Sunday, May 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on July 31st, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 21

Local Notes: Lend me your ears

The Santa Maria Town Center offers live piano music on the weekends by yours truly


The Santa Maria Town Center is home to a beautiful antique piano that your humble columnist will be performing on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Sometimes, unavoidably, I appear as part of my reporting. I may be a writer, but I was a musician first, and I can’t help but have a foot each in the local art and music communities.

Your humble columnist has performed Handel’s Messiah with the Allan Hancock College Singers and Santa Maria Philharmonic Orchestra, was in several bands over the years, has been the grateful recipient of honors from the Santa Maria Arts Council and Allan Hancock College Foundation, and, over the past couple of years, has played piano at the Santa Maria Town Center Mall.

I originally came to play at the mall after getting to know the Town Center’s former resident pianist, Andrew Barnick. We met in the AHC Singers. He asked me to sub for him when he needed to take a vacation, and the mall asked me on as extra help during the holidays. Now pursuing his studies in another state, Barnick left the position for me as my first regular performing gig.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. First, I love pianos. I don’t know if that’s due to the fact that there’s always been a piano near me since I was born, but I’ve always been excited around pianos—especially new ones, ones I have yet to play, hear, and form a relationship with. I even love out-of-tune pianos and pianos that are falling apart or missing keys; I just see them as having some extra “character.”

I began studying piano as a youngster with Patricia Boyd, who gave me a solid foundation in the language of music and the instrument. I quit studying for some time between the end of elementary school and high school. Once I jumped back on the horse, I realized there was so much to learn in music! I got back to work on my piano playing and also picked up the guitar and mandolin.

I started my music major at Allan Hancock College—where I’m currently just a few credits shy of my associate’s degree in music—and started taking private lessons again on the piano, this time from Ron Richards, who taught me much in the ways of jazz, blues, and rock. I’m currently studying with Larry Keast, an instructor at Hancock who’s been helping me develop my classical piano style.

Every weekend, wanderers finding their way into the east wing of the Town Center between noon and 4 p.m. will find me at the mall’s beautiful, antique grand piano on the Macy’s Court Stage. The large, open area serves as a perfect echo chamber for the instrument, which casts a wonderful, bright sound reverberating through both levels of the wing.

Stop on by
The Santa Maria Town Center offers live piano music on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. at the Macy’s Court Stage in the Santa Maria Town Center at Broadway and Main in Santa Maria. More info: 922-7931 or

Every week, I plan to share a lot of music and much of myself at the piano for all to hear. I enjoy many styles of music, hardly any of which—I have to admit—are all that new.

First, the blues. These are hugely important—where do you think all the great rock’n’roll came from? I love all kinds of blues: delta blues, Chicago blues, country blues, minor blues, boogie, and the rest. The blues also brought me to an appreciation of jazz, a wonderful, beautiful thing.

This should tell you a bit more about me: The Beatles is the greatest band there ever was, hands down. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’m also right. Suffice to say, mall goers will be enjoying some Beatles tunes. I also enjoy much of the work of The Beatles’ colleagues. There’s no saying where I may pull from in the wealthy canon of the 1960s or ’70s.

Another thing I can tell you is that I’ve been working my fingers raw at developing my classical style. I have a profound love for the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Frederic Chopin. They all hold in common that their music takes time and dedication to learn, as it’s extremely technical and difficult to play, like most music of genius!

A skill of mine I hope to share with listeners every weekend is improvisation. While the classical stuff leaves little to no room for such fun, jazz, rock, country, and the blues all offer more than ample opportunity to improvise. This is where I’m at my most comfortable at the piano. As long as I remain in the moment, I may even surprise myself with the notes that come flying from my fingers.

If you enjoy piano music, I invite you to stop by, get a muffin from Gina’s Piece of Cake, grab a cup of coffee, and relax. I try my best to meet any requests people have, but the music I don’t know largely outnumbers the music I do know. I’m not an encyclopedia. But if you bug me often enough, I just might show up the next weekend with your favorite song itching under my fingers.


On the library lawn

The Lompoc Library District Foundation presents “Concerts on the Library Lawn” featuring the Southside Bluegrass Band with Charlie Bockius on Aug. 4, the Jazz Divine Quartet on Aug. 11, and Pops on the Green with Diane Siminski on Aug. 18 with all events running from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lompoc Public Library, 501 E. North Ave., Lompoc. Free. More info:


Striking chords

The Central Coast Chordsmen perform a concert in benefit of the Youth in Harmony festival, a youth barbershop camp, on Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. at the Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church, 1235 N. Thompson Road, Nipomo. More info: 925-9263 or


Celebrating skill

Unity Chapel of Light presents a tribute concert to the newly pronounced doctor of musical arts Bridget Hough-Meynenc, featuring a performance and talk by Hough-Meynenc, a performance by Isaiah Guerrero, an open mic, and talks by Unity members on Aug. 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the chapel at 1165 Stubblefield Road in Orcutt. More info: 937-3025.


Singing praises

A “Praise and Worship” concert featuring Anderson and Walck live is Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church, 1000 W. Ocean Ave., Lompoc. A free-will offering will be accepted. More info: 736-0250 or


Get ready to rock

Chumash Casino Resort welcomes the rock’n’roll group Jefferson Starship performing psychedelic rock ’n’ roll reminiscent of the Jefferson Airplane days on Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. The Queen Nation tribute band performs a live concert Aug. 8 at 8 p.m., with both shows at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom, Highway 246, Santa Ynez. More info: 1-800-585-3737 or


Park it

Concerts in the Park is a free concert series presented by the City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, PLAY Inc., and Santa Maria Rotary Clubs featuring The Usual Suspects performing live on Aug. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Rotary Centennial Park on College in Santa Maria. More info: 925-0951, Ext. 260.


Music in the Vintners  Bar and Grill

The Radisson Hotel presents live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m. at 3455 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria. More info: 928-8000.


Share what you got

Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic featuring wine, poetry, and live music on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 East Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.


A perfect pairing

The Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro presents “Wine Down Wednesdays” featuring live music on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 400 E. Clark in Old Orcutt. Free. More info: 937-6400 or


Maverick music

The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including live country by Von Cotton on Aug. 2 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring Brant and a special guest is Aug. 3 at 3 p.m. Von Cotton and friends perform on Aug. 3 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or


Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at

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