Moondance Rocks The Granada Theatre
It was a “Wild Night” at The Granada Theatre when Santa Barbara’s own The Doublewide Kings joined musical forces with the Santa Barbara Symphony to present Moondance, an evening of Van Morrison hits on November 11, 2023.
The nearly sell-out crowd enjoyed classic hits like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Moondance,” “Domino,” “Wild Night,” and “Tupelo Honey,”
The concert was the first time the band had played at the venerable Granada Theatre, and the first time they fronted a symphony. It was also the Symphony’s first time playing with a rock band.
“The experience was fantastic. There was a richness to the sound playing with 40 musicians instead of our normal five,” said Palmer Jackson Jr., guitarist for The Doublewide Kings. “The show opened with an overture by the Symphony, and it was like being launched into our first song.”
The Doublewide Kings comprises of Jackson and Cord Pereira on guitar, Robert Teneyck on bass, Charlie Crisafulli on drums, and John Simpson on vocals.
Jackson, the Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board at The Granada conceived the show with the Symphony’s artistic director, Nir Kabaretti during a brainstorming meeting about how the Symphony could attract new audiences.
“Nir asked ‘Why don’t we play a concert with your band,’” explained Jackson, who also sits on the Symphony’s board. “My first thought was that it sounded exciting, but hard. But our band does like to do new things.”
The duo discussed focusing on Van Morrison’s music in part because many songs have horns and strings.
“I met conductor Brett Strader at a lunch in San Francisco and told him what Nir and I were trying to do, but that we didn’t know what we needed to do next,” said Jackson. “Brett had already done some Van Morrison charts for another show he produced so he was the perfect partner.”
The Symphony commissioned new orchestral arrangements especially for the show by Strader, who also played piano during the show.
For Jackson and his bandmates, one of the biggest challenges was to reign in their tendency to improvise during a show. The garage band is used to being able to play another chorus or extend a solo, but when playing with the Symphony, following the road map was a must.
The perfectly choreographed show got the audience involved with classics like “Moondance”, “Brown Eyed Girl,” and a rendition of “Warm Love” that featured The Doublewide Kings backup singer belting out a gospel chorus in the middle that gave everyone chills.
The show accomplished its mission to draw more of the community to the Granada Theater and the Symphony.
“I don’t have the exact numbers yet, but I suspect that 70 percent of the audience was people who knew our band or who loved Van Morrison and 30 percent was a traditional symphony crowd,” said Jackson. “It was great to see the energy and excitement in the theater with people standing up, singing, and clapping on the last song.”
The Moondance show was such a success that The Doublewide Kings are considering performing it at other, smaller venues in town without the Symphony, and are even considering taking it to other cities with the Symphony or working with local orchestras to stage future productions.
According to Jackson the band is also already talking with the Symphony about doing another collaboration next season.
“It’s going to be really hard to top this one,” said Jackson. “It’s by far the best concert our band has done.”
Photography by Steve Kennedy