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Lights heat up for the 2024 Santa Barbara Bowl season with top touring acts coming through

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara Bowl is filling up the calendar with some of the top touring shows in the country, in a season that begins this week.

Saturday was the traditional Westmont Spring Sing show.

This Wednesday, the season kicks off with Social Distortion and Bad Religion. Later this month, Willie Nelson and family will bring the iconic country music legend to the stage.

The rest of the season is coming into focus with many shows still to be announced. Already on the calendar are Natalie Merchant, Kings of Leon, Elvis Costello with Daryl Hall and Trombone Shorty and Orleans. Standup comedy makes its way to the stage too, with Chelsea Handler and Bert Kreischer.

This season the bowl will start off with a newly resurfaced stage. The first time in 20 years. "It provides not only a durable surface but  an acoustic environment that is friendly for the artists on stage," said the Santa Barbara Bowl Execuitive Director Rick Boller. "Our stage roof can accommodate the biggest of tours, upwards of 112 tons."

The 2023 season had a major surprise with the mid summer announcement of the Foo Fighters, one of the biggest drawing bands in the world. "We're very fortunate in the fact that we get artists that are playing much bigger markets, much bigger facilities," said Boller.

The bowl seats about 4500 for most shows, but when the front "pit" area is without chairs for some shows it can handle close to 5000.

The venue has up to 37 shows a year, with a curfew of 10 p.m. and a sound limit as part of a long standing permit agreement and a courtesy to the neighborhood where it sits on the lower Riviera off Milpas Street. The shows are booked by Goldenvoice.

Ticket prices this year so far range from 41-dollars to over $200 dollars. The bowl box office does not have big service fees like ticket agencies. It does however set aside funds for community outreach and music education programs. Boller said, "the ticket prices are directly related to the artist guarantee so it is important to note the money from the tickets go to pay the bands. When shows go on sale the best place to to come and buy tickets is here in person."

The bowl also has a priority to support youth performing arts in the community. "A dollar for each ticket, the foundation allocates to our grant cycles our spring and fall grant cycles.   We also support some other programs some other initiatives which is our instrument fund our ticket subsidies and our  legacy scholarships," said Boller.

Environmentally the bowl is forward thinking. It has steel cups you can buy and reuse with that you get a drink discount every time. There is also a commitment to reduce plastics. "We have a program called Rcup which is essentially  a cup a heavy plastic cup you get with your drink and when you leave you dispose of it on the way out and that gets sanitizes and it is reused," said Boller.

The bowl was built in 1936 and has been the home for many Fiesta shows in the early years, evolving into a concert venue that has had music legends you thought might only play in the biggest cities. For fans it's their home court. "We get so many that come down and get in line for whatever music comes in. There is community in waiting in line and in the plaza the day of the show," said Boller.

For more information go to: Santa Barbara Bowl and Goldenvoice.

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Bowl

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John Palminteri

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