BOWLING FOR MEMORIES: Responses keep trickling in regarding this columnist’s misty-eyed reminiscence of Franks’ Rice Bowl, that column a response to Joe Cantrell‘s wonderful short story about the Bowl. We waxed nostalgic about Frank’s and the funky splendor of lower State Street before Paseo Nuevo and the obscenely oversized Chapala street invaders. The noted and inspired S.B. painter Patricia Chidlaw recently weighed in on her particular fondness for the old Frank’s and how it became a talisman in her now-huge body of evocative urban-scape paintings. She also pointed out that, contrary to this columnist’s memory of “vivid orange” walls (memories play tricks on weathering minds), the walls were actually turquoise green.
It seems now reasonable to suggest that there are two kinds of Santa Barbara residents: the pre- and post-Frank’s Rice Bowl types. We should start a club.
When it comes to Santa Barbara buildings with historic interest and nostalgic voltage, it’s hard to argue with the Granada, and the G-word is on everyone’s mind lately. It’s finally time to celebrate the re-opening of this great downtown venue. The $50 million renovation of the 1926 earthquake-surviving structure was reportedly a “paint job gone wild,” and that’s great news for Santa Barbara’s cultural scene.
Last Thursday afternoon, before the swanky opening gala, a passel of press peeps gained audience for the dress rehearsal. As lights went on and off (as if restless ghosts were taunting us) and the curtain obeyed varying rules of order, Nir Kabaretti was leading the Santa Barbara Symphony through their orchestral maneuvers. Even amid the stowaway percussion of hammers and other tools doing finishing touches, the orchestra sounded especially glorious to those of us-and there are many-who have long been yearning for a good orchestra room in town.
Little shivers of delight tickled the spine and the cochlea as it quickly became apparent that we have, in the Granada, a fine, clear, and resonant orchestra hall. Strike up the band(s).
JAZZ CALENDAR MARKER: Jazz fans of any persuasion would be well-advised to mark the calendar for next Thursday, March 20, at the Lobero Theatre, when the S.F. Jazz Collective stops in as part of their current tour. This show may well be the best jazz concert of the year. Santa Barbara jazz fans have kept tabs on the Collective-a fascinating project spawned by Randall Kline‘s San Francisco Jazz Festival-for a few years now, through performances at Campbell Hall in the old incarnation led by Joshua Redman.
But the new lineup and attitude have bumped the group up to a new and exciting level, especially now that the front line has been rejuvenated with some of the top players on their given instruments-trumpeter Dave Douglas, tenor saxist Joe Lovano, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and vibist extraordinaire Stefon Harris are all among the most invigorating players in jazz at the moment, able to switch hit from tradition to innovation without blinking or sputtering. More importantly, the group has now taken its “collective” philosophy seriously, pooling ideas and steering the project without a designated boss. As heard recently at the Portland Jazz Festival, in the first show of their current tour, the Collective is truly riding high. The current tour mixes fresh arrangements of Wayne Shorter tunes and originals custom-made for this ensemble. Be there.
TO-DOINGS: The blues beat continues this Saturday at Warren Hall, a great place to soak up and wriggle on the dance floor to the real deal, as presented by the trusty Santa Barbara Blues Society. This time around, the Phoenix-based veteran Big Pete Pearson makes his S.B. debut, along with the Rhythm Room All-Stars. It’s a ripe time in the 72-year-old Pearson’s long but recently vital career, with the release of the impressive album I’m Here Baby (Blue Witch), with guests including Ike Turner, and another album awaiting blastoff this spring.