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 […]

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 […]


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Quite the Crescendo
By Richard Mineards   |   August 31, 2021

Santa Barbara Symphony celebrated the founding members of the Crescendo Society, a group of visionary supporters who have each made a five-year pledge to support the orchestra at levels ranging from $2,500 to $100,000, with a boffo brunch at the Santa Barbara Club. This means the next four seasons of the symphony, under maestro Nir […]

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 UCSB Concert to Enjoy ‘Under One Sky’
By Joanne Calitri   |   August 26, 2021

On August 28 and 29, the UCSB Department of Music is presenting its annual Summer Music Festival, focusing on cross-cultural world music, “Under One Sky.” The concert is under the artistic direction of graduate student Alie Jones, her first at UCSB. The concert is free and open to everyone via the Department of Music’s YouTube […]

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 […]

Think Fast: Real-time Competition, Digital Challenge on Tap for MAW
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 5, 2021

The Music Academy of the West morphed into a virtual institute by necessity because of the COVID pandemic last summer, employing its inventive MARLI program — Music Academy Remote Learning Institute — to maintain connection with its faculty and fellows from around the world via a variety of platforms on the Internet and the use […]


Packed to the Gill: Zach Talks ALO, Going Solo, and Lobero
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 29, 2021

Longtime Santa Barbara-based multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Zach Gill has led a multi-dimensional musical life even before meeting soon-to-be surf singer-songwriter superstar Jack Johnson in Isla Vista and then forming the Animal Liberation Orchestra (now ALO) with childhood friends. Over 20-plus years of moving between ALO’s annual “Tour D’Amours,” band recordings, sitting in and going on the […]

Busy, Busy: Sitting Down with Two MAW Artists with Plenty on Their Plates
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 29, 2021

Juggling all the tasks and opportunities a fellow faces at the Music Academy of the West is a stiff if rewarding challenge in a normal summer, what with private lessons and sectional coaching, studying new pieces of repertoire, practicing as an individual and rehearsing for chamber, orchestra, and duo concerts, performing in master classes and […]

Coming Back ‘Together’: PCPA Returns with Show Searching for Commonality
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 29, 2021

Although even its outdoor theater in Solvang was dark all last year, PCPA Theaterfest took to virtual programming right away after COVID hit, offering weekly conversations with alumni around the country along with Zoom readings of works new to the area, then upped the ante with produced longer-form videos, including cabarets over the holiday season […]

‘Everything I was Involved in Just Disappeared’ Violist Richard O’Neill Relishes Being Back on Stage
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 22, 2021

Life since March 2020 has been a whirlwind of activity and emotion for violist Richard O’Neill. Like everyone else, he was deeply affected by the pandemic, as precautions shut down all the arts worldwide — “All my concerts, solo projects, summer festivals, and everything I was involved in just disappeared, like they’d been written on […]

Taking on the Challenge: Rachleff Leads MAW into Uncharted Territory
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 15, 2021

Imagine stepping in to lead a fully established orchestra with your wits and a baton your only weapons to mold the symphony musicians into at least a shared vision for a performance. That’s the job of most visiting conductors who travel the world for one-off concerts. Now imagine coming to an organization where the players […]