This Fall in Santa Ynez Valley

Ron Colone apologized for not being able to talk the other day. But that was understandable. He’s a wee bit busy this week.

The inaugural Solvang Jazz Festival, featuring a slate of well-recognized jazz artists in four different venues co-promoted by Colone, is taking place this weekend. But that’s just his little side project – former Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper is the main organizer (See “On the Beat,” page 41).

On the other hand, Tales From The Tavern, Colone’s twice-yearly six-week concert series featuring singer-songwriters from around the country (think Sings Like Hell, Lite? North?) starts its latest iteration on Wednesday, just four days after the jazz fest ends.

“And that’s not all,” Colone said over the telephone last weekend as he switched gears yet again. “I also have a big music festival in Arizona that’s happening next weekend. I’m pretty busy, but it’s all good.”

Well, yes.

TFTT, ensconced for autumn at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez – which Colone and his cohorts give a total makeover, all but turning the dusty saloon into an intimate coffeehouse experience (albeit with beer) – features perhaps it’s most intriguing lineup since the series began as a much smaller venture several years ago.

Peter Case and Jimmy LaFave, veterans of both TFTT and SLH, perform on Wednesday, followed on October 10 by series newbie Walt Richardson, an acoustic reggae artist, and returnee Steve Poltz, the former Rugburns leader now tearing it up as a passionate folkie. Virginian Devon Sproule, the quirky chanteuse with a haunting voice, teams up with her husband, Paul Curreri, who hasn’t had nearly as much local exposure, play on October 17, followed the next week by Tales veteran Jesse DeNatale from San Francisco and much anticipated newcomer Gretchen Peters (recommended by SLH/TFTT regular Tom Russell) from Nashville, each a worthy visitor from those respected song capitols.

After a one-week hiatus for Halloween, TFTT resumes November 7 with a spoken-word presentation by poet Dan Gerber (you won’t see that at the Lobero) and a long musical set by well-traveled troubadour Ray Bonneville. The series concludes November 14 with another returning hubby-wife team, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, and TFTT fave, Michael on Fire with Ced Curtis.

Series tickets ($150) are still available, or you can purchase individual shows for $25 starting this week. Call 805-688-0383 or visit www.talesfromthetavern.com.

“I think we’ve got a really strong group of performers this time around,” Colone said. “I can’t wait for it to start.”

OK, but may we suggest catching up on your sleep before tomorrow?

Focus On Film

Cinema Italiano Contemporaneo, the fourth annual Italian Film Festival, sponsored by Santa Barbara’s Italian Cultural Heritage Society, has a new twist for its fourth year: it’s free! Although admission charges were never terribly high (nothing like the $1,600 non-early birds will pay for a Platinum Pass to the 2008 SBIFF), now there is no movie fee at all (save for the $50 cocktail party on opening night).

The festival offers just four screenings spanning four weekends, beginning Saturday, September 29, with “La Vita Che Vorrei (The Life I Want),” in which director Giuseppe Piccioni interweaves the film’s narrative with the actors’ lives (think “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”). Future screenings take place on the successive three Friday evenings, with “La Spettatrice (The Spectator),” in which a formerly passive woman becomes enmeshed in her neighbor’s life when she follows him to Rome, slated for October 5, “Notte Prima Degli Esami (The Night Before the Exams),” a high-school student insults his teacher, not knowing he is an examiner for the next day’s tests and the father of a girl he’s just fallen for, on October 12, and the classic horror film “Zeder” on October 19.

UCSB film lecturer Anna Brusutti will introduce each film (save for “Zeder”) and she’ll also conduct a post-screening discussion on opening night. Screenings are at 7:30 at the 140-seat Fe Bland Theater at SBCC; open seating begins at 7:15. call 805-969-1018 or visit www.italianheritagesb.org.

Meanwhile, UCSB’s film series, which kicked off on Wednesday, September 26, with the charming Irish musical “Once,” followed by “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s polemic on the U.S. healthcare industry, on October 1, both just out of theaters. Call 805-893-3535 or visit www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.