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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


The Belle Brigade Brings Fresh Harmonies to Series of Live Shows

By L. Paul Mann, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

The Los Angeles-based duo The Belle Brigade has taken up a residency at The Echo nightclub in their hometown.

The band played the first of four Tuesdays in February, on Feb. 4, to a large diverse crowd of ardent fans. The brother and sister duo, Barbara and Ethan Gruska were joined by a sessions bassist and keyboardist for their masterful performance.

The Belle Brigade, which have been a band since 2008 and released their first album in 2011, have often been compared to some of the top retro rock bands, with some of the same pleasing and intricate harmonies of their predecessors. The national music press like to compare them to bands like The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel and, most notably, Fleetwood Mac.

The Fleetwood Mac comparison is valid, not because their musical style is similar, but because their vocal harmonies, at times, bear an eerie resemblance to early Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recordings.

The band played a spirited set at The Echo, featuring much of their yet to be released new album, Just Because. Ethan Gruska plays a formidable lead guitar, fluctuating between poppy rhythms and an explosive experimental jam style. Barbara Gruska, who is already a veteran rock drummer, has toured with well-known performers like Fiona Apple.

The pair have no trouble multitasking as crack rock musicians while offering up their soothing harmonies. The pair have proven to be astute songwriters as well, offering up interesting and introspective lyrics covering a wide range of subjects.

Together with their band mates, the Gruskas offered up a fascinating 90-minute set of original music that had the near-capacity crowd singing and dancing their praises.

Their sophomore album is set to be released on March 25 and may be just the ticket to move this bright new band into the mainstream of American pop culture.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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