Wetlands, Naked Walrus at Velvet Jones

Four Santa Barbara Bands Team Up for Benefit Concert on Saturday, May 21

Nothing says rapture like a live music that gets people grooving like there’s no tomorrow. Wetlands headlined a four-band lineup on Saturday night at Velvet Jones, and, true to their name, left audience members appropriately sweaty.

Perhaps nobody had more fun than members of Wetlands themselves, who playfully delivered funky, jazzy, and soul-filled Afro-beats that kept the crowd moving throughout their set. The crew swelled from its five member minimum, which includes Miguelito Leon on percussion, Justin Flint on drums, Victor Murillo on bass, Dusty Ineman on lead keys, and Jeremy Reineck on keys and vocals, to a spirited seven-piece that included Nathan Salman on guitar and Jared Yee on the tenor sax.

It’s hard to say whether the mid-set sax-centered buildup, or the guest dancer, whose animated, Afro-Brazilian moves took center stage for the final few songs, was the night’s highlight. Perhaps it was the group’s lengthy cover of George Michael’s 1984 hit single, “Careless Whisper,” which featuring Yee (a student of Boston’s Berklee School of Music and thus a summertime-only Wetlands member).

Earlier in the evening, familiar faces of the S.B. music scene filled Velvet Jones’s stage, beginning with I.V.’s year-old Givers & Takers, a five-man self-proclaimed “bliss rock” band. Sprout, I.V.’s fresh favorite whose victory at this year’s Battle of the Bands earned them the opening spot at UCSB’s Extravaganza last weekend, kept it groovy with their soul rock jams. According to band members, usual fans and fresh faces comprised the majority of people on the dance floor. Naked Walrus, who will unveil their debut album, Get Naked, this summer, had the crowd head banging and fist pumping to their progressive rock jams. Lead by the appropriately shirtless and tattooed singer/rhythm guitarist, Dakota Gartner, Walrus gave the final performance before Wetlands took over.

Saturday’s show was a benefit for Notes for Notes, the S.B.-based non-profit that aims to sow a musical foundation in local youths by providing musical instruments, instruction, and music making environments at locations throughout town. Executive director and founder of Notes for Notes, Phillip Gilley said, “the event was successful on many levels.” He noted that further local organizations New Noise, Black Mamba Booking (with which Gartner is involved), and Numbskull Productions helped makethe event possible. According to Gilley, the attendance of about 150 raised a little over $600, which will go toward upgrading Notes for Notes’ MusicBox locations with Pro Tools 9 software and accommodating the increasing number of artists and producers attending workshops with young musicians.

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