Soul Majestic to play at club’s grand reopening party
Gail Hansen can’t wait.
Next week, her SOhO Restaurant & Music Club will reopen after the longest closure in its history.
To be precise, it’s the only long-term closure for the popular Santa Barbara club, which over the years has hosted everyone from local bands Area 51, Raw Silk and Toad the Wet Sprocket to the Santa Barbara Jazz Society, blues duo Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan, and Santa Ynez Valley celebrity David Crosby. Young music students have played recitals there as well.
SOhO’s first pandemic-era music will be heard Sunday when Sandy Cummings & Jazz du Jour perform during a pre-reopening concert. But the official grand reopening party will be at 9 p.m. Sept. 3 when longtime Santa Barbara reggae band Soul Majestic will get people dancing at the club, upstairs in Victoria Street Court, 1221 State St.
Mrs. Hansen, who operates the upstairs State Street club with her son Tyler Hansen, said she’s thrilled to reopen and connect the community with live music. “We’re totally excited!
“I think Santa Barbara is ready to be together with live music. There are so many music lovers in the town,” she said.
The SOhO owner said she likely will experience tears of joy when Soul Majestic plays.
Being without music this long at her club has felt unreal to her.
“We’ve been here 27 years and never closed our doors” for any significant amount of time, Mrs. Hansen said.
She said SOhO hasn’t tried to reopen before now because it wasn’t allowed to have bands on its indoor stage or its outdoor patio.
“We’re a music venue that has food,” Mrs. Hansen said. “If we can’t have music, we can’t be open.
“And it didn’t make any sense for us to reopen until we knew we could stay reopened,” she said.
Mrs. Hansen has been busy preparing SOhO for the reopening party, where guests will notice a new walnut bar. It replaces a bar that termites attacked during the closure. (The termite problem has been taken care of.)
The SOhO owner noted she’s following procedures to keep people safe during the pandemic. Everyone entering the club must bring proof of vaccination or a proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours before the concert. This applies to all ages.
“They must wear masks unless they’re at a table eating or drinking,” Mrs. Hansen said, referring to the Santa Barbara County public health mandate.
She said some bands canceled their September gigs because of the rise of the delta variant. “But October will be full if all goes well.”
Mrs. Hansen said she’s thrilled to have Soul Majestic play at the grand reopening party.
“They’re like family to us,” she said. “We’ve had them on stage so many times. My kids know all the people in the band.”
Likewise, Soul Majestic is excited to perform at SOhO.
“We’re honored. We’re really excited,” vocalist and rhythm guitarist Eric Iverson told the News-Press this week. “It’s our favorite hometown venue, and we’re honored to be the first band.
“We got our start there, and the Hansen family has always been good to us,” Mr. Iverson said. “I like that the focus is on the music. I like (the club’s) sound and set-up.”
Mr. Iverson, whose band is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, added that he likes that SOhO is in-between an intimate setting and a full concert venue.
He said the Sept. 3 concert will feature music from Soul Majestic’s new album, “Keep It Burning,” as well as older songs that fans loved. He said band members collaborated on writing original music for “Keep It Burning” and Soul Majestic’s previous albums.
“We produced it in our studio and self-released it,” Mr. Iverson said about “Keep It Burning.”
Mr. Iverson said Soul Majestic has worked for four years on the album, which was inspired by the Standing Rock movement protesting the underground Dakota Access oil pipeline.
“Reggae is message music. It always has been,” the Santa Barbara resident said. “A lot of reggae greats came out of Jamaica and sang a lot about social justice and the world.
“But there’s always room to sprinkle in feel-good songs. We do that too,” the 1993 Santa Barbara High School graduate said. “We keep it fun.
“We try not to take ourselves too seriously,” he said. “A lot of folks like the fact my wife (Oriana Sanders) and I both sing in the group, so there are male and female lead vocals.”
“Currently there are six of us in the band,” Mr. Iverson said. He added that members live everywhere from Santa Barbara and Goleta to Gaviota, North County, Ventura and Oxnard.
Mr. Iverson said Soul Majestic embraces inclusiveness and shows diverse influences. “We cater to a lot of taste in music.”
He said the band performed a lot of live streaming concerts during the pandemic.
But Mr. Iverson said he and the band were happy to get back on stage. “There’s nothing like having an enthusiastic crowd in front of you.
“We had the pleasure of playing at one of our other favorite venues, the Red Piano (on State Street), in April,” he said. “It was our first live show in Santa Barbara since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Since then, we’ve played 15, 20 shows and have been traveling a lot to places like Santa Cruz and San Bernardino,” Mr. Iverson said. “We just got back from finishing our summer tour in New Mexico and Colorado.”
And the name Soul Majestic?
Mr. Iverson said that was inspired by reggae great Bob Marley’s 1991 song “Bad Card.”
Mr. Marley sings, “’Cause we guarding the palace so majestic.”
Mr. Iverson, though, heard something else.
“I heard it as ‘soul majestic.’ ”