Saturday, September 26, 2009


This is another "house concert" - type venue that has taken us a long time to finally visit. We had heard of SongTree a few years ago when we first started attending house concerts, but somehow, for one reason or another we were never able to make it. Then for about a year, the venue wasn't operating, but when we heard they had re-opened and that one of our old favorites, Kenny Edwards, was appearing, we knew we had to finally go.

SongTree Concerts, I guess, is not technically a "house concert". It operates at the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta, CA, just north of Santa Barbara and about an hour from our home. It also doesn't work on the "donation at the door, all for the artists" system, but acts as a source of funding for the Congregation's environmental and social action programs, both local and global. But since they use many acts that are regulars on the house concert circuit and are not really a commercial enterprise, I figure they still fit my format here pretty well.

The concert series was not running for a year because they built a new building to house their services and  use for concerts. It is a beautiful structure and was designed explicitly with music in mind, with a new professional sound system,  a stage and very comfortable, extensive seating. The legal capacity is posted as 428, but its hard to envision that many in here. The night we were there they had about 170 seats arranged in a semicircle around the stage. They also claim to have professional stage lighting, but that was the only item I found a bit lacking, the front third of the stage being in darkness, forcing performers to set up back a bit from the stage front. But other than that, it is an attractive and comfortable room with lots of seating and great sound, perfect for concerts. The room has very nice woodworking trim and the stage used chains of origami cranes hanging as a backdrop the night we were there. I'm not sure if this arrangement was permanent or temporary, and while it was unusual and kind of cool, it was also a little busy and distracting as a background (see above picture).The room is also devoid of ANY religious iconography or symbols, making it appropriate for other uses.

The SongTree Concert series has been operating for seven years and 73 shows, bringing in a wide variety of music, including folk, jazz, rock and world music. A gentleman named Tom Lee books the entertainment. Their upcoming schedule includes Brazilian music, jazz, a Celtic harpist and then Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band, a bluegrass/country act which I have previously reviewed here. I'm sure we will be taking in at least a couple of these upcoming shows, so stayed tuned here for more on this great concert series.

Here's a link for SongTree Concert Series :

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