FILM, MEET MUSIC: Harmonic convergences of film (a canned medium) and live music (live as can be) have been popping up hereabouts, partly thanks to the film festival doings. Neil (Crowded House) Finn booked a show at SOhO on Tuesday, timed with the festival screening of the documentary The Sun Came Out about Finn’s benefit galas in New Zealand. Meanwhile, back at the saloon—Santa Ynez’s Maverick Saloon, that is—the wondrous young new country (not “Today’s Country”) singer Ryan Bingham satisfied a very full room of listeners. The buzz was palpable, what with Bingham having already won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination for his tasty tune “The Weary Kind,” the theme for the film Crazy Heart (whose starring local hero Jeff Bridges is being rightfully toasted on the festival’s “Jeff Bridges Day” this Sunday).
There is something deeply satisfying about seeing Bridges on the screen—and faring beautifully—in this rare big-screen depiction of the musician’s life, especially knowing that Bridges himself is a musician and songwriter, with an intriguing and quirky CD out several years ago, who may now finally get some attention as such. Hearing Bingham in action last week at the Maverick, some delightful oddball doppelganger disconnect occurred when we heard him do “The Weary Kind” late in the show, after having watched our man Bridges on screen, “writing” that very song on a porch while trying to get on the wagon, right before our eyes. Ain’t film grand, on occasion?
Speaking of country highs at the Maverick, country picker extraordinaire Albert Lee is playing the saloon next Thursday, February 18.
MUSICAL HIGH OF THE WEEK: Say what you will about the popular Vegas-sized Beatles tribute show, and that component of this weekend’s LoveLoveLove show at the Granada, but hearing that Santa Barbara will be the site of a world premiere of new music by Sir George Martin is reason to be on high cultural alert. Martin, of course, is one of the 20th century’s great musical heroes, in terms of mass, pop-cultural “smartening up” (vs. dumbing down). He worked miracles in the wings of mass culture, having lent the Beatles much of their more sophisticated aspects on the band’s great albums from Sgt. Pepper’s forward. Through Martin’s long friendship with Santa Ynez wine country royalty Brooks Firestone, the local connection was made with the Santa Barbara Ballet. With Firestone’s persuasive urging, Martin has finished a long-dormant composition, The Mission Chorales, which gets its world premiere on the Granada stage with the composer himself as guest conductor—no small thing.
HAITIAN HELPING HANDS: On Saturday night at 7 p.m., at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, a special benefit concert, Hearts for Haiti: A Young Musicians Benefit Concert, raises money for the still very much-pressing need in ravaged post-earthquake Haiti. On this occasion, classical music played by bright young students is on tap, connected to the Granada Music & Arts Conservatory (GMAC). The conservatory’s artistic director, the world-class and Santa Barbara-bred violinist Nina Bodnar, will make a special appearance in the show. Also on the bill is Celtic Spring, a group of dancing fiddlers.
OUT CATS’ NIGHT OUT: Monthly experimental-leaning soirees continue at Muddy Waters, thanks to the notable efforts of the “Santa Barbara New Music Series,” intrepidly presented by saxist Colter Frazier and drummer Rob Wallace. The programming varies from month to month, but the series has become a valuable resource, in Southern California generally, as a regional forum for “out cats.” Last month, trombonist Mike Vlatkovich—one of the West Coast’s most important and well-rounded jazz players, says me—was joined by poet Dottie Grossman. Tonight at the Muddy, the spotlight goes to Los Angeleno saxist Gavin Templeton, in a chordless trio with bassist Dave Tranchina and drummer Andrew Lessman. And Wallace himself gets in and out of trouble with fellow progressive drummer Tim Beutler, from oso, in the free-range duo they call Zeug Zeug.
CELLO DUO: A pair of outstanding classical musicians will be at the Lobero for another episode of the CAMA Masterseries on Wednesday, February 17. Carter Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic since 1996, and Christopher O’Riley, the brilliant and versatile pianist who hosts NPR’s “From the Top,” will be on hand for sonatas by Richard Strauss, Poulenc, and Chopin.