Gabriel Garzón-Montano exposes American struggles and joys with inventive R&B and cumbia electronica.
Courtesy Photo

BACK IN SESSION: September’s here, calling students back to their desks and all rockers, hip-hoppers, trip-hoppers, reggaeists, and dubbers to the Santa Barbara stages. This Positively State Street is a roll call of some of the great musicians in attendance for this week’s sessions.

Remember Future Islands? They’re back from the future with synth-pop anthems, heading to the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Saturday, September 15, at 7 p.m. Students, take note: Future Islands began as a bright idea while guitarist William Cashion was helping singer Samuel Herring study for an art history exam.

Since their studious days, Future Islands have earned many a fan with pop epics such as “Seasons (Waiting On You)” and in their career have risen to high Coachella ranks and sold-out shows worldwide. With the band’s floaty, warm synths and galloping drums building the danceable architecture underneath Herring’s triumphal voice, it’ll likely be the kind of Lobero show where people are up and moving. Go, and you will be able to say that you can remember dancing in September.

FANTASTIC AND PRISMATIC: On Friday, September 14, the Rainbow Girls return for a homecoming headlining show over at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) at 9 p.m. ’Twas not long ago that the Girls rocked Santa Barbara at the Pacific Pride Festival, and their prismatic mix of soaring harmonies and grooving rhythms could part clouds. Now based mostly in Petaluma but also in Santa Barbara, the former Isla Vista students have spread a broader weather system of lovin’ good vibes and thoughtful Californian contemplation across their home state — but we can still claim the hometown pride. See them at SOhO, and see why they continue to shine as one of the area’s coolest sets of musicians.

Joining them will be Oakland’s Whiskerman, which has a yearning kind of road-trip sound, revving up from a slow folk-rock pace to a higher speeds of psychedelic jam. It’s all got a passionate intensity, replete with mandolin, sitar, and singer Graham Patzner’s wavery battle cries of beauty. Paired with the Rainbow Girls, it’ll be a classically Californian trip.

AL-X IN THE FAMILY: S.B.’s young gun AL-X the Great plays a show at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Friday, September 14, with fellow area artist Nick Vaughn. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Tokyo and Pacific Palisades both, hip-hop/trip-hop creator AL-X pens party paeans to his current residence in the bassy “Vista Isla.” For UCSB students just returning, this would be a great opportunity to kick off the school year in fine fashion.

DOWN COME THE WALLS: Jai-Jagdeesh will play a special performance on Tuesday, September 18, at 6:30 p.m., at Unity of Santa Barbara (227 E. Arrellaga St.), hosted by the good folks at Yoga Soup. Singer Jai-Jagdeesh’s musical education was very much a spiritual education, as she began her music career at a temple in India. She went on to be a musical representative for Yogi Bhajan’s foreign education program, an emissary of peaceful compositions. Here, she’ll make you laugh and smile and soothe the depths of your inner world with musical mantras.

GABRIEL GARZÓN-MONTANO’S GARDEN: Last, but certainly not least, We the Beat presents Gabriel Garzón-Montano in what will be a show to remember at SOhO on Wednesday, September 19, at 9 p.m. On last year’s album, Jardín, Garzón-Montano faced the truths of America’s deeper struggles and joys alike with inventively sexy and sexily inventive R&B and cumbia electronica. The artist was born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents; his mother was a member of the Philip Glass ensemble in the 1990s, entrenching him in attention to detail amid progressive soundscapes. Now, Garzón-Montano makes music that’s a statement of his own, both seductive and emotive.

The world has taken note. NPR has included Jardín in its 10 Best R&B Albums of 2017, KCRW named it one of the top five albums of the year, and “Bombo Fabrika” was ranked on Remezcla’s 25 Best Music Videos by Latinx Artists. Most recently, we’ve seen the stylish singer walking across the badlands of DeathValley in his new music video, “Golden Wings.” See him at SOhO, and you’ll be treated to a garden of musical delights.


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