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UCSB A&L Announces Anniversary Celebration, Season’s First Events

Lineup includes NPR’s popular radio quiz program "Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me," Merle Haggard, Aimee Mann, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and more

UCSB Arts & Lectures, the Central Coast’s premier arts presenting organization, rings in its 50th anniversary season with a free community party at the Arlington Theatre from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20, and has announced that concerts by Merle Haggard and Aimee Mann, a jazz orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis, studio taping of an NPR hit show and more will be among the offerings this fall.

For half a century, A&L has been educating, entertaining and inspiring Santa Barbara and the Central Coast by bringing residents the work of world-class artists and today’s foremost social leaders. With an educational outreach program that reaches more than 20,000 individuals annually and diverse events that offer audiences the opportunity to enjoy visits by public figures including as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tony Blair, Yo-Yo Ma, Jack Johnson, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and many more of the most inspiring individuals working today, A&L has much to celebrate. Join A&L as it rings in its historic 50th birthday with a free community party that will feature promotional giveaways, food, drinks, discounts, information on what’s to come in 2009-2010 and much more!

This free community party is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. For more information, call the Arts & Lectures ticket office at 805.893.3535.

Arts & Lectures will celebrate 50 years of educating, entertaining and inspiring with an opening week celebration that features the following performances:

» NPR’s hilarious news-quiz radio quiz program “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me’‘ at the Arlington and a City Proclamation from Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 24.

Be part of the “studio” audience as listeners and guests test their knowledge against some of the best and brightest in the news and entertainment world. Hosted by Peter Sagal and featuring official judge and scorekeeper Carl Kasell, this popular hit program is fast-paced, irreverent, and delightfully informative. The Boston Globe raved that “...the seemingly staid NPR listeners went as wild as teens at a Britney Spears concert ... For fans of public radio news or its lighter side, that experience is magic indeed.”

A contemporary and sometimes raucous twist on the old-time radio quiz show, the Wait Wait taping focuses on the week’s events and timely topics from science and innovation to the stuff you never learned in history class. Each week, Sagal serves up questions in all forms: lightning rounds, tape from NPR news shows, multiple choice, identify the “fake” story and fill-in-the-blank limericks. Listeners compete for a chance to win the most coveted prize in all of public radio: a custom-recorded greeting by Kasell for their home answering machine or voice mail.

One signature game, “Not My Job,” invites well-known celebrities and newsmakers to answer questions that are way out of their area of expertise. Author Salman Rushdie, for example, proved that he knows at least something about Pez dispensers, while former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright surprised even herself by correctly answering questions about Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine.

A rotating trio of witty panelists joins Sagal and Kasell to complete the Wait Wait team. In Santa Barbara, panelists will include: Tom Bodett, a commentator on All Things Considered. Bodett is the author of seven books, and has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Redbook. His voice has been heard on Saturday Night Live, National Geographic Explorer and Steven Spielberg’s Animaniacs. Paula Poundstone, one of the country’s foremost topical humorists and stand-up comedians, has earned many awards for her wit. Her writing credits include Mother Jones, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and Glamour. Finally, Paul Provenza has been on the cutting edge of comedy for the past decade. Funny, confident and always challenging, Provenza’s stand-up comedy has been critically acclaimed as bright, edgy and honest by journalists from coast to coast and a hit at virtually every major comedy venue in the United States.

All event ticket holders are invited to pre-party from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm in the Arlington courtyard for the Arts & Lectures opening week celebration party.

Tickets are $150, $65, $50 and $40 for the general public, and $25 for UCSB students who present a valid ID. The $150 ticket includes VIP seating and a post-show reception with the artists. For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535, the Arlington Theater at 805.963.4408, or purchase online at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

» Next in the lineup is the revered Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Arlington Theater.

The extraordinarily versatile 15-piece orchestra is composed of an array of jazz music’s leading soloists that has been hailed as “the finest big band in the world today.” Drawing from the masterworks of Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane and other great composers, Marsalis’ concerts with the JLCO have fast become the standard by which memorable big band jazz performances are judged. allaboutJAZZ.com raves, “This is a formidable group of musicians led by one of the pre-eminent figures in the jazz world … Marsalis has honed a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that can easily take its place among the best of its genre.”

Tickets are $65, $50 and $35 for the general public and $20 for UCSB students who show a valid ID. For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535, the Arlington at 805.963.4408, or purchase online at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

» Bestselling Afghani-American author Khaled Hosseini will present a public lecture at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29, also at the Arlington.

One of the most important literary writers today, Hosseini’s illuminating work has transformed the understanding of Afghanistan and its history for millions of readers. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon that was hailed by critics as “haunting” and “powerful.” He followed this astonishing debut with the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, a heart-wrenching chronicle of three decades of Afghan history as seen through the eyes of two brave women. Recently named U.S. Envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, Hosseini will discuss these stunning literary accomplishments, his life, work and insights on Afghanistan’s people and future.

Tickets are $25 for the general public and $15 for UCSB students who show valid ID. A special $150 ticket includes VIP seating and a private, pre-event dinner with Hosseini. For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535, the Arlington at 805.963.4408, or purchase online at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

» Wildly entertaining and eclectic, Portland’s 12-piece “little orchestra” Pink Martini returns to Santa Barbara — following two previous sold out performances — at 8 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Arlington. From a samba parade of Rio de Janeiro to a ‘30s-era French music hall, this spirited ensemble gives you a fresh, musical passport to the world. The Washington Post declares, “This is rich, hugely approachable music, utterly cosmopolitan yet utterly unpretentious.”

Part language lesson, part Hollywood spectacle, the broad appeal of Pink Martini’s multilingual lyrics and swingin’ world rhythms packs houses across the globe — engaging diverse audiences with a cool concoction of classic cabaret, jazzy instrumentals and sultry vocals. “Pink Martini is like a romantic Hollywood musical of the 1940s or ‘50s … but with a global perspective which is modern,” says Pink Martini founder and artistic director Thomas M. Lauderdale. “We bring melodies and rhythms from different parts of the world together to create something which is new and beautiful.”

Tickets for Pink Martini’s performance are $55, $45 and $35 for the general public and $25 for UCSB students with valid ID. A special $150 ticket includes VIP seating and a post-show reception with the artists. For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535, the Arlington at 805.963.4408, or purchase online at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

» On Thursday, Oct. 1, A&L welcomes country music icon Merle Haggard in concert, also at the Arlington.

A Country Music Hall-of-Famer, Haggard has recorded more than 65 albums, 600 songs and had 40 No. 1 hits and continues to be an active singer-songwriter.

Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” has been recorded by nearly 400 other artists; other classics include “Sing Me Back Home,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “Silver Wings.”

Tickets are $55, $45 and $30 for the general public and $19 for UCSB students.

For tickets and more information, call Arts & Lectures ,805.893.3535 or www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu, or the Arlington, 805.963.4408

Haggard, 72, was born poor to Oklahoma migrants in Depression-era Bakersfield, and by age 21 he had worked as a laborer, served jail time for crimes ranging from burglary to auto theft (some in the notorious San Quentin Penitentiary) and married his first wife, Leona. After a change of perspective he became a model prisoner and was paroled in 1960. Haggard’s first single was “Singing My Heart Out,” which received some regional airplay on the West Coast, but it was in 1963 that he eventually broke into the top 20 of Billboard’s country charts with his first national hit, “Sing A Sad Song.” His next few singles — “(All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” “Swinging Doors” and “The Bottle Let Me Down” — all landed within the Top 10.  In 1966 he entered the No. 1 spot for the first time with “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” and he won his first Top Male Vocalist of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music.

» Finally, Aimee Mann will come to UCSB’s Campbell Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, to perform tracks from her highly-praised, Grammy-nominated seventh solo CD, @#%&*! Smilers.

An exquisitely-crafted new work about the inner life of people living far from the bright lights of success or fame, Smilers’ 13 tracks “pop with color,” writes All Music Guide; while Newsweek proclaims, “Her words have once again met their match in a collection of tunes filled with chewy hooks, buffered by what feels like a newfound optimism.”

Smilers opens with “Freeway,” a synth-pop song that was inspired by a drug-addicted friend who had come to Los Angeles in hopes of getting clean and breaking with the past. The track “Stranger into Starman” was inspired by an afternoon crossword puzzle and the memory of an Anne Sexton poem that made an anagram out of the word “rats” — morphing it into “stars.” As Mann describes it, “it’s about glorifying people who don’t deserve the glory.” The slightly autobiographical track “31 Today” recalls the feeling of insecurity Mann had as a young artist living in Boston, as her character sings: “Drinking Guinness in the afternoon/taking shelter in the black cocoon/I thought my life would be different somehow/I thought my life would be better by now;” to which Rolling Stone glowingly responds, “With an album this vividly rendered, how could it not be?”

Tickets for the Mann concert are $30 general and $15 for UCSB students; for more information and to purchase seats, call
805.893.3535 or www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu

Noozhawk staff writer Laurie Jervis can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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