Dominic Balli

CARP TAKES THE CAKE: By the end of our long afternoon of music in the park last Sunday, it was Carpinteria’s Dominic Balli who walked away the winner of the first Independent Road to West Beach Contest. Garnering a whopping 540 of some 900 votes cast throughout the day, it was undoubtedly Balli’s mix of smooth reggae rhythms, bold, positive lyrics, and intricate instrumental arrangements that drew the day’s largest crowd. Yet to say Balli stole the show would be underplaying the fine smattering of musical talent that made it’s way though Alameda Park this weekend.

If it existed, the day’s Unsung Hero Award would undoubtedly go to Sunday’s opening act, San Luis Obispo winners The Axia ( Not only did these guys travel all the way from SLO to play for us before the sun had even broken through the morning fog, they did so sans their guitar player. Picking up axe duty for missing guitarist Eric Beaulieu, lead singer Chad Land wailed and crooned his way through a solid and lengthy set of pure, unfiltered alt rock that didn’t miss a beat. Likewise, the threesome did a fine job of representing for good ole’ rock ‘n’ roll, as the three acts that followed provided a kaleidoscope of worldly, eclectic tunes.

Next up, Brazilian dance band Beleza Pura got the crowd up and moving. Perhaps the hardest working of the bunch, the Beleza bunch beat out more than 120 Santa Barbara-based bands to earn their spot at Sunday’s Road to West Beach finals. And they succeeded in showing the afternoon crowd why, with a saucy and lively mix of samba, hip-hop, and funk that brought smiles (and some serious booty shakin’), to the mass of music fans that came out to watch.

The competition began to heat up sometime between Balli’s near explosive set (which gathered a throng of devoted fans the likes of which I’ve never seen at a concert in the park) and Boombox Orchestra‘s much hyped about contest closer. As always, Boombox brought the funk, and they did it with about as much energy, soul, and spine-tingling saxophone as I’ve ever seen them sport. In the end, it was Led Zepplica who kept the place partying-and Balli who undeniably earned his spot at this year’s West Beach Music Festival (, but it was everyone who made it out to Alameda-fans and musicians-that made it the fun day in the park it was. Thanks, guys!

POWER TO THE PEACEFUL: And if you just can’t wait ’til next Friday’s festival opening night to throw your dancing shoes back on, head on over to SOhO (1221 State St.) this coming Thursday, September 11, at 8:30 p.m. for an evening of positive tunes and danceworthy beats courtesy of roots rockers Izabella ( and Corey Linberg‘s newest acoustic groove ensemble, The Good Land. At their wildest, this double bill will provide some funky rhymes, never forgetting to bring the energy back down for some long and inventive jams. But don’t go thinking these two forward-thinking fusion outfits have forgotten about the historical significance of their performance date. The show is being dubbed “Power to the Peaceful” in response to the tragic events that occurred seven years prior. For more info, visit or call 962-7776.

JAZZ HANDS: And finally, two very special, under-the-radar live shows to check out this week: Todd Sickafoose ( is playing a by reservation only concert with Ara Anderson, Alan Ferber, Mike Gamble, and Simon Lott at The Barn on Monday, September 8, at 8 p.m. Email or call 683-3878 to reserve a spot and score directions. And on Thursday, September 11, the Santa Barbara jazz masterminds behind the Colter Frazier Quartet ( will play Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.) in honor of their debut CD release.


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