For a band whose reputation rests on the darker side of human nature, the biggest surprise at Depeche Mode’s packed show at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Tuesday night was just how happy the band was on stage.
Smiles abounded. High-fives were given. There was laughter between musicians. And Dave Gahan loves to dance.
But, hey, the band members should be happy. Depeche Mode has lasted longer than most of its contemporaries without really altering its sound, never leaving that operatic, industrial electronica that fans know since the early ’80s.
Balsamic vinegar. That’s just for dipping, right? Or fancy desserts? Caprese salad, certainly. Despite its mix of sweet and tart, it’s not the ingredient one associates with cocktails. But as we found out the other night, vinegar is slowly making its way back onto the menu of many mixologists, who are starting to figure out the versatility of this ingredient.
That’s a long introduction for one of our Drink of the Week friends, Sean Sepulveda, who wants everybody to know that Cadiz is now open on Monday evenings, and doing quite well, thank you very much. This section of State Street (Cota to Haley) is bustling even on this slowest of days.
Visitors to the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance website earlier this year might have wondered where its annual celebration of dance — both pro and amateur — had gone. Known and loved as BASSH (ballroom, Argentine tango, salsa, swing, and hip-hop), the event was nowhere to be seen, and the page had not been updated. Well, both SBDA and BASSH have survived, and the two have gone their different ways, amicably.
According to Derrick Curtis, the choreographer and creator of BASSH, the yearly performance, which opens tonight for a two-day, three-show run at Center Stage Theater, had to continue.
“Haute Cuisine,” the 2012 French film opening today, has two things going for it: the charming Catherine Frot, last seen by American viewers as the put-upon wife in “The Dinner Game;” and an impressive amount of food porn, including some very complicated and classic French dishes. It has many other things going against it, however.
Titled “Les saveurs du Palais” in France, “Haute Cuisine” tells a fictionalized version of a real life event. After many years of fancy meals, President FranÁois Mitterrand hired a middle-aged woman from the countryside to be his personal chef. He was looking for someone to make the kind of food his grandmother made.
Liquor licenses are a precious commodity in Santa Barbara. Ask any restaurateur or bar owner and they’ll tell you the trials and tribs to get one, including the lottery system, the wait and the cash outlay. (Compare the affordable beer and wine license offered in town.) But fortunately, when an eatery like Scarlett Begonia gets one, it makes it worth its weight (and wait). More than any bar we’ve been to recently, the folks at Scarlett Begonia are bringing in an eclectic selection of liquor and liqueurs, and also sourcing local ingredients when possible.
Proprietor Crista Fooks and Kentucky transplant David Byrd have combined their love of old cocktail books and new trends, and come up with a fantastic cocktail list (there’s even cocktails for the morning shift, including the Liquid Breakfast).
Maybe that voodoo that he do is too rarified for us. Maybe people don’t know who Dr. John is, or confused him with Dr. Phil. Either way, as a fan of “The Night Tripper” and New Orleans music, it must have been a little disappointing to see such a small turnout on Friday night at the Granada. At 72, Dr. John has survived and deserves his legendary status. The faithful who did turn out — about half the theatre — witnessed a fine show.
He looked a bit feeble shuffling on stage, dressed in a pinstripe suit, a feathered fedora, numerous rings and jewelry, and using for a cane, his skull-topped walking stick. He took his time while the five-piece band amped up, his musical director and trombonist Sarah Morrow announcing the “Night Tripper” like he was a carnival attraction. But then he sat down at the piano — also decorated with two skulls and various voodoo paraphernalia — and age stopped being an issue.
The first directorial feature from Stuart Blumberg, the writer of “The Kids Are All Right,” is an ensemble, romantic comedy-drama that looks really good on paper, but is a bit of a mess. That’s a shame because all these actors are usually fun to watch.
“Thanks for Sharing” starts in a meeting for sexaholics, and introduces the sober Mike (Tim Robbins), the younger Adam (Adam Ruffalo), and the young and shlubby Neil (Josh Gad). All are doing the work of recovering addicts, with Mike as the stern veteran, and Neil as the man most struggling with his issues.
Depeche Mode will always be associated with their hometown — the very small hometown — of Basildon, England, but Santa Barbara can lay claim to the band, on and off, since 2001. That’s the first time the band recorded some of its album “Exciter” — with its aloe plant on the cover, very SoCal — in our town. Since then, they’ve recorded three more albums here, most notably 2005’s “Playing the Angel” — entirely created at Sound Design studios downtown — and this year’s “Delta Machine.” Songwriter Martin Gore lives here, and is often seen walking about, and has DJ’d occasionally at clubs.
So their choice to play the Bowl this Tuesday, while in the middle of a massive world tour, is a little thank you to a city they’ve adopted.
Dave Gahan has been through a lot of illnesses since 2009 — there was a long bout with gastroenteritis, the removal of a malignant tumor in his bladder, and problems with his voice. You wouldn’t know it from the album and the tour, where he sounds like the Gahan of old. The band is clean and happy. The new tour is doing well.
Ernie Brooks is a lucky man. Not everybody gets to cap a career surrounded by 2,000 fans at the Arlington, in the town one once called home.
But last night the famed diver and underwater photographer had that happen as the Santa Barbara Underwater Film Festival and the Historical Diving Society devoted an entire evening to Mr. Brooks and the students who were influenced by his teachings, both aboard ship and behind the camera.
The Arlington was filled with fans and well-wishers along with members of public who were attracted by the long guest list of presenters, a who’s-who of underwater photography.
The history of offshore diving in Santa Barbara is a long and convoluted one, full of tangents and trivia. One tangent ties together Brooks Institute, underwater photography, nature documentaries, and the Santa Barbara Channel, and ties it together at the Arlington this Saturday night. The sporadic Underwater Film Festival, a loose affiliation of enthusiasts who program events every couple of years, hosts a tribute for Ernie Brooks, photographer and diver, and uses this evening as a chance to screen new and rarely seen footage, invite friends and colleagues on stage, and raise money for the Maritime Museum and the Historical Diving Society.
The brainchild of SBCC diving instructor Ed Stetson and assisted by faculty member Don Barthelmess, the evening is designed to give back to Mr. Brooks what he has given to generations of students, both in photography and in marine education. Ernie Brooks was raised in Santa Barbara — his father started Brooks Institute. The younger Mr. Brooks was president of the institution for many years as well, and has made a career passing on the excitement of both his loves.