Def Leppard
Ash Newell

ROCK THE VOTE: If you’ve been scrolling through these pages in recent weeks, you know that this Thursday, September 13, marks the beginning of our annual Downtown Sound battle of the bands. This year, the competition is pitting more than 75 area music makers against each other in three rounds of epic, guitar-shredding battle. Now through Thursday, September 20, we’re inviting our readers to head on over to and vote for their favorite S.B. music act. Then, after a week of cyber competition, we’ll tally your votes and move your top six favorite artists (along with two Santa Barbara Independent editors’ picks) on to the Downtown Sound semifinals.

On Thursday, October 11, and Saturday, October 13, these eight semifinalists will be divided up into two groups of four and given the chance to play live at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. There, audience members will get the chance to cast their votes for their favorite band on the bill, with two audience picks from each night moving on to the Downtown Sound finals. Then, come Thursday, October 18, those top four acts will head back to SOhO to play for fans, friends, and a panel of Independent-approved judges for the coveted title of Best Santa Barbara Band.

Bragging rights aside, the winner of 2012’s Downtown Sound will take home some pretty sweet prizes, including a spot at this year’s New Noise Music Festival (Nov. 8-10), a feature profile in The Independent, professional recording time at Santa Barbara Sound Design, brand-new guitars and gear from Ernie Ball, a photo shoot courtesy of Cara Robbins Photography, gift certificates from Wahoo’s Fish Taco, and much, much more.

Ready to cast your vote? Visit between now and Thursday, September 20, at midnight to get in on the action. Who knows? You just may discover your new favorite band in the process.

OLDIES BUT GOODIES: Web-based music appreciation is great and all, but I for one would take a live show over a Spotify sesh any day. So, after you’ve perused the Downtown Sound competitors online, I recommend heading out to catch a real live show. In the coming weeks, the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) is getting back to what it does best: celebrating the greats. On Saturday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m., the Bowl plays host to one hell of a double bill featuring Def Leppard and Poison. Whether or not you ever got behind the ’80s hair-band scene, Saturday’s show is sure to be a rockin’ good time. Why? Because this kind of nostalgia makes for the some of the best people-watching of the concert season. My advice: Bust out the spandex, tease up the ’do, and layer on the eyeliner (dudes, you too). Remember: the bigger the hair, the better the headbang.

For a slightly more subdued trip down memory lane, on Friday, September 28, the Bowl presents An Evening with Crosby, Stills & Nash. The 2012 tour promises a solid (and lengthy) set’s worth of hits, new and unreleased jams, and your best chance yet to catch “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” live and in person. (The trio recently dusted the song off for a new concert DVD.) Truth be told, even minus “Judy,” even without Neil, there’s really no better place to catch these folk icons than under the stars at the Bowl on a late-summer night. Trust me: You won’t leave disappointed. The show starts at 7 p.m.

For tickets and info for both concerts, call 962-7411 or visit


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