Jazz-Age journey – Ensemble Theatre presents the area debut of “The Violet Hour,” a smart, captivating comedy by Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg about choices between love and friendship, duty and inspiration. The play “balances heights of wit with depths of feeling,” said The New York Times in a review of an off-Broadway production. WHEN: 8 pm, Tuesdays thru Saturdays and 2 pm and 7pm Sunday through Dec. 17, WHERE: 914 State St., COST: $25-$37.50 (discounts for students, seniors and groups), INFO: 962-8606 or

Ansel Adams art – The Santa Barbara Museum of Art continues its series of exhibitions devoted to California artists with this show of prints from the famed photographer of the American West. The exhibit, drawn from the museum’s permanent collection including recent acquisitions, ranges from early, delicate prints from the 1920s, to elegant images of the Grand Tetons and the Sierra Nevadas originally made in the 1940s, and a heroic mural-sized photograph of ranchland in Petaluma from the early 1950s. Local trivia: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art was an early champion of Adams, having presented a solo exhibition of his work way back in 1946, around the time as he founded the department of psychology at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute. Adam’s picture of Refugio Beach, including in this exhibit, was shot the same year. WHEN: 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, through June 23, WHERE: 1130 State St., COST: $9 (discounts for seniors, students and children; free every Sunday), INFO: 963-4364.

Run extended – “Nipples to the Wind” is comprised of 14 humorous vignettes delivered by just two performers: actress Janye Anderson and stand-up comedian/playwright Paula Coco, who composed the piece. But take heed: nobody goes topless – the title is drawn from an old Southern expression that encourages “head up and chin out” through life’s challenges. The show has been extended through the upcoming weekend. WHEN: 8 pm Thursday, Friday and Sunday, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $37.50, INFO: 963-0761.

Thursday, April 12

UCSB Film Series – The school’s spring series continues with “Volver,” the latest from Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. While the drama failed to capture the Oscar for best foreign film, actress Pénelope Cruz did secure a best actress nomination in a deeply emotional film that veers between crime caper, comedy and ghost story. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $6, INFO: 893-3535.

Hawaiian two-fer – Led Ka’apana has been hailed as the Island’s best musician by mainland icons as diverse as Bob Dylan and Chet Atkins. The slack-key guitarist – who has played with a whole bevy of pop stars, from Alison Krause to Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal – boasts innovative freeboard improvisations and wicked sense of humor. Mike Ka’awa is a 12-string guitar master and singer-songwriter whose popularity is still on the rise in the tropical state. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $20, INFO: 962-7776.

Friday, April 13

Furniture design show – Come meet Solvang-based master woodworker Bud Tullis, whose current show at the Arts Fund gallery reveals his latest creations – including a bamboo and kiere board bedroom set and a mesquite and vertical grain fir sideboard. WHEN: Artist’s reception 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm tonight; exhibit continues through May 5, WHERE: 205C State St., COST: free INFO: 965-7231.

Harp concert – Paraguayan musician Celso Duarte has formed his own quintet and the ensemble is making its California debut tonight at UCSB’s MultiCultural Center. The program centers on the son jarocho music of Veracruz but also includes elements of jazz, Afro-Cuban and Paraguayan folk. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s MultiCultural Center Theater, COST: $15, students $5, INFO: 893-8411.

UCSB Dance concert – Faculty member Stephanie Nugent directs this performance featuring four new works by the school’s choreographers plus two additional modern dance pieces created by advanced students. “From the Backbone Forward” is the descriptive if cryptic title given for the show that includes such whimsically named numbers as Nancy Colahan’s “Inflorescence,” Tonia Shimin’s “Bone Whispers” and Nugent’s own “Stop Searching – Your Mouth is Full of Feathers.” WHEN: 8 pm tonight and tomorrow, 2 pm Sunday, WHERE: UCSB’s Hatlen Theatre, COST: $17, students $13, INFO: 893-3535 or

Salt in the Velvet – It’s hard to believe it’s already been a dozen years since Veruca Salt burst on the alternative/college rock scene with the punk-pop classic “American Thighs,” and strayed over to more mainstream success shortly afterwards with “Seether.” Co-founder Nina Gordon is long gone, but guitarist vocalist Louise Post has soldiered on and brings the band’s latest lineup to a club date at Velvet Jones tonight. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 423 State St., COST: $15, INFO: 965-8676.

Country in the Valley – Jo Dee Messina was ostensibly part of the late-1990s crew of country singers to crossover into pop stardom, but her most loyal audience is still partial to the twang. Her third album, “Burn,” spawned numerous hit singles on its way to the top of the charts and sales of more than a million copies in 2000, and although she’s only released two albums since then, Messina remains a star. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 Hwy. 246 in Santa Ynez, COST: $25-$95, INFO: (800) CHUMASH.

Kickoff concert – Local musicians gather at SOhO tonight to launch “Another Way Home,” a grassroots organization formed to promote alternatives to drinking and driving. The group came about following the death of UCSB student Alex Baer, who was killed in an alcohol-related crash last August; despite pleas for lenience from the victim’s family, the driver, Jessica Binkard, was sentenced to five years in state prison. Tonight’s lineup includes performances from Spencer Barnitz (of Spencer the Gardner), Matthew McAvene, Gabe Lackner, Reid Spencer, and Instant Love Mix. WHEN: 9 pm to 1:30 am, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $15, INFO: 962-7776 or

Saturday, April 14

Writers on writing – Best-selling novelist Amy Tan is the latest accomplished author to be joined on stage by part-time Santa Barbara writer Pico Iyer in another periodic installment of the series sponsored by UCSB. Tan, best-known for “The Joy Luck Club,” has just released another multi-layered, literary novel called “Saving Fish from Drowning.” WHEN: 4 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $27 ($125 VIP tickets include priority seating and a post-event dinner with Tan), INFO: 893-3535 or

Homegrown blues – The Song Tree Concert Series looks inward for this month’s show, featuring acoustic blues duo Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan. Known as Santa Barbara’s Ambassadors for the Blues, Ball & Sultan are a true musical treasure as well as preservationists who delight in tweaking American roots music to fit their blend of guitar/harmonica and vocals. It’s a great venue to get reacquainted with the Santa Barbara icons. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview, Goleta, COST: $15, INFO: 403-2639.

Symphony with vocals – For its annual choral concert with the Santa Barbara Choral Society, the Santa Barbara Symphony is taking on Brahms’s monumental masterpiece, “German Requiem.” Soprano Susanna Phillips and baritone Leon Williams are the soloists, and the Westmont College Choir has also been tapped for this ambitious undertaking under the baton of new symphony maestro Nir Kabaretti. The concert begins with “Musica Celestic,” a tasty instrumental morsel by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, and is preceded by a talk entitled “The Music Behind the Music,” hosted by San Diego-based concert pianist and music scholar Ramón Araiza. WHEN: 8 pm, tonight, 3 pm tomorrow, WHERE: Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., COST: $25-$59, tickets for seniors and students start at $18, INFO: 963-4408.

Sunday, April 15

Spice it up – The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s ongoing series delving into the background and traditions of food takes on a new spice this month. Literally. “The History of Spices” will investigate the tantalizing power of the substances in cuisines, economics, health and society. Local chefs cook up a fragrant brew you can sample as you sip wine and also hear about medical applications and other unusual uses for spices. WHEN: 2 pm to 5 pm, WHERE: 2559 Puesta del Sol Rd., COST: $60 ($15 discount for museum members), INFO: 682-4711 ext. 170.

Middle Eastern music – Turkish multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek is considered a virtuoso on a whole series of Middle Eastern instruments, from the ney (bamboo flute) to the zuma (double-reed oboe) and baglama (long-necked lute). Tekbilek, who also plays percussion, leads an ensemble in traditional Sufi, folk and contemporary Middle Eastern music tonight at SOhO. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $20 ($5 discount with dinner), INFO: 962-7776.

Tuesday, April 17

Indian cuisine – Chris Jones Bahadur demonstrates how to make tandoori chicken and chai tea in this evening of Indian cooking sponsored by the Women’s Culinary Arts Guild. Bahadur, who has been cooking and teaching about Indian foods for 38 years, will also discuss the use of spices in Indian cuisine and explain how to make a true curry. WHEN: 6 pm to 8 pm, WHERE: Ferguson’s Design Center, 602 Montecito St., COST: $35 ($10 discount for members), INFO: Reserve by calling 729-3813 by April 13.

Cinci Symphony – The 113-year-old Cincinnati Symphony – America’s fifth oldest orchestra – will be led by its relatively young conductor, Paavo Järvi, who is the son of renowned Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi. The evening’s powerful program presented by CAMA features two big symphonies that aren’t often heard locally: Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s “The Inextinguishable,” and Berlioz’s broad and bold “Symphonie Fantastique.” WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., COST: $35-$75, INFO: 963-4408 or

Dancers back – Italian choreographer Emio Greco and Dutch theater director Pieter C. Scholten return to Santa Barbara to perform a new piece created specially for tonight’s performance. Emio Greco/PC will perform “Double Points: Nero,” a custom version of Greco’s cutting-edge piece “Conjunto di NERO,” featuring the extreme, challenging choreography and high-contrast lighting effects the company is known for. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $40, INFO: 893-3535 or

Wednesday, April 18

Matinee music – For this installment in the ongoing series of free concerts, Santa Barbara Music Club turns to less-frequently seen artists, including Mary Jo Hartle, (flute), Omer Egecioglu (cello) and Viva Knight (piano), who will perform Hummel’s Trio in A Major. Also on the program: the Sonata in A major by Beethoven/Kreuzer, played by violinist David Turner and pianist Richard Berkman; and choral music by various British composers sung by the Westmont Chamber Singers, led by music director Grey Brothers. WHEN: 5 pm, WHERE: Faulkner Gallery, SB Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., COST: free, INFO: 683-0811 or

The other Furtado – Singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado made a big splash a few years ago, but the Colorado-based multi-instrumentalist Tony Furtado has been building a base for years. Let’s hope they’re ready for the musician’s latest excursion, which takes Furtado even further from his acoustic banjo-turned-blues roots to a ZZ Top/Tom Petty-influenced rock record called “Thirteen.” The album represents his most mature attempt at songwriting, evincing both reflection and growth. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: SOhO, 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $15 ($3 discount with dinner), INFO: 962-7776.

Poetry reading – Santa Barbara’s celebration of National Poetry Month continues with a reading from Mary Oliver. The award-winning poet has a gift for finding beauty in the world and creating evocative imagery that brings that sensation to the written word. Oliver will read selections from her collection of works, including the recently released volume “Thirst.” WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $10, INFO: 893-3535 or