It’s been 10 years since Damien Marley, youngest of the Bob Marley sons and nicknamed “Jr. Gong,” exploded onto the scene with “Welcome to Jamrock,” fulfilling the promise of his first two albums and sending his album gold. And man, has that decade passed quickly.
“I was just thinking about that myself,” said Marley during a phone interview. “And I had the same sentiment that you do. It feels like yesterday. Time moves real quick.”
Then 27 years old, now 37, Damien is bringing the Catch a Fire tour to the Santa Barbara Bowl tonight. Along with his brother Stephen “Ragga” Marley, the evening features reggae legend Barrington Levy, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Jo Mersa and Black Am I, along with DJ sets by Kingston 12, Shinehead and Papalote.
When Brent Anderson was at UCSB he sang in the ensemble known as Schubertians, singing classical lieder. And while his career path took him into insurance and finance, he still yearned for the power of song, something at the same time more challenging than 18th century classical vocal works and less rarified.
His answer would be barbershop quartet.
“To be a solo singer is one thing, but to blend and harmonize with three other people is another, very complex, thing,” he says. “When I first discovered barbershop I thought it was fun. But then I discovered it was as challenging as anything I’d ever sung.” He quotes rock musician Ben Folds, who called barbershop the “black belt of vocal jazz.”
Is there a split between becoming famous through YouTube and becoming famous the traditional way (gigs, festivals, talk shows)? The rise and success of violinist, dancer, and electronic music maven Lindsey Stirling may be confusing to some, but the proof is not in the pudding but in the Santa Barbara Bowl this week where she is headlining.
Here’s the potted version of Ms. Stirling’s rise to fame. A violinist with no outlet for her art turns to YouTube and starts her own channel in 2007. Raised Mormon, she attends Brigham Young University in Utah to pursue film, does the missionary thing in New York City, continues to play violin in small bands and refuses to just stand there playing. Instead she dances and plays at the same time.
The Santa Barbara Bowl has rarely seen a full orchestra on its stage, although Monday night’s visit by the New York Philharmonic proved it can not only fit everybody, but the sound – at least for those not up in the gods- was excellent. Why don’t we do this more often?
That just might be the plan with this event that was arranged through Music Academy of the West, which is the first in the NY Phil’s Global Academy initiative. Maestro Alan Gilbert, since taking over the baton at the New York Philharmonic in 2009, has set about reshaping the orchestra for the 21st century. During his tenure, which will be up in 2017 as per his contract, he’s dusted off what was regarded as a stuffy institution and introduced an element of play. He’s reintroduced audiences to composers like Charles Ives, who still may be too radical for the subscriber base.
Johnny Cash died just under 12 years ago, although for fans it doesn’t seem so long ago. It helps that the Man in Black influenced so many musicians in so many genres, from country to rockabilly to outlaw blues to hip hop, that his sound is never that far away. For seven years promoter, producer and “evangelist risk taker” Ross Emery has been putting together “Roadshow Revival: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash” in Ventura, starting at the Ventura Fairgrounds. This year the event expands to two whole days and has moved to Mission Park, downtown Ventura.
The center of the tribute is the lineup of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and country acts who can play what they want, as long as 30 percent of their set is made up of Cash covers. The headliners include Revered Horton Heat and Billy Joe Shaver, along with The Blasters, John Doe, Hard Six, Robert Gordon, Big River and much more, a total of 22 bands. Along with the music and the food and drink, the event offers other attractions.
Michael Goldwasser, the producer behind the Easy Star All-Stars, has helped bring classic, ’70s-style roots reggae back to a level of popularity alongside another band he produced, Rebelution. Part of that was his returning to the source, using old analog instruments and machines and immersing himself for years in the sounds of King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and the other legends of reggae. The main reason was his one big idea: reggae covers of classic rock albums. Starting in 2003, with their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” – retitled “Dub Side of the Moon” – Easy Star All-Stars have taken on Radiohead’s “OK Computer,” The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The All-Stars are an offshoot of Easy Star Records house band, and a constant revolving lineup of musicians, one incarnation of which will be playing Live Oak Fest.
Regular visitors to Santa Barbara, this year’s gig is a greatest hits of sorts, playing songs from all four albums. Mr. Goldwasser occasionally joins them on tour, but now with the record label busier than ever before, he’s staying in New York.
On Saturday night, The Young and Brave Foundation, a non-profit that helps children with cancer, will throw a benefit evening at Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater, offering both an evening of music and a Santa Barbara/Carpinteria premiere screening of a special surf documentary.
The evening is being put on by Steve and Polly Hoganson, former owners of Zoey’s in Ventura, who have been friends with Timmy Curran for years, having hosted several of his gigs. And so it is Timmy Curran, and his friends, are headlining the concert part of the evening that also hosts a raffle and a photography exhibit, both curated by the retired surfer and musician. Mr. Curran will perform with Jesse Taylor and Jesse Carmichael, his former backing band that went on to become Wildcat! Wildcat! Mr. Curran has two young kids, so he can’t tour like those two can.
The Reignsmen may be the first rock band to be formed at a shoe store, specifically the Vans store on lower State Street. Seven years later, they’re no longer selling Chukka Boots, but are set to release their first, self-titled EP tonight at SOhO, with Dad’s Clothes and Yancellor Chang opening.
The band consists of Tommy Trujillo on bass guitar and vocals, Daniel Vasquez on lead guitar and vocals, Adam Duffin on rhythm guitar and vocals and Matthew Drake on drums. In their music you’ll hear the punk-country rumble of drunken brawls in the desert, nervous Bo Diddley beats, ’90s emo-rock, and even a bit of the Clash, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters and the Strokes, among a hundred other shuffle-play hits colliding.
Dancers grow and leave the stage. They become choreographers, some of them, and those who do often pass down their history and heritage to their star pupils. When the American Dance & Music company hits the stage today (and tomorrow) at the New Vic, they are bringing a piece that has been handed down twice, and that gives its name to this collection of four works.
“Turkish by Matisse” was originally created by Mari Sandoval in 1976, then passed down to AD&M founder Carrie Diamond, who was at that time Ms. Sandoval’s student at Santa Monica High School. Now Ms. Diamond is passing it on herself to AD&M’s Nikki Pfeiffer, who dances it this evening.