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Beloved guitarist suffers hand, wrist injuries after being attacked while performing in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Often called Santa Barbara's most beloved street performer, Bruce Goldish is recovering from an attack while performing at the entrance patio at the Arlington Theatre downtown on Saturday night.

His right wrist was broken and his left hand was cut when he was knocked to the ground in an assault by a man who grabbed his tips and took off.


"A guy rushes up to me and screams and I remember his face was out of control which makes me think he was mentally ill. He had some kind of mental break going on or he was amped up on something," said Goldish.

He said the suspect left on an orange bike.

There were numerous witnesses who were dining at nearby restaurants. He was helped on the scene by an off duty nurse and several others.

He said, "all these people came around and were so street and were concerned. It got to me,  it was really nice."

Goldish went to the emergency room at Cottage Hospital where he works as a full-time nurse. That's when his injuries were discovered.

"I took a hit but I feel better than ever because it could have been so much worse, " said Goldish.

He now has splints, stitches and wraps after receiving care from Dr. Robert Ruth. Goldish says his recovery will take about six weeks.

In addition to his full time job as a nurse, he was also assisting with the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. That's on hold now too.

Goldish has been performing for more than a decade in a parking garage next to the Marshall's store, on the street and lately in the Arlington overhang entrance.

He has a freestyle sound that is somewhat of a soundtrack of the evening scene in downtown wherever he appears.

Bear Erickson, a friend to Goldish, has started a GoFundMe page. Goldish has insurance, but Erickson says it is to show community love and provide a "financial pillow."

A post on Bruce's Facebook page reads: "Very pleased that a top hand surgeon I saw says broken wrist will probably have six weeks weakness, lifting and other restrictions, but PLAYING GUITAR IS OKAY. "

Goldish went on to write, "Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it. The perp’s still out there. The location was actually nice and safe. My blink-of-eyes take on the guy was that he was mentally ill, so this could’ve happened anywhere. Just my bad luck... and good luck it didn’t happen to someone more vulnerable. Also a great reminder to wallow in all the good moments you got while you got em."

"I hope they catch the guy,   I hope if he needs help he gets help. If  he is a bad guy,  I hope gets justice.  I  hope he doesn't come back, " said Goldish.

He says the attack was something that could happen anywhere. "There's wild out there," said Goldish who, has for years, played alone without many people around.

He has emerged from the attack, grateful and saying, "focus on the times when things are not going wrong."

He looks forward to giving COVID vaccinations again " and that gives me a lot of  gratification."
As for his return to the hospital, "I am out for the ICU for awhile."

Goldish was featured in a documentary on his performances downtown, and struggles with city rules about his location site, in the Santa Barbara and Ojai film festivals. The Michael Love (Sage Hill Films) movie is called, State Street Serenade.

Community / Coronavirus / Crime / Entertainment / Health / Lifestyle / Safety / Santa Barbara - South County
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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