August 14, 2015

Alabama Shakes ~ August 14, 2015 @ The Santa Barbara Bowl

Shaking It Down

photo by paul dunkley 
A long line formed in the hot afternoon sun, as people descended upon the Santa Barbara Bowl box office window in a desperate attempt to grab a coveted ticket to see The Alabama Shakes.

The long-sold-out show was highly anticipated as the Alabama Shakes toured on their sophomore album, Sound & Color. The band has shown artistic growth with their second album. It's slightly more eclectic and soulful than their debut album, Boys & Girls. Known for their ecstatic, blues-based rock, this more deliberate sound was mesmerizing.

Brittany Howard emerged on stage decked out in a full-length green gown and a new haircut. The band immediately jumped into “Future People,” a poignant, funky blues song with high-pitch vocals and a catchy hook that pulls you in and then stops abruptly. The Santa Barbara crowd immediately jumped to attention, leaving no space left in the pit. People packed against the stage to get a glimpse of Brittany as the crowd moved as one.

Graciously, Brittany thanked the crowd, then moved onto
photo by paul dunkley
“Always Alright,” an upbeat, honky-tonk, bluesy dance tune, that got the crowd shaking even more. Incorporating songs from their first album into the mix, The Alabama Shakes hit the mark by including “Hang Loose” and “Heartbreak” early in the set. However, it was Brittany’s improved stage presence that really entranced the crowd.

Pushing her guitar aside, Brittany used her body as well as her voice to bring the lively crowd to a church-like silence during “Joe,” a gospel-like blues song. The Alabama Shakes kept the crowd in the moment by following up with the equally deeply emotional “Miss You” and “This Feeling,” until finally breaking the spell with their radio hit “Don’t Wanna Fight,” an easy-flowing blues jam.

The Alabama Shakes were unrelenting as Brittany exclaimed, “I could do this all night!” And so could Santa Barbara, shaking it down until the very last song. 

August 6, 2015

Aretha Franklin ~ August 6, 2015 @ The Santa Barbara Bowl

An Evening with a Diva
photo by Tanya Wahlquist

A Living Legend. The Queen of Soul. Diva. All appropriate names for Ms. Aretha Franklin. The 73 year old Queen proved to be a timeless wonder as she performed before The Santa Barbara Bowl August 6th.

Adorned in a long shimmering evening gown and pearls, Aretha was as elegant as she was talented. “Maybe a melody on the rocks will explain,” Aretha purred as she slipped into the first song of the evening. Big, bold, and beautiful, Aretha sung a mixture of her own songs and covers, including “Til You Come Back To Me”, “Angel,” and even mixed it up a bit with a re-mix of “I Will Survive” that had an added touch of Destiny’s Child flavor.

With gratitude in her heart she exclaimed, “Thank you for spending an evening with me. Time has been good to me. 50 years in the business – and it feels like it.” Aretha left to take a short tea break, then returned rejuvenated. Aretha’s vocals didn’t seem like they have lost any range or power, as she sat at the piano, dedicating her cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” “to those friends who care for me.”

Aretha easily slipped between jazz, gospel, and soul, throughout the evening, bringing the crowd once again to their feet for a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” It would be hard not to have the utmost respect for such talent, and it was truly an experience spending the evening with Aretha Franklin.