Pat Metheny comes to the Lobero on October 30. | Credit: Courtesy

When engaging in a bit of historical housekeeping, clearly, the prize for jazz legend with the largest number of Lobero Theatre concerts under the belt must go to Santa Barbara’s own Charles Lloyd. But coming in for a strong second place in the running is guitarist Pat Metheny, whose rare appearance in solo mode on Monday, October 30, will be an extension of a beautiful artist/venue relationship. Apparently, it’s a lifelong affair, going back to Metheny’s appearance with his 80/81 band some 40 years back.

As he told me in an interview a few years ago, “I really love Santa Barbara, and I particularly love the Lobero. I honestly feel honored to be able to return there so often over the years. There are a few European festivals I feel the same way about, where I have been able to play regularly over the years, but there are very few places in the states that I could compare the Lobero to — and for that matter, the S.B. audience. It is a gig I always look forward to.”

Among the more recent high points of Metheny’s Lobero landings were such uniquely potent projects as the Unity Band (featuring the great tenor saxist Chris Potter) in 2014 and the power trio Side-Eye with pianist-organist James Francies in 2021. On a more intimate scale, Metheny also premiered a brand-new song co-written with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, “Love May Take Awhile,” sung in a gorgeous cameo by Tierney Sutton at the Lobero in 2018.

Metheny is always changing up his contexts, while steadily building a signature sound and songography along his legacy trail. Enter Dream Box, a largely meditative and reflective album recorded with only the guitarist on board, sometimes playing lead lines atop his own rhythm guitar layers, in the popular mode of pandemic-era home-studio constructions.

Among the album’s virtues is a warm and easy listenability factor, as engaging foreground or enlightened background music. The song set also amply reminds us that Metheny is one of the finest ballot writers of our time. As he explained, “Adagio and slower-type things like that have always been my favorite. I probably have about 50 unrecorded ballads sitting in my drawer.”

In the middle of the Dream Box sequence, Metheny leans back just briefly into the jazz standards canon for a lyrical reading of “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” but he mostly relies on the kindness of his memorable balladeering drawer. As if nodding towards the ruminative atmosphere many felt during the COVID lockdown, he also supplies titles suggesting a grander cosmic scheme beyond temporary struggles, opening and closing the set with “The Waves Are Not the Ocean” and “Clouds Can’t Change the Sky.”

His current Dream Box Tour finds Metheny showing what he can do in self-reliant mode, while also celebrating his 50 years of music-making. His last solo appearance in Santa Barbara was, in fact, not at the Lobero, but at UCSB’s Campbell Hall in 2010, when he was carting around the elaborate Erector Set musical machinery he calls the “orchestrion” (not to be confused with the “orgasmatron”). A compact and portable variation of the orchestrion will be part of the musical equipment and guitar accoutrements he’ll bring to the Lobero stage. 

But more important than the tools deployed and manipulated on Monday, the music is the thing, as only Metheny can make it.



Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.