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.

Ailey’s AD Battles for the Ages
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Robert Battle intentionally benched his own creative endeavors when he took over as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2011, as only the third person to occupy the position after founder Ailey’s 31-year tenure, and former dancer Judith Jamison’s 21-year reign. Instead, Battle focused on administrative duties and even more so on […]

ETC’s American Son 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

After two false starts forced by the pandemic, ETC is finally bringing American Son to the New Vic Theatre for a mid-April run. The nail-biting drama takes place in real-time in the waiting room of a Miami police station where the parents of a bi-racial African American teenager anxiously await news about their son, who […]

SBHS Chicago
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Nearly two years after taking over for the legendary Santa Barbara High School theater director Otto Layman, newcomer Justin Baldridge is getting his chance to put his stamp on the kind of big classic musical Layman loved to bring to the school’s auditorium. Chicago, the second longest-running show in Broadway history, is a song-and-dance filled […]

Thrown to The Wolves 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

The Wolves, the first play by former college actress Sarah DeLappe to be produced and professionally written while she was still an undergraduate at Yale, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Now, SBCC Theatre closes out its season with the local premiere of the piece, ostensibly about a girls’ indoor soccer […]

Aoife Addresses Apathy… and Affirmation 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Aoife O’Donovan has come a long way from her first recording as a member of the folk-bluegrass band, The Wayfaring Strangers, with stops as lead singer of Boston-based Crooked Still, collaborations with Chris Thile and other genre-busters, a series of critically-acclaimed solo albums, and her most recent Grammy-winning trio, I’m With Her, with fellow singer-songwriters […]

Hillside House
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2022

Back in 1955, Hillside House relocated to what was then a state-of-the-art facility capable of housing and caring for children with developmental disabilities, the gleaming new digs located in what was then a remote part of Santa Barbara with the descriptive name of Hidden Valley.  A lot has changed in almost seven decades. Society no […]

MAW Music: Competition Winners Congregate for Concerts
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 5, 2022

The official launch of the Music Academy of the West’s special 75th anniversary summer festival is still more than two months away, but in the span of less than three weeks, Santa Barbara will have been witness to the wildly divergent extremes offered by the revered institute. Hot on the heels of three landmark performances […]

Franken-sense: Ex-‘SNL’ and former Senator returns to comedy roots
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

You can count on one finger the people who have shifted from a soaring career in comedy to a pinnacle of political power, and somehow, shockingly, back again. Maybe Ukrainian president Zelenskyy, although the former comic is a bit busy fending off the Russian invasion to find anything funny these days – So that leaves […]

More From MAW
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

Even more accomplished alumni of the Music Academy’s summer festival are returning to Hahn Hall this week, if only via streaming via satellite in a re-broadcast of the Met Opera’s Live in HD presentation of Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos on April 3. Former fellows Brenda Rae and Isabel Leonard appear as Zerbinetta and the Composer, […]

What Dreams May Come
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

In the quarter-century since its founding, Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization serving terminally-ill adults, has provided end-of-life Dreams for more than 32,000 terminally-ill adults across the country. Based in Santa Barbara, the organization serves as something of a counterpart to the well-known Make-a-Wish Foundation – the Phoenix-founded nonprofit that for 40 years has […]

5Qs: Good Omens with Sarah Jarosz
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 29, 2022

Sarah Jarosz immediately caught acoustic music lovers’ ears while still a teenager with her detailed and layered songs delivered with an utterly captivating voice, both of which belied her years. A four-time Grammy-winner before she turned 30, the native Texan multi-instrumentalist by way of New York City released four astounding albums by the age of […]

Home, Life, Loss
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 29, 2022

Home Within, the audio-visual collaborative performance piece from Syrian composer-clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Syrian-Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad, was originally conceived of as an emotions-into-art response to the loss and longing of the Syrian conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and sent about one-third of the Syrian people into exile. It grew out […]

From MAW to LSO
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 24, 2022

The pandemic sure played havoc with the Music Academy of the West’s (MAW) landmark transcontinental partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), postponing both the orchestra’s second appearance in 2021 and nixing the opportunity for fellows who won the annual Keston MAX competition to travel to London to a week with the LSO for the […]

NatureTrack
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 24, 2022

You’d be hard-pressed to find nonprofits with an origin story more organic and homespun than NatureTrack. The organization was founded 11 years ago by Sue Eisaguirre, who, after raising her own kids with lots of outdoor time, returned to work heading up the docent and K-12 outreach programs for the UCSB Sedgwick Reserve.  “It was […]

Oscar & SBIFF: Friends Forever
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 22, 2022

Let’s get this out of the way: there is no way that we have the space to cite even a single sentence from each of the Academy Award nominees who set foot on the stage at the Arlington Theatre during the 37th annual SBIFF – but here are a few pithy comments: Will Smith (commenting […]

Ventura Ventures: Rubicon Returns
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

The Rubicon Theatre Company (RTC) was the first of the local companies to find a way to produce something for its audiences when the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down way back in early spring 2020. Indeed, RTC was the first regional theater company in the country to offer a socially distanced drive-in series, bringing such […]

Elsewhere in Theater
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

Center Stage Theater and UCSB’s Initiative for New & Reimagined Work are teaming to present the world premiere of Seaward, written and directed by UCSB acting student Cyrus Roberts. An absurdist tragicomedy exploring the issue of identity within the setting of a 1930s asylum for the mentally ill, Seaward finds a new patient stepping into […]

Book ‘em: Writers’ Round-up at Tecolote
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

Prolific local literature lover Steven Gilbar, who probably spends as much time involved in books, research, and writing as he does practicing law, has just added another new title to his two dozen-strong published collection, this one sharpening the local angle to focus on writers who call Montecito home. Titled The Little Book of Montecito […]

Redwings Horse Sanctuary
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

Back in 2006, the year before horse slaughter in the U.S. ceased for good, the last three such stateside slaughterhouse facilities killed more than 100,000 horses for human consumption, shipping the meat overseas. Even with those facilities shuttered, approximately 75,000 American horses are still shipped to their deaths in foreign slaughterhouses every year, although the […]

Theater Talk: Crossing the Rubicon
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 10, 2022

Later this month, Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre Company finally reopens, more than two years after the pandemic put the kibosh on live theater everywhere, and long after virtually every other venue in the area has returned to roughly regular schedules. The mounting of theater shows again at the converted church a few blocks from downtown Ventura […]

Explore Ecology
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 10, 2022

It’s a big honor for Explore Ecology to be receiving Santa Barbara Permaculture Network’s Local Food Hero Award at the 14th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap this weekend. It’s also a well-earned recognition of the nonprofit’s School Gardens Program and its Garden Educators, who teach garden-based lesson plans in upwards of 30 local schools […]

Buck Up for the Cadillac Angels
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 10, 2022

With apologies to all of the other rock groups, solo travelers, and dedicated duos who might lay claim to being “The Hardest Working Band in Rock,” Tony Rock and the Cadillac Angels take a backseat to nobody. Rock – who recently changed his last name from Balbinot for personal reasons – no biggie, since the […]

Festival Finale
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 10, 2022

Just three days are left in Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) ‘22, but that’s still plenty of time to partake of a plethora of movies in virtually every genre as a significant percentage of the films are either premiering or having second screenings March 10-12, while others might enjoy a third showing to fill […]

Play On: ‘Murder’ at the Garvin
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 8, 2022

Ken Ludwig’s stage version of Murder on the Orient Express was written at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate, so the classic Christie mystery – which was also adapted into a hit movie – was in good hands when it premiered in March 2017 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Five years later, The […]

Ensemble Goes Solo for Rare Bird ‘Lillian’
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 4, 2022

While film lovers will be flocking to Santa Barbara over the next 10 days to watch scores of world premieres and welcome widely loved movie stars in the Arlington and other cinemas, the Ensemble Theatre will be staging a premiere of its own just across Victoria Street in the New Vic, one that also boasts […]

Bisset en Rose
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 3, 2022

There’s something appealing about seeing an aging actress playing an aging actress discussing acting, movies, and life in a movie. Not in the least because it’s still exceedingly difficult for actresses “of a certain age” – even in our era of more awareness – to find meaty roles.  That’s partly why the veteran British star […]

California State University Channel Islands
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 3, 2022

California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) has served as a landing spot for underrepresented minorities and/or the economically disadvantaged since its founding 20 years ago on the former site of Camarillo State Mental Hospital, which closed five years earlier. The statewide CSU website boasts at the top of its diversity page the fact that nearly […]

Oscar Goes to Santa Barbara
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 3, 2022

Academy Award aficionados and other Oscarologists will have a field day at SBIFF ‘22 all within the fest’s first few days. All five nominated directors (including Steven Spielberg!) appear at the Arlington on March 3, followed by Kristen Stewart on March 4, the now nine-strong Virtuosos Award in the wake of the Writers’ (with eight […]

SBIFF’s New Programmer Provides Critic-al Thinking
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 1, 2022

One year after the Santa Barbara International Film Festival went virtual with a bonus drive-in at the beach option, the city’s signature wintertime event is back as a full 11-day extravaganza. The festival is back to full-strength complete with Oscar-nominated movie stars doing on-stage interviews at the Arlington (with Penélope Cruz joining a line-up that […]

Colvin’s Steady Career
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 24, 2022

Singer-songwriter Americana roots-rocker Jason Isbell has won four Grammy Awards since separating from the Drive-By Truckers, and with his band 400 Unit represents some of the best of Southern rock music today. But the opening act for the concert at the Arlington Theatre on February 26 isn’t far behind.  Thirty-three years into her career, it […]

CommUnify
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 24, 2022

If the name CommUnify doesn’t ring a bell, Patricia Keelean, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer, thinks she knows why.  “We are our own best-kept secret,” Keelean said. There’s a good reason for that – CommUnify is actually the new DBA for what used to be called the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County – […]

Go to Gogh
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 24, 2022

It’s been a very long time, or perhaps ever, since Santa Barbara has eagerly anticipated an exhibition as exciting as “Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources,” a landmark show that launches February 27 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The exhibition boasts 20 works of art by the Dutch master from his […]

Community Counseling and Education Center
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 17, 2022

“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours,” Dinah Washington sang in 1959. “What a difference a day made, and the difference is you.”  Washington, of course, was singing about romantic love. But for Santa Barbara’s Community Counseling and Education Center (CCEC), one day can make a huge difference in others’ lives too.  One […]

The Appeal of Beal
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 17, 2022

Few things have been more terrifying in the world of streaming fictional TV than House of Cards and the inexorable march of Francis Underwood toward the American presidency without regard for any person, place, or thing in his path – except perhaps later in the same series when his wife Claire ascended to the office. […]

Murray Meditates on Mastering Improv
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 17, 2022

Joel Murray has been in the “bullpen” for the long-running improv TV series Whose Line Is It Anyway? for almost a decade, but the actor and youngest brother of Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray has never actually appeared on an episode.  But Murray has had many memorable moments elsewhere on television, including on Mad Men […]

Locals Only
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 17, 2022

SOhO’s schedule this week showcases a bunch of Santa Barbara-based acts covering a huge swath of genres. Soul Majestic, which seamlessly segues from roots reggae to R&B and folk-rock, headlines on Friday, February 19, followed the next night by M.O.B. Quintet, an all-star ensemble that performs an eclectic blend of Euro-Brazil progressive jazz and fusion […]

A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham Presents ‘An Untitled Love’
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 13, 2022

A.I.M. Artistic Director Kyle Abraham is easily not only one of today’s most in-demand choreographers but also one able to traverse an array of disciplines as he has had works commissioned by companies spanning Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and New York City Ballet. A.I.M. (aka Abraham.In.Motion.), exists for Abraham to […]

Colors of Love
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 12, 2022

Transform Through Arts Theater’s annual Colors of Love dance show at Center Stage Theater returns to its usual Valentine’s Day weekend performance slot for 2022 after moving to August due to the pandemic last year, and the local collective’s approach to the concept of love has expanded in the interim.  “It’s evolved into more diversity […]

Clean Coalition: Finding Creative Solutions to Renewables-Driven Energy Resilience
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 10, 2022

Last summer, just a couple of months before Montecito Journal’s 2nd annual The Giving List book was published, Clean Coalition’s work to stage a Community Microgrid in Montecito – a first step toward establishing renewables-driven energy resilience for the vulnerable area – was still largely in the planning stage. The goal to establish individual Solar […]

Lights Up on Luke’s ‘Rotten’ Musical
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 8, 2022

Something rotten happened to Lights Up!, the teen theater conservatory/company, which opened for business back in 2018. That would be the COVID-19 pandemic, which of course has been pretty rotten for all of us. But the pandemic really put Lights Up! through its paces as the company has been operating under the restrictions for more […]