PEACE, LOVE, AND FREEBIES: It seems this year Santa Barbarans finally decided to stop squabbling over whether or not their eco-conscious forefathers “invented” Earth Day, and just start enjoying it. And for the musically inclined, the holiday brought some fun, some sun, and a whole lot of free music. Don’t get me wrong; I’m as willing as the next girl to throw down a sizable chunk of change for a concert ticket. But there is something to be said for tunes served up gratis-it seems, well, more organic. That said, the streets of both I.V. and downtown remained sonically flooded throughout the weekend.
Saturday’s UCSB-centered festivities saw the funk-loving folks of Boombox Orchestra jam out onstage at Anisq’Oyo’ Park. Other musical contributions came by way of Ambidextrous and Fuzzy Logic, who rounded out the eclectic trifecta with their individual takes on alt-rock (the former) and good ole’ reggae grooves (the latter).
Sunday, the party moved downtown to its far less boozy staging area within the grassy confines of the Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens. Family friendly rockers Hot Lava kicked off the daylong stretch of musical offerings with somethin’ for the kids, while David Gunn and Valarie Mulberry’s Fly to Blue duo provided a stream of gentle, acoustic folk-and electricity-free-jams. But it was guitar guru Todd Hannigan who truly stepped up to the plate, delivering an emphatic performance that wowed the still-swelling crowd post-reggae jam fest (thanks to that stage’s previous performer Dominic Balli). And with free bus rides running up, down, and around town throughout the day-and oso frontman Phil Taylor providing complimentary tunes to lower State Street from atop his unicycle perch-Sunday easily marked some of the best money I never spent.
NOT-SO-CALM BEFORE THE STORM: And speaking of the one-wheeled, fiddle-toting musical gang, it cannot go without mention that Dengue Fever‘s Thursday night headlining show at SOhO (see review here) marked one of the most jam-packed crowds I’ve seen for an opening act in a good long while. Late start times be damned. The audience that gathered ’round for oso‘s long and winding collection of tunes was sonically smitten. The set both opened and closed with the foursome moving off the stage and onto the floor, unicycle and upright bass in tow, for some twangy, blues-y, rockabilly tinged jams that had the crowd scampering to get a good glimpse. In between, the boys delivered a series of rollicking, fiddle-driven rock-outs that drew many slack-jawed “ahhhs” of approval-not to mention a good deal of head nodding and sway dancing. Next up, the guys head overseas this summer for a European tour-but not before a stopover at the Live Oak Campground (4600 Hwy. 154) for Lightning in a Bottle on Saturday, May 24. Visit lightninginabottle.org for details and festival information.
TO PENCIL IN: Coming up this weekend, Muddy Waters (508 E. Haley St.) plays host to The Spires, The Old Haunts, Natural Disasters, and Franklin for Short on Friday, April 25, and Natalie D-Napoleon and Scotland Barr and the Slow Drags on Tuesday, April 29. Natural Incense holds their CD release party at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Friday, April 25. And Sean Hayes and Todd Hannigan head to Stateside Restaurant & Lounge (1114 State St.) on Thursday, April 24. As for me, it’s off to the sultry Indio desert for three days of hot, hot heat-and a whole lot of running, writing, and dancing. See ya at Coachella.