Put your hands together, grab a Mai-Tai, and share a night of music and funky charm. The Song Tree Concert series, known for bringing together national musicians in an intimate atmosphere, is back after a one-year hiatus. The series begins with a concert of Hawaiian music and dance Saturday, May16, 7:30 p.m. at the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview Ave.

Song Tree was born in 2002 when Tom Lee, an accomplished instrumentalist with knowledge of a variety of musical genres, and his band Ulysses Jasz started performing at Live Oak, where Lee has been a member for nearly10 years.

Since its inception more than seven years ago, national artists such as Kenny Edwards, a local legend and “a wonderful cat,” as Lee calls him, have performed as part of the series. Grassroots favorite, Peter Feldman and the Very Lonesome Boys have also made an appearance. Lee, a touring folk musician connected with a variety of artists, said that with their help, “Pretty soon the thing just exploded.”

Song Tree’s 115-attendee per-night success lay in building a community. The featured performers are “Artists that kind of get it,” Lee said. “They understand eye-to-eye, person-to-person music and that is what Song Tree really is about.” And now folks can enjoy that community in the newly built concert venue featuring a top-notch sound system, an arc of upholstered seats, vaulted ceilings, and intimate lighting.

Saturday’s performance features a menagerie of traditional Polynesian dancing and Hawaiian vocals. The Hawaiian band, Kaleo, will jam alongside Hawaiian dancers from Santa Barbara’s school of Island Dance, Hula Anyone. A troop of drummers will bring Tahitian intensity as ukuleles harmonize featuring Bill Flores on steel guitar, Jody Eulitz on vocals, and “Slack Key” Jimmy C. on guitar and ukulele. Kauai-born Kaleo Na’ea, a lead vocalist and guitarist of Kaleo, is looking forward to performing because, he said, when he desires “to go back to the islands, these songs can take you there.”

Attendees are encouraged to dress in Hawaiian garb; raffle prizes will be awarded to the best ensemble. All the profits from the Song Tree Series go to Live Oak UU Congregation and its environmental and social programs in local and global communities.

For Lee, the series return is about “Old friends getting back together and smiling.” And he has received “nothing but messages of how happy people are that Song Tree is back in action.”

4-1-1: The first concert takes place Saturday, May 16, 7:30 p.m. at Live Oak, 820 N. Fairview Ave. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit songtree.org/index.htm. Upcoming concerts can be found at songtree.org/UpcomingConcerts.htm.


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