It’s the Year of the Cat
While the hippies danced in Alameda Park post Solstice on Saturday, the hipsters were lined up outside SOhO, two snaking threads starting upstairs that easily found their way down to street level. The lines were for ticket-holders and those seeking tickets, all wanting to see Chan Marshall, better known as the enigmatic singer-songwriter Cat Power.
Fragile of voice and temperamental of mind, the singer has a reputation: A concert can be filled with walk-offs, wordy digressions, freakouts or be canceled altogether. Or it can be brilliant and electrifying.
Wednesday night’s performance at the Lobero, one of three sold-out nights and the opening of Summerdance’s 10th season, finds Mikhail Baryshnikov back in Santa Barbara for the fifth time in 13 years.
Now 58, Mr. Baryshnikov cuts an elegant figure on stage, with sad, yearning eyes, a face made of diagonals and angles, contrasting with a supple torso and arms that suggest massive strength even when they look light and as mutable as rising smoke. No doubt he is still fascinating to watch, but his Hell’s Kitchen Dance company proved to be equally exciting.
EIGHT VIRTUOUS HANDS
We open with black, all the lights in Abravanel Hall extinguished. We can hear shuffling on stage, and then some odd notes rise out of the darkness.
Then the see-sawing, off-key intro to Saint-Saëns “Danse Macabre” begins and with a sudden burst of light, the stage is revealed: four men, two pianos, a flurry of hands. This is Pianofest, Saturday night’s opening to Music Academy of the West’s Summer Festival.
The Blue and the Green
Roots music — traditional country music without the gloss, whatever one might call it — finds itself always returning to its origins the further out it goes. An Australian-English bluegrass combo that formed in Austin, Texas, and records in Nashville, Tenn., the Greencards push the genre into the future while reminding audiences of its long past. White Australians don’t have to go back too many generations to return to England. And bluegrass is only a fiddle or two away from Eire.
And so at the Lobero on Saturday night, and as part of Sings Like Hell, audiences were not so much hearing a outsider’s take on tradition, but a fun-house mirror of styles and influences that sounded bracingly fresh. Surely The Greencards’ marriage of Americana can earn them citizenship.