Dixieland greats such as Al Hirt and Earl Fountain have influenced legions of musicians. But Ventura resident Randy Siple, who heads the Volunteers of Dixieland's Fire Brigade, found inspiration in Trigger the horse.
"I figured if Roy Rogers could teach Trigger how to count, by God, I could learn how to play the trombone," said Siple, who never tried playing a musical instrument until he was 44.
Now, 15 years later, he plays half a dozen instruments, hosts a radio show about traditional jazz and performs with the Volunteers band, which will play at Santa Barbara's Day of Music on Saturday.
Siple said his musical trek began after "I had just gone through a divorce and ended up in an empty house with just me and a trombone in it.
"So I figured, 'Well, trombone, it looks like you and I are going to get to know each other pretty well.' " The instrument was a gift and had been in storage until then.
"Music is wonderful," Siple said. "It's made such a difference in my life." He said he finds Dixieland music particularly fun and uplifting.
The Volunteers of Dixieland's Fire Brigade are known for their lively tunes and trademark antique firetruck; whenever they can, they perform atop it. Siple said they stole that idea from Firehouse 5 + 2, a Dixie group of the 1950s.
The band--and firetruck--will cruise along State Street on Saturday playing their brand of Dixieland jazz.
Along with the Volunteers, the third annual Day of Music festival will feature an eclectic mix of performers doing everything from zydeco to jazz, bluegrass to chamber music.
"We have a reputation for offering adventurous music," said Eric Larson, director of the Society of Jazz & World Music, which organized the event.
More than 20 groups will play in five venues, all walking distance from each other: the chapel of the Spanish Presidio, the Contemporary Arts Forum, Paseo Nuevo Amphitheater, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Center Stage Theater. Admission is $7 for the festival, which runs from noon to 10 p.m. For schedules, call 962-3575.
For an added dose of world music Saturday night, the UC Santa Barbara Middle Eastern Ensemble will perform Armenian and Turkish folk tunes, a set of North African music and mainstream, Cairo-based popular songs. Dancers will perform to many of the songs and Scott Marcus, director of the ensemble, said he expects the audience to be "up in the aisles singing and dancing."
"This is not the type of music that you just sit there, listen to and be quiet. Middle Eastern music is very lively. It's an area full of life and color and culture.
"Usually when Americans hear anything about the Middle East, it's on the TV news and it has to do with politics and wars. And our shows give people a chance to see this region as the diverse and vibrant cultural area it is. It's very important to see a group of people as that--people, not just a story on the news."
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show at Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall are $8. Call 893-3535.
An original work by artist Matt Mullican is permanently installed at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. In celebration of the museum's 50th anniversary, the Women's Board selected the piece, the first commissioned major contemporary work of art in the museum's history.
The piece consists of four elements in three media: canvas rubbings, glass and stone. Two oil-stick canvas rubbings are the primary component and hang in the museum's Park Lobby. The second element is a section of a clear leaded-glass pane at the lobby entrance. The final component is an etched black-granite slab that replaced a paving stone on the upper plaza of the museum's State Street entrance. For museum hours and fees, call 963-4364.
Wood carvings and paintings from Haiti, musical instruments from West Africa, and costumes and kilims from Afghanistan are just a few of the ethnic arts and crafts from throughout the world to be sold at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The museum's Folk and Tribal Arts Marketplace will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Vendors will set up booths on the museum grounds; admission is free.
Also at the museum, "Glimpses of Indian America," an exhibit of paintings and prints depicting American Indian culture, is on display through Sept. 6. Museum admission is $3. Call 682-4711.