Made in Santa Barbara, Music Edition

Playback Goes Live, High Pilots Hit Reset

THE LIVE ALBUM: We all know the feeling: You wake up the morning after a crazy party; your head is pounding; the house is a mess; and all you want to do is rewind back to the night before. It’s a sentiment shared by anyone who’s ever thrown a truly epic bash, and it’s precisely what happened in the wake of Halloween 2014 at Playback Studios.

“It was a blast,” recalled GrooveShine frontman Mike Mchugh. “I feel like the rain brought out all the musical spirits.”

Like many, McHugh spent his holiday in the confines of Playback’s Gutierrez Street studio, where owner Tucker Bodine had assembled a guest list that read like a who’s who of the 805 music scene. With a performance area setup, and a guy in the control booth, Bodine and his posse threw a legitimate rager — but they also had the smarts to capture the whole thing on tape.

This week, Playback Studios releases Playback Live Sessions, a collection of recordings and live videos from that very night, which we’re streaming in full below. The track list includes Mchugh’s GrooveShine, as well as S.B.’s resident party rockers The Olés, Carpinteria retro groovers Pacific Haze, soul-pop duo Erik and Madeleine, and many, many more.

In addition to the live album, Playback promises this is just the beginning of a slew of “huge plans” for the future involving Santa Barbara’s homegrown musicians. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get behind. The only question left is, who’s hosting the NYE bash?

For more info, visit

WHAT’S IN A NAME: One of the great things about living in a (relatively) small city is the grand reentry that happens around the holidays. Come Christmas time, all the S.B. ex-pats come home to roost, meaning shows galore from some of our longtime (and sometime) hometown favorites.

Locally speaking, no band has made a ritual out of the holiday homecoming gig more than Tommy & The High Pilots, who have spent the last four years blowing the roof off every venue in the downtown area with their holiday cheer. For their 2014 installment, the Goleta boys are bringing it on home to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Friday, December 20. What’s most noteworthy about the event, though, is that they’re doing it under a new name.

In October, the High Pilots officially swapped their soaring moniker for a new nom de plume. Nowadays, they’re answering to Beta Play — but don’t go thinking the change is going to slow down their Christmas party power.

“It was a long time coming and time for a rebirth,” said frontman Tom Cantillon of the switch. And with a bill that’s boasting yuletide fun and a new crop of special guests, we can’t help but believe him.

Beta Play plays SOhO on December 20 at 8 p.m. For tickets and info, call 962-7776 or visit

CONSTANT SURPRISES: As for the new kids on the block, look no further than Velvet Jones on Saturday, December 13, when S.B.’s own Surprise Me plugs in for its first-ever album-release show. These five newcomers met at Santa Barbara City College earlier this year, and their debut is very much a product of that sunny start.

For all intents and purposes, Surprise Me is making straightforward pop rock — power chords, catchy choruses, upbeat percussion, and all. In terms of tone, they belong in the piano-toting realm and fit comfortably alongside fellow breezy ballad makers like OK Go, Rooney, and Matt and Kim.

Come Saturday, Surprise Me will be joined onstage by supporting acts Slic Vic, Evan Vogel, and Erin Smith. For tickets and show info, call 965-8676 or visit


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