A Musical Journey
Santa Barbara’s Camino Cielo, whether East or West, is no doubt one of the most scenic and beautiful roads in all of the country, touching the sky with far-as-the-eye-can-see views of the city and ocean down below. It’s a fitting title for area native Chris Fossek’s debut album of Spanish- and gypsy-style guitar, Camino Cielo, which was released this April. The album’s sensuous and mysterious packaging, sealed with rope and red wax, beckons you in; its relaxing sounds and lithe, airy finesse keep you there.
Fossek, who usually plays twice a week at the Four Seasons The Biltmore during happy hour, picked up his Spanish flamenco guitar skills in where else but Spain itself. Raised on classical piano, the aspiring composer was in the midst of studying classical music in Bologna, Italy, when a fateful getaway to Valencia, Spain, gifted him a new passion. There, he was lured by the sound of flamenco guitar being played by a group of gypsies down by the beach. “Do you guys mind if I listen?” he asked, bringing beer as a housewarming present of sorts. “As long as you keep bringing beer,” they said, and thus Fossek became a regular, picking up flamenco finger-stylings and playing with the gypsies.
Fast-forward not too far into the future, and Chris found himself playing to 20,000 listeners at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, plus high-profile gigs at the Getty Museum and REDCAT in L.A. His album encapsulates a wide geography of musical motifs. Fossek said he hopes his pieces take listeners on a “journey of discovery,” with a transcontinental tour through thoroughly composed flamenco numbers, plus pieces inspired by Macedonian folk music and Fossek’s own contemporary improvised works. While he preserves the traditional rhythmic structures, he adds a bit of his own Santa Barbaran twist. “I’m not trying to be the Spanish flamenco guy; I’m the California guy messing with Spanish flamenco melodies and techniques,” he said.
Fossek is a gourmand and a wine hound, and there’s definitely a delectable sensuality and sense of epicurean, European romancing in the music. “Red wine is right up there with oxygen for me; my hands actually just work better with a little bit of wine,” he laughed. If the album were a meal, it would be a multicourse one. “There’s definitely songs that have some meat and spice and others that are subtle like a pureed soup, a layer of soft and subtle flavors, a wavelength that’s not high and peaky but just kind of cruising.”
Feast your ears on Fossek’s flamenco at the Four Seasons The Biltmore’s Ty Lounge (1260 Channel Dr.) on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 5 p.m., and hear his album on chrisfossek.com.
Speaking of worldly music, Aoife O’Donavon will come to UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Tuesday, April 25, with jazz guitarist Julian Lage and part-time Punch Brother Chris Eldridge. Known for her lovely, yearning voice, the American-born, Ireland-bred singer/songwriter spent summers as a child going to Ireland, where she absorbed the sounds and atmosphere of the land. (Parenting tip: Raise your child on music, and you never know — they may grow up to be awesome musicians like O’Donavon.) Famed for her innovative progressive bluegrass and folk-country work with Crooked Still, she’s earned renown as a soloist. Her most recent album, In the Magic Hour, came out last year.
Feeling’ Shaky, Feelin’ Good
Thursday, April 20, is everyone’s favorite stoner holiday, and SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) is hosting a special occasion for anyone hoping to celebrate. Shaky Feelin’, the high-energy rock/reggae/bluegrass/funk powerhouse from the Ventura area, will play along with multi-instrumentalist melody-makers Purple Mountains Majesty from the O.C. at 8:30 p.m. For all things groovy and green, SOhO may be where you’d like to go, if you can unglue yourself from your couch.