THE SPICE OF NIGHTLIFE: If Thursday night’s show at the Santa Barbara Bowl was any indication, regional venues, bookers, and promoters are doing a great job at ignoring a mostly untapped musical market. With him, Snoop Dogg brought to S.B. one of the best of a very small list of hip-hop shows that have graced the Bowl stage. And the crowd reaction alone was enough to make me ponder just why we see so few live rap shows roll through town. Thanks to the growing tendencies of UCSB’s Program Board, it seems the trend is beginning to shift, but slowly. While deejays and clubs up and down State Street blast hip-hop tracks and tout the idea of rap and R&B-only nights, the city’s live venues seem to quietly ignore the need for-and potential draw that-more emcees could pull as concert performers.
What’s perhaps more encouraging is that following my short scan of what is being booked, I realized that aside from hip-hop, our little town has a shocking variety to offer to nearly any and all forms of music fans.
The punk and metal scene continues to thrash on both in I.V. and at Velvet Jones (423 State St.). Look out for Washington-based sludge band Melvins (melvins.com) to hit Velvet on Wednesday, July 16. Any and all folksters can be satiated by the regularly scheduled, consistently excellent performances that arrive monthly in the Sings Like Hell (singlslikehell.com) series at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.). Or they could head up a couple blocks for the scattered-but-regular folk shows being plugged at nearby SOhO (1221 State St.). On Saturday, July 12, acoustic guitar heavyweights Sean Hayes and James Hunter will take their songwriting skills on the road as part of Hell. Jonah Smith will tout his acoustic meanderings for an early show at SOhO next Friday, July 11. And while UCSB’s Arts & Lectures always does an impeccable job of booking world music from all points on the globe, during the summer we must look to places like the fairly recently opened Stateside Restaurant & Lounge (1114 State St.) and live music mini-monolith, SOhO. Currently, Stateside is offering up its very own International Night every Wednesday, with salsa lessons, live music, and plenty of dancing. Visit statesidesb.com for details. And across the street and up the block, you are nearly almost always guaranteed to find some form of roots music at least once on any given week. This Friday, SOhO will play host to Banda Night! with regional Mexican band Sierra Madre. On Tuesday, July 15, the club will open its doors to Cornerstone and Israel Vibration. Visit sohosb.com for times and prices.
UNSUNG HEROES: All that said, it still seems rather obvious that it’s easier to book a show as a rock ‘n’ roll musician-in whatever form that may take-than to do so as an artist outside the not-so-clear-cut description of “rock.” Case in point: a recent chat I had with Santa Barbara music staple Anthony Prieto. Together with his band, Prieto has played everywhere from our own Old Spanish Days festival (oldspanishdays-fiesta.org) to the Hollywood Palladium and opened for acts like WAR (wartheband.com) and Brenton Wood (brentonwood.com). But even with a strong voice, jaw-droppingly impressive collection of musicians, rich and vibrant Latin sound, and drive to play, Prieto said that he consistently finds it hard to book shows in our area. Whatever the reason may be seems only a mild frustration to Prieto, who continues to write and perform his own music whenever and wherever he can. For a glimpse of what the Anthony Prieto Band (myspace.com/anthonyprietoband) does best, check out their live show this Saturday, July 5, at 2 p.m. at the corner of Canon Perdido and State streets, in front of Borders Books & Music.