Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fun packed week and one sick writer

If I hadn’t been sick as a dog (an expression I’ve never quite understood) since late last Friday, you could be reading Natalie D-Napoleon’s own words about her music in this space, via an incisive interview. But being that I didn’t want to cough her ear off over the phone, nor infect her with this nasty illness in person, you’ll just have to take my word for it that Natalie has a knack for turning personal events and impressions from her life into universally appealing songs.

The singer-songwriter recently relocated from Perth, Australia, to Santa Barbara, and has been tapped for several recent gigs, including tonight at the Stateside where she will open for Devon Sproule, the Virginia-based folkie who garners more fans every time she’s appeared in town, from Sings Like Hell to SOhO to Tales from the Tavern. Sproule’s rootsy folk evokes the Blue Ridge Mountains wherever she plays; her sparse songs are just quirky enough to intrigue, while her sunny disposition and beautiful voice soothe the soul.

UP IN THE VALLEY: The great Carole King returns to the area tonight courtesy the Chumash Casino Resort, where the 50-year veteran will offer her “Living Room” tour. In a homey setting, the show spans her output from the Brill Building days when she and co-composer Gerry Goffin wrote innumerable hits (“Up On the Roof,” “One Fine Day,” “I’m Into Something Good,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Take Good Care of My Baby” and “The Loco-Motion”) to her top-selling 1971 solo debut “Tapestry,” which contained “You’ve Got a Friend,” “So Far Away” and “I Feel the Earth Move,” plus more recent songs.

COVER ME: Santa Barbara’s most eclectic club, SOhO, has a number of tasty offerings this week, and what they nearly all have in common is that the artists are performing other people’s songs. Grateful Dead tribute band Cubensis plays tonight, and popular Santa Barbara dance band King Bee grooves tomorrow. Then on Wednesday, the Section Quartet, the string quartet that offers fiery instrumental versions of rock ‘n’ roll, returns to the club following a truly incendiary set just last November when they played Radiohead’s estimable “OK Computer” in sequence. This time around expect covers of anything from Metallica to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Next Friday, April 4, it’s the Santa Barbara debut of the Pine Mountain Logs, which is the alter ego of the tres popular So Cal vocal band Venice, which has played several sold out gigs at SOhO in the past. This time the two pairs of brothers who are also each other’s cousins lend their pristine voices and crystalline harmonies to a bevy of pop tunes that you will no doubt recognize.
Who knew cover music could be so, well, original?

ALSO AT SOhO: Grammy Award-winning Cuban salsero and timbero Gonzalo “Chalo” Chomat front an 11-piece Chalo y Su Ache on Saturday for a spicy evening of Cuban music covering both traditional and contemporary Cuban genres, heavily rooted in and influenced by the island’s African and European cultures. Santa Barbara’s Breakthrough Performance Workshop has another evening at the club on Sunday, followed by the return of the fine jazz vocalist Mellonie Irvine for a concert that celebrates both her birthday and the one-year anniversary of the launch of her debut CD “You've Changed.” The crack back-up band features Kevin Winard (drums & vocals), Quinn Johnson (piano), John Belzaguy (bass) and Carl Saunders (trumpet). Singer-songwriter Tuesday is a triple-bill of L.A. and Ventura-based artists, including Mike Burns, Kevin Colis and Gas Station Robber. Finally, Wednesday brings the first ever video night at SOhO, with the debut area screening of String Cheese Incident’s “High Def from Red Rocks.” Shot, as the title suggest, in high definition video, the movie encompasses SCI’s final two performances at Colorado’s famed Red Rocks last August.

POT KETTLE BLACK: This is an entertainment column, not the Santa Barbara media watch. But since self-appointed News-Press commentator-blogger Craig Smith no longer writes for the Daily Sound, somebody has to pick up the slack.
Did you happen to see Scott Steepleton’s story in the News-Press on Tuesday detailing the specifics of drunk-driving cases against James Kyriaco Jr., 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf's campaign manager and administrative assistant? (We hope the answer’s “no,” since you’re not still reading the News-Press, are you?)
Kyriaco resigned his position late last week when the paper inquired about the cases, after e-mailing the paper, according to the story, that he was “ashamed at my actions . . . and the pain that it caused my family and loved ones. I make no excuses for what I did and am thankful no one was injured as a result of my reckless behavior.”
The most recent case dates from more than four years ago, and there are no pending charges, but the paper thought it was newsworthy to run a more detailed story four days after Kyriaco had already resigned!!
This from the same paper that killed the follow-up story on editorial page editor Travis Armstrong’s drunk-driving conviction when he was nabbed in May 2006 driving the wrong way on Santa Barbara Street with a blood alcohol level of .23, just shy of three times the legal limit – and twice the only reported BAC Kyriaco registered. That wasn’t news; somehow this is?
(The quashing of the follow-up on Armstrong – along with the criticism of the reporting of the Rob Lowe planning commission hearing – were the catalysts that triggered the big newsroom walkout in July 2006 and spawned the whole so-called “News-Press Mess.”)
Is there no limit to Armstrong’s and his sycophant Steepleton’s gall? Do they have no sense of decency at all? Does the word “hypocrisy” mean anything to them? (It must, Armstrong screamed it in an editorial about New York governor Eliot Spitzer last week).
Fairness and proportion seem to go out the window if you’re on their target list, as Wolf clearly is. I can’t believe I’m saying this, since my parents were proud members of the ONH (Original Nixon Haters), but even Tricky Dick’s enemies list wasn’t as irritating.
Anyway, the nexus to entertainment here is you can get your hackles up about earlier goings-on at the paper when Sam Tyler’s documentary film “Citizen McCaw” has its repeat screenings at the Marjorie Luke Theatre next weekend, April 5 at 8 p.m. and April 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets are still available, but remember the premiere sold out 2,000 seats several days before its screening earlier this month.

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