Saturday, January 19, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 46

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on February 9th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 49

Randall Sena to perform fundraiser concert for new nonprofit


Lompoc’s music community can track a lot of paths that connect somehow with Randall Sena, the longtime music teacher and recording studio proprietor whose shop, Certain Sparks Music, is located in Lompoc’s historic downtown.

Randall Sena (right) is the owner of Certain Sparks Music in Lompoc, which sells instruments and offers music lessons taught by Sena and some of his longtime friends and collaborators, like Jacob Cole (left). A performance by Sena and his group, The Rad Shadows, on Feb. 9 will raise funds for the Certain Sparks Music Foundation.

After years of teaching, recording, and performing in Lompoc, Sena has expanded into a new endeavor: the nonprofit sphere. He started the Certain Sparks Music Foundation to support Lompoc residents who need help paying for their musical educations.

“We established it sometime last year; it’s still kind of a fledgling, but essentially it’s to give lessons and other musical experiences to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them,” Sena said. “That includes lessons, concerts, things like that.”

The organization is in the grant writing process, Sena explained, and an upcoming concert signifies one of the first fundraisers for the foundation.

The concert will include Randall Sena and The Rad Shadows as the headliner group performing on Feb. 9 at the Lompoc Wine Factory. The Rad Shadows is a collection of musicians who are also instructors at Certain Sparks, Sena explained, including his longtime collaborator and friend Jacob Cole.

“We’re playing mostly some original stuff I’ve written, some from my album, and some of just music we love,” he said.

The concert was originally going to be a tribute to the artist Elliott Smith, but the songs ended up being “way too hard,” Sena explained, laughing.

Sena and his friends know Sena’s music well, he said, and so a showcase of his own work made the most sense. The group doesn’t perform all the time, he said, but when they do, it’s a great chance for students and their families to see what the teachers at Certain Sparks are capable of, and what the students can do if they practice and keep at it.

The Certain Sparks Music Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to paying tuition for music students who need financial support for their music studies, founder Randall Sena said.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Sena has big plans for the Certain Sparks Music Foundation. It may partner with youth or foster organizations, he explained, but that’s still in the planning phase. The funds could also support outreach for existing Certain Sparks programs, he said.

“Another is making our ukulele program that we bring to schools available to schools and to have it paid for through the foundation,” he said. “We’d also like to just offer lessons to single parents who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

“There’s a lot of need in Lompoc, all over, but especially in Lompoc, Santa Maria, North County,” he added.

Having a music teacher is a formative experience for any young person, one that everyone should have a chance for. Sena recalls his first teacher, Robbi Q, who still plays with his longtime Central Coast band, The Fossils.

“He wrote some chords down on a piece of paper for me,” he said. “He was definitely a guy I looked up to and learned a lot from, and then years I later I ended up playing in a band with him, so it was pretty fun.”

Certain Sparks also hosts regular recitals/performances throughout the year for the studio’s students, young and old. Performance is an important motivator for a musician, Sena explained, whether they’re starting out or have played for years.

“We always see that after recitals,” he said. “Everybody’s energized, teachers and students.”

Support students
Randall Sena and The Rad Shadows perform a live set in support of the Certain Sparks Music Foundation on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Lompoc Wine Factory, 321 N. D St., Lompoc. More info: (805) 243-8398.

The concert will include an opening set by Eric Knierim and Amber Anderson, a local duo, Sena said. The concert’s location, the Lompoc Wine Factory, “might be the best venue in town,” Sena said. It’s also where he hosts SipMusic Club, a quarterly wine club that pairs local wines with new albums by local bands.

Owning Certain Sparks and standing for so long at the center of a musical hub in Lompoc has allowed Sena to make lots of connections with the valley’s musicians. Whether they’re collaborators or customers, everyone is united on a common mission for bringing more music to Lompoc and the Central Coast.

And having a cadre of friends/musicians on staff as teachers and recruits for his music projects isn’t half bad, either.

“It all worked out,” he said coyly. “My plan worked perfectly.”

Managing Editor Joe Payne remembers his first music teacher fondly. Contact him at

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