Boombox Orchestra

HAIL CAESAR: Typically, instrumental music is one of two things: pretentious and even stifling, or powerful and stirring. Luckily for us, the Santa Barbara-based band Ave Caesar can easily be categorized as the latter. The four-piece ensemble-keys, guitar, bass, and drums-create a sound that is transcendent without being preachy, conjuring recollections of an underdeveloped Sigur R³s (sans the quasi-Icelandic language). Perhaps melodramatically, the group claims “to have resurrected the melodies of an age when only sunlight and fire lit the dark places of the Earth” and deplores the rampant consumerism of American culture. Nonetheless, the group’s moving instrumental arrangements and ethereal (albeit minimal) vocals are a unique and welcome addition to the local music scene. Ave Caesar will take the stage at Goleta’s Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) tonight, Thursday, February 7, at 9 p.m., as part of the venue’s newly added Live Music Thursday series. Call 967-0907 or visit for more details. -Joel Aurora

BEING BALBO: Harmonicas, acoustic guitars, and lamenting lyrics-sounds like the stuff that makes up pretty much every folk musician. But, with songs like “God Musta Fucked Up Making Everyone Else,” “More Stuff Other People Said,” “Working for a Commie Mouthpiece,” and “Let’s Make a Porno,” it’s clear that Adam Balbo‘s music comes from a sometimes-painfully personal place. With two self-released albums to his name-2005’s More Stuff Other People Said and the 2006’s 6 Outta 9 w/Beats-Balbo’s sound is pretty standard singer/songwriter fare, albeit with a much more inward-looking twist than his more political predecessors. In fact, although he sounds more like Bob Dylan and Conor Oberst’s musical lovechild than anything else, it is his poignantly personal lyrics that make him worth listening to. Check him out for free at Northstar Coffee Co. (918 State St.) on Saturday, February 9. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and will also feature local musicians John Larson and Iamb. Call 965-9553 or visit details.-Mollie Vandor

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB: Bob Marley’s birthday falls on February 6. And to commemorate the reggae master’s entrance into this world, the internationally renowned dub troupe Groundation will play two weeks worth of shows that draw exclusively from the legendary repertoire of Marley and his wailin’ Wailers. Their name comes from the band’s idea of bringing all listeners together at the “ground level” in their quest to promote equality and harmony. Plenty of dub-step faithfuls have lounged and loved with Groundation at spots all around the globe, from S£o Paulo to Switzerland. Their dedication to spiritual education through music even extends past the stage and into the classroom. Band member Harrison Stratford taught the only course ever offered on the history of reggae music at Sonoma State University. Stir it up with them at SOhO on Sunday, February 10, starting at 8 p.m. Visit or call 962-7776 for info.-Tyler Vickers

HUGS, NOT DRUGS: They say if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there. I wasn’t there, but like many in my generation of young audiophiles, I do my part to keep the seduction of the ’60s-its drum circles, slick rock, and ethereal balladry-alive. From the depths of the Reagan era, the heart of Texas-and to the chagrin of the “Just Say No” advocates-springs Druggist, carefree musicians who mix a dose of instrumental exuberance and ’60s power pop with addictive profundity. The band’s sound is hard to pin down (a little Lou Reed here, the essence of Tom Verlaine there, and a pinch of something newer, like the Stills, rounding out the mix), but they take the very best of the ’60s and whittle it into something both substantial and down to earth. Far less addictive than their name may imply, Druggist will wail at Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.) on Wednesday, February 13, at 9 p.m. Visit for details.-Jessica Hilo

NO ORDINARY LOVE: Catch Cupid’s arrow at SOhO (1221 State St.) on Thursday, February 14, with S.B. locals Boombox Orchestra and Ambidextrous. Jam band masters Boombox Orchestra claim to use their music to “spread all types of love in the form of sounds” and will surely sing their hearts out in honor of V-Day. The eccentric sextet, who met while attending UCSB, deliver their funky-jam-rock-rap-ska style with the help of a saxophonist, bass player, guitarist, keyboard extraordinaire, and hand drummer and are widely recognized for their uniquely extravagant and outgoing stage presence. Opening for them is Ambidextrous, who possess a different, yet complimentary soulfully rockin’ sound. Also with a saxophone in tow, Ambidextrous is known for its broad spectrum of influences, which spans genres ranging from funk and blues to psychedelia. Visit or call 962-7776 for details and ticket information.-Lisa Engelbrektson


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