Local Lowdown: Montecito’s Upper Village Embodies the Spirit of Community

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Photos by Jordan Duggan

Despite the global sophistication of its residents, the spirit of small town American is alive and well in Montecito’s low key, charming upper village. While last year’s twin disasters wrecked heartbreaking havoc both personally and professionally, they also helped create an appreciative climate of reflection and gratitude for the simple joys of greeting neighbors and supporting local businesses. What better time to pay them a visit than during the holiday season.

East Valley Road carves a graceful path through the heart of the village, where several clusters of retail businesses and service providers make their homes on both the mountain and ocean sides of the street. The porch of the Montecito Coffee Shop/San Ysidro Pharmacy and the fountain patio of Pierre Lafond Montecito Market are both great spots to catch up on the latest scuttlebutt or watch the world go by. Other fine eateries include Pane e Vino, Via Vai Trattoria Pizzeria and Montecito Wine Bistro, as well as food purveyors like Montecito Village Grocery and Village Cheese & Wine (which reportedly kept the doors open and locals who didn’t evacuate fed throughout the nearly three weeks that Montecito was clamped down in a post-flood mandatory evacuation).

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Shopping for unique items is a pleasure at Imagine Artful Things, a beautiful gem of a store that defies categorization. Trust us, you’re sure to find distinctive gifts for the home as well as everyone on your list (including yourself). Other notable art, gifts and home good dealers in the area include Upstairs at Pierre Lafond (with everything from home dècor, to tabletop pieces and gorgeous local artwork), The Stationery Collection, Tecolote Book Shop (complete with a lovely grassy outdoor area to pull up a seat if you just can’t wait to dig into the latest bestseller), Village Frame & Gallery, Clare Swan Clothing & Travel and Jenni Kayne Home & Apparel.

An impressive number of antique stores are in the area, including Josephine’s Antiques, Davis & Taft Antiques, Country House Antiques, Carty & Carty Antiques, Brostrom Antiques, William Lahman Furniture (a charming mix of antiques, accessories and garden objects) and Haskell Antiques.

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Stylish women’s fashions can be found at Juniper Women’s Boutique (the handmade belts are one-of-a-kind), Glamour House Intimate Apparel (which has beautiful nighties and PJs for holiday gifting), Giuliana Haute Couture, Julianne Boutique and two stores—Wendy Foster Clothing and Wendy Foster Sportswear—from Santa Barbara’s long-time doyenne of style.

Health and wellness salons include Skin Essentials, Dadiana, Beauty & Hair Salon and Mareva International. Jewelers in the village include Bryant & Sons Jewelers, Tresor Fine Jewelry & Collectibles, George Meta Jewelry and Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts.

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

In addition, there’s a wealth of services available in the upper village, including Automotive & Repair, Montecito Village Hardware, Sotheby’s International Realty (Sandy Stahl and an additional office), Wells Fargo Bank & Trust, ACI Jet, Blake Ashley Design, Montecito Executive Services, Montecito Library, Montecito Associates, Union Bank, Santa Barbara Travel Bureau, Elder Studio, Northern Trust (two offices), Coldwell Banker, Hogue & Co. Florists, House of Honey, American Riviera Bank and Gazebo Gardens.

In keeping with the small town retail vibe, many of these retailers are entirely owner run and operated, ensuring a
personal touch. Please call individual stores for hours of operation, as they can vary.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Kids Helping Kids Benefit Concerts

San Marcos High School Kids Helping Kids program has to be one of the most interesting and unique. During the course of 16 years, students have raised more than 3.1 million dollars for charitable purposes—to improve the lives of disadvantaged children both globally and locally. This year’s student-run gala benefit concerts feature Ben Rector on Friday, Jan. 11, and JOHNNYSWIM on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Singer and songwriter, Ben Rector is most notably recognized for his smash hits such as “Drive” and “Brand New,” and he just released his sixth album, titled Magic, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Charts and No. 44 on the Billboard 200 chart. The Oklahoma born and Nashville based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist uncovers that feeling of “magic” within 13 anthems equally rooted in whimsical nostalgia and excitement for the future. His ceaseless touring and prolific output paid off in a big way on the 2015 breakout Brand New. Clocking 41 million-plus streams on Spotify, the single organically landed over 40 film and television placements, including a trailer for The Edge of Seventeen, a TV spot for Disney’s Moana, and MLB World Series and Olympics primetime spots.

Kids Helping Kids is thrilled to bring back JOHNNYSWIM as the headliner for this year’s Saturday show on Jan. 12. Previously an opener for KHK, JOHNNYSWIM became a KHK fan favorite when they won over the crowd with hits like “Home” and “Diamonds.” Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez make up JOHNNYSWIM. The pair met in Nashville in 2005. They clicked together musically and personally, beginning a romantic relationship along with their creative connection. JOHNNYSWIM can be easily recognized by their popular songs “Diamonds,” “Take the World,” and “Home.”

Both shows take place at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St., Santa Barbara). For more information, visit kidshelpingkidssb.org.


Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 17, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Wine World News & Happenings

Presqu’ile Winery scores big in National Tasting Room Rankings, releases Rescue Wine Collection; The Pillars Wines showcase Bien Nacido Estate; Brick Barn Wine Estate Scores Big in Competition; Guarachi Wine Partners Acquires Parker Station; Cambria Estate Winery joins Stewards of the Land with Leonardo DiCaprio

Presqu’ile Tasting Room, photo by Avis Mandel.

Presqu’ile Tasting Room, photo by Avis Mandel.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Presqu’ile Winery Rates #2 in USA Today’s 10 Best Tasting Rooms in the U.S.

Presqu’ile, the Murphy Family’s contemporary estate winery in the hills of Santa Maria, placed second in USA TODAY’s 2018 National Readers Poll of 10 Best Tasting Rooms across the United States, serving as the only representative and entry from Santa Barbara County.

“Our mission at the Presqu’ile tasting room is to share our passion for the wines from Santa Maria Valley and our estate vineyard in a relaxed, elegant setting while providing world-class hospitality,” states Matt Murphy, co-founder and president. “The nomination for the top 10 Best Tasting Rooms and second place finish in the poll is a testament to the hard work our team puts in daily to deliver this experience. They are an extension of our family and do an incredible job living up to our high expectations for the guest experience at Presqu’ile. A huge thanks to our friends and extended family who voted for us; we are so appreciative of the support.”

Nominees for USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards categories are chosen by a panel of relevant experts. Presqu’ile (pronounced press-KEEL) is a small, family-run winery dedicated to making exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Presqu’ile is a multigenerational collaboration between Madison and Suzanne Murphy, their three adult children, Matt, Anna and Jonathan, and their daughters-in-law, Amanda and Lindsey. No strangers to agriculture, four generations of the wine-loving Murphy family have been farming land in Louisiana for almost a century. Led by eldest son Matt Murphy, the family founded Presqu’ile—the Creole word for “almost an island”—both as a tribute to a beloved Gulf Coast family gathering place that was lost in Hurricane Katrina, and because they envisioned Presqu’ile as an island-like haven amid the vines. Also on the team is rising star winemaker Dieter Cronje.

Left: Murphy family members Charlie, Anna, Matt, Pokey, Suzanne and Madison; right: Assistant Winemaker Mike Chase with Gus and Nyla. Photo courtesy of Presqu’ile.

Left: Murphy family members Charlie, Anna, Matt, Pokey, Suzanne and Madison; right: Assistant Winemaker Mike Chase with Gus and Nyla. Photo courtesy of Presqu’ile.

Rescue Wine Collection

Presqu’ile also recently joined forces with the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society to release the Rescue Wine Collection named for the winning dog and cat of the Presqui’le Spokesdog and Spokescat Contest honoring the second annual Presqu’ile 5K9 Run & Walk held this fall. The contest and event benefited the work of the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

The Miller Family Releases of The Pillars Wines, Historically Inspired to Represent the Foundation of the Bien Nacido Estate
Nicholas Miller, Stephen Miller and Marshall Miller, proprietors of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates. Courtesy photo.

Nicholas Miller, Stephen Miller and Marshall Miller, proprietors of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates. Courtesy photo.

The Miller family, owners and stewards of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates, recently announced the release of The Pillars, a selection of three historically inspired wines from the most exceptional parcels within Bien Nacido Vineyard.

Since Bien Nacido Vineyard’s inception in 1973, the most impressive parcels of the vineyard have commanded the highest demand and demonstrated the greatest quality. It’s with this understanding that, after 45 years, the Miller Family has decided to craft these three special wines, anchored in the rich history of Bien Nacido and appropriately called the Pillars to represent the foundation of the winemaking program. 

 “The Pillars Wines were created to honor our family’s history, leadership and vision for growing the world’s best grapes and producing the highest quality wines from the Bien Nacido Estate,” shares Nicholas Miller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The name was really inspired by the pillars of our family.”

Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills Estates are part of The Thornhill Companies, the industry-leading umbrella brand owned by the Miller Family—one of California’s premier winegrowing families who have been farming California’s Central Coast for five generations. In addition to the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates, The Thornhill Companies includes such well-respected brands as J. Wilkes, Ballard Lane, Smashberry and Barrel Burner wines, French Camp vineyard in Paso Robles and the custom crush facilities Central Coast Wine Services and Paso Robles Wine Services.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Scores Big in Competition
Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, courtesy photo.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, courtesy photo.

The Brick Barn Estate Winery & Vineyard recently won some awards at 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge and the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. Here’s a round-up of the award-winning wines:

2016 Albariño: Block 1 / Albariño Clone 1 / 1.9 acres. A lively rendition of this classic Spanish variety. Bright white flower aromatics build in the glass, leading to a crisp and direct core of exotic citrus and pear. These qualities are enhanced with extended skin contact, light pressing and extended cold settling prior to fermentation and aging in stainless steel.  2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge:  Best in Class, Best in Show, Best White, Double Gold and Best of the Central Coast.2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition: Double Gold.

2016 Vermentino: Block 7 / Vermentino Clone Tablas A / 2.1 acres. An aromatic white that offers both crispness and length. Grown in a wind-protected block behind the winery, this wine shows delicate floral notes of peach and honeysuckle followed by vibrant white fruit flavors—all layered over a fresh sea breeze salinity and a lasting, stony finish. 2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition: Sweepstakes Winner White Wines.

2017 Grenache Rosé: Block 2 / Grenache Blanc Clone 141 / 3.28 acres Alive with a vibrant fragrance of rose petal and chalk followed by a juicy core of fruit and beach stones. This wine is whole cluster pressed, settled and co-fermented with Grenache Clone 136, Grenache Clone 513 and Grenache Blanc. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Silver Medal.

2016 Chardonnay: Block 5 / Chardonnay Clone 4 / 5.04 acres Block 6 / Chardonnay Clone 809 / 2.96 acres. A focused, terroir-driven  Chardonnay. Bright and alluring tones of citrus and pear are driven by a crisp mineral structure derived from the alluvial sands of our estate’s lower blocks. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Gold Medal.

2016 Cabernet Franc: Block 18 / Cabernet Franc Clone 332 / 2.64 acres. Grown in the upper blocks of our estate vineyard, this wine derives power and finesse from an east-west row orientation along a rocky, hillside terrain. Deep red fruit and spicy aromatics lead to flavors of currant, pepper and dark cherry, all supported by firm, structured tannins. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Gold Medal

The 35-acre Brick Barn estate vineyard, which opened its Buellton tasting room in 2018, is open to the pubic daily. For more information, visit www.brickbarnwineestate.com.

Guarachi Wine Partners Acquires Parker Station from Fess Parker Winery
Parker Station Wine, courtesy photo.

Parker Station Wine, courtesy photo.

Guarachi Wine Partners  and Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard recently announced Guarachi Wine Partners’ acquisition of Parker Station, a Central Coast Pinot Noir brand. Guarachi Wine Partners will be representing and supporting the brand by leveraging its experienced sales team, developing marketing campaigns and national distribution to grow brand awareness and overall volume. The wine will continue to be produced by Fess Parker Winery for a period of five years.

“Ten years ago, I saw an opportunity to expand past South American wines and into California produced wines. Our domestic portfolio now features Guarachi Family Wines  —a high-end luxury label sourced from micro lots within Estate vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, and a gathering of high quality wine brands at reasonable prices including Black Ink,  tenshǝn,  Surf/Swim  and  BACON,” says Alex Guarachi, founder of Guarachi Wine Partners and owner of Guarachi Family Wines. “Parker Station is the perfect addition and fits a niche for our portfolio with its great price point Pinot Noir and drinkability that consumers are looking for. Part of the future plan for the brand is to extend the line to include Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. I’m excited to share this wine with everyone and looking forward to a long term partnership with Fess Parker.”

Tim Snider, President of Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, adds, “As we enter our 30th year as a family owned and operated winery here in Santa Barbara County, we feel a return to our core identity by focusing on our higher-end and single-vineyard wines is the best path forward for the family.” Snider continues, “Connecting with Alex Guarachi about his vision to grow the Parker Station label is a mutually beneficial opportunity, and we know the brand will continue to flourish as part of their portfolio, which represents the richness and diversity of the global wine world.”

Cambria Estate Winery Partners with Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation for “Stewards of the Land” Grant Program 
Courtesy Cambria Estate Winery.

Courtesy Cambria Estate Winery.

Cambria Estate Winery recently announced the launch of its “Stewards of the Land” environmental sustainability grant program in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF). LDF has worked on environmental issues globally for the past 20 years and pulled from their broad network of leaders and organizations in the space to nominate the women for this new grant program.

The Cambria “Stewards of the Land” grant program identifies and empowers female leaders who are making meaningful contributions to environmental and community-based causes.  In partnership with LDF, Cambria Estate Winery’s co-proprietors Julia Jackson and Katie Jackson selected two recipients who will each receive a $25,000 grant to further their mission as Stewards of the Land.  The inaugural grant recipients, Calla Rose Ostrander and the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines, were selected for their demonstrated commitment to environmental conservation and excellent stewardship of our natural resources, in California and around the globe, respectively.

“Our ‘Stewards of the Land’ program is not only focused on identifying inspiring female leaders in important environmental causes here at home, but the program seeks to extend its impact and reach to places around the globe that are not normally in our day-to-day conscience, like the Amazon,” says Julia Jackson, co-proprietor of Cambria and Family Ambassador for Jackson Family Wines. “We’re very excited to support Calla Rose Ostrander’s work to improve carbon capture and regeneration, and the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines for its dedication to protecting over five million acres of rainforest that is vital to worldwide oxygen supply and sequesters vast amounts of carbon.”   

“We are excited to use our vast network of environmental change makers to help Cambria Estate Winery identify and champion women who are leading impactful efforts to protect the health of our planet,” says LDF Executive Director Justin Winters. “The inaugural grant recipients, Calla Rose Ostrander and the women from the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines, are incredible examples of the type of thoughtful, innovative and collaborative leadership that we believe is the key to ensuring a vibrant our future.”

“We are proud to partner with LDF to help bring worldwide attention to environmental stewardship,” says Katie Jackson, co-proprietor of Cambria Estate Winery and Vice President of Sustainability and External Affairs for Jackson Family Wines. “We are supporting innovative initiatives that will have a real, lasting impact on improving soil health, while also empowering women to become environmental leaders in their own communities.”

Throughout its history, Cambria Estate Winery has taken serious, continuous steps to preserve and protect the land, take care of its employees, and support the local community.  Every aspect of the winery’s operations, from the cellar to the estate vineyard, practices sustainable farming and winemaking techniques. For more information, visit cambriawines.com/stewards-of-the-land. 

 Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 14, 2018.

Seaside Makers Funk Zone Opens

Seaside Makers Collective, photo by Kelsey Crews.

Seaside Makers Collective, photo by Kelsey Crews.

Don’t miss the grand opening of the new Seaside Makers Funk Zone location on Thursday, Nov. 29. This is a great opportunity to support 15 of the best local artisans in one amazing spot—209 Anacapa St. The newly transformed space (formerly Youth Interactive, which moved to a new State Street location) is a curated collection of local art and gifts for bath, body & home, put together by Kristin Fraser of The Grapeseed Co. and Jules Kramer of Jules by the Sea.

Other artisans at the collective include Asher Market, Sarka Photography, Jess Conti Leather Goods, Meadow Rose Photo Art, Blue Planet Eyewear, Whimsea, Mission Canyon Collective, and a beautiful collection of art by Karin Shelton, Pedro De La Cruz, Alana Clumeck, Katie Kramer, Anthony Barbaria and Kelly Clause. In addition, other artists, makers and pop-ups will rotate in and out, starting in December with some amazing one-of-a-kind handbags, jewelry and other special treats.

Seaside Makers Collective opens 11.29 in the Funk Zone, courtesy photo.

Seaside Makers Collective opens 11.29 in the Funk Zone, courtesy photo.

“This is a dream come true to land in the heart of the Funk Zone with this extremely talented group of makers and artists,” explains Jules Kramer, who will be managing the Santa Barbara store.

“The collective will highlight and celebrate the amazing artisans in our community by offering much more than a great place to shop… we will tell the stories behind the makers, and also look forward to hosting Scent Bar parties, pop-ups, live-painting and workshops in our event room space and parking lot,” says Kristin Fraser.  

Fraser opened Seaside Makers flagship store in Carpinteria (961 Linden Ave.) in September 2018. Response from the community was so positive that she partnered with Kramer to open a second location in Santa Barbara.

The shop will host a Grand Opening Celebration on Nov. 29 from 4-8 p.m. to give the community a chance to “meet the makers” in person. Seaside Makers Collective is located at 209 Anacapa St. in the Funk Zone, with parking available in its own lot.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 28, 2018.

Pianos Jazz Up State Street

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

State Street’s got some rhythm in its soul this month with the annual Pianos on State interactive musical exhibit on display throughout October.

In its 9th year, the exhibition will extend from October 2-24,  and feature pianos painted by Santa Barbara-based artists—all of which are available for community exploration, impromptu play and group performances.

This year’s panel received a record number of submissions, according to organizers from Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. The selected artists include Aviel Hyman, Mahina Martinson, Ariana Meyers, Jack Mohr, Amanda Phillips, Melody Rose, Sheryl Schroeder, Lanny Sherwin and Richard Stokes. Additional community partners working with local students and artists to design pianos include Art From Scrap, the Santa Barbara Public Library Central Branch, The Arts Fund and Youth Interactive.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Helmed by the Santa Barbara Bowl, this program represents a unique collaboration that aims to provide arts exposure for residents and visitors of all ages. “The pianos are a beloved tradition that enhances the cultural vibrancy of Santa Barbara and the downtown corridor. It is a way to engage the community by inviting participants of all ages and backgrounds to experience performing arts in a public space,” says Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Program Manager. Additional producing partners include the City of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture, The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and New Noise SB. Many local sponsors and businesses also help sponsor and underwrite costs.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

An opening celebration takes place on 1st Thursday, October 4, from 5-8 p.m. as artists traverse the pianos and the Piano Boys perform at the Library’s piano at the intersection of State and Anapamu Streets.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 3, 2018.

An Evening with Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Condoleezza Rice, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents An Evening with Condoleezza Rice on Thursday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St.

As secretary of state and national security advisor, Rice pioneered a policy of transformational diplomacy and heralded the formation of new global governments based on democratic principles. Her most recent book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom (2017), offers a sweeping look at the global struggle for democracy. Dr. Rice will share her unparalleled expertise on global affairs, national security and education.

“Rice as Secretary of State in the second Bush term emerged as the single most influential voice shaping foreign policy,” according to the The New York Times. The Washington Post called Rice, “One of the most powerful individuals on the world stage.”

From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s assistant to the President for national security affairs (National Security Advisor) from January 2001-2005, the first woman to hold the position

Rice is currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson senior fellow on public policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 23, 2018.

Celebrate Kids Helping Kids’ 10th Anniversary

NeedtoBreathe (l) and Andy Grammer return to perform at the 10th Annual Kids Helping Kids benefit concert. Courtesy photos.

NeedtoBreathe (l) and Andy Grammer return to perform at the 10th Annual Kids Helping Kids benefit concert. Courtesy photos.

Kids Helping Kids celebrates its 10th Anniversary at the beautiful Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) January 12-13 with performances by NeedtoBreathe and Andy Grammer.

Andy Grammer performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Andy Grammer performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Kids Helping Kids is an entirely student-run nonprofit organization lead by the students in the Advanced Placement Economics classes at San Marcos High School. The group works  to help children in need both locally and globally and has raised an amazing $2.5 million to date.

NeedtoBreathe performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

NeedtoBreathe performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

The annual benefit concert looks back on the legacy built by the students of San Marcos and the support of our community, bringing back two of the past favorite performers, Andy Grammer (Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.) and NeedtoBreathe (Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.).

Past artists who have performed at Kids Helping Kids benefit concerts include:

  • Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tyrone Wells (2009),
  • Five for Fighting (2010),
  • Mat Kearney and Tyrone Wells (2011),
  • Sara Bareilles and Tyrone Wells (2012),
  • Switchfoot and Brad Corrigan from Dispatch (2013),
  • Andy Grammer and Tim Lopez from Plain White T’s (2014),
  • Ingrid Michaelson and Jon McLaughlin (2015),
  • NeedtoBreathe and Johnnyswim (2016),
  • and Gavin DeGraw and Parachute (2017).

In addition to the local chapter, the Kids Helping Kids model to is now in place at two other high schools in Sacramento and Dana Hills, California.

For more information click here, and to purchase tickets, visit the Granada website.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 6, 2018.

Eyvind Earle | Winter at Elverhøj Museum

Eyvind Earle, "Winter Barns," courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Eyvind Earle, “Winter Barns,” courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Winter arrives before Thanksgiving at Elverhøj Museum of History & Art in Solvang (1624 Elverhoy Way) with the debut of the holiday exhibition, “Eyvind Earle│Winter.” 

Noted for his landscape painting and contributions to the background illustration and styling of classic Disney animated films like Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the TrampEyvind Earle is also famous for his Christmas and holiday greeting cards, creating over 800 designs between 1938 and 1995.

The Elverhoj exhibition showcases serigraphs and paintings that are the basis of Earle’s famous greeting cards. This is a special opportunity for collectors as limited edition serigraphs will be available for purchase.

“I never planned to be involved with Christmas card designing,” said Earle. “It simply happened as a means of survival. To me, every day is Christmas. Every creation is divine. Cover the ugliest run-down shack with snow, and it becomes a magic vision of purity.”

For a ten year period between 1968-1978 Earle resided in Solvang. “The imagery derived from themes of the Santa Ynez Valley are unmistakable in many of Earle’s paintings and serigraphs,” says Elverhoj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “He found inspiration in the natural beauty of the CA Central Coast.”

Elverhøj Museum of History & Art is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission; suggested donation is $5. More information can be found at www.elverhoj.org or by calling 805/686-1211.

 The Eyvind Earle exhibition  is on view from November 18 through January 28.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 19, 2017.

SB County Food Action Plan Meeting

Come to a free community listening and activation session on Wednesday, October 25 from 6-8 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library (40 E. Anapamu St.) where participants will explore the vision, progress and next steps planned for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan. This is a great opportunity to share what your neighborhood, business, or organization is doing, and connect with others engaged in making a secure food system for our county.

Come learn about the goals of the plan and hear about successes from the organizations and individuals actively pursuing these goals. Attendees, including individuals, businesses, schools, and organizations of all types, will also be encouraged to inform the process by sharing about their own regional work to create a more secure, sustainable food system. A networking session will provide time to seek out new partnerships and opportunities to support each other.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 24, 2017.


House of Clues is a Great Escape From the Ordinary

The Escape Room's Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The Escape Room’s Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

Escape room games are super popular and Santa Barbara finally has its own one-of-a-kind venue: the House of Clues, 629 N. Salsipuedes St., 805/229-9179, TheHouseofClues.net.

Co-owners Assel Abdrakhmanova and Oscar Zevalos (they also have a third partner, Whitman Heining) were designing props and sets for themed events and escape rooms for outside clients when they decided to create their own, custom, one-of-a-kind attraction.

“We knew we could do a better job and make it even better and more challenging,” says Zevalos.

Their goal is eventually to franchise their concepts, with Santa Barbara as the first location, and I think they’ve got a winner. Not only was our “Pirate Ghost Ship” game well designed and challenging, it truly was exciting and fun for our entire group—which included my college age niece and her boyfriend, as well as my husband and I, and my sister and brother-in-law.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The “fun for all ages” claim seems truly legit as evidenced by the enthusiastic group of 13-year-old boys who went before us. This would also be a great team building activity for companies, students, group of friends, date nights and other group events.

The way that escape rooms work is they combine mental puzzles with physical challenges and a beat-the-clock element keeps things moving along quickly. With 45 minutes to escape from a given room (which is actually a series of rooms), you are under constant video and audio surveillance and can communicate with the game master at any time, as well as receive clues when needed. Every move counts, and nothing is as it seems. The game was much more challenging than any of us were expecting and we needed a few helpful tips from Assel to move us along in places.

In addition to the “Pirate Ghost Ship,” the House of Clues also has a “Psycho Dentist” game on the menu with another theme on the way soon.

Currently operating Mon.-Thurs. from 5-10 p.m., Fri. from noon- 11.30 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 10a.m.-11:30 p.m., the House of Clues is a great new addition to the local scene. Cost is $35 per person, children must be at least eight years old to play, and an adult must accompany those under age 15. For more information, visit TheHouseofClues.net.

Leslie Dinaberg                

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 28, 2017.