It’s been six whole years since we launched our inaugural Santa Barbara Music Issue back in 2007, and boy has it been a wild ride. And while the excitement over this year’s crop of new talent has us buzzing, it recently dawned on us that it might be time to take a look back. So allow us for a moment to get all nostalgic and celebrate just some of the 805 talent we’ve had the pleasure of hearing before the rest of the world caught on. Reminiscing on that first year — and its contest-free kick-off party — we recall hosting Isla Vista locs Rebelution. The barely legal reggae rockers put on a high-energy show atop our makeshift stage at De la Guerra Plaza and have since gone on to become some of the best selling modern reggae artists of the past five years. Also on the bill and adorning the pages of that lowly first issue was Kyle Nicolaides, then a pint-sized 16-year-old with a rock ’n’ roll snarl that greatly belied his age. In the years between, the young Nicolaides changed outfits many times over, but always made sure to stay true to his hard-rocking roots; he’s now fronting garage-rock trio Beware of Darkness, and touring the world alongside bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Andrew W.K., and Stone Temple Pilots. And that’s just for starters.
Over the curse of the past half-decade, these pages have sung the praises of a then barely known Gardens & Villa, who have gone on to sign with indie label heavyweight Secretly Canadian, tour with The Shins, and score the mother of all California concert slots: a coveted spot at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In more recent years, we’ve witnessed Dante Elephante take their surf-pop sound to the next level — and pick up a chunk of solid press and gigs in the process. We’ve also watched as Lompocians Saint Anne’s Place became the go-to blues rockers of Santa Barbara proper, before taking their show on the road — and overseas — for their first European tour.
Looking toward the 2013 installment, we’re already banking on more than a few of our featured acts hitting it big. But more than that, we’re downright giddy with excitement at the leaps and bounds taken by the S.B. community in the last six years. Santa Barbara’s music scene may be small, insulated, and desperately in need of some more venues, but goddamn it if it doesn’t have heart — not to mention a crazy wealth of talent. And as for the Music Issue, well, we’re just happy to have watched it all shake down.