Friday, June 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 14

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 11

Indie/folk artist Conner Cherland performs back-to-back in Orcutt and Los Olivos


Singer-songwriter Conner Cherland performs at Naughty Oak Brewing Company on Friday, May 24, and at Andrew Murray Vineyards on Saturday, May 25.

I try not to let first impressions get the best of me—but anyone willing to compare their upbringing to the plot of Disney Channel’s High School Musical gets a golden star in my book.

“I wasn’t groomed for music,” singer-songwriter Conner Cherland said in press materials. “I played volleyball for as long as I can remember. As a result, my story will sound pretty similar to High School Musical—the jock secretly expressing himself through music and slowly growing more comfortable singing in front of people.”

For the past two years, not a single week has gone by without Cherland performing at least three gigs, and if you don’t believe that, just check the tour dates on his website (he’s already booked through November with shows in San Francisco; Los Angeles; Bend, Oregon; and Canada). But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, Cherland explained. It’s one that rests upon a mountain of persistence.

“On average, I’m on the receiving end of three gig cancellations per month,” he said. “This is my advice to any person trying to build a brand: Work consistently, put out what you’re most proud of, and remain as patient as you can without going crazy.”

Next weekend, Cherland will be performing at two venues back-to-back in Northern Santa Barbara County: Naughty Oak Brewing Company in Orcutt on Friday, May 24, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Andrew Murray Vineyards in Los Olivos on Saturday, May 25, from noon to 3 p.m.

Guests to either show can expect to hear Cherland’s signature mix of indie/folk, Americana, and soul. Meanwhile, Cherland’s voice has been compared to some of his own influences including Hozier, Ed Sheeran, and Shakey Graves. When it comes to writing original material, Cherland draws inspiration from wherever he can find it. Even with more than 125 songs under his belt so far, he still finds trouble pinpointing exactly what he’s looking for when it comes to songwriting. What he can say for certain though is how much a good lyric can make all the difference, in his opinion.

“I get distracted by what makes a good song,” Cherland said. “The distance between notes that pulls at your attention, the phrase that sticks to your brain when you lay down for sleep. I care about words, particularly in a well-written song.”

But in the end, performing and songwriting aren’t the only foundations keeping Cherland in the music industry, a “game” he calls it. A game I’m sure he doesn’t need to be reminded to keep his head in—unlike his High School Musical counterpart.

“I’m coming to realize that this game is about way more than making songs. It’s about making allies and good friends and really affecting people in the guts,” Cherland said. “I could use a friend—and your guts—so if you see me, please say hi.”

Let the led out

Tribute band Led Zepagain performs at the Maverick Saloon on Thursday, May 16.

Once again, an appeal to my personal preferences is tempting me to grant another golden star today—this time to none other than Led Zepagain, the you-better-know-what tribute group. The appeal I speak of isn’t due to the objectively legendary band these rockers cover, but rather one of the ways their website promotes their legitimacy:

“Led Zepagain’s popularity has also steeped into pop culture by having been mentioned on the network TV shows The Gilmore Girls, Chicago Fire, and Bad Judge!”

You had me at Gilmore Girls! Bad Judge sounds interesting though. Whether it’s hot or cold, I’ll be sure to put on my cashmere (or should I say “Kashmir”) sweater for Led Zepagain’s performance at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on Thursday, May 16, from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available in advance at

The saloon also presents The Detroit Sportsmen Congress, with special guest Jon Bartel, on Friday, May 17, at 8 p.m. Americana duo The Turkey Buzzards will open the show. Country band Dusty Jugz will perform the following evening, Saturday, May 18, at 8 p.m.

More music
There are two chances to catch some show tunes and jazz selections from the Coastal Voices Community Choir at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Santa Maria: Saturday, May 18, from 4 to 5:15 p.m. and Monday, May 20, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Attendees can expect to hear hits ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s, all from the Great American Songbook. The concerts are partly in celebration of the group’s artistic director, Margaret Nelson, who is retiring after 12 years performing with the choir. Tickets to each performance are $10.

The Wavebreakers cover pop rock hits at Moxie Cafe on Friday, May 17.

Also in Santa Maria, Moxie Cafe presents singer and guitarist Bob Clark on Thursday, May 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Pop/rock cover band The Wavebreakers, who play hits ranging from the ’50s to the ’80s, take the spotlight on Friday, May 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cafe concludes its weekend lineup with solo artist Sarah Monteno on Saturday, May 18, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Head south and you’ll come across bluegrass band The Sycamore Strings performing at the Cold Spring Tavern off Highway 154 on Friday, May 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. Back Pocket—a group described as an eclectic blend of Janis Joplin, Sheryl Crow, and Pink Floyd—takes the tavern’s stage on Saturday, May 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. Rags duo Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan perform their weekly gig on Sunday, May 19, from 1:15 to 4 p.m., followed by blues/rock band Hot Roux, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood wrote this week’s Local Notes. Contact him at

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