Editor’s Pick: An Evening with BESO!


Courtesy Sings Like Hell

Gypsy rock band BESO is a hybrid that crosses traditional Romani music with rock music. The group’s all-star lineup of internationally renowned musicians has brought drive and passion to the genre. Their love for tradition collides with modern sensibility, transforming Gypsy rock into a vibrant new beast: darker, faster, more danceable, more blues, more Gypsy. BESO’s indelible fingerprint brings jazz manouche to a new generation and the 21st century. This April 25, Sings Like Hell show is a real treat for music lovers. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. 8 p.m. 805/963-0761, lobero.com.

–Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Charles Lloyd & Friends


Charles Lloyd, courtesy of the Lobero Theatre

Jazz at the Lobero presents Charles Lloyd & Friends Featuring Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland.

Tenor giant Charles Lloyd brings together his favorite musical partners, including members of his New Quartet and guitar luminary Bill Frisell. Saxophonist Lloyd’s supreme improvisational talents and passion for cross-pollinating jazz with rock established him as one of the key figures in the development of fusion and world music. “Every Lloyd concert is unique. And this one, with special guests Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, was a striking display of contemporary jazz improvisation at its finest” (International Review of Music). April 28 at Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., 805/963-0761, lobero.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015. 


Local Lowdown: Lucidity Festival

Lucidity Festival

Lucidity Festival, Courtesy of innermusephotography.com

This experiential arts and music festival brings together a top-notch line-up of musical talent, along with multi-sensory art installations, themed environments and educational speakers, as well as more intimate settings for personal connections.

Now in its fourth year, Lucidity Festival offers workshops and presentations on subjects such as breathwork, consciousness, health & healing, permaculture, social change, world peace and more.

Turning dreams into reality is an underlying theme. As the organizers wrote: “When we become lucid in our dreams, we realize ourselves as infinite potential, we let go of fear and we are free to create that which we want to see in the world. Bring those visions, those possibilities and that delicious conscious energy with you to Lucidity and wake up in the dream.”

Lucidity Festival 2015: Kindred Quest opens for camping at midnight on Thursday, April 9. The music starts on Friday, April 10, and runs through Sunday night, April 12. For tickets and information about camping, visit lucidityfestival.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Local Lowdown: Harvesting H2O

Harvesting H20

Courtesy of Skywell

Who says you can’t produce anything out of thin air? Imagine filling your glass with clean, fresh drinking water made from the air. While it may sound like science fiction, Skywell LLC has developed a series of products that create air water, a new source of water designed to be a sustainable alternative to conventional drinking water sources.

At a recent event at Hotel Indigo, which is one of a dozen Southern California hotels and businesses piloting the company’s first models for free in a “first-glass program,” Skywell co-founder and president Jonathan Carson reminded guests that Luke Skywalker’s character in Star Wars was a “moisture farmer” before becoming a Jedi.

Check out the new technology in the lobby of Hotel Indigo, 121 State St., (with an updated version later this year) or at UCSB’s Bren School. For more information, visit skywell.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

News From Over the Hill

What’s Going on in North County This Spring


Take flight over wine country with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Courtesy photo.

Craft Beer Month

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine, which is probably why the craft beer movement has exploded in Santa Ynez Valley. Our local wine country celebrates the virtues of beer for the entire month of May, when suds lovers can enjoy an impressive array of out-of-the-ordinary tastings, classes, dinners, demos and more. One of the highlights is the Buellton BrewFest. Featuring more than 50 breweries (and some wineries), life-sized beer pong, food trucks and three live bands, this fun festival is sure to sell out, so buy your tickets early. | Santa Ynez Valley Craft Beer Month, May 1–31, various locations, visitsyv.com/craft-beer-month. Buellton BrewFest, Riverview Park, 151 Sycamore Dr., Buellton, May 9, VIP 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; general admission, 12:30–4 p.m., buelltonbrewfest.com.


Cowboy entertainer Dave Stamey appears in Tales from the Tavern at the Maverick Saloon, courtesy of Dave Stamey.

Tales From the Tavern

Come hunker down at Maverick Saloon, Santa Barbara County’s quintessential cowboy bar, for the tavern’s annual concert series. Dave Stamey, who True West Magazine named the “Best Living Western Solo Musician,” takes the stage on March 11. This cowboy, mule packer, dude wrangler has delighted audiences in 14 states and says that he prefers this to being stomped by angry horses. Jamaican-born reggae singer-songwriter Owen Plant and Brother Sun play on March 25; then musician, rancher, storyteller and Canadian icon Ian Tyson tells his tales in a special Thursday night performance on April 16. Wrapping up the spring season on April 29 is American musical legend Janis Ian, who began her professional life at 12 years old and is probably best known for hits like “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen” and “Between the Lines.” Fun fact: Ian was the very first musical guest on the debut broadcast of Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. | Maverick Saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-0383, talesfromthetavern.com.


One of the best ways to enjoy the valley is to go up, up and away in a hot air balloon with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Flights capture beautiful views over the wine country surrounded by transverse mountain ranges, the Channel Islands, Lake Cachuma and the historic towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, Buellton, Santa Maria and Paso Robles. A variety of packages are available, including one that includes wine tasting at vineyards such as Bedford, Alma Rosa, Rusack, Brander, Carhartt, Bridlewood, Dierberg and Blair Fox. | Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures, Santa Ynez Valley Airport, 900 Airport Rd., Santa Ynez, 760/602-0295, santabarbaraballoonrides.com.


Craft Beer Month in May is an excellent time to taste small batch beers, courtesy Firestone Walker Brewing.

The Penelopiad

Margaret Atwood’s new stage adaptation of her wry, witty and wise novella The Penelopiad is a reimagining of the ancient story of the Trojan War, Helen of Troy and Odysseus, told from the point of view of Penelope (perhaps the first desperate housewife to appear in art). She fends off the attentions of greedy suitors, as traveling minstrels regale her with the news of Odysseus’s epic adventures around the Mediterranean, only to have him repay her devotion with heart-wrenching ruthlessness. This PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts) production runs March 5–22. | Severson Theatre, Allan Hancock College Campus, 1100 S. Bradley, Santa Maria, 805/922-8313, pcpa.org.


Taste the best of Solvang this March, photo by Liz Dodder.

Taste of Solvang

There’s always something delicious going on in Solvang, but they really bring out all the stops at this annual event. Now in its 23rd year, Taste of Solvang offers a menu—from farm-to-table rustic Italian cuisine to new American and modern Danish fare, plus desserts in all forms, award-winning beers and world-class wines—that’s sure to please every palate. This year’s highlights include Farmers Market Chef Walks led by Chef Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn & Restaurant, Chef David Cecchini of Cecco Ristorante and Chef James Owens of The Bistro at Hadsten House; Bubbles and Brunch at Wildling Museum; a Winemaker Dinner with Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard & Winery and Bacon & Brine’s Chef Pink; plus sips and sweets, the Solvang Wine and Beer Walk, the Grand Tasting with treats from more than 30 businesses and much, much more! | March 18–22, various locations throughout Solvang. 805/688-6144, solvangusa.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Local Lowdown: Flock Soars into Lotusland

Put a Bird on It!

This spring, the otherworldly dreaminess of Lotusland transforms into a real-world call for awareness as FLOCK: Birds on the Brink comes to the garden. 

Story by Leslie Dinaberg

Inspired by the interdependency of bird species to plant species, and to the human race, this contemporary art exhibit celebrates the daily presence of birds in our gardens and communities while illustrating the critical impact of wild bird populations on our ecosystems and our own well-being. Guest curator Nancy Gifford (the same talented dynamo who brought the buzz-worthy bee-themed SWARM to the venue in 2013 and GONE in 2012) and the Lotusland team gathered artworks and commissioned installations from more than 30 local and international artists, which are displayed in the pavilion and—for the first time—throughout the garden.

“It should be quite a provocative and visceral experience,” says Gifford, who hopes to inspire action from all those who encounter FLOCK. “This year, we are covering the issues about birds…it’s about the interrelatedness of species and how important birds are.” She continues, “Plus there’s a tremendous amount of great artists worldwide who work with birds and the bird theme. It’s amazing.”

The exhibit, which opened on February 28 and runs through May 23, is amazing. Approaching the Pavilion Gallery, visitors duck beneath a courtyard “ceiling” of empty black cages titled Silent Spring, their doors open in wait for the return of songbirds long extinct. Upon entering, one quickly encounters the foreboding David Hochbaum blackbird Murmuration installation hovering over Laurie Hogin’s splashy Darwinian landscapes, Robyn Geddes’s moody color field birds, a burning crow by local artist Keith Puccinelli and embellished taxidermy specimens from New Zealand artist Karley Feaver.

Then there are various mechanical devices by Jane Edden, Juan Fontanive and Norman Reed, as well as a “chick bar” diorama by Michael Long. Next is the “nest” room full of surprises by Esther Traugot, Gayle Stevens, Philip Koplin, Liza Myers, Maria Rendon and the mesmerizing video Bobe’s Legend by Macedonian artist Robert Gligorov. Visitors then go through the pavilion into the main gallery, which features large-scale haunting bird works by Fatemeh Burnes. A robotic wing chair by Alan Macy flaps to the beat of a “bird dance” video by Robin Bisio that encircles an aviary centerpiece installation full of musical and avian surprises.

FLOCK also expands beyond the Pavilion Gallery to include six outdoor installations hidden throughout the gardens. Expect to encounter a Murder of Crows in the newly restored blue garden, Gary Smith’s human-scale nests, R.T. Livingston’s camouflaged Sitting Ducks: Hiding in Plain Sight by the lotus pool, a larger-than-life caged topiary peacock by Joe Shelton and a birdbath sound machine by Carlos Padilla and Pod Nest by Luis Velazquez in the pavilion courtyard. Other participating artists include Sharon Beals, Penelope Gottlieb, James Hodgson, Nathan Huff, Pamela Larsson-Toscher, Anne Luther, Kaoru Mansour, Cheryl Medow, Tom Mielko and Susan Tibbles.

FLOCK: Birds on the Brink is on view at Lotusland from Saturday, February 28 through Saturday, May 23. Visitors may see the exhibit as part of a docent-guided tour offered at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Reservations are required. For reservations, call 805/969-9990 or visit lotusland.org for more information.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Editor’s Pick: World of Pinot Noir

EP 1

Courtesy photo.

World of Pinot Noir

Indulge in the pleasures of Pinot Noir at the beautiful Bacara this spring, when the 15th Annual World of Pinot Noir unites producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education. Last year’s event set a high bar for wonderful wines. Sip and savor on March 6–7 at Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 805/489-1758, worldofpinotnoir.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Inside the Flat File

Paintings on Guitar, by John Chervinsky, courtesy of wall space gallery

Paintings on Guitar, by John Chervinsky, courtesy of wall space gallery

There’s something magical about searching for art amidst the flat files. As wall space gallery owner Crista Dix says, “Looking through the flat files at the gallery is like heading to a buffet and coming back for thirds and fourths. Every drawer is filled with unique work, unlike the drawer before it, and the one after unlocks even more visual desserts.” 

Let’s take a peek inside the flat files.

Story by Leslie Dinaberg 

Aline Smithson

This series, entitled “Spring Fever,” is a take on childhood, womanhood and the future. Inspired by Michael Apted’s ongoing “7-Up” documentary series—chronicling the lives of British children every seven years through adulthood—based on the Jesuit maxim, “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”

Aline Smithson says, “In this case, I give you the girl. ‘Spring Fever’ explores the idea of childhood and beyond, capturing seven-year-old girls wearing 1950’s spring hats. Juxtaposing hats traditionally worn by women half a century older with the visual of a child on the threshold of knowledge and sophistication allows us a glimpse into the future, and possibly a reflection of a face that wore a head full of flowers long ago.”

Smithson has had solo exhibitions throughout the United States, China and Europe and her work is in a number of museum collections. 

John Chervinsky

This work represents John Chervinsky’s photographic investigation into the nature of time, light, space and gravity. He creates these conceptual pieces by first composing and photographing a still life; cropping a subset of the image and sending it to a painting factory in China; waiting for an anonymous artist to complete an oil painting of the cropped section, and send it back in the mail; then reinserting the painting into the original setup and re-photographing the piece.

Chervinsky states, “ I’m interested in issues relating to perspective. I’m interested in the tensions expressed in the comparison between reality versus representation. I’m interested what happens when I collaborate with another artist that has no idea that they are involved in a collaboration, and I’m interested in seeing and expressing subtle changes over time that we might otherwise take for granted.”

Bill Finger

With a background in photography and more than 20 years working on movie sets, Bill Finger creates photographs of miniature scenes that seem life-sized. Handcrafting each element, he builds miniature dioramas of narrative scenes that serve as the subject of his large-scale photographs. 

“… I put the camera into the scenes as though it’s the viewer’s point of view, making the viewer a participant,” states Finger. “I also play with the idea of a filmic place that only exists to be photographed and then is destroyed after the photograph [is shot]. This happens in real life too. … I’m creating temporary places that are coming out of my imagination, but they exist in the real world as long as it takes me to photograph them.”

Space Oddity, featuring work by Bill Finger, John Chakeres, Charles Grogg and Ryan Zoghlin, will be on view from May 30 through June 28 at wall space gallery, 116 E. Yanonali St. C-1, 805/637-3898, wall-spacegallery.com.


The subject matter in this series is botanicals frozen in blocks of ice. The ice is as important as the flowers it encases, providing an element of the unexpected and unpredictable. This element can be likened to the Japanese principle of wabi sabi—beauty in nature in all its imperfections.

“Taking spring flowers and stopping time, Ryuijie has managed to mix line, form and texture to brilliant effect,” says Crista Dix, owner of wall space gallery. Crafted by freezing the blooms, then illuminating them with light, these painterly images capture the eternal warmth of the season.

Ryuijie, who was born in Otaru, Japan, has steadfastly pursued his own photographic vision for more than 30 years. An exceptionally prolific artist, works by Ryuijie can be found in private and public collections worldwide.

“Photography is such a unique art form. Most think it’s about what image can be captured from a phone, like landscapes or selfies, but photography can be so much more,” says Dix. “It is fun for me to be involved in releasing someone’s creativity when they come in to look at work and see anything is possible.” 

All photographs pictured can be found in the flat files at wall space gallery.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Bill Maher

Politically incorrect, consistently funny and thought provoking, Bill Maher has long been a groundbreaker in bringing funny political talk to television. Now he takes his signature winning combination of unflinching honesty and big laughs to the Arlington Theatre on March 14. 1317 State St., 8 p.m. 806/963-4408, thearlingtontheatre.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Three Women and the Truth


Three Women and the Truth, courtesy of the Lobero Theatre

Three Women and the Truth

Three women, three guitars and the words, music and hard-won wisdom from three lifetimes spent in pursuit of the song. Award-winning female songwriters Mary GauthierEliza Gilkyson and Gretchen Peters balance personal tales with classic underpinnings, which hint at the evocative idea that all our lives are full of events and incidents that touch on the mythic and the timeless. Feb. 20, 8 p.m. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. 805/963-0761, lobero.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Winter 2014/15.