The Santa Barbara Blues Society is hosting a show tonight for blues musician Candye Kane.
Kane will perform at 8:30 p.m. in Warren Hall at the Earl Warren Showground. Tickets for the concert are $25 at the door and $20 for Santa Barbara Blues Society (SBBS) members and students with identification. The doors will open at 7:30 p.m.
Laszlo Kiraly, who co-founded the SBBS with KCSB employee Greg Dust, said a dance floor and refreshments will be provided at the concert. The Sunstone Winery and Firestone Brewery are supplying beverages, and Big Easy Catering will serve spicy New Orleans-style jambalaya and sausages, he said.
“I like to promote this show as a rockin’ TGIF party with good-time music, not presented in a stale or sterile environment,” Kiraly said.
Kane, who describes herself as a “black drag queen trapped inside a white woman’s body,” said this will be her first performance with the SBBS.
“I think it’s cool how the Blues Society tries to educate people about the blues,” Kane said. “A lot of people don’t know that it’s a music born of slavery and oppression. People just think blues music is sad and depressing, but really, it’s supposed to uplift people. The songs are about survival, and you can make them your own anthems.”
Kiraly said the SBBS was founded in 1977 and is the oldest blues society in the country. He said the organization works to showcase the authenticity and originality of the African-American blues tradition.
Currently, the SBBS has approximately 400 dues-paying members and 300 lifetime members, Kiraly said. The organization has a loyal following around the Central Coast, Los Angeles and San Diego, and runs an outreach program for local high schools, he said.
“Our function is to spread knowledge of the blues by presenting shows in the community,” he said. “There is a feeling of community based on the love of blues music.”
Kiraly said SBBS sponsors and produces five to six shows per year that are promoted via radio stations KCSB, KCBX and KTYD.
“We feel that there are many up-and-comers who deserve to be exposed in this community,” he said. “They carry on the blues tradition.”
In previous years, SBBS has promoted shows for such renowned blues musicians as guitarist Big Jack Johnson, harpist Carey Bell and guitarist Kenny Hill. He said contemporary acts like Goleta Slim of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Candye Kane are examples of artists deeply rooted in the blues tradition that break the traditional blues stereotype.
“Candye Kane will be the first white American female blues singer we’ve had perform in 27 years,” he said. “The kind of music the blues diva sings fits in with the ambitions of the society and the fact that she writes her own material puts her in her own class. She carries this blues tradition a step closer.”
Kiraly said the society has lost a great deal of its youth and student membership in recent years and that he hopes the concert tonight will help renew interest in blues music.
“We want to enlighten students and encourage them to become a part of the society,” he said.
Claire Brown, a junior communication major and unofficial student representative of SBBS, said she thinks more young people should get involved with SBBS and blues music in general.
“The Blues Society has a benefit for students in that it opens people’s horizons to a different culture,” Brown said. “It’s more soulful than anything on MTV. Blues music can help you find yourself, and the lyrics hit home.”
Brown said Candye Kane is a good artist to start with for anyone interested in blues music.
“She’s more hip to the youthful culture; UCSB students could relate to her,” Brown said. “Her show would be a good place to find your niche in the blues scene.”
More information on the Santa Barbara Blues Society is available at www.sbblues.org.