These Birds are taking off: Birds of Chicago comes to Sings Like Hell

 JT Nero and Allison Russell are the couple at the heart of the Birds of Chicago collective. Courtesy photo


JT Nero and Allison Russell are the couple at the heart of the Birds of Chicago collective.
Courtesy photo

Birds of Chicago delve into that ever-widening genre called Americana, and bring out something both soulful and sweet, smooth and raw. Just like the big city of Chicago turned traveling bluesmen into electric nightclub entertainers in the ’50s, the Birds of Chicago are set to change what can be done in the genre that has tended to the too-folksy side in recent years. They’re a smokin’ hot live band, to be proved Sunday, when they play as part of Sings Like Hell’s current series.

The band came together when Chicago-based JT Nero, of JT and the Clouds, and Montreal-based Allison Russell of Po’Girl joined forces romantically and artistically. After touring on and off with each other, and hiding their relationship from the rest of the touring musicians, they finally combined their songwriting, their arranging and their voices. Their self-titled debut came out in 2012, followed by a live album in 2013, bolstered by constant touring.

Read More

That’s a Wrap: SBIFF’s 28th year ends on a high note

Roll up the red carpet and put it in storage. Tear down the crowd barriers, the posters and banners. The 28th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival ended Sunday night as it began, with a closing night film at the Arlington Theatre and filmmakers walking the carpet. The atmosphere was subdued but elated.

The fest could name some successes this year. The opening film “Disconnect” was so well received – a first – that it received a second screening. The Ben Affleck, Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence tribute evenings all sold out. The Quentin Tarantino night, hastily announced and organized on the day before the opening, nearly sold out too.

Read More

SBIFF: Lawrence wows Arlington at SBIFF’s final tribute

 Jennifer Lawrence stops for photographers at the Arlington Theatre. MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS


Jennifer Lawrence stops for photographers at the Arlington Theatre.
MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

If SBIFF followers were feeling a bit underwhelmed with the star power of its last few tributes, the screaming crowds 10 people deep ringing the Arlington on Saturday night assuaged all fears.

Jennifer Lawrence, the 22-year-old actress best known for three standout hits, was in town to receive SBIFF’s Outstanding Performance of the Year award.

The award was for her Oscar-nominated work in David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” but the throngs of devoted fans were here to see the Ms. Lawrence they knew: Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games.”

Read More

SBIFF’s Women’s Panel celebrates producers, writers and developers

Saturday's Women's Panel featured, from left, moderator Madelyn Hammond, Allison Abbate, Lucy Alibar, Marissa Paiva, Katherine Sarafian and Pilar Savone. MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS

Saturday’s Women’s Panel featured, from left, moderator Madelyn Hammond, Allison Abbate, Lucy Alibar, Marissa Paiva, Katherine Sarafian and Pilar Savone.
MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS

Why are there not more women in Hollywood?

This is the perpetual question, recently raised in several articles quoting the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University’s findings that only 18 percent of directors, writers and camera people of the top-grossing movies are women.

It’s also been a familiar question at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Women’s Panel for the last few years, and it was asked again Saturday afternoon at the Lobero Theatre.

Read More

Producers panel brings Oscar nominees to town

The Santa Barbara film festival's Movers & Shakers panel included, from left, moderator John Horn, Bruce Cohen, Debra Hayward, Dan Janvey, Kathleen Kennedy, Stacey Sher and David Womark. MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS

The Santa Barbara film festival’s Movers & Shakers panel included, from left, moderator John Horn, Bruce Cohen, Debra Hayward, Dan Janvey, Kathleen Kennedy, Stacey Sher and David Womark.
MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS

Six of this year’s Oscar-nominated producers took the stage for Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s third panel, the always popular Movers & Shakers event.

On an overcast Saturday morning, the Lobero Theatre was quite full with film fans who had come to see the less-recognizable but very important faces behind this year’s best films.

Read More

Breaking bones and records: SBIFF documentary recalls the crazy ‘Signal Hill Speed Run’

 Jim O'Mahoney, shown in a 1970s photo, is the subject of a documentary, "Signal Hill Speed Run," about skateboard racing. The film screens tonight as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.


Jim O’Mahoney, shown in a 1970s photo, is the subject of a documentary, “Signal Hill Speed Run,” about skateboard racing. The film screens tonight as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“It was the X-Games of its day,” he says.

These days Jim O’Mahoney is best known to Santa Barbarans as the owner of the Surf Museum on Helena Avenue and its newer, but equally delightful, history museum next door.

But back when he was 30, Mr. O’Mahoney started a four-year event at the same time as the modern skateboard industry, resulting in some incredible speeds and dangerous accidents.

Read More