Spencer the Gardener Releases Fiesta Album

by Matt Kettmann

For Santa Barbara’s party-hardy gringos, Fiesta means four
things: tequila, beer, tacos, and Spencer the Gardener, the band
that’s entertained the Old Spanish Day masses for the past 15 years
with their trademark blend of quirky, original pop and rehashed
Spanish-language favorites. This year, however, after their
multiple shows during Fiesta — including their De la Guerra Plaza
stage performance on Saturday night at 9 p.m. and the next day’s
afternoon barbecue show at Red’s — you’ll actually be able to take
the distinctive sounds of Spencer the Gardener home with you.
That’s right, the band is releasing a full-length CD called,
simply, Fiesta.

The 11-song album comes hot on the heels of Run Away with Lulu
…, Spencer the Gardener’s 2005 release that’s been selling well
around the country via cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and itunes.com. This
new album, which was recorded at Garage Mahal with the help of Rob
Taylor and Craig Costigan, features regulars Spencer Barnitz on
vocals and guitar, Nate Birkey on trumpet, John Schnackenberg on
sax, Cougar Estrada on drums, Gary Sangenitto on bass, Randy Madron
on guitar, and Brett Larsen on accordion. It’s basically Fiesta in
a bottle, containing such crowd favorites as “Rancho Grande,”
“Guantanamera,” and “Juana la Cubana.” And Spanish isn’t the only
language on the album either: Spencer the Gardener’s fan-fave
rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” also makes an

“It’s definitely a Fiesta party album,” said Barnitz, although
he did include a couple songs that fans haven’t heard before. So
how’d this white boy from Santa Barbara learn to sing in Spanish?
“I speak Spanish because I’m from California,” he said, adding that
he learned some of the songs from high school, some from Costa
Rica, and one from Puerto Rico. Whatever the origin, the result is
genuinely Santa Barbaran and indistinguishably Spencer, whose
cackle-y voice is as distinct as they come.

But it’s not only the sounds that are authentically Santa
Barbaran — local painter Brad Nack, who did the Fiesta poster for
this year’s event, contributed two of his pieces to make the CD
jacket. It just doesn’t get any more Fiesta-riffic than this!


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.