Positively State Street

Young Folks

Luis Hernandez (left) gets a few tips from Robin Thicke.
Paul Wellman

ROCKIN’ ROBIN: For the many faces behind the Santa Barbara-based outreach program Notes for Notes, last Wednesday provided some of the sweetest validation they’ve seen of late. And for those simply in attendance, the afternoon offered just a taste of that movie-style feel-goodness that I rarely associate with real life goings-on. The event in question: Grammy-winning artist Robin Thicke‘s short-but-sweet stop by the Eastside Boy and Girls Club to hang out, sign autographs, and talk shop with some of S.B.’s youngest music makers. And the reason behind the visit: nothing more than a little multi-party do-goodery for the sake of the kids.

As far as the annotated history of Notes for Notes, the non-prof started as an idea shared between Phillip Gilley and Daniel DeAngelis, two mentors in Santa Barbara’s Big Brother program. The pair learned pretty quickly that handing kids musical instruments equaled hours of enriching entertainment-not to mention a great alternative to S.B.’s rising gang problems-and thus the concept for Notes for Notes was born.

Through a partnership with Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation, Gilley and DeAngelis were able to score a spot at the Twelve35 Teen Center on Chapala Street back in 2007. They called their space the Music Box and opened their doors to any and every kid interested in picking up a guitar for the first time or mastering the art of record production.

Since then, the Notes for Notes concept has picked up steam, unofficially opening up an additional Box across town at the Boys and Girls Club on Canon Perdido Street, thanks to some generous funding from the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation’s Education Outreach Program. Sadly, small quarters and low turnout has since closed the crew’s Westside location, which Gilley feels never really gained momentum for a number of reasons. Still, the recent closure doesn’t seem to have been felt over at the Boys and Girls Club.

Long before Thicke ever arrived on Wednesday, the souped-up space was brimming with kids (and adults) who wanted to get their feet wet. While one youngster belted out the words to multiple country tunes at a lyric-spewing computer to my left, a group of aspiring mix masters huddled around a computer in the room in front of me. Sign-up sheets for studio time were nearly filled, and the walls of the place were lined with instruments, amps, and gear that would make many professional artists take notice..

Upon his arrival, Thicke (with papa Alan Thicke and stepmom Tanya Callau in tow) happily signed CDs and other miscellany for a throng of kids, chatting it up with each and every one who stopped in. Sure, not all those who showed up knew who Thicke was, but many were thrilled to see that he had teamed up with Lil Wayne on last year’s “Tie My Hands,” and even more were just grateful for the opportunity. Following the signing sesh, Thicke headed into the production room with a couple of up-and-coming music makers. Squeezed around a computer screen, Thicke listened in on some remixes by aspiring producer Daniel Rodriguez, and then laid down some platinum-selling advice. He also got to groove out and enjoy an a cappella ditty from an exceptionally talented young voice whom the kids simply refer to as “Rico.”

For Gilley and Co., the event could not have been better timed. On Thursday, February 5, Notes for Notes will have an official grand opening for the space from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The program is also looking toward teaming up with the Lobero Theater and scoring some quality behind-the-scenes time for the kids. Likewise, Gilley is certain that Thicke’s impromptu visit will not be the last. With the number of musicians and connected folks coming in and out of this town, there’s no reason we can’t do this all the time, he posited. But celebs or no, it looks like Notes for Notes has a long future ahead-and plenty of careers to launch along the way.


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