This Friday, Oct. 12, two fantastic performances will grace the SOhO stage in downtown Santa Barbara starting at 9:30 p.m.: Sean Hayes and Birds of Chicago.
Headliner Sean Hayes is a seasoned performer with influences that range from American roots music to soul to reggae. He comes to Santa Barbara from San Francisco – by way of New York City, where he was born, and North Carolina, where he was raised – to play the soulful and energetic music he’s been making throughout his career, and to showcase his latest work, Before We Turn to Dust.
Before We Turn to Dust was written and recorded while Hayes went through the immense experience of becoming a father. The bittersweet feeling of missing one’s family while still loving to make music and share it while touring is present throughout, making for an intimate and emotional listening experience. At the same time, Hayes’ music is not without its highs and many songs will be sure to get the crowd dancing this Friday night.
There to kick off your evening with a bang (and likely a banjo) is Birds of Chicago, a contemporary American roots band fronted by JT Nero and Allison Russell. This past summer, I had the fortune of seeing the group perform at the Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite and I am not alone in saying they were the highlight of the festival.
Russell and Nero have each performed in Santa Barbara with other groups (Po’ Girl, and JT and the Clouds) in the past, and Nero feels Californians have been quite receptive to their music in general.
“Every town has it’s own character, quirks, flavor,” Nero said in an interview via email. “Californians seem to have embraced this project right from the start .. We didn’t have to fight for it. That’s a nice feeling; we don’t take it for granted.”
Between Nero and Russell’s magical duets, which mix folksy crooning and sweet, jazzy melodies, witty and poignant lyrics and impressive instrumentalism on the part of each band member, I have no doubt that Friday’s performance will be wholly fulfilling. I believe that much after asking Nero what we have to expect from the show.
“Songs sung from the gut – some sweet ones, some less sweet ones…,” said Nero. “[Plus] nouns modified by adjectives and adverbs, but not too many. Nobody wants that.”
Tickets are $15 and can be bought by visiting www.sohosb.com.
DA: How would you describe your music in three words?
Pro-Ambidextrous (can be enjoyed by both right and left handed people)
DA: Since you’ve been touring with Birds of Chicago, have you felt a difference in how your music is received from state to state, or coast to coast? Has the west coast been receptive to it so far?
Every town has it’s own character, quirks, flavor. Californians seem to have embraced this project right from the start .. We didn’t have to fight for it. That’s a nice feeling; we don’t take it for granted..
DA: I first saw you guys at Strawberry, which is a pretty unique venue and festival. I was wondering, how does it feel for you guys to go from performing at something like the Strawberry Festival to performing at clubs or theaters? Is the mood very different? Does it affect what you decide to play?
JT: Festivals feel like working vacations .. It’s actually one of the rare times working bands can catch up with other bands and actually see some live music. One irony of being a full time road musician is that you see a lot less music [in general], so it’s great on that front [to be able to see more music].
Musically, it’s a little more charged of an atmosphere, because you know almost everyone there is a committed music fan – [that] raises the stakes a bit.
DA: Have you ever played in Santa Barbara before?
Not as birds of Chicago – Alli and I have both played the Sings Like He’ll series at the Lobero theater with our other bands, Po girl and jt and the clouds. It’s a great series run by Peggy Jones.
DA: What has it been like performing with Sean Hayes?
Wonderful. Sean and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a fan. Have a great deal of admiration for him as a musician and as a person
DA: What can the audience expect from your show on Friday?
Songs sung from the gut – some sweet ones, some less sweet ones… Nouns modified by adjectives and adverbs, but not too many. Nobody wants that.