Rhythms with a Cause
From the hard-to-believe files, TRAP is turning 25, with an eye to semi-retirement. Saturday, September 24’s all-star fundraising soiree at the Lobero Theatre, part of a long-standing tradition, will serve as both a post-pandemic celebration and an emotional swan song for one of the worthier music-therapy projects in the region.
A little backstory is in order, of course, for those who haven’t followed the saga. The story begins more than a quarter century ago on a beach in Carpinteria, when a body-surfing accident left session drummer Eddie Tuduri in a paralyzed state. Frustrated by his inability to live his musical life as he had for decades, and with a desire to be of service to those in need, Tuduri launched TRAP (The Rhythmic Arts Project). Its central concept is to reach out to people with disabilities, using percussion and collective music-making as an expressive and therapeutic tool. TRAP has since expanded into several countries.
Part of the funding strategy was the logical move of engaging with the community by presenting concerts, often with well-established musicians in and beyond the drummer-percussion circles that Tuduri was entrenched in. The Lobero shows, also including auctions and other special features, have been notable high points in the Santa Barbara music calendar for years, though missing in action during the COVID era.
Tuduri, now 75, has proclaimed that Saturday’s event will be the last big blowout, although he noted that smaller events may be possible, going forward. “I’ll still want to get together and jam with my pals,” he says.
Among the many memorable moments from the TRAP Lobero benefit memory banks were appearances by Bill Champlin and Michael McDonald at the microphone/keyboards, and an infectious duet between master Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and the talented TRAP student Dion.
Joining founding drummer and musical connection-maker Tuduri onstage will be musicians in the malleable band known as Pockets, including Luis Conte, Kenny Lewis and Diane Steinberg (from the Steve Miller band), guitarist Derol Caraco, keyboardist Jimmy Calire, bassist Steve Nelson, vocalists Leslie Lembo and Shawn Thies… and not at all leastly, such TRAP star students as Dion, Karen, Zayde, Ryan and Ben. Massive grooves — with a cause — are on the menu.
Blues Surf Report
On Sunday afternoon (September 25) at the Community Arts Workshop, the blues pays a serious visit to town, in terms of livewire sounds and respects paid to local keepers of the flame. This will be the first post-pandemic event put on by the intrepid and venerable Santa Barbara Blues Society, coming out of mothballs after nearly three years.
At the heart of the show is a memorial tribute to two important blues-linked guitarists who sadly passed on this year: slide guitar master Tom Murray (of Stiff Pickle Orchestra and other entities) and the R&B powerhouse Byl Carruthers (from Café R&B, with soulful singer Roach sharing the spotlight) are gone, but hardly forgotten. To honor them, and raise funds for their families, the Blues Society has rallied the bands Paradise Kings, East Valley Road, and the Rent Party Blues Band to stir up a blues ruckus for the occasion. See SBBlues.org.
Speaking of the blues onstage, one of the feisty, hot, and cool concerts in town lately went down the night Louisianan Tab Benoit stoked up his blues-rock-swampy trio at the Lobero Theatre. A heap of steamy guitar playing, more from the blues-rock and Southern rock end of the spectrum than deep-dish blues, culminated in a triple-threat guitar jam at show’s end, when Benoit brought up his friend Alastair Greene — the excellent Santa Barbara blues-rock hero making his name out in the wider world — and concert opener J.D. Simo for a riff-swapping bonanza. “Just when you thought you had enough guitar in your life…,” the charismatic Benoit quipped, with a sideways grin.
Personally, my favorite of the three on this night was Simo, whose slippery-smart slide guitar work — falling beautifully into the exciting post–Derek Trucks camp — touches on jazz and other influences, as does his fretwork and musical voice. There’s a restless sense of adventure in his playing, in contrast to more hubristic riff-slinging of much lead guitar culture. Simo reminds us that the blues, like all good genres, is open to fresh ideas and conceptual elbow jabs.