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.

‘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 […]

McGarry’s New Play Breaks Her Own Code
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 31, 2021

Santa Barbara writer Claudia Hoag McGarry has been involved in the arts in town for more than 30 years, including teaching English Skills at SBCC for more than three decades, publishing three novels including two thrillers and a young adult memoir, producing four plays all in the historical drama genre, and writing screenplays and even […]

Milk Carton Kids: The Alchemy of Duck Soup
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 31, 2021

Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale came together in 2011 as the acoustic duo Milk Carton Kids after the singer-songwriter-guitarists, who both lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood known as Eagle Rock, had stagnated in their solo careers. Back then, nobody could possibly have predicted just how much the synergy of the pairing would exceed the […]

The Joy of Sax: Dave Koz Back on Tour
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 31, 2021

As a smooth jazz star, saxophonist Dave Koz has always been acutely aware of audience response, as the genre can often be about providing the sort of soundtrack that people are seeking in their lives. But nearly two years away from performing in front of the public largely due to the COVID pandemic really crystallized […]

A Look Toward the Future: How Endowing the Lobero Helps the Community
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 26, 2021

The Lobero Theatre is by far the oldest performing arts venue in Santa Barbara. In fact, it’s actually the longest operating theater in all of California, dating back just a couple of decades after California became the 31st state admitted to the union. The Lobero also ranks fourth in seniority among all performing arts buildings […]

Playing ‘Day’ at Night
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 24, 2021

While PCPA Theaterfest’s first show of the summer was a self-referential original revue celebrating a return to live performance at the Solvang Festival Theater, the season closer is tried-and-true. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is a two-character musical that finds the legendary singer Billie Holiday performing in a seedy South Philadelphia bar in […]

Summing up a MAW Summer
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 24, 2021

Despite the pandemic, the Music Academy of the West managed to complete what seemed a remarkably ambitious, largely in-person season that brought together 100 fellows – the vast majority of the virtual-only “student” participants from last year – a full complement of faculty members, and an audience eager to once again enjoy classical music from […]

Pitches with a Purpose
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 24, 2021

In the online realm, the MAW fellows hit the ball out of the park in this year’s Fast Pitch Awards, the academy’s second-year Shark Tank-style competition for the fellows to propose innovative ideas for products, services, or performances related to new approaches to classical music. Nearly all the eight hopefuls who made it onto the […]

One with Nature: Montecito Union’s Unique Lab Making Progress
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 19, 2021

Montecito Union School’s Nature Lab, its interactive 2.5-acre space that’s beginning to take shape on the Upper Village campus, has been serving as a learning laboratory even before ground was broken on the project. The students at the enviable elementary school were a big part of the process about how to use the land adjacent […]

‘Mirrorflores’: The Music Academy Looks Back — and Forward
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 19, 2021

Concern for safety protocols with the ever-changing pandemic caused the Music Academy of the West to commit to converting its annual Opera Scenes production into an audience-free, socially distanced cinematic opus this summer. But for James Darrah, the creative director of Music Academy of the West’s Vocal Institute, Mirrorflores — a clever play on words […]

Ready for its Close-Up: Guided by Montecito Architect, SBMA Reopens
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 19, 2021

On the eve of Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s grand reopening of its galleries following a six-year, $50-million renovation that saw hulking construction equipment and a boarded up facade dominate its downtown space, the project’s architect, Montecito resident Bob Kupiec, recalled a story that illustrates why he leapt at the chance to spearhead the redesign […]

A Beautiful Race: Annual Fundraiser is Back for Girls Inc.
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 12, 2021

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara has had plenty on its plate since the pandemic altered almost everything back in March 2020. Like everyone else, the nonprofit — whose mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold with a vision serving empowered girls in an equitable society — had to make […]