Gardens & Villa, Durango Expo Come Home

S.B. Synth Rockers Make Return Trip to SOhO, Songwriters Flock to S.Y.V.

Gardens & Villa
Dustin Damron

GOING BIG, GOING HOME: If you’ve had your ear to the ground in recent months, chances are you’ve caught wind of Gardens & Villa. While these up-and-coming Santa Barbarans have been plugging away in and outside their hometown scene over the course of the past year, it wasn’t until last September’s show with Delorean—and, more recently, their energy-filled showing at the Presidio Motel’s holiday pop-up shop—that folks have really started to take notice. Since venturing up north to record with singer-songwriter-production guru Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Mynabirds) last summer, the now-five-piece has truly come into their own, shedding their alt-folk leanings for a sound that’s equal parts nostalgia-drenched synth and modern indie funk rock.

Talking self-descriptions, the Gardens guys sum up their tunes as a mix of “dance-y grooves, retrospective vibes, and a touch of melancholy melody.” But don’t be fooled; even the deepest of lyrical content gets treated with plenty of bass, flute, and electronic buzz here, promising no shortage of feet-moving goodness come live-show time.

As with all good local rumblings, the guys are finally being rewarded with a prize we can all benefit from. This Thursday G&V get their very first SOhO headlining gig (courtesy of booking savior Club Mercy, of course). In addition, the fellas are curating the full night’s lineup, which features some seriously killer talent: Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel and Omar Velasco both open the show.

“Our last Santa Barbara show at the Presidio Motel was ultra vibey,” recalled frontman Chris Lynch recently. “It was amazing to play alongside so many friends and artists … And we’re even better now; we’re smarter and have way quicker fingers. Plus a couple of tasty covers.” In short, check ‘em before they depart yet again. (Rumor has it a full-scale tour is already in the works for April.)

Club Mercy presents Gardens & Villa this Thursday, February 17, at SOhO (1221 State St.) at 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit for tickets and info.

THE WRITE STUFF: Since it got its start in 1996, the Durango Songwriters Expo (DSE) has been crisscrossing the country, spreading inspiration and facilitating gatherings for all walks of musicians. And starting next Wednesday, February 23, the DSE comes back to Santa Barbara County for a weekend filled with workshops, discussions, and (most importantly) a whole lot of live tunes.

On Wednesday, the event plays hosts to the first of two songwriter showcases, which takes place at SOhO (1221 State St.) starting at 6 p.m. While the talent roster will be determined as the show nears, the quality of performers will no doubt be at a high, especially considering the arsenal of musicianship and knowhow slated to be on hand throughout the weekend. (Think top A&R execs, publishers, licensers, Grammy winners, and hit songwriters.) Already slated to perform are Grammy winner Tim Fagan and VH1 alum Ken Johnson. And over the course of the expo, the opportunities to jam just keep on coming, with day-long song-listening sessions and panel discussions, led by some of the recording industry’s most influential players. For writers and musicians, it’s a chance of a lifetime to not only strut your stuff but also get critiqued by some seriously heavy hitters.

To learn more or register for the 2011 Durango Songwriters Expo, call (970) 259-9747 or visit


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