Sings Like Hell is Back at the Lobero With Series #34

Sings Like HellThe Devil Is Back at the Historic Lobero Theatre and better than ever with a terrific line-up of Sings Like Hell shows coming this season.

First up is JIMMER (Yes, from the Rave-Ups!)+ JUDE JOHNSTONE on Saturday, January 25 at 8 p.m. “F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that there are no second acts in American lives. He would have changed his mind if he knew the story of Jimmer Podrasky,” says Sings Like Hell’s Peggie Jones. “Jimmer, a former punk and closeted John Prine fan, emerged from Carnegie Mellon and promptly formed The Rave-Ups with his old college pals. A natural lyricist armed with a literary sense of irony, The Rave-Ups made quick work of Pittsburg and blasted their way onto the national scene…where the music industry (Epic) promptly released two of the best albums of that decade. Then Jimmer vanished. Well, sort of. He raised his beautiful son Chance as a single father. His first album in 23 years, The Would-Be Plans is Podrasky’s strongest work to date. Flanked by a powerhouse band and showcasing his sardonic, dangerously sharp wit, this is a staggering return to form.”

As for Jude Johnstone, “she had her career launched by Clarence Clemons, furthered by T-Bone Burnett and Leonard Cohen, and has had her songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood and Jennifer Warnes (list not complete!). But there is nothing like hearing her slink around her own lyrics herself, with a soulful, melodic grace and artful simplicity that is uniquely her very own.”

Next up is An Entire Evening of JACK SHIT + Special Guests on Sunday, February 16. As Jones says, “Jack Shit is the ultimate in-crowd event. This band is so full of shit, it spills out into the audience. Seriously, go the website and follow the links…it stinks so good! Davey Faragher, Val McCallum and Pete Thomas form the backbone…but you can expect a bunch of their shitty friends (there’s free beer for the band).”

Third in the series is THE WATKINS FAMILY HOUR featuring Sara & Sean Watkins + Special Guests on Friday, March 21. “Sings Like Hell favorites Sean & Sara Watkins have been at the Lobero many times,” says Jones. “T-Bone Burnett brought them for Down From The Mountain, they are part of Works Progress Administration, and of course we loved them with Nickel Creek. The Watkins Family Hour is a regular feature at Largo and McCabes in Los Angeles and now they are coming back in all their low-key, artistically superb glory to charm the Hell out of, well, Hell.”

ARIANA GILLIS + Special Guest are next up, on Saturday, April 19. Rock ‘n roll writer Dave Marsh, admits to being Ariana Gillis’s biggest fan. He played the track “John and the Monster” on his Sirius XM radio show and the first caller was Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist and songwriting partner. Later on his own show, Taupin had this to say, “I’m staggered by how good she is. There is not much that impresses me these days…but I can honestly say she’s the single most exciting thing I’ve heard in a long time.” Not bad for a 21 year old from Niagara, Ontario!

SATURDAY, May 3 is a MYSTERY DATE. We’ll keep you posted.

Then on Saturday, June 28 they’ll have CHUCK PROPHET & THE MISSION EXPRESS WITH STRINGS. “Chuck Prophet is singularly creative, deafeningly original and helms one of the very best bands in American rock’n’roll today. We would be stupid not to present him as often as possible,” says Jones. “This is an entire evening of Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, recreating the Great American Music Hall drop-dead sold-out concerts, with a string section. Brace yourself.”

All shows start at 8 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. (805/963-0761), with a reception with the artists following each show.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 19, 2014.