Songwriter Showcase at Jensen Guitar

Montecito is all over the September 20th installment in the monthly singer-songwriter series produced by Christina Grimm and known as the Santa Barbara Songwriter Showcase. The first opening act is Lanny Sherwin, whose recent stock in trade has been award-winning music for children. His Sandman Records company motto is “Don’t drive parents crazy,” and Montecito resident Sherwin’s four CDs – which include “Dream with Me Tonight” Vol. 1 & 2 for the under-4 set, and “I Like Being Me” and “Turn Up The Music!” for kids 4-9 – have become staples via such winning songs as “Lima Beans & Liver,” “Stinky Feet” and the instructive “A Cappella.”

But Sherwin, a former Nashville staff writer, also writes and sings for adults, and that material will comprise half his set at the showcase, which starts at 7 pm at Jensen Guitar’s Mainstage.

Pianist-guitarist-singer Delaney Gibson, who lives in Ventura, so far has released only an EP entitled “Cruel and Beautiful,” but with her debut CD due later in the fall, she’s one to watch. (Grimm has already booked her as headliner for April 2008).

October’s headliner is Rich Phillips, a middle-aged businessman who just started dabbling in music a few years ago. But like CMC Rescue Inc., the Goleta-based rescue equipment company he runs, Phillips jumped in with both feet. He’s already become a “Hellcat” sponsor of Sings Like Hell, and now his debut CD, “Ordinary Man,” has been released. What gives it a Montecito twist is that Kenny Edwards, bassist and producer extraordinaire who has lived in the village for years, not only produced the record but accompanies Phillips on the winning collection of songs that explore – much like the mission of his other occupation – love on the brink of tragedy. Edwards will repeat that role when Phillips performs at Mainstage.

Courthouse Jazz On Trial

We’re told the new Courthouse Jazz series is facing some financial instability. What a shame it would be if we were to lose this ambitious new program that serves so many purposes, not the least of which is to bring music on a regular basis to one of the more beautiful and oft-time underused locales in Santa Barbara – the Sunken Gardens at the County Courthouse.

Add the fact that the series focuses on local jazz musicians – another poor stepsister in the musical maze of Santa Barbara – and it’s clear this is a vital program that deserves our support.

In case you’ve yet to hear about it, Courthouse Jazz is a joint production of Premiere Events (comprised of three Santa Barbara International Film Festival employees) and Elements restaurant. The weekly shows, which run from 5:30 to 8 pm on Thursdays, began a month ago, timed to coincide with the finale of Concerts in the Park. The shows feature free admission, and just as at Chase Palm Park, you’re encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating on the lush meadow in front of the stage. A box supper from Elements and beer, wine and limited mixed drinks are available for purchase.

Elements also hosts a VIP terrace – complete with cocktail service and free sumptuous hors d’oeuvres buffet – at the raised grassy area directly across from the stage. Admission here is $50 per night, or $500 for a reserved table of 10, which comes with seating on comfy couches and plush chairs in the front of the terrace.

Each week, a different non-profit organization has both the opportunity to offer information at a booth and to receive the proceeds from sponsorships and food sales. Unfortunately, those funds haven’t been as bountiful as organizers had hoped. While attendance is increasing, basically they need more help from companies in town or perhaps an underwriting benefactor. Or at least they need you to spend some money while you’re there; unlike Concerts in the Park, no city funds are used.

Also on September 20, Santa Barbara-based Ulysses S. Jasz – the traditional jazz jam session-turned working band specializing in Dixieland and New Orleans style – will perform, and the Unity Shoppe, celebrating its 90th anniversary, is the beneficiary. On September 27, Santa Barbara drummer Shaun Oster, who handled the skins on September 13 with the UJBS, returns with his own hard bop quartet; School on Wheels is the charity.

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