DakhaBrakha, Sunflowers, and  Support for Ukraine Along State

By Steven Libowitz   |   October 4, 2022

UCSB Arts & Lectures caps off the opening week of its new season in a culturally significant and community-oriented way, hosting a Ukraine Fest in front of the Granada before Kyiv-based band DakhaBrakha takes the stage inside for its Santa Barbara debut on Thursday, October 6.

The free festival, which takes place during the monthly 1st Thursday Art Walk downtown, features appearances by dancers from the Ukrainian Art Center of Southern California and bandura musician Siuzanna Iglidan, who sat in with John Legend at the 2022 Grammy Awards earlier this year. Ukrainian craft displays will include pysanka, painted eggs that have been decorated with bright and fiery designs, and traditional embroidered Ukrainian clothing and traditional wreaths worn by women on their heads for weddings and other special occasions. Sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine, will be represented by the return of the six large “Sunflowers on State” sculptures. These were fabricated by local artists and painted in Impressionist style by students as an adjunct to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s springtime Vincent van Gogh exhibition. The Good Lion is also creating a “Sunflower” cocktail to sip during the festivities. 

There will also be tables offering information about Ukraine, its history, and current relief efforts, including the massive one mounted by Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief International. 

The festival obviously has special resonance given the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which marked its seventh month last week. But the event is much more of a cultural celebration than protest or political gathering. 

“The invasion has resonated around the world,” said Roman Baratiak, the former UCSB A&L Associate Director whose parents were natives of Ukraine, who helped curate the festival and will serve as emcee. “DakhaBrakha has been touring around the world to bring awareness to what’s happening, but they have always had a big following. I’m just very honored and thrilled that there’s this educational outreach opportunity because of the concert to be able to highlight some of the beauty and uniqueness of Ukrainian culture.”

DakhaBrakha, whose name means “give/take” in Ukrainian, was founded in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art by the avant-garde theater director Vladislav Troitsky, and the quartet’s shows continue to be staged with scenic effect even as the group began augmenting Ukrainian ethnic folk heritage with Arabic, Indian, indigenous Australian, and other Slavic cultures along with punk, hip-hop, trance, and other world music rhythms. Adding the three female singers’ intertwining voices provides a formula that has been described as a subversive musical tapestry. 

For years, it’s been reported, DakhaBrakha ended its shows chanting “Stop Putin! No war!”, until what they had feared has now become reality. The concert, and the Ukraine fest, is a chance to dive deep into the country’s cultural beauty and mystique. 

For more details on the festival, DakhaBrakha tickets, and information about UCSB’s A&L 2022-23 season of music, dance, lectures, and other events, visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Sounds Around Town 

SOhO seems to have turned the corner on concentrating on local bands, instead booking more touring acts as the country continues to open up from COVID concerns. In fact, after the monthly show from Area 51 on September 30 and Hidden City Studio’s showcase the following night (see calendar), all four following acts at the downtown upstairs music club hail from out of town. Santa Barbara Acoustic’s series continues on October 2 with Brooks Robertson, a young fingerstyle guitarist who is apparently as dexterous with his instrument as Brooks Robinson was with a glove. Bluesy Nashville singer-songwriter Mike Younger – whose 2021 album Burning the Bigtop Down (2021) is the result of his battle to reclaim his lost recordings made with Muscle Shoals legends and members of The Band – performs on October 3, followed the following night by Skip Marley, reggae pioneer Bob’s grandson who is just now emerging as a touring artist. 

October 5 brings Brass Against, a collective who cover and create music meant to inspire social and personal change, curating songs from ‘90s grunge and alt-metal in a heavy brass filled symphony. The next night brings an artist even more provocative, Henry Rollins; the former Black Flag leader turned world-traveling spoken word artist acting as an acid tongue agent for change. 

Elsewhere, the Bowl’s bountiful season continues with a pair of concerts by beloved surf singer-songwriter superstar and sometimes Santa Barbaran, Jack Johnson, on October 4-5. Welsh singer Tom Jones, somehow still “Sex Bomb”-hot at age 82, delivers “Delilah” and more at the Arlington (which finally has a fantastic new website!) on October 5. The Arlington also hosts UCSB A&L’s concert with Texas country troubadour Charley Crockett, Americana Music Awards’ 2021 Emerging Artist of the Year, on October 2. Meanwhile, the Libbey Bowl in Ojai boasts newly-minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Elvin Bishop, and ageless blues master Charlie Musselwhite on September 30, and the perennially popular powerful singer-songwriter-guitarist Ben Harper, who seamlessly blends the personal and political, on October 6. 

On the tribute trail, Philadelphia-based Get the Led Out culls the bombastic and epic to the folky and mystical sides of studio recordings of Led Zeppelin, at the Lobero on September 30, while Queen Nation, who have been channeling Freddie Mercury & Co. for nearly two decades and 150 shows per year, chug on in to the Chumash Casino one night later on October 1. 

Focus on Film: Award Season Arrives 

This weekend ushers in October and with it the influx of Oscar hopeful movies. Which also means SBIFF’s Cinema Society’s screening schedule soars into hyperdrive, starting Saturday with a double dip into new films followed by a Q&A with the directors at SBIFF’s Riviera Theatre. The murder mystery Decision to Leave, the latest from writer-director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker, The Handmaiden) and Korea’s official submission for the Academy Awards, screens at 10:30 am. Amsterdam, the new ensemble period murder mystery comedy from five-time Oscar nominee David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), stars a huge cast of famous names, led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie. Amsterdam previews at 5:30 pm, six days before its general release. The two screenings are among the Cinema Society events that are also open with limited seating for the general public. Tickets are $20.Visit sbiffriviera.com/cs. 

UCSB A&L launches the new season with a free screening on September 29 of Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, a white-knuckle look at the journey of the surf legend, who will be on hand at the Arlington less than three weeks later for a conversation with Rory Kennedy.  


You might also be interested in...

  • Woman holding phone

    Support the
    Santa Barbara non-profit transforming global healthcare through telehealth technology