Now in week three, our Almost Independent contest is in full swing and this round will be a double elimination. The Jessicas remain in the lead, with go-go dancer Bianca Calhoun hot on their heels. That doesn’t leave things looking very sunny for the boys, especially since Michael Baker has been eliminated. But Kevin Spracher won’t go down without a fight and Joel Aurora’s sharp wit may just be this competition’s dark horse.

But then, that’s up to you to decide.

All in-print writing samples can be found in this week’s Positively State Street column on page 83 of the paper, or you can simply read them below. And check the links to each remaining writer’s personal page to read his or her response to this round’s online essay prompt: If you could interview any musician, alive or dead, who would you choose and what five questions would you ask?

Click here to vote for your TWO favorite contestants this week. (Note: YOU MUST VOTE FOR TWO or the poll will not compute your vote.)

<font size="+1"><strong>Arabella Watters</strong></font><br />
Fourteen-year-old Arabella attends Laguna Blanca School and spends her free time kicking around a soccer ball, painting the view from her house, brushing up on her crescent kicks, browsing the racks at her favorite consignment store, and laughing aimlessly with her friends until her sides split.
Paul Wellman

FOREVER YOUNG: Too $hort is one of a kind. A true ingenue, he recorded not one, not two, but three solo albums before being discovered and signed onto a major record label in 1988. His first album, Born to Mack, went straight to gold, and smooth platinum came sailing after that, as well as nine more effortless albums filled with contagious lyrics and hip-jolting rhythms. After coming out of retirement, his new album, Blow the Whistle, proves that Too $hort hasn’t lost the magic touch that kept him popular for 16 straight albums. With catchy beats that make dancing hard to resist and rapping along even harder, $hort’s show should not be missed. Catch him at Velvet Jones on June 22. It’ll be one for the books.

To read all of Arabella’s samples so far, click here.

<font size="+1"><strong>Joel Aurora</strong></font><br />
Joel moved to Santa Barbara to pursue a degree in political science at UCSB. Joel is thrilled to turn his passion for writing into a cutthroat competition against seven strangers whom he's never met, while simultaneously leaving the fate of his career in the hands of <em>The Independent</em> readers.
Paul Wellman

BOYS HIT THE BOWL: Last week, the Beastie Boys vowed to inject our coastal haven with some much-needed punk-rap debauchery when they added the Santa Barbara Bowl as a stop on their summer tour. On August 23, the legendary hip-hop innovators will invade Santa Barbara for the first time in 12 years to promote their new, all-instrumental album, The Mix-Up. And since this is one of the most significant and groundbreaking bands in recent history, you probably have to fight for your right to score some tickets, which were released on June 16. Visit for more info.

To read all of Joel’s samples so far, click here.

<font size="+1"><strong>Kevin Spracher</strong></font><br />
Kevin is a 20-year-old wannabe rock star who writes in his spare time. Although his roots are deep in Santa Barbara, he'll be attending UCLA as an English major in the fall. His band, Die Don Romero, has played three shows, including one paying gig for which the band received a grand total of $10.
Paul Wellman

ROCK THE BOAT: There will be no shortage of loud guitars, fast punk beats, and gritty vocals at a show by four bands hell-bent on rocking until your ears bleed. The night will definitely prove to be hard-hitting with the Denver-based band Git Some as well as Drunken Boat, coming in from Portland, Oregon. But the South Coast won’t be forgotten, since it will be represented by Ventura locals Glass and Ashes and The Fucking Wrath. Come celebrate the joy of rock on the evening of June 26 at La Casa de la Raza and see some of the best hardcore/punk bands the Wild West has to offer.

To read all of Kevin’s samples so far, click here.

<font size="+1"><strong>Jessica Hilo</strong></font><br />
Having graduated from UCSB with a double major in political science and English, 23-year-old Jessica Hilo now spends her days as the receptionist/ development assistant for the Santa Barbara Symphony. Jessica, who at one point was a professional hula dancer, cites the Beatles and '80s punk rock as her earliest musical inspirations.
Paul Wellman

STILLWATER REVIVAL: Life on the open road-musicians of Midwest Americana love to explore this idea as if they were composing the next Odyssey. Bluesy lament after folk ballad after barnburner, these men and women sing of the impossibility of love, limitless isolation, and the curious need to keep trucking. Jimmy LaFave has tapped into the heart of this twisted romance in his latest release, Cimarron Manifesto. Mixing red dirt rockabilly with honest and unadorned country blues, LaFave’s siren song calls you to commiserate a love unrequited. Experience LaFave, presented by Sings Like Hell, with special guest Joel Rafael at the Lobero Theatre on June 23 at 8 p.m.

To read all of Jessica Hilo’s samples so far, click here.

<font size="+1"><strong>Bianca Calhoun</strong></font><br />
Bianca is a slightly neurotic San Diego transplant who enjoys madrases with a splash of soda and has an odd fascination with rattlesnake charmers. After graduating from UCSB, she is continuing her career as a go-go dancer on State Street (putting that ol' degree to good use). Bianca makes a point to follow her heart wherever it goes and wear it on her sleeve : right above her huge bicep.
Paul Wellman

SOLAR POWERFUL: As the sun sets on the solstice celebration this Saturday night, free spirits will still be flocking to hit SOhO for the solstice bash featuring the Dancing Drum Community Ensemble and Matthew McAvene. Aside from the sun, Dancing Drum will celebrate its seventh year of bringing exotic drumming lessons and groovy musical talent to Santa Barbara. The vast creativity of the talented McAvene complements the ensemble by bringing to the stage his catchy mellow guitar rock jams. Both performances will no doubt soar while reminding folks to keep their feet planted firmly on the Earth. Cover charge: $12. Celebrating summer’s longest day: Priceless.

To read all of Bianca’s samples so far, click here.

<font size="+1"><strong>Jessica Small</strong></font><br />
Jessica will be attending Cal State Northridge in the fall to pursue a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism. She's originally from Long Island, New York, which explains her heavy addiction to Billy Joel tunes. Her knack for memorizing movie lines might someday qualify her to perform a one-woman show of <em>Clerks</em>.
Paul Wellman

MAKING MARLEY PROUD: They may not be buffalo soldiers, but The Aggrolites have worked hard to perfect their fusion of infectious reggae and ska melodies. The ‘lites don’t hail from Jamaica, but they do consider themselves lucky to have been raised in Los Angeles, a city with a thriving reggae community. As much as the band has pioneered bringing a classic reggae and ska sound to the U.S., lead singer Jesse Wagner‘s vocals are strikingly similar to a lead singer from another SoCal band, Sublime. All Brad Nowell comparisons aside, round up your dreadlocked Rastas and head down to Velvet Jones on June 23. Don’t forget your skankin’ shoes!

To read all of Jessica Small’s samples so far, click here.

Click here to vote for your TWO favorite contestants this week. (Note: YOU MUST VOTE FOR TWO or the poll will not compute your vote.)


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