Thursday, September 18, 2008

‘NIGHTS’ actually at night: What a radical idea!


Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s seasonal monthly cultural cocktail known as “Nights” has always been something of a misnomer. The hugely popular socializing-amid-art events actually take place at happy hour, and nearly every installment ends before dark.
But tonight, the 2008 Nights series comes to a close with an event that truly lives up to its name. As with last year’s opening event, the gathering shifts to a later time frame – 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. – and outdoors onto the museum’s back plaza where KCRW DJ/producer Jason Bentley – a member of the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and just this winter the first-ever DJ to entertain at the Governors Ball, the celebration that follows the Oscars – will spin eclectic tunes and electronica for dancing and socializing.

The concept came into being in 2007 partially to create more room, since food and drink weren’t allowed into the extremely valuable temporary Tamayo exhibit. No such restrictions tonight, as far as we know (perhaps the current Picasso works will be off-limits). But it proved so popular – the plaza was packed all evening – they’ve brought back Bentley to wind up 2008.
Tonight’s theme is all about celebrating art found in the Museum’s permanent collection – including works by Avery, Dali and Sisqueiros as well as the just-opened Picasso on Paper exhibit – so the eclectic, quizzically-named activities include Picasso Shrinky Dink Cuffs, Up Against a Wall: Stella Sculptures, The Casting of the Spell Santeria Masks, and “A Pleasurable Suspense”: The Seasons I Charms. The final event’s signature cocktail is The Dharma Bums Sauza® Margarita.
Tickets are $35 ($15 discount for museum members); VIP Luxe passes are $120 ($60 for members). Call 884-6414.

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The equally name-challenged Downtown Brewing Co. – which is actually located at 3744 State Street, near Hitchcock in the area known as Upper State or midtown – hosts a weekend-long Beerfest tomorrow through Sunday.
Activities include a karaoke contest (winners get their song played on KJEE) and Beer Pong tournament on Friday; lots of live music including sets by Tripdavon at 7:30 p.m. and Iration (who just played the main stage at the West Beach Music Festival last Sunday) at 9 p.m.; and the Beerfest Games – including Beer Pong, Thumper, Speed Qua Quarters, Beer Relay, Boat races and more – on Sunday out in the beer tent. Details at 682-7803 or visit

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The Santa Barbara Book & Author festival is still a week away. But you can catch up on your reading in advance and maybe pick up some cherished works from this year’s featured authors beginning tonight when the largest annual used book sale in the tri-county area gets underway with a special opening night reception. The 34th annual Planned Parenthood Book Sale offers thousands of titles spanning more than 50 categories and just about any genre you can think of.
Organizers report that this year’s donations (which are still being accepted, by the way, if you’re doing some fall cleaning) feature especially attractive selections in art, cookbook and foreign languages sections.
Tonight’s 5 to 9 p.m. reception at the Earl Warren Showgrounds costs $25 and includes wine, appetizers and first dibs at the books. Proceeds from the event and the regular sale – which runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow through Sept. 28 – benefit Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties. Call 963-2445, ext. 6 or visit

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Solvang is a ridiculously cute Danish village even when they’re not celebrating any special events, and never more so than during Danish Days, the annual weekend marking Solvang’s ties to the “Old Country.”
The so-called Danish Capital of America celebrates its heritage and current status as a tourist destination (it was an article in the Saturday Evening Post back in 1946 that first drew visitors and resulted in the expanse of shops, restaurants and hotels) for three days beginning tomorrow afternoon with a concert in Solvang Park at 4 p.m.
The Torchlight Parade, at 7:30 Friday, is one of the weekend’s highlights, and it’s followed immediately by the opening ceremony (“Velkommen”) featuring a street dance. Saturday’s activities include the Danish Days Parade – a more traditional affair featuring marching bands, majorettes and more – at 2:30 p.m., and a dinner dance at 6 p.m. On Sunday, the youngsters get their turn, with the Children’s Parade at 2 p.m.
Both weekend days also boast Traditional Danish Days Breakfast featuring Aebleskivers (powdered sugar pastry) with Medisterpolse (Danish sausage) from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., an Aebleskiver Eating Contest at 11:30 a.m., a Kid’s Korner at Solvang Park and Living History Days at the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, featuring displays of how the early settlers of the village lived. For details and a program guide, call 686-9386.

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