The post-holiday West Coast tour has long been a staple of the traveling musician’s repertoire. While the rest of the country shivers through the winter chill, our temperate coastline becomes the go-to rest stop for artists looking to defrost their limbs and their guitars. This season, Santa Barbara gets a smattering of fantastic concerts from all over the musical charts, starting on Friday, January 22, when Jazz at the Lobero brings pianist Brad Mehldau to town in a rare solo appearance. On Saturday, January 23, there’s a whole lot going on, as rap duo Shwayze hits Velvet Jones, Club Mercy brings West Indian Girl’s down-tempo to Goleta’s Mercury Lounge, and Steve Young and Van Dyke Parks unleash their country twang on the Sings Like Hell crowd at the Lobero Theatre. Actor, singer, and all-around cutie Harry Connick Jr. brings his big band swing to the Arlington Theatre on Tuesday, January 26, while Shins guitarist Eric Johnson returns to town with his Fruit Bats side project on Wednesday, January 27, at SOhO. Also at SOhO, Jamaican reggae icon Eek-a-Mouse takes the stage on Friday, January 29. Up north, the kids at UCSB’s Associated Students Program Board welcome singer/songwriter (and veritable Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack) Ingrid Michaelson to the Hub on Saturday, January 30. Meanwhile, Muddy Waters Café gets another dose of legendary when Pixies frontman Black Francis plays a solo show that same night at the tiny Haley Street coffeehouse.
Come February, things heat up across the county. On Thursday, February 4, L.A. ska-rockers See Spot hit UCSB’s Storke Plaza at noon. On Friday, February 5, Club Mercy brings the gentle folk of Langhorne Slim to Muddy Waters, while New Noise hosts the world-fusion fun of Ozomatli at SOhO. Indie punksters The Thermals team up with the always energetic pop rockers of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at Velvet Jones on Saturday, February 6. The Lobero continues its American Roots concert series on Tuesday, February 9, with musical legends Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, and Edgar Meyer. Foo Fighter Chris Shiflett plugs in with No Use for a Name’s Tony Sly for a night of hard-rockin’ fun on Saturday, February 13, at Velvet Jones courtesy of New Noise Santa Barbara. And on Wednesday, February 17, Club Mercy welcomes back one of the hottest psych rock collectives of the year, The Entrance Band, to Muddy Waters.
Arts & Lectures fills UCSB’s Campbell Hall with the sweet sounds of Suzanne Vega (“Luka,” “Tom’s Diner”) on Thursday, February 18, and then brings Irish traditionalists The Chieftains to the Granada on Monday, February 22. Jazz at the Lobero presents perennial Santa Barbara favorites the Tierney Sutton Band on Friday, February 19, and then comes back for more on Sunday, February 21, at 7 p.m., with A Tribute to Bob Florence. Wednesday, February 24, the Biko Co-Op Garage hosts a night of indie-infused, throwback goodness from funk experimentalists The Strange Boys and Chain and the Gang. Santa Ynez’s Chumash Casino gets the “Love Shack” treatment when it welcomes The B-52s on Friday, February 26.
UCSB’s Arts & Lectures kicks off March in style at Campbell Hall on Tuesday, March 2, with the powerhouse SF Jazz Collective, who this year will be working over the rich songbook of classic hard bop pianist Horace Silver. Classic rock fans will no doubt be lining up long in advance for the Arlington’s Experience Hendrix show. The concert—which boasts Jimi tribute performances from guitar gods like Joe Satriani, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd (among others)—takes place Thursday, March 4. Also that night, the Blind Boys of Alabama bring their gospel blues to the Lobero. Former Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan plays SOhO on Sunday, March 7, in support of his latest solo work, Curse Your Branches. Club Mercy brings up-and-coming indie buzz bands The Ruby Suns and Toro y Moi to Muddy Waters on Friday, March 12. And the Lobero hosts legendary jazz diva Dee Dee Bridgewater on Saturday, March 20, in a tribute to Billie Holiday.