For six months, Santa Barbara’s beloved Lobero Theatre has been locked down but hardly forgotten. The genuinely historic landmark — at 147 years, it’s California’s oldest continuously operating theater — stands at the corner of Anacapa and Canon Perdido, its proud Spanish Colonial splendor contradicted by its current status as an unplugged, inanimate venue.
But wait — a marquee poster promises a concert by Charles Lloyd on Friday, October 23. The Santa Barbara–based saxophonist will in fact appear online that night in a show that he taped recently with his new Ocean Trio of pianist Gerald Clayton and guitarist Anthony Wilson. It’s the latest installment in the Lobero’s ongoing Live Streaming series, which has already included concerts by Kenny Loggins and KT Tunstall, and there’s another upcoming show with John Kay set to air on Friday, November 13. Taped streaming shows are proving to be a resourceful use of this treasured room. The proceeds from these pay-to-view events go to both the cherished and fiscally struggling theater itself as well as to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA).
Lloyd, who recently performed his first live-stream concert since March in conjunction with the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, brings layers of homecoming to his Lobero show. He has played the venue countless times, and he recorded his 2006 ECM album Sangam in this house. His 80th birthday Lobero concert in 2019 was released by Blue Note in an extravagantly packaged album titled 8: Kindred Spirits. The Anthony Wilson connection loops in the legacy of Anthony’s late father, Gerald, in whose legendary big band a young Lloyd played while living in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Clayton, who has been working with Lloyd recently, boasts his own L.A. big band lineage as the son of acclaimed bassist and Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra leader John Clayton.
Meanwhile, John Kay of Steppenwolf fame has lived in Santa Barbara for many years, and although he’s semi-retired from music, he periodically steps onto a local stage. In his last appearance at the Lobero in 2019, he presented a multimedia show that merged scenes from his life in the musical limelight with his avid philanthropic engagement in saving wildlife, especially pachyderms. Early in that show, he posed a pressing question by juxtaposing vintage shots of him entertaining an audience of many thousands with a more recent photo of him cradling an orangutan in Borneo. The question was, “How did that guy turn into this guy?” When Kay returns to the Lobero stage this time, it will be minus the audience, and the orangutan, in a streamed performance that integrates digital and interactive elements that is being produced by musician/studio designer/store owner Chris Pelonis.
In an interesting and beneficial twist on the ordinarily fleeting nature of live music performance, the Lobero is discovering the lasting, renewable power of taped shows. This week, the theater announced that it will re-release the series’ kickoff concert by Kenny Loggins for a limited, four-day window over Thanksgiving weekend. As the Lobero’s assistant marketing director Cecilia Martini-Muth explained, “We had such a great response to this initial concert that we decided to bring it back again for another viewing.” She added, “We are doing all we can to stay relevant and keep moving forward.”
411: Live from the Lobero: Charles Lloyd Ocean Trio, Friday, October 23 8 p.m.; John Kay, Friday, November 13, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. See lobero.org.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.