Live Music Peeps

The K23 Orchestra Comes to Legends Bar

Text and photos by Shannon Kelley Gould

How do I love Legends? Let me count the ways. For starters, it’s not on State Street, reason enough to venture in for one of Raul’s very stiff drinks, which are also a potent draw, in and of themselves. But the main reason I’ve been digging the scene at the Milpas Street lounge is the music. As live music junkies are well aware, Santa Barbara offers precious few downtown watering holes at which to get your fix, but Legends is looking to change all that, scouring the earth and cyberspace for hot new acts, and managing to bring them to our town. Cover charges are minimal, and, given the square footage of the joint, you’re pretty much guaranteed one of those legendary (apologies for the pun), intimate performances you’ll brag to your friends about years later, “Oh, yeah, well I saw them back in 2006 at Legends!” Such was the case last Friday, when I set out to peep the scene, and proceeded to have my mind blown by the inimitable K23 Orchestra, a genre-free San Diego-based jam band that’s developed some serious cred among festival devotees.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The night began with a quality performance from Paint the Town’s John Horseman and a pint of Hefeweisen (beer-guzzlers take note: Raul has an excellent selection of on-tap brews). The bar filled, some pals arrived, and I hit up Cory Linberg, bartender and self-proclaimed mojito king (stop by on Tuesday for one his “Glo-jitos,” served in a pint glass and garnished with a glow stick), for a tip. “Is the K23 here yet?” I asked. He directed me outside, where I found Al Howard, the band’s front man, leaning against their van and willing to be peeped, but, alas, without the rest of the band. He said he’d find me at some point when the rest of the guys were around, and I wandered back inside for another pint and more peeping.

The K23 hit the stage soon enough, and launched into an amazing performance that paired their trademark rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness-sounding lyrical fabulousness with an explosive mix of funk, hip-hop, and jazz-inspired jams that got the crowd grooving. I was in awe, and my pal declared herself in love.

They rocked for a good while, and when it was time for them to take a break, I pounced, rounding them up outside for a shot. We were debating what to do when an unfortunate flash of genius struck. “Let’s do the Eight is Enough shot!” I said, but no sooner had the words left my lips than I realized they likely were still in their mothers’ wombs when the popular TV show had its heyday. Nevertheless, they were game. I got the shot and, more importantly, escaped without having to cop to my age.

The band’s second set was as fantastic as the first; the crowd was stoked to be in on the action. And I left hoping for more legendary nights at the itty-bitty Legends.

Where will your peeps be? Email

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