New Noise Music Conference & Festival @ Santa Barbra ~ October 17-19, 2013

In Our Own Backyard

The New Noise Music Conference & Festival, presented by the New Noise Music Foundation, has taken over Santa Barbara’s clubs by night and offered educational music panels by day, for three awesome days, annually since 2009. In its fifth year, the gang over at NN really has it down tight!

Some locals may have noticed the painted pianos scattered down State Street – yup, that’s New Noise, in collaboration with Notes for Notes, the SB Bowl, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Laura Inks, and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission. These pianos are painted by local artists at an earlier event and presented to SB for all to play – good or bad.  And most importantly, they are part of the festival.

The conference itself took place at the NNMC& F hub, the Savoy. It was a one-day event, with panels on every floor of the three story venue. The panels hosted the who’s who in the music industry, with topics ranging from how to control your brand to how to become an artist.  The key speaker this year was once again Chuck D of Public Enemy, who offered lessons learned as part of the recent “Kings of the Mic” tour.

Being the 5th anniversary, I was really hoping to make this year special…” states New Noise co-founder, Jeff Theimer. “From listening to Chuck D of Public Enemy & our 50+ music biz speakers on Friday, to the Pianos on State project and over 60 bands playing the showcase venues…”

Ah yes, the music! Every year I get my schedule out and do a little research to decide which bands to check out. This year I didn’t have the time, so I let the music pick me. And this time it was all local…   

Ghost Tiger 
Thursday night, because it’s close to my house, I chose to check out the SOhO showcase (not the most scientific way to choose a show, but it works).  The lineup included local bands Ghost Tiger and The Mutineers, and headliner The White Buffalo. I have seen the two local bands, but only in small venues, and boy was it a treat to get more than a taste of them both.

Ghost Tiger is a local 5-piece that specializes in harmonization. Boasting a petite singer with a super-sized voice accompanied by four talented musicians, they create a unique atmospheric folk-pop. Ghost Tiger’s music is both hypnotic and down to earth, blending a taste of Americana rock with a hint electronic pop. They completely took over the SOhO stage, drawing the crowd to fill the dance floor.

The Mutineers followed. Again, seen them, but only in small places, with a less electric sound. I didn’t realize the power of their music until now. The Mutineers are a local pub-rock quartet comprised of rocking female drummer Merry, stand-up bass strumming Terry, crazing guitar picking Michael, and vocal belting Brian. Fierce, folksy, with a touch o’ the Irish, the Mutineers encouraged beers to be swung and choruses to be shouted back. If they had bagpipes, I’d a thought they were related to the Dropkick Murphy’s. Like a second cousin once removed.

That was enough to satisfy my musical need that night. It was at here that I decided to review local bands only. Very convenient.

The Blues & Greys 
Friday night, because Lindsey Ann is a lovely local talented songstress, I headed over to Muddy Waters to check out The Blues & Greys. The Blues & Grays sound exactly like their name – dark & moody, with Lindsey Ann’s vocals adding vibrant color and depth to the tempo. Although this was only their second show together, The Blues & Greys demonstrated a talent the will simply grow as the band melds together.     

Saturday day, because I like to party (let’s be honest), I headed early to the NN Block Party. As part of the NNMC&F, New Noise takes over part of the Funk Zone. According to Theimer, “the organic growth of the New Noise Block Party (which featured the hot female trio HAIM) in the Funk Zone was a huge step in the right direction for us.” Shutting down Mason Street, setting up a beer garden and a stage, and having food trucks come in to cater to the patron’s hunger, New Noise created the perfect party situation.

photo by paul dunkley
And there ain’t no party like a festival beer garden partay. This one had a silent disco. If you are not familiar, as I was not, this is when certain people in the party wear headphones and have DJ music piped into them that only they can hear, making the peeps with headphones dance around like maniacs or jellyfish. It really is quite hilarious (to watch). Ah yes, the music.

photo by paul dunkley
You better believe the  SB locals knew which party band to see – King City, a hodgepodge of members from bands of the likes of The Mad Caddies, No Use For A Name, Rich Kids on LSD, and Lagwagon playing a fusion of surf mariachi polka punk rock with minimal vocals. Pure sunny Santa Barbara style Saturday afternoon party. Seriously.

I think this year's New Noise Conference & Festival wasdefinitely our best yet,” claims Theimer. “We really look forward to working with the City of Santa Barbara to keep creating an experience that both attracts visitors and is still a uniquely "SB" event… We literally could not do this fest without support from the community. SB has DEFINITELY been good to us and we are extremely grateful.”

New Noise really did outdue themselves this year, there was so much to see, so much to do, so much to hear.  And it was right here in our backyard.