The Presidio Chapel, with its bright Mexican altar and candlelight, is one of the most romantic spaces in Santa Barbara and it made a great setting for this female singer/songwriters concert. If there were technical difficulties-and there were-chalk that up to the experience, as this was the first of what is said to be a series of musical evenings produced by Brett Leigh Dicks and sponsored by KCRW.
Angela Correa opened the night with a bluesy set that included “Super Paper Airplanes,” her song that got picked up by ABC’s Brothers and Sisters. Correa was all candor and self-deprecation in her between-songs patter, and full of soul when she settled into a lyric.
Devon Sproule followed Correa, appearing in a vintage spring dress with a big old guitar strapped around her neck and three flowery pastel clips in her hair. She told the audience that, whatever the weather, springtime is here, and admitted that she’d had “a long year.” Her arrangements were mercurial, full of sudden shifts and abrupt flights, but the fundamental groove was solid. On her jazz song “Let’s Go Out,” Sproule showed a Louis Armstrong influence that lingered through the night, reminding us that Satch remains the original for all American singers.
Victoria Williams brought a four-piece band but played the guitar, piano, and banjo herself. Her sets are way to the left of the dial, the type of entertainment one might encounter at a desert roadhouse run by David Lynch or even Quentin Tarantino. She told a classic story about being attacked by somebody’s pet macaw at a festival in Joshua Tree, and then she did an audience participation number that had nearly everyone in the room making bird noises for at least three minutes. Williams also talked to the floor a bit between some of the songs, and seemed genuinely amazed to be there. For a finale, Williams called up Sproule out of the audience and sang about a dog named Happy. The song allowed her to riff in her own strange and wonderful way about what it would mean to call out for Happy, and have people think you actually were. Happy, that is. And she was.