New Music for the New Year

2016 Closes with Plaza Playhouse Benefit and New Releases from S.B. Artists

<strong>HOLLAND JOLLY CHRISTMAS:</strong> Amy Holland and husband Michael McDonald love the holidays both as a time to be together as family and to help the greater good with music.

LIGHTING THEIR PATH: Want to celebrate the holidays with a concert that combines charity, family, love, and good, new music? Grammy-nominated Amy Holland will join her longtime musical partner and husband, Michael McDonald, on Saturday, December 17, at the Plaza Playhouse Theater (4916 Carpinteria Ave.) in Carpinteria for a special concert benefiting the theater. Holland will be playing songs from her newest album, Light on My Path, on which she performs both with Michael and their son, Dylan. In fact, it was Dylan’s performance at the Plaza Playhouse Theater last year that inspired this benefit concert, an event at which Holland hopes to “spread a little joy” with a “potpourri of Christmas songs” and pieces from her new album.

Produced by Fred Mollin and recorded in Nashville, Light on My Path, Holland said, is about finding your way in times of feeling lost and trusting in following your life’s guiding path. Mixing country songs, light pop, folk, and Motown-inspired numbers, the album also features an appearance by one of her all-time favorite musical artists, David Crosby, whom she bumped into one day in the Gelson’s parking lot. “Why aren’t you singing lately?” he asked her, and in no time, collaboration ensued. “You gotta be careful about what blonde you ask to sing,” she joked to him.

Proceeds for the evening will help the Playhouse continue its excellent lineup of theater performances, touring rock acts, and movie nights. Attend the show, and help the theater that has lit the path for so many entertainers in Carp and beyond.

AN EP AND ALBUM FOR EVERY TREE: The year closes out with a few inspired new releases from S.B.-area musicians. Jacob Cole a.k.a King Cole, whose Cold Blue EP briskly breezed through my ears upon first listen like a beautiful coastal wind, is back with an official rerelease after a tentative release earlier in time. Hear him play at the Cold Spring Tavern (5995 Stagecoach Rd.) on Saturday, December 10, starting at 6 p.m., or get there early and soak in the sweet sounds of guitar master Bruce Goldish, starting at 2 p.m.

Longtime S.B. musician/poet/photographer Spencer Vincent has combined his various artistries into a sunnily and moon-ily Californian pop, folk-rock, and world-music-touched album, Sitting on the Moon. With evocative lyrics and sweet melodies, it’s a contemplative slice of area musicianship worth your ears. Read The Santa Barbara Independent online for a recent interview.

S.B.-born Naked Walrus, who have swum down to Los Angeles for more opportune music-industry waters, also have a new EP, Simple, available for streaming and on vinyl. A sonic throwback to early and mid-’00s alt-rock, from The Black Keys to the Foo Fighters, it has recently earned airtime on KJEE, ever the bastion of all things rock. Bass-loving, post-punk duo Easter Teeth, meanwhile, are sharpening their incisors with a new two-song single and an upcoming full-length. See the band at Whiskey Richards on Friday, December 9, at 9 p.m., with Char-Man and The May Runners.

Last, but certainly not least, the Ventucky String Band is back with a new album, Ghost of the Damned, which conjures up some of the darker tales in bluegrass and western swing, with a few originals by leader Matt Sayles. In January, the band will head to Europe to promote its bluegrass music. You can find the album on CD Baby and iTunes and at Salzer’s Records in Ventura.

MERCURY ANTEGRADE: Before that old messenger appears to change directions, the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta) hosts Ojai psych-rockers Chasing Rainbows and S.L.O.’s American Dirt Duo on Saturday, December 10, reminding us that there’s still some good to be squeezed out of this year after all.


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