Like more than 100,000 residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, professional musician Thomas Hopkins was evacuated from his home amid the Thomas Fire at the end of 2017. Hopkins, founder, frontman, and principal songwriter of the Santa Barbara-based folk and Americana band The Left Hand Lions, aimed to capture his own perspective during the monstrous wildfire with "California Flames," the band's latest single. The eerie lyrics paint an apocalyptic landscape full of dense smoke and mandatory respirators, all under a nightmarish blood-red sun.
"One last glance before you go/ Go on take a damn good look below/ Only ash and burnt out homes," Hopkins sings. But some of the song's lyrics illustrate the spectacle aspect of the fire as well—that humanistic sense of curiosity forcing us to stop and stare at the flames. "So let's go down to see the blaze/ Take your lover so you can gaze at the wild flame upon the hill/ Who knew that fire could chill your veins."
The group is currently finishing their first studio album, to be released sometime this year, but you can catch them live on Friday, March 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Cold Spring Tavern. Hopkins coined the term "Wild Americana" to describe the band's genre, rooted in acoustic instrumentation but with a rock edge. Their stylings have been compared to those of some of their influences, including Mumford & Sons, the Dave Matthews Band, and the Lumineers.
I'm assuming the name of the trio—which also features William Adams on lead guitar and Dylan Carmody on cajon—was partly inspired by Hopkins' own left-handedness. But then again, his left-handed 12-string guitar shouldn't justify my assumption. Maybe he's right-handed but plays left-handed just because he can, resulting from years of training at a mountainside monastery occupied by other musically inclined lefties like Paul McCartney, Tony Iommi, and Tiny Tim. Badass. Or maybe he's just ambidextrous. Equally badass.
Admission to The Left Hand Lions' performance at Cold Spring Tavern is free. And as always, the tavern hosts a full weekend lineup of live acts for guests to enjoy without any cover charge. Musical duo Teresa Russell and Tom Buenger take the stage from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, followed by The Reserve from 5 to 8 p.m. Blues and rags pair Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan perform their regular weekly gig on Sunday, March 24, from 1:15 to 4 p.m., followed by classic rock/surf group The Tailgaters from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The tavern is located at 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara. Call (805) 967-0066 or visit coldspringtavern.com to find out more.
The chorus of "Cool," Jineanne Coderre's premiere single released on March 15, starts with the line, "Just smile and keep it cool." It's as if you can actually hear Coderre smiling as she sings the song, which is full of confident lyrics about triumphing over insecurity and breaking away from negative thoughts and plagueful people.
But speaking of smiles, when Coderre isn't performing or composing music, you'll probably find her working at her full-time job as a dental hygienist in Santa Maria, garnering her the nickname "the Singing Hygienist." It's easy to imagine her patients humming along, when their mouths aren't obstructed by dental appliances, of course.
Coderre is bringing her signature blend of original pop, R&B, and smooth jazz tunes to Andrew Murray Vineyards in Los Olivos on Saturday, March 23, from noon to 3 p.m. The concert is part of the winery's Rosé All Day event, which will include wine specials, of course, as well as food from Big Joe's Tacos. You can also hear Coderre as part of a musician showcase on Saturday, March 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. at CORE Winery in Orcutt.
The Singing Hygienist is currently wrapping up work on her first EP, Listen, which is scheduled for release on May 3. The first single off the EP, the aforementioned "Cool," is available now. Visit jineannesmusic.com for more info.
The Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez presents Central Coast-based folk duo Bear Market Riot on Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m. Made up of multi-instrumentalists Kirk Nordby and Nick Motil, Bear Market Riot is set to release their first full-length album, Power-Folk Americana, later this year. The pair gathered enough funds to self-produce the album through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The saloon also hosts country group Pull The Trigger on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m., and soloist Steve Phillip on Sunday, March 24, at noon.
Two musical duos, Bo Prescott and Mike Thibault and Pricey Diggs and Tipsy Licks, perform at Vino et Amicis Wine Bar on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, respectively. Both shows are from 6 to 9 p.m.
Also in Orcutt, Ventura-based rock group The Inside Break performs on Friday, March 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Naughty Oak Brewing Company. The venue recommends that guests bring their dancing shoes to this concert. Food from Beau's Dogs will be available for purchase during the performance.
Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood wrote this week's Local Notes. Contact him at [email protected].