Blues, Jazz, String Quartets, and the Radio

Fiesta Weekend Music Live and On-Air

The Santa Barbara Blues Society brings Eddie Taylor Jr. to Warren Hall on Saturday.

COUNTDOWN TO FIESTASY: Come Fiesta time, August 5-9 this year, free music booms and rattles in the parks-the El Mercado shuffle-while gastronomy and other pleasures and chaotic distractions beckon. As a preview taster of Fiesta sensory confetti, this weekend is chockablock with good live music options, in various directions.

Take, for example, the blues: The Santa Barbara Blues Society brings Eddie Taylor Jr. to Warren Hall on Saturday. Taylor arrives with a strong family lineage, as the son of a pioneer of Chicago blues and a Jimmy Reed ally. Eddie Taylor the Younger has been making headway on his own, working on the score of the film Cadillac Records and keeping the torch of traditional Chicago blues lit.

On a local note, with a few degrees and thousands of miles of separation, this Sunday marks the return of violist Kirsten Monke, whose Maine-based group, the DaPonte String Quartet, performs at the Unitarian Society on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Monke, a beloved figure in S.B.’s classical scene who could be heard on many a stage and in many a musical ensemble, left her Santa Barbara home of 19 years to join the quartet, based in Monke’s home state of Maine. At the Unitarian Society, the group will serve up Mozart and Debussy, but also wunderkind Brit composer Thomas Ads‘s Arcadiana, Opus 12. Should be a juicy one, and nice to see and hear our old friend in the old town, for a day.

JAZZ CHANTEUSE, ORIGINAL STYLE: Jazz makes its way into SOhO on Mondays, and sometimes we even get visitors from outta town. On August 17, young N.Y.C. vibist Tyler Blanton swings through, and this Monday, the intriguing jazz singer Kathleen Grace comes up from Los Angeles. Besides possessing an understated and impressive voice, Grace boasts the distinction of moving beyond The Real Book and showing her wares as a bold and unpretentious jazz-meets-pop songwriter, as heard on her inviting CD Mirror (Monsoon).

RADIO WATCH/LISTEN: It may seem like trivial news to those outside the realm of jazz lore and jazz love, but Tuesday’s jazz-on-the-radio prospects recently got brighter in town. San Luis Obispo’s noncommercial station KCBX (89.5 FM), the stalwart source of alternative culture inspiration, has long been preempting its otherwise weekly Morning Cup of Jazz morning show on Tuesday, surrendering the day’s programming to live, C-SPAN-style coverage of the S.L.O. Board of Supervisors meetings (which can be strangely intriguing, in a radio verite kind of way). As of recently, though, a split signal to Santa Barbara entitles our area to savor the sound, brewed up courtesy of kindly and flexible-eared DJ Neal Losey.

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara’s own proudly, stubbornly independent radio beacon, KCSB (91.9 FM), continues to confound and delight (sometimes delighting with confoundment) with its wildly diverse program schedule. Jazz has a fair stake in the weekly schedule, from the tasty straight stuff of Stanley Naftaly‘s long-running Jazz Straight Ahead on Wednesday afternoon and Marta Ulvaeus‘s rangier Roots to the Source on Sunday afternoon. Jazz of the left-leaning sort, alongside other musical flavors, can also be savored on Steve S.‘s long-running, aptly named show Joyful Cosmos, early on Monday evenings.

Other ear-tweaking shows pop up and also linger in the radio-curious mind. Late on Thursday nights, we now get cathartic snorts of art noise thanks to the show with the kookily ironic moniker Smoooothe Beatzzzz. Between tracks, the deejay, named Da Dee Dubel Em, speaks over smooothe music in a kind of lulled/drugged voice, as if high on white wine. He promises us the finest in smooth jazz and new age music, but then hits us upside the head with art and noise rock from the wild likes of Melt-Banana, Wolf Eyes, and a variety of brain-cleaning musical agents. The program’s online description reads, “A buttery trip to de deepest space, and then back to a sunny, quiet beach.” Just add raucous, abstract musical matter.

SHOW OF THE WEEK: Deerhoof, tonight at Velvet Jones. ‘Nuff said.


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