Author spotlight: Steven Libowitz

Steven has reported on the arts and entertainment for more than 30 years. He has published his work in daily and weekly newspapers in New Jersey and California, as well as in Santa Barbara Magazine and a nationally syndicated news service. When not at his computer or out on the town, you’ll often find him playing volleyball at East Beach, just a short jog from Montecito’s famous Butterfly Beach.

Montecito Firefighters’ Charitable Foundation: Providing Financial Support to Community Members in Need
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 25, 2021

Montecito Firefighter Lucas Grant is too young to have personal memories of what it was like when local firefighters were an integral part of a community beyond responding to emergencies, but that Norman Rockwell image of the local firehouse as a friendly and helpful gathering place still pulls on his heart. “I hear stories about […]

Back to Bluegrass: Jorgenson Coming to SOhO
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 23, 2021

John Jorgenson has been playing a multitude of instruments since childhood, dating back to age eight, when he picked up the clarinet to go along with piano, which he’d been studying for four years to keep pace with his older sister in a family of musicians. Then it was guitar after hearing the Beatles, and […]

Trixie Blue
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 23, 2021

Credit Crane Country Day School and music teacher Konrad Kono for honing Trixie Blue’s interest in 1980s pop music. “I’ve been messing around with music forever,” explained Trixie, who drops her last name, Garnett, while making music. “I’ve always been playing instruments and singing, but it was Crane and Mr. Kono who really got me […]

the Fortnight
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 22, 2021

November 21-December 30 Santa Barbara Sounds at SOhO   The popular restaurant nightclub took a little longer than almost all other establishments to reopen after the forced COVID closures expired at the end of spring, but the entertainment-every-night emporium is now fully back in action. Peruse the calendar carefully for the hangout owned for more […]

Granada, the Great
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 18, 2021

It’s purely coincidence that this week’s Montecito Journal hits newsstands the same day the Granada Theatre officially unveils Plaza Granada, a new pathway to the theater and the historic arts district in downtown Santa Barbara with a private ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Plaza transforms the formerly barren parking lot behind the theater and the previously dark […]

Music Academy Recital: Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, What a Little Moonlight Can Do
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 16, 2021

It was more than 27 months ago that Sun-Ly Pierce captured the Music Academy of the West’s much-coveted Marilyn Horne Song Competition during the 2019 summer festival. Among the prize package was the opportunity to share the stage with the winning collaborative pianist Chien-Lin Lu for a recital featuring a world premiere of a song […]

Going for Baroque: Symphony’s Musical Pyrotechnics
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 16, 2021

Moving on with Music Academy connections, Baroque master Nic McGegan — who led chamber orchestra fellow concerts for MAW’s summer festival for several seasons dating back a few years — makes his debut as guest conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony for its Royal Fireworks program November 13 and 14 at the Granada Theatre.  The […]

‘Creating Hope’ with UCSB Arts & Lectures
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 11, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, UCSB Arts & Lectures, like every establishment across the country, was forced to close and cancel all its programs. But the 62-year-old organization — still the largest and most influential arts and lectures presenter not only in the Santa Barbara region but in the several hundred- mile […]

Immediate Need
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 9, 2021

It’s very possible you may never have heard of Waddy Wachtel much less of his band The Immediate Family, who return to the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, November 6. But there’s little doubt that you are intimately familiar with Wachtel’s guitar work and that of his band mates Danny Kortchmar (guitars), Leland Sklar (bass), and […]

Adding Needed Depth ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ coming to the Granada Theatre
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 9, 2021

When the musical version of An Officer and a Gentleman plays November 9-10 at the Granada Theatre, it won’t be quite the singular sensation provided by the massive Santa Barbara-only one-off presentation of Kismet at the same venue two weekends ago. But Officer does offer a rare chance for locals to get an early viewing […]

‘Carrie’ on My Wayward Daughter
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 9, 2021

Thirty-three years in, Carrie, the Musical — adapted from Stephen King’s best-selling 1974 novel by a team including Montecito’s own Dean Pitchford, who wrote the lyrics — still stands as one of the most notorious failures in Broadway history. Indeed, the production that closed after just five non-preview performances in 1988 even inspired the title […]

‘Provide Some Cheer’: Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Puts Emphasis on Holidays
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 4, 2021

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) was founded by Nikki Katz back in 2002 after hearing of the financial and emotional challenges faced by the family of a three-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with bone cancer and a brain tumor and felt alone in dealing with both the diagnosis and the fallout. “I wanted to […]

Dancing Through Manhattan With Nebula
By Steven Libowitz   |   November 2, 2021

Back in early 2020, Nebula Dance Lab had planned to produce a ballet version of Island of the Blue Dolphins to celebrate the local story’s 60th anniversary since the publication of the novel. But a decision to delve deeper in diversity issues revolving around Dolphin produced a pandemic pivot to adapt another tale of a […]

RAINN: Connecting an Influx of Survivors With Needed Support
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 28, 2021

Peruse the list of RAINN supporters online or in the 2020-21 inaugural The Giving List book and you’ll find a whole lot of famous names. There are singer-songwriters Tori Amos and Kesha, entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and the actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, among many others. That’s because, unlike virtually all […]

Santa Barbara Records Debuts
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 26, 2021

When CaliAmericana becomes available online and in record stores on October 21, it won’t just mark another album release from a local musician on their own indie imprint. Instead, the compilation CD heralds the launch of Santa Barbara Records, the first independent label in the area that actually signs outside artists as its major thrust […]

‘Kismet’ Fated to Make Santa Barbara History
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 21, 2021

The dictionary says “kismet” is an Arabic word that has come to mean fate or destiny in English. In theater, Kismet was a hit on Broadway back in the 1950s, as the love-and-duty musical about a glib-tongued street poet in old Baghdad whose family encounters princesses and a young caliph was smartly adapted from a […]

Looking to Create “Positive Change”
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 21, 2021

In its short 13-year history, Leading From Within — which was founded in 2008 as the Courage to Lead program that was created to offer renewal to experienced nonprofit executive leaders while also offering leadership development — has already had quite an impact in town. More than 60 executive directors have participated in the year-long […]

Wilco? We’ll Go
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 19, 2021

Not that anybody needs any more reasons to attend a Wilco concert whenever Jeff Tweedy and cohorts come to town, that is if intelligent heartfelt alt-country singer-songwriter meets crafty subtly experimental soundscapes floats your musical boat. (If it doesn’t, perhaps check your pulse or the contents of your metaphorical heart.) But us longtime locals also […]

Into and Out of the Void with Charles Lloyd
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 19, 2021

To interview Charles Lloyd, you’ve got to be willing to abandon your list of questions and simply surrender to wherever it is that the master musician wants to go. The saxophonist’s career dates back to the 1960s when the Memphis-born musician was part of the San Francisco scene, sharing bills at the Fillmore with the […]

Building Love at Lotusland
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 14, 2021

Anyone who’s visited Lotusland over the past quarter-century knows that the gorgeous botanical garden in the Montecito foothills boasts 37 acres of natural wonder that encompass more than 20 distinct gardens and exhibitions. Most folks who have walked the grounds are aware of how Lotusland remains a personal expression of its former owner, the opera […]

‘Quite Extraordinary’: Broadway Legend Bringing Talents to Santa Barbara
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 12, 2021

It’s not hyperbole at all to suggest that the original production of Kismet that will play three performances at the Granada Theatre later this month might be the most exciting show ever to play in Santa Barbara. While official touring shows of classic Broadway hits and more modern musical fare are still appearing at the […]

‘Mainstream Topic’: Pandemic Puts Mental Wellness Center in Spotlight
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 7, 2021

It’s just a coincidence that World Mental Health Day falls right in the middle of the circulation for this week’s edition of the Montecito Journal. The annual campaign was created by the World Health Organization with a stated objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health and […]

‘Chance to Reflect’: Camerata Pacifica Finds Ways to Improve Despite Time Off
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 5, 2021

Prior to the pandemic, Camerata Pacifica wasn’t really looking for an excuse to do some tweaking to its approach. After all, the chamber music ensemble had grown over its 30 years from performing sporadic concerts at a single small stage in town to largely selling out an eight-show season at four venues from Santa Barbara […]

Six Questions: Mulling Things Over With Montecito Pianist
By Steven Libowitz   |   October 5, 2021

Pete Muller, the math whiz who leveraged his skills to create and manage a massively successful quant-driven hedge fund company that uses complex models to detect and predict inequities in the markets, seems even more invested in his burgeoning singer-songwriter career these days. The piano-playing Montecito resident, who released three solo albums mostly as a […]

United & Thriving: Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara Combine Forces
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 30, 2021

It was just about a month into the pandemic when the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara (UBGC) fully united, as the downtown club agreed to merge and fully centralize the 83-year-old organization. That might seem like a strange time to be making structural changes, as the merger was completed in April 2020, […]

Pop Picks: Artist with an Ax Metheny Returns
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 28, 2021

Very few artists of any genre have been able to remain relevant anywhere near as long as Pat Metheny, the guitarist who launched his recording career 45 years ago. That was back in the days when terrestrial FM radio stations would play anything from Mountain to Madness and Metheny to the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I have […]

Embracing Experimental
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 28, 2021

As the inaugural collaboration between UCSB’s much-lauded Launch Pad artist residency and performance program with Local Theater Company, the Boulder-based leader in new play development, Yellowstone will have a lot of voices shaping its first-ever fully staged reading on Friday, September 24. But for playwright Jennifer Barclay, the process has been playing out for more […]

An Ode to Santa Barbara’s Roots
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 28, 2021

It’s not much of an exaggeration to suggest that Opera Santa Barbara General Director Kostis Protopapas almost single-handedly kept live music alive in town during the worst months of the pandemic. In February, Operation Eurydice, part of Opera Santa Barbara’s Arts Advocacy campaign, created three live music series to bring in-person concerts to the public, […]

Setting the Standard: SBCC Foundation Creates Opportunity
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 23, 2021

Santa Barbara City College Foundation CEO Geoff Green is understandably proud of the SBCC Promise, the innovative program he spearheaded that launched in 2016 and provides all local high school graduates with the opportunity to attend SBCC full-time free of charge for up to two years. Since then, more than 5,000 students have availed themselves […]

Watson, Come Here: Ex-OCMS Member Something to Crow About
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 21, 2021

It takes a lot of guts to walk away from a successful band you co-founded, but for Willie Watson, 13 years with the Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) were enough. “There were some differences about our musical direction,” Watson said, somewhat diplomatically explaining his 2011 departure from the popular alternative country/Americana band that helped jumpstart […]

CAST of Characters
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 21, 2021

Your faithful correspondent finds collaborations compelling, whether between artists in various genres or among cooperating venues. Both are in play with the current showcase series at Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science, and Technology (SBCAST), where three of its Artists in Residence are staging weekend exhibits of installation art, design, multimedia projects, and performances. The […]

‘The Last Honky Tonk Hero’
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 21, 2021

We’ll leave it up to the listener to decide if the new CD from Mike Dawson & The Smokin Kills lives up to its title. But we can tell you that the guy fronting the band is the real deal: Dawson is the former longtime DJ, music director, and producer at KTYD, Santa Barbara’s classic […]

Taking Pride in Their Continued Impact
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 16, 2021

For many nonprofits in Santa Barbara and around the nation, the height of the COVID pandemic was a time to retrench, perhaps scale back operations or even temporarily close their doors. Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF), on the other hand, not only kept nearly all its services available, but also expanded some of its programs in […]

Surf’s Up! Dean Torrence Still Going Strong 60 years later
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 14, 2021

Although surf rock pioneers Jan & Dean first rode their surfboards and sang their tunes more than 60 years ago barely 90 miles south of Santa Barbara, Dean Torrence, the surviving member of the duo, can only recall playing in town twice before. Both times were at the Santa Barbara Bowl with the Beach Boys, […]

Honoring the Heroes of Hospice: For Elizabeth Gilbert, It’s Personal
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 14, 2021

Hospice of Santa Barbara (HSB) could hardly have found a more appropriate keynote speaker for its 9th Annual Heroes of Hospice than Elizabeth Gilbert. The author best known for her memoir Eat Pray Love about her year-long globe-travelling journey to heal from a devastating divorce more recently penned Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, revealing […]

Justified Pivot: Organization Doesn’t Stop Fight Against Discrimination
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 9, 2021

Just Communities (JC), the nonprofit whose mission includes “dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression,” works towards its vision of an equitable and inclusive Central Coast by offering cultural competency training to organizational leaders, education seminars for the general public, leadership training for students and teachers, and customized consultation to local agencies for diversity […]

the Fortnight: 4 – 24 SEPTEMBER
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 9, 2021

WED & FRI, SEPT 8 & 10: L.A. rock, then and now, at Lobero  The Wallflowers’ leader Jakob Dylan has spent time in recent years either making or promoting Echo in the Canyon, the documentary that looks back longingly at the mid-1960s when Hollywood’s Laurel Canyon served as creative and residential stomping grounds for such […]

‘Open’ for Business
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 7, 2021

After canceling due to the coronavirus pandemic last Labor Day weekend, the Santa Barbara Studio Artists’ Open Studios Tour is back for its 20th annual event with nearly 30 local painters, sculptors, mixed-media, and other artists throwing open the doors to the spaces where they create their works. Once again, art lovers will have the […]

Toad’s Evolving Comeback is ‘Starting Now’
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 2, 2021

The journey of Santa Barbara native singer-songwriter Glen Phillips from an ambitious 15-year-old forming a rock band with some friends in high school to the 50-year-old multi-faceted artist he is today is something to treasure. That band, Toad the Wet Sprocket, is one of the more successful to have emerged from Santa Barbara, having released […]

Santa Barbara: The Epicenter of (Direct) Relief
By Steven Libowitz   |   September 2, 2021

Direct Relief has been so efficient at serving as one of the country’s most effective humanitarian assistance organizations that it’s easy to overlook the scope and the scale of what the nonprofit achieves. Just last week alone, for example, Direct Relief airlifted a huge planeload of medical supplies and other equipment to Haiti after the […]