffs, saxophones, keys and beats that resembled your dad’s (or granddad’s) music with a facelift. It felt both new and familiar, and definitely kept the energy level up till the wee night.

I was satisfied with my experiment with new noise. I’d postulate that New Noise delivered again.

Next up:

Saturday Night:
LA’s Dark Waves (8:30), Plague Vendor (9:30), and Joyce Manor (10:45) @ Velvet Jones ~ INSIDER TIP: Plague Vendor is the band to see according to Eddie Numbskull, promoter.

October 16, 2014

New Noise Conference & Festival – Thursday, October 16th

Keeping It Local

When looking over the New Noise Conference & Festival schedule to plan my nights of music, one showcase in particular stood out – Thursday night at Muddy Waters. Thursday night consisted of all local bands, with three of the four being from Carpinteria, performing at one of my favorite widely unknown local music venues  sounded like a great hometown party to me. 

Competing against some pretty well known, bigger draw indie
showcases, I was expecting Muddy Waters to be pretty mild. It was not. Apparently I was not the only one who wanted to see the local boys. “I decided to keep it local,” attested to Kaisa TerHar, another New Noise attendee, “I always wanted to see Afishnsea the Moon and Pacific Haze, and have never seen music at Muddy Waters, so this was my chance to get it all in. Plus it was only $8.” And that is what the festival is all about – bringing affordable new music to Santa Barbarians. 

In the true nature of the festival, I caught up to the boys in Afishnsea the Moon to see what bands they were looking forward to seeing at the festival. Interesting enough, they were all local bands. “I don’t know many of the bands playing,” confessed Lauren Luther Campbell, lead guitar, “but The Upbeat I grew up listening to, and I love ‘em!” Christopher Riley, bass, and Adam Camardella, drums, are also looking forward to seeing The Upbeat and Cornerstone (Friday), as well as Souvenirs (Wednesday) and Mexico City Blenders (Saturday). Local bands supporting local bands. 

The night went on, the venue was packed, the music was loud, and the bands were phenomenal. Bill, the owner of Muddy Waters, was blown away by the night’s performances, especially Afishnsea the Moon, exclaiming on Instagram, “Holy dick fart! The Sprout kids have been telling me about this lot for ages but it’s the first time we have had em - wow.” He was sure to secure more gigs with the boys soon after the performance. It was a New Noise Festival miracle! 

It's a true statement: New Noise Conference and Festival… bringing new music to Santa Barbara and keeping it local.

Next up

Friday Night: Locals The Blues & Greys (9:15) @ Blind Tiger; LA artist Nick Waterhouse (10:30)@ Velvet Jones 

Saturday Night: LA’s Dark Waves (8:30) and Joyce Manor (10:45) @ Velvet Jones

September 24, 2014

Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes ~ September 24, 2014 @ Blind Tiger

The Love Experience

Soul music begins playing slow and low, and quickly increases in tempo as three women in matching short blue velvet jumpsuits, complete with short blue sheer capes, come prancing out on stage. Choreographed and on point, the girls dance in front of two giant fans, capes blowing in effect, until the lady of the evening flows on stage backwards cloaked in a long flowing black cape. Clairy Browne turns wearing only a black patent leather S&M teddy, her long black and pink cape flowing behind her like a 1960’s superhero, unapologetic for her brazenness. With a voice of a goddess, Clairy immediately hits the crowd with some sexy soul sound.

This is how Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes set the tone for their recent show at the newly opened Blind Tiger on lower State Street.

Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes is a nine piece
rhythm and blues band from Australia, reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse. Forming in 2009, the band has made a huge splash stateside with their alternative spin on soul music since performing at the SXSW conference on 2013. Warner Anderson, hired by Blind Tiger as an artist booking consultant, is responsible for bringing them to Santa Barbara. “I was searching through some Australian bands touring in the US when I came across this Heineken commercial featuring Clairy Browne and her Bangin' Rackettes’ “Love Letter,” according to Warner, “I fell for the song and was hooked!” It is easy to see why. 

Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes brought their A-game to the small crowd at Blind Tiger. Clairy Browne interacted with the audience, asking Santa Barbara to “come along with me on the love experience…” With songs like “Walk of Shame,” “Far Too Late,” and “I’ll Be Fine,” we went along with them through the experience of a sexual women looking for love in today’s world. Before performing the song “She Plays Up to You,” Clairy took a minute to admit she suffers from jealousy and it made her turn on women, her “sisters”, in the past, and asked the women in the crowd to come together and unite in sisterhood. All eyes on Clairy, one wondered how she could ever possibly suffer from jealousy of another woman. 

The energy, professionalism, and originality of this band shone through the entire performance. I can’t wait to see them when they come to SB again, which Warner promises to make happen in 2015. I would follow Clairy Browne and the Baggin’ Rackettes on a love journey anytime!

July 31, 2014

Viva La Rodeo!

Rodeo Clown, photo by Jenny Schlax
During Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days the Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo is one of my favorite events. I discovered the Fiesta Rodeo a couple years back when I was looking for events to take my father to that did not center around drinking, would have well-behaved attendees, and that would be enjoyable for him – viva la rodeo!

Yet going to the rodeo in Santa Barbara can be somewhat precarious. People definitely have strong feelings about it one way or another. I happen to be a fan; I enjoy the well-mannered and well-dressed patrons, the patriotism and sense of community, the majestic and athletic animals, not to mention the BBQ and beer.

Bearing the contention in mind, I did some research. The Old
Frank Mechado
Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo is in its 90th year as a premier event for Old Spanish Days, with Rodeo Cowboy Association (RCA) events added in 1958 and Professional Bull Riding (PBR) incorporated in 2005. The Fiesta Rodeo spans four days and includes paid evening arena performances from PBR and PRCA, as well as other classes and competitions held throughout the day. One must live within the Tri-Counties to compete, and competition includes events for children and adults of all ages. More than a 100 ranchers, cowboys, and businessmen volunteer their time and equipment to organize this event. And each year since the late 1960’s, an “Old Timer” whose career contributed to the ranching community is designated the “Honorary Vaquero” of the Fiesta Rodeo. This year’s Honorary Vaquero was Frank Mechado.

In years past, I have only attended the PRCA events – which consist mainly of horse competitions. This year I decided to check out the PBR event – which is entirely bull riding. Again I did some research. The bulls used by the PBR are bred from a long line of bucking bulls. According to the PBR, this breeding program is the major factor that determines a bull’s ability to buck. A flank rope is positioned around a bull’s flank, in front of their hips, which creates the urge to buck. The flank rope does not come into contact with the bull’s genitals – which was rumored to me. Bulls are treated as family and in most cases, considered the stars of the show. They are limited to how long they can travel, how many bucks they can perform per day, and how many bucks they can perform per event. For more information, go to http://www.pbr.com/en/bulls/animal-welfare.aspx.

The PBR event is Thursday of Old Spanish Days and well
Star Spangled Banner, photo by Jenny Schlax
attended. The line to enter the arena wrapped around Earl Warren. Once inside, attendees scooted close to each other to make room on the benches. The event started with a prayer.  Old timers then rode out carrying the American flag and made their way over for the Star Spangled Banner. Introductions were made for the competing bull riders, yet the big announcement of the night was the retirement of Bushwhacker – a nine year old, 1500-pound American Bucking Bull.  
Some rules were explained to me by my seat neighbors: A rider must stay on the bull for 8 seconds to score; the rider and bull are matched up randomly before the competition; the rider brings his own flat braid rope to “tie” himself to the bull, which drops off the bull once the rider does. In the ring were four horsemen with lassos that help coral the bulls after the rodeo clowns distract them from the riders. Apparently, bulls remember who rode them and will go after the rider. In the middle of the arena was a “shark tank”, a metal enclosure holding ten people picked from the box seats through a lottery and a cooler of beer. That was pretty crazy.  

Lasso-Man! Photo by Jenny Schlax
Upon entering the rodeo, you are supposed to receive a day sheet with the rider and bull names to use to keep score.  I did not.  This was a lesson learned after the fact. Names elude me, but the action was intense. We started with 40 riders, which reduced by half each additional round.  In the first two rounds, no rider was able to stay on a bull for the required 8 seconds. In the third and finally round, two men were able to make the 8 seconds, with scores of 85.6 and 89.
However, two riders were injured when the bulls were not able to be distracted and came back to trampled them. Some bulls were ornery, and refused to get off the field. They definitely have attitudes to match their girth.  The horsemen on the filed undeniably pulled their weight hustling the bulls back into the pens. In between rides the sideline and dancing arena announcers entertained the crowd. This was a tough crowd to entertain. 

BUSHWACKER, photo by Jenny Schlax
Alas the finale – Bushwhacker!  Although J.B. Mauney, reigning PBR champion, was not a winner tonight, he was the chosen rider for the retiring Bushwhacker. Mauney has ridden Bushwhacker 12 times, with his longest ride being 1.13 seconds. Bushwhacker is a beautiful animal, standing almost as tall and wide as a VW Bus (from where I was sitting).  He is absolutely HUGE.  The crowd cheered for him as he entered the chute. Mauney didn’t stand a chance. The moment Bushwhacker was out, Mauney was off. The official time was 2.56 seconds – which seemed a second too long for me.

This event was intense. I am not sure if I would attend again, the danger aspect and intensity is a bit much for this ole heart, but I am glad I got a chance to experience PBR for myself. After the show, I was able to stroll along the back area to talk with the cowboys and ranchers staying at Earl Warren and check on the livestock. Kids were running and playing amongst the horses, and ranchers were caring for the cattle. The bulls were resting in large stalls, bathing themselves in dirt. Paramedics were attending to the bull riders. The backstage scene rounded out the evening, and renewed my love of Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo.

Five fun facts about Rodeo
Fact 1:
Rodeo emerged from an industry of working with the animals.
Fact 2:
The roping contest has originally developed from cowboys who hold cattle for doctoring.
Fact 3:
There are rules that regulate the handling of the animals which were first put by Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 1947.
Fact 4:
Bull riding has become rodeo’s most popular contest.
Fact 5:
The term rodeo means to “go around” in Spanish.