Graham Nash | Lobero Theatre | 7/16/23

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Thursday, July 27, 2023

Graham Nash, the venerable icon of classic rock, graced the stage once again for a two-night, sold-out spectacle at the Lobero Theatre on the 15th and 16th of July. The extraordinary performance was a significant part of the theatre's 150th-anniversary festivities, adding an air of timeless charm to the historical milestone. The last time Nash's resonant melodies filled the theatre was in 2018, a memory that added a nostalgic touch to his return.

Graham Nash | Santa Barbara, CA

Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the Lobero Theatre is not merely a venue but an architectural marvel rich in history, which provided an unparalleled setting for the spellbinding event that was about to ensue. Its decades-long legacy of hosting illustrious musicians lends to its revered status in the music community Stepping into the theatre is akin to entering a musical sanctuary. As you cross the threshold, you are immediately wrapped in an aura of warmth, the sublime atmosphere effectively transporting you to a realm where the rhythm of music is the only sovereign.

Graham Nash | Santa Barbara, California

The extraordinary performance began somberly, with Nash starting with a song he penned with former bandmate David Crosby, who passed away on January 18th at his nearby home in Santa Ynez, California. Crosby was set to play his first post-pandemic concert as part of the 150th anniversary and to celebrate his new album. The local rock legend had assembled a new band and was working on rehearsals before his sudden passing.

Graham spoke of his dear friend David during the show

That core band, now called Stand and Be Counted, is a who’s who list of rock talent featuring Steve Postell, James Raymond, Stevie Distanislao, Dean Parks, Chris Stills, and Andrew Ford. They are scheduled to play a tribute concert at the theater on August 20th to celebrate the music and life of Crosby. The band will be joined by a large contingent of special guests and local musicians, including Shawn Colvin, Colin Hay, Richard Page, Lara Johnston, Ken Stacey, Gracie Ray, and Nathan McEuen.

Graham Nash | Lobero Theatre

After Nash praised his former partner, he played “Wasted on the Way,” a Crosby Stills and Nash tune on piano accompanied by his guitarist and surrounded by candles on a softly lit stage. Then the master storyteller moved out front to banter with the crowd and switch to acoustic guitar. A keyboardist joined the duo, and for the rest of the night, the band played as a trio, with all three musicians harmonizing beautifully on vocals. Shane Fontayne played brilliant lead guitar, while Todd Caldwell played keyboards.

Graham Nash | Lobero Theatre

Graham's stage presence was magnetic. As he strums his guitar and starts to sing, it's as though time stands still. The connection he forges with his audience is evident as if he's sharing intimate moments and stories with dear friends. He effortlessly took the audience on a journey of his musical evolution, spanning decades of hits and heartfelt observations.

Shane Fontayne, Graham & Todd Caldwell | Lobero Theatre

From his days as a member of The Hollies, the crowd was treated to beloved classics like "Bus Stop.” Nash's voice has matured like a fine wine, adding new layers of emotion to these timeless tunes. The crowd swayed in unison, singing along to every familiar lyric, exchanging knowing glances that acknowledge we're all here under the spell of a true music legend.

Graham Nash | Santa Barbara, CA

Nash delved into his repertoire from the iconic supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash as the night progressed. Hits like "Teach Your Children" and "Our House" reverberated through the theater, stirring up emotions and memories from a bygone era. It was a reminder of the societal changes that echoed through the music of those times and continue to resonate today.

Shane Fontayne, Graham & Todd Caldwell

Graham also showcased his solo artistry, treating the crowd to gems like "Immigration Man" and "Chicago." These songs testify to his individuality as an artist, solidifying his place in music history. With each heartfelt lyric, Nash captivated the audience, drawing them into his world of emotionally charged storytelling.

Graham Nash & Todd Caldwell

What set Nash's performance apart was his ability to weave personal anecdotes and stories between songs. As he shared moments from his legendary years, the theater morphed into a time machine, transporting the audience back to pivotal moments in music history. An enthralled audience was given a glimpse into the inspiration behind Nash’s songs and the experiences that shaped his creative process. The singer led an intimate conversation filled with laughter, reflection, and a deep sense of gratitude.

Shane Fontayne & Graham Nash | Lobero Theatre

Nash's timeless lyrics touched on socio-political themes that still reverberate today. In "Military Madness" and "Chicago (We Can Change the World)," he addressed war, activism, and the power of coming together for a common cause. The words feel as relevant now as they were when they were first penned. The audience listened, captivated by the timeless relevance of his message.

Graham Nash | Lobero Theatre

As the final notes of Graham Nash's performance dwindled amidst the roaring ovation, a profound sense of gratitude pervaded the atmosphere, underscoring the immense privilege of witnessing such a monumental performance. The evening had been an emotional odyssey, a soul-stirring voyage through time that imprinted itself unforgettably on the hearts of those fortunate enough to be present.

Shane Fontayne, Graham & Todd Caldwell | Lobero Theatre

The Lobero Theatre, with its enticing blend of historical allure and intimate atmosphere, played an indomitable role in fashioning this unique, once-in-an-eternity spectacle. This stage, witness to an illustrious pantheon of legends, added another feather to its cap on these two nights, as it showcased the captivating performance of Graham Nash.

Lobero Theatre | Santa Barbara, CA

The grandeur of the past, the pulse of the present, and a hint of the mystic future converged in the Theatre, making each moment a priceless keepsake in the treasure chest of time. From the intense silence before the first note to the resounding applause at the end, every second was an irreplaceable piece of music history.