As the saying goes, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Music‑wise, we’ve been having a pretty decent lamb already, but our future lion is ready to roar, especially with undated rumors coming from the S.B. Bowl that in the coming months we can expect everyone from Sinead O’Connor (backed by reggae’s infamous duo Sly & Robbie), Matisyahu, Trey Anastasio, Damian Marley, Los Lonely Boys, and The Strokes to Martina McBride, John Mayer, Yellowcard, INXS, Nine Inch Nails, and — fingers crossed — the Black Crowes and Fiona Apple. (Details shall arrive in the paper in the next few weeks.) As well, UCSB’s offerings continue to excite — think Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Pinback, and Blackalicious — while SOhO, the Chumash Casino, and the Majestic Ventura Theatre provide the steady flow we need to get through our weeks. And there are other great surprises and series along the way. Santa Barbara’s soundtrack for the transition out of winter looks to be a fitting one.
The Coral Sea and Asobi Seksu S.B.’s top art rockers keep their moody aura alive with a gig at The Merc, sharing the bill alongside Brooklyn’s Asobi Seksu. The Sea just signed a deal with both English and American labels, and begin a tour of England this weekend too. Check ’em at home before it’s too late. Thu., Mar. 23, 8pm; The Mercury Lounge; 967 0907.
Very Lonesome Boys Homegrown bluegrass is where it’s at these days, and thankfully, we have Peter Feldmann and his Very Lonesome Boys to show us the way. Sat., Mar. 25, 8pm; Santa Ynez Valley Grange Hall, Los Olivos; bluegrass west.com.
Emma’s Revolution Serving as the entertainment part of the intellectual menu — whose heart is the two day discussion American Empire: Christian Critiques and Responses with David Ray Griffin and George Regas — the politically charged duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O shall inform and enthuse. The following Trinity Backstage act is poetic folkie Dana Cooper on April 22. Sat., Mar. 25, 8pm; Trinity Episcopal Church; trinitybackstage.com.
Hollywood U2 and Highway 61 The tribute band craze shows no signs of receding, and these two bands — which, if you can’t figure it out, cover U2 and Bob Dylan respectively — are some of the country’s best. So hop in the time machine for some good times. Sat., Mar. 25, 9pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
The Messengers Out of the musical soup that was Isla Vista in the mid ’90s emerged The Messengers, a rootsy collective that managed to survive graduation and keep the tunes alive into their professional lives. But then real life got in the way, and they parted for a couple years. Now they’re back in this reunion show. Fri., Mar. 31, 9pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
Small Potatoes Tom Lee’s SongTree Concert Series at the Live Oak church continues with this “cowboy to Celtic” duo, and then happens again on May 6 when The Tatters and Rebecca Troon come to Goleta. Sat., Apr. 1, 7:30pm; Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation; 403 2639 or songtree.org.
Ojai Classic Rock Festival Making the half hour drive to our sister city in the hills will be definitely worth it for this day of rock ’n’ roll tribute bands with the likes of Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick (sitting in with Dead tributeers Cubensis). Also playing in this benefit for the RageJax Foundation will be Which One’s Pink, Led Zepagain, The Almost Brothers, The Neil Deal, and Peace Frog. Sat., Apr. 1, noon 10pm; Ojai’s Libbey Bowl; 640 9014 or ragejaxfoundation.com.
Mary Chapin Carpenter and Anne Lamott Two powerful voices join together for a special night of folk country fusion and spoken word performance. Mary Chapin Carpenter has played for countless audiences since her 1987 debut album Hometown Girl while Anne Lamott has entertained readers for years with her wry wit and self deprecating humor. Both are well versed in the art of keeping an audience entertained. Tue., Apr. 4, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535 or www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Chris Isaak A rock star in the classic sense of the term, Chris Isaak draws on the influences of legends like Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison to create a unique brand of rockabilly. Isaak, who became a household name with the release of the oh so sensual video for his hit “Wicked Game,” further adds to his coolness factor by being the go to soundtrack contributor for director David Lynch. Thu., Apr. 6, 8pm; Chumash Casino; (800) 583 3737 or chumashcasino.com.
I Hate Kate Kicking off a series of free noontime performances in Storke Plaza at UCSB is this alterna pop quartet from Huntington Beach. The acts to follow are Halifax on April 13, Asian in Rock Tour on April 17, and One Republic on April 24. Thu., Apr. 6; UCSB’s Storke Plaza; free.
G. Love & Special Sauce An honest to god hit that has since sunk back into to the Philadelphia underground scene from whence it came, G. Love & Special Sauce developed a nationwide following with their self titled 1994 debut. Since then, the trio has continued to bounce around soul, R&B, funk, and Beastie Boys era rap with tremendous results. Thu., Apr. 6; Majestic Ventura Theatre; 652 0721 or venturatheater.net.
Naked Voices and Brothas from Otha MothasA capella never sounded so cool, but thanks to these UCSB vocal troupes, there’s a whole new sound goin’ round, which many people first discovered at the closing night of February’s Film Festival. This time, they play at the Maritime Museum, down on the harbor. Hopefully, it’s a sign that we can see them more downtown this year. Fri., Apr. 7, 7pm; S.B. Maritime Museum; 962 8404 or sbmm.org.
AM, David Berkeley, Gary Jules, and BuchananAs part of the monthly Tuesday night Element songwriter series at SOhO, these four dudes elevate lyrics to the importance they deserve. AM, who hails from New Orleans, was named by the L.A. Weekly as the top songwriter in town while Gary Jules is best known for the remake he did of “Mad World,” which was part of the remarkable soundtrack to Donnie Darko. Tue., Apr. 11, 7:30pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
The Colour with The ShysRowdy, raucous rock is what’s being promised here with The Colour — who rely on blues guitar and tambourine tearing — and The Shys, a multi talented electric/acoustic band with tons of promise, White Stripes y distored vocals, and stage consuming energy. Thu., Apr. 13, 9pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
Leann Rimes Chalk up two unexpected victories for Leann Rimes. When her debut single “Blue” hit the radio in 1996, fans were shocked that such a powerful voice came out of a 13 year old girl. Then Rimes weathered the struggles of childhood stardom to continue a respectable country career. After a brief flirtation with mainstream pop with her album Twisted Angel, Rimes returned to the country roots that made her a success with her 2005 release, This Woman. Thu., Apr. 13, 8pm; Chumash Casino; (800) 583 3737 or chumashcasino.com.
Pinback Though Pinback achieved mainstream success with its 2004 hit, “Fortress,” the band had by then been honing its sophisticated indie sound for five years by flirting with various subgenres like low fi, emo, and out and out pop. Since its eponymous debut album, the two man band — the improbably named Armistead Burwell Smith IV and partner Rob Crow — have drawn critical praise and enthusiasm from an increasing legion of fans. Thu., Apr. 20, 8:30pm; UCSB’s The Hub; 893 2064.
Spencer the Gardener and Peyote Surf Trip Dance your butt off for a good cause at this benefit for the Surfrider Foundation with the mariachi/salsa/alterna pop of Spencer the Gardener and the surf music tunes of Peyote Surf Trip. Surf flicks will fill the blank spaces too. Fri., Apr. 21, 9pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
Sings Like Hell: Sonya Kitchell Band and The Cynical Girls In the first show of Sings Like Hell’s 19th season, the “honey-textured” tunes of Sonya Kitchell shall crash into the hi-fi pop of The Cynical Girls, who are Marti Jones and Amy Rigby. The rest of the series includes a May 12 show with the legendary Richard Thompson, a May 20 show with Kris Delmhorst and the Shannon McNalley Band, and a June 10 show with Australia’s The Greencards and Caroline Herring. Sat., Apr. 22, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 963-0761 or singslikehell.com.
The Headlights and Numbers Like Dinosaurs Goleta fringe rock mainstay The Hard to Find ushers us into a new season of under the radar sonic explorations with this doubleheader. Indie pop trio The Headlights defy initial comparisons to the Postal Service by delving into a jangly sound more evocative of ’90s garage pop. Meanwhile, Numbers Like Dinosaurs combines two guys from Santa Rosa, an electronic drum set, and emo with apparently Jurassic sized results. Sat., Apr. 22, 8pm; The Hard to Find, 7190 Hollister Ave.; myspace.com/thehardtofind.
Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples What could better complement the plaintive sounds of blues than sultry and sensuous soul? Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples suggest an answer to that question: not much. A fixture of the blues scene for the past 40 years, Taj Mahal has mastered his own idiosyncratic genre while Mavis Staples, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has successfully belted out soul hits since being in her family’s band, The Staple Singers. Tue., Apr. 25, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535 or www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
30 Seconds to Mars Jared Leto may still be best known as the illiterate guy on My So-Called Life, but like Keanu Reeves, Juliette Lewis, and, um, David Hasselhoff, this actor has a musical bent as well. Go to see an earnest rock band try its damnedest, go to see Jared Leto attempt to overcome the stigma facing all actors turned rockers, or go to live out unfulfilled Jordan Catalano fantasies. Thu., Apr. 27; Majestic Ventura Theatre; 652 0721 or venturatheater.net.
Blackalicious Hip hop’s happeningest duo from the Bay Area lands at UCSB for a performance of rhythmic flows, heavy beats, and conscious, non ego driven rap. It’s their first time through town since the release of The Craft, and it’ll be worth enduring The Hub’s idiosyncracies. Mon., May 1, 8:30pm; UCSB’s The Hub; 893 2064.
Tyrone Wells An all new series is planning to finally utilize UCSB’s Lagoon Lawn for something other than graduation. Soulful rocker Tyrone Wells, who will also be playing at SOhO that night for a CD release party with the Pawn Shop Kings, kick starts this noontime campus series. Tue., May 2, noon; UCSB’s Lagoon Lawn; free; also at SOhO, 8pm; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
Jake Shimabukuro Hide your ukuleles because when this 28 year old picking virtuoso comes through town, all small necked guitar ish things may crumble beneath his power. Known worldwide as the most revolutionary ukulele player alive, Jake Shimabukuro blends everything from Hawaiian classics to flamenco and Hendrix. Wed., May 10, 8:30pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.
B.B. King In celebration of his 80th birthday, blues legend B.B. King has been touring the United States and spending each night with his number one lady: Lucille, his guitar. The man Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the greatest guitarist alive today first achieved superstardom in 1969, with his cover of Roy Hawkins’s “The Thrill Is Gone.” It ain’t gone yet. Tue., May 16, 8pm; Arlington Theatre; 893 3535 or www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Coalition of the Willing Billed as drummer Bobby Previte’s “super bar band,” this coalition features Charlie Hunter playing a six string for the first time in years, Steve Berstein from Sex Mob on trumpet, and Jamie Saft on Hammond. Tue., May 23, 8pm; SOhO; 962 7776 or www.sohosb.com.