July 24, 2015

Jim Gaffigan ~ July 24, 2015 @ The Santa Barbara Bowl

Food for Thought

A hush fell over the crowd as a single spotlight hit a lone bar stool on the Santa Barbara Bowl stage. Never has the crowd seemed so quiet at the beginning of a concert, but this was no rock show - this was comedy.

Jim Gaffigan, one of America’s most relatable and self-effacing comedians, performed to a full house July 24th. Known for his undeniable love of food that has made him fat (especially hot pockets), his lack of parenting skills to his unusually large family, and his third-person, high-whisper “inner” voice that constantly criticizes his material, Gaffigan brought fresh and familiar material to Santa Barbara.

“Santa Barbara is unbelievable, you lucky bastards – I resent these people.” Gaffigan had the crowd laughing from the start, rightfully joking about the things Santa Barbarians love most about our town. “A cop pulled us over and gave us a bottle of wine….”

Gaffigan, pale and heavy set, is honest about himself, being both self-deprecating and edgy:
·       He hates to hike: “Hiking is a very California thing - we all make mistakes. It’s walking for no reason. There’s no stores or restaurants.”
·        He loves TV: “I’m a tel-athlete…. Yes sir TV… No sir TV…” 
·        He is no good at parenting: “I just want to hear your voice daddy – Buy my album.”
·        He is overweight: “I have fatted out of my clothes. I am curating an exhibit of my weight gain.”
·        And he loves steak: “Let’s eat meat together – like Jesus.”

Throughout his set, his little third-person voice made cutting commentary, alleviating some of the uncomfortable tension of his humor.  “I can’t believe he said that about Jesus...” But the voice could not stop him and Santa Barbara ate it up.


July 22, 2015

Willie Nelson & Family ~ July 22, 2015 @ The Santa Barbara Bowl

An American Story

Country music is an American heritage and Willie Nelson is one of the most recognizable American Icons. At the young age of 82, Willie Nelson & Family performed for a sold out Santa Barbara Bowl. Along with Alison Krauss & Union Station, they successfully brought true American Country music to our fine city.

Country music has a reputation for being sad, with songs usually about your love leaving, your truck breaking down, or your dog dying. It has simple harmonies, played on a variety of stringed instruments, and sung with a bit of a twang. It’s what country life is about. And as Alison Krauss & Union Station kicked off into their set, it was obvious that there wasn’t going to be a dry eye in the house by the end of it.

With a voice of an angel, Alison sung of heartbreak and despair that gripped your heart. Accompanied by her band of talented stringed musicians, Alison Kraus & Union Station exemplified all that is right with Country music. “We don’t want anyone to leave feeling good,” explained Alison, while bantering with the crowd between heartbreaking songs.  The bantering between band members, some of whom have played together for over 20 years, was stand-up worthy and a nice contrast to the melancholy songs.  

The Santa Barbara Bowl begun to fill up as a cool breeze blew in off the ocean, relieving the humidity held in by the day. Near me sat Dorothy, a 91-year old Santa Barbara resident that has seen Willie Nelson fifty times so far. Dorothy explained, “Willie is a wonderful performer. You know his sister Bobby plays the piano and his kids come out and play with him too. Now it’s the Family – it didn’t used to be that way. They’re great.” And Dorothy did not lie.

The Lone-Star State flag flew over a simple set as Willie Nelson & Family took to the Santa Barbara Bowl stage. Willie immediately broke into “Whiskey River,” bringing the older crowd to their feet. At 82, Willie still plays the guitar at a pace most young men could not keep up. His voice strong and stamina high, he took no breaks as he whisked from one song to the next. Crowd participation was required for many of his tunes. As Willie sung “whiskey for my men,” and pointed at the crowd, the crowd replied “beer for my horses” during his rendition of the amply named song “Beer For My Horses.” 

Little Sister, as Willie liked to refer to Bobby, played the piano fiercely. At the age of 84, Bobby slinked over the keys and played speedy solos that brought cheers from the crowd. Willie Nelson & Family quickly played all the hits in an hour and fifteen minutes. Playing classics like “On The Road Again,” Hank William’s “Maybe I Didn’t Love You,” and “Stardust.” “That’s a lovely song,” exclaimed Dorothy as Willie finished a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy For Feeling So Lonely.”

As the evening came to an end, Willie called out more of his family members to the stage, thanking them all. What a great legacy, what a great American story.