Local Lowdown: A Musical Blast from the Past

Posted on Sep 16 by SEASONS Magazine


The B-52s. Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem.

Built in 1936, the Santa Barbara Bowl has been a beloved concert venue and community gathering place for decades, attracting some of the world’s best and biggest names in the business. While it’s always exciting to attend a concert put on by the hottest new band or performing artist, part of the appeal of the Bowl is its commitment to keeping things varied by hosting a mix of both old and new musical acts. “We don’t want to be a one-trick pony,” says Moss Jacobs, senior vice president of Goldenvoice/AEG. “It’s too narrow of a focus to only zone in on what’s contemporary at this moment, so we try to give variety to the musical menu.”

In that regard, this year’s line-up at the Santa Barbara Bowl features a few “blast from the past” concerts, including Boy George & Culture Club and The B-52s, who take the stage on September 23, Rod Stewart on October 21 and, earlier this summer, the “Freestyle Explosion” in July, which featured ’80s hitmakers Taylor Dayne, The Jets and Lisa Lisa, among others.

“Both The B-52s and Culture Club have played the Bowl before, and many people growing up here saw these bands headline and still remember it like it was yesterday,” shares Jacobs, whose first experience working at the Bowl was passing out flyers in the 1980s. “I was that flyer guy!” he says with a laugh. “When Culture Club first headlined the Bowl, Ronald Reagan was president,” Jacobs points out. “In fact, the two were in town at the same time and staying at the Biltmore. You can imagine what a scene it was with all the Boy George look-alikes floating around the property while the President’s security team looked on in what was likely horror!”

While Jacobs adds that the point of these throwback shows isn’t to hit on nostalgia alone, he admits that bringing back older musical acts has all the elements to be successful here in Santa Barbara, allowing those to revisit a show from their past and a new generation to experience them for the first time. 

“Both The B-52s and Culture Club put on exceptional shows back then, and it’s fun to have them back together all these years later,” says Jacobs. “Even if someone is too young to really understand how big, important or impressive these bands were at the time, it’s pretty special that now multiple generations get to experience them together. Not only that, but the Bowl’s incredible setting, acoustics and general vibe of the staff and audience create one of the most unique concert experiences in North America.”

He adds, “It’s the full package, and our goal is for everyone who comes to the Bowl to have such an amazing experience that they want to come back again…even if it’s 35 years later.”

Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/962-7411, sbbowl.com.

Hana-Lee Sedgwick

This story was originally published in the fall 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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