SBIFF Oscar nominees | Credit: Courtesy

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on January 27, 2023. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at

ON the (Big) Screen

Sometimes I have to white-knuckle my way to an uplifting worldview when I read the news, but when I read about this week’s Oscar nominations, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and excitement for our friends at SBIFF. They start putting together the celebrity tributes (and effectively handicapping the awards race) so far in advance and this year’s program reads like a who’s who of Oscar nominees.

  • Montecito Award honoring Angela Bassett: Thursday, February 9
  • Outstanding Performer of the Year Award presented by Manitou Fund honoring Cate Blanchett: Friday, February 10
  • Maltin Modern Master Award honoring Jamie Lee Curtis: Saturday, February 11
  • Variety Artisans Award sponsored by Variety: Monday, February 13 (Honorees to be announced)
  • American Riviera Award sponsored by Deadline honoring Brendan Fraser: Tuesday, February 14  
  • Virtuosos Award honoring Austin Butler (Elvis), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Danielle Deadwyler (Till), Nina Hoss (Tár), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Jeremy Pope (The Inspection), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Jeremy Strong (Armageddon Time): Wednesday, February 16
  • Cinema Vanguard Award honoring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson: Thursday, February 16
  • Outstanding Directors of the Year Award sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter: Friday, February 17 (Honorees to be announced)

ON the Stage

Credit: Courtesy

Expect to see just about everyone you know in line at the Lobero tomorrow morning (Saturday, January 28) when tickets go on sale IN-PERSON ONLY for a very special Jack Johnson show to honor the historic theater’s 150th Anniversary Ovation Celebration. The JJ show on February 21 is one of a slew of great concerts on the calendar for the Lobero’s sesquicentennial. Sadly, the David Crosby show announced just days before his death won’t be happening (see Joe Woodard’s remembrances from almost 30 years of interviews here), but the Lobero does have the Ovation Jazz Series on the calendar including Arturo Sandoval (February 10), Preservation Hall Jazz Band (March 3), The Derek Douget Band (April 8),  and Tierney Sutton Band with guest artist Serge Merlaud (May 12).

I was lucky enough to spend part of last week at the beautiful Lobero with the legendary Los Lobos (read my review here); and speaking of music legends, in honor of the Lobero’s milestone anniversary, former President/CEO of Capitol Records and noted quipster Hale Milgrim, and “Music Maniac” Richard Salzberg, are putting together an extra fabulous Quips & Clips show for March 18.

Looking out to the spring and summer, there are so many great shows on their way. Going on sale today (January 27) are tickets for Billy Currington’s May 6 performance at the Bowl. The Eli Young Band joins the country singer/songwriter whose hit duet with Shania Twain, “Party for Two,” earned nominations from both the CMA and ACM. Also just announced: Little Big Town, with tickets on sale February 3 for a July 15 show.

Little Big Town | Credit: Courtesy

Seeing Los Lobos on their 50th year as a band (!) as well as David Crosby’s untimely death served as a reminder that I’d better see these musical legends perform whenever I can. Beatle Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band of Steve Lukather, Colin Hay, Edgar Winter, Warren Ham, Hamish Stuart, and Gregg Bissonette are coming to the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheatre on June 16 for a show that promises to be well worth the drive to Paso Robles. Tickets are on sale now.

ON the Page

Book club friends, you won’t want to miss the Indy Book Club’s First Santa Barbara Book Club Extravaganza. We’re teaming up with Santa Barbara Public Library for a special book-club-themed event at S.B. Biergarten on January 31. We’ll have the scoop on all of the new Book Club in a Bag sets for this year (Book Club in a Bag kits have everything book groups need to plan their next gathering, including 10 copies of each title), plus lots of recommendations for great discussion books — and beer of course!

Amor Towles | Credit: Bill Hayes

I was so excited to interview Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow, Lincoln Highway) in advance of his appearance at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on February 2. Also coming up from A&L is Nina Totenberg — NPR correspondent and author of Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships (that’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg) — at the Granada on February 7.

ON the Walls

Credit: Kerrie Smith

February is Museums Free-for-All time (after two years of shutdowns) on Sunday, February 5, with 30 different SoCal Museums opening their doors and offering free admission. Local and local-ish participants include: Museum of Ventura County, Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and Santa Paula Art Museum. A calendar of year-round free days can be found at

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

The Wildling Museum in Solvang is holding its first first free Winter Family Day on Sunday, February 12, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Art activities inspired by Artist-in-Residence Kerrie Smith’s Portals & Pathways installation (pictured) are among the many offerings. This lovely and ever-changing exhibit closes on February 28 after a year long residency.

Last weekend’s reopening party for MCA Santa Barbara was such a breath of fresh air. The arts community came out in full force to support the contemporary arts museum, but even more exciting were a bunch of new (to me) young faces that aim to spark some new life into our local arts scene. We’ve got a great Old Guard, but it’s really nice to see the New Guard emerging too. Cannupa Hanska Luger’s New Myth (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) opens February 12.

ON the Web

Do you have what it takes to be our city’s next Poet Laureate? Poets with diverse backgrounds, especially those from historically marginalized communities, are encouraged to apply. Current Poet Laureate Emma Trelles’s term concludes in March, and the deadline to submit applications is February 24. For more information about the application and selection process, visit

ON the Calendar

The new Santa Barbara Chamber Players will play their first concert on January 28 at First United Methodist Church (click here for details) with a program that includes Antonín Dvořák’s 7th Symphony, Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. When I asked cofounder Sherylle Mills Englander about the chamber music equivalent of the theater’s “break a leg,” she said, “Wind players joke by saying ‘Break a lip.’” There you go!

For a complete calendar of events this week and beyond, visit

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