Music series creates community

Photo by Jeremy Ball Ryan Bingham is an Americana singer-songwriter who has headlined Tales from the Tavern, an intimate experience for both the musician and audience alike.

 

By Raiza Giorgi

Being troubadours themselves for years, playing night after night at different venues, brother and sister Ron and Carole Ann Colone have both lived the life of wandering musicians.

They know the life on the road and how hard it can be. which is why they wanted to provide more than just a venue for fellow musicians coming to play their concert series, Tales from the Tavern, when they launched it 15 years ago.

The siblings grew up in a blue-collar household with music around them in Detroit, and they say that music helped shape their souls. Ron got inspiration from the lyrics of Bob Dylan songs, and he knew that he would be involved in music throughout his life.

“I remember driving over the San Marcos Pass one day, sick as a dog, and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a while, and I felt so much better by the time I got to Santa Barbara. I really believe that music has the power to heal,” he said.

Photo by Barry Sigman
Brother and sister Ron and Carole Ann Colone founded Tales from the Tavern 15 years ago as a way to bring music to the Santa Ynez Valley that people wouldn’t normally experience here.

Carole was part of a rock opera group, Enoch, and has played congas and percussion with Peter Green, the LA rendition of Poco, and now with Michael on Fire. She’s traveled around the world but ended up following her brother to the Santa Ynez Valley about 25 years ago.

Every music event has a different feeling or experience for the audience. At some shows you dance, at others you sit and listen, and at others you treat the music like background noise while you have a conversation. The Colones wanted to create a completely different world when a musician walked on stage.

“Tales from the Tavern was born at Mattei’s Tavern, hence the tavern in the name, but it has grown into more than just a venue space but a place where people can come and really experience the music from the artist’s perspective and engage,” Ron said.

“People really trusted us to bring them a great experience, because when we first sold the idea of the concert series to Mattei’s at the time, we told them they couldn’t serve food. We sold tickets in advance of the audience knowing who was playing, and it sold out in less than an hour,” Carole added.

One of their musicians, Marcia Ball, a well-known roadhouse rhythm and blues musician, has played all around the world and even at the White House. But when she played Tales from the Tavern she said she was nervous because it was so quiet, and people were actually paying attention, Ron recalled.

After their first year at Mattei’s the shows became so popular that they had to find a bigger venue. David Walker of Firestone Walker said the company was building a new restaurant in Buellton and offered them a chance to play there and even built a stage.

“That first show was nerve-wracking because we were starting the show at 7 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m. they were still doing construction. Luckily it all came together and we loved our time at Firestone,” Carole said.

A memorable show from their Firestone years was played by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The Colones also love it when people who aren’t familiar with the musician end up falling in love with the music.

“We are so humbled by the community that has supported this journey over the last 15 years. It’s incredible that we are known for bringing music, and an experience, like nowhere else,” Carole said.

After Firestone evolved into a restaurant setting after five years, the Colones decided it was time to move the again so they found the series’ current home at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.

“We got some interesting questions when we moved to the Maverick, but when people walked into the hall they were awed at how we transformed the space,” Ron said.

Every season the hosts and the artists create a series that sometimes surprises the Colones. This year they wanted more of an edge, and they ended up with a lineup of musicians that has more of a folk sound such as John Gorka, Michael on Fire and Heather Maloney with Peter Mulvey.

The musicians are astounded when the Colones explain that the audience often has no idea who they are when they pay for season tickets. The musicians are also treated to food and the wine cellar at Trattoria Grappolo.

“We want the artists to know they are appreciated for their talent, and now we are getting submissions from hundreds of artists that want to play,” Carole said.

Some of the past performers include Priscilla Ahn, Janis Ian, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Tom Rush, Wil Ridge, Owen Plant, Carlene Carter, John Corbett and Gerald DiPego.

Carlene Carter brought a nine-piece band, so the Colones were glad to be at the Maverick where they could accommodate the musicians and have the necessary space for the audience.

“We film every show, and it’s been an honor that our footage has been used for such events as inducting Chris Hillman from The Byrds into the BBC Hall of Fame, and Dave Stamey, to induct him into the Western Music Hall of Fame,” Ron added.

To see the full lineup of artists and dates for the next season of Tales from the Tavern, which begins Feb. 15, or to buy tickets, log onto www.talesfromthetavern.com.