CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: As the great David Bowie once observed ripples on the water ever remaining in a world of warm impermanence, we too must accept the ride of a wide world unchanging only in the constancy of its endless transformations, in that fleeting quality that never goes away. But change, as they say, is good, and show goers can, in the coming days, hear a changed-up sound from a couple of notable musicians shaped by Santa Barbara.
First, there’s Jamey Geston, the songwriter with the incredible voice who since her early teens has won the admiration of this publication and others for her rocking, haunting sound. She kicks off her Hello, Summer! tour on Thursday, May 3, at Roy (7 W. Carrillo St.) at 9 p.m.; then she plays again on Saturday, May 5, at Yellow Belly (2611 De la Vina St.) at 7 p.m.; then she’ll play a final show at Cold Spring Tavern (5995 Stagecoach Rd.) on Friday, May 11, at 6 p.m. before hitting the road on a southwest tour that will take her all the way to Louisiana and back.
Geston will be touring in celebration of her beautiful new song “Sonic Baby,” released this week. She felt the deep cut of change personally during the recording of this new single: producer/sound engineer Robinson Eikenberry died of a heart attack while working on the song with her. “It was this really shocking, sudden thing. We had plans to record a whole EP together in July, and he passed away. It kind of put everything on hold for me,” said Geston, who felt that recording with Eikenberry was “like therapy. He really understood me, and he understood how I wanted my music to sound.”
Jolting though it was, Eikenberry’s passing gave her a chance to stop, process, and reassess. She resumed recording in November with Jesse Rhodes, and she and her sound had evolved. “The songs I’m working on kind of deal with my own journey growing and figuring things out, and there’s a lot of emotion,” she said. She described the years since her high school graduation in 2016 as “the most shocking years of my life. I’m growing up; I’ve been thrown into the real world and thrown into the typical adolescent pressures.”
But now, she wants to turn last year’s difficulties into this year’s triumphs, and she’s “breaking out of that bubble.” “I’m so excited; I love the south,” she said of the tour ahead. “It will be a big, fun road trip. I’m excited to know what the communities are like there, I’m excited to see boringness — I’m going to document the heck out of it.”
SHIFTING LIKE THE SEAS: Erisy Watt returns to Santa Barbara this weekend at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) with two other S.B.-affiliated musicians, Portland-based Hanna Haas and Carpinteria-raised, wilderness-roaming Cheyenne Skye, on Sunday, May 6, at 8 p.m. Folk-music fans may remember Watt from her cozy Cabin by the Sea series and her lovely, dreamily cheerful songs of gratitude. Now, Watt and Haas come down from rainy Portland, each with transforming sounds and a newfound wisdom.
“My writing style has started to shift,” Watt said of her own music. “I wrote so many songs that were very, like, ‘everything is so wonderful and perfect because it’s sunny and the ocean and mountains and I feel so happy.’” In post-college Portland, she’s a little more attuned to the dramatic ups and downs of life’s roller coaster: “I go through these constant cycles of being confident and on top of the world to feeling fearful and doubtful, and my songwriting has started to bring in elements of the whole ride of living fully and maintaining your values.”
Haas, too, gravitates in her lyrics to the harmonious tumult of change and finding oneself in the cycles. In her own words, she writes of the “constant rising and falling of life and the eternal beauty of it all.” There will be sure to be some soothed souls and teary eyes alike when she plays.
Santa Barbara will always have a profound place in their hearts, Watt wrote of the show’s music makers, and it was a “very formative and influential place for our music paths. We felt the inspiration from both the natural beauty and nurturing community. And while we’ve all come and gone from Santa Barbara at times, it will always feel like home.”