Gordon Lightfoot The Arlington Theater 11/9/2011

This was my first visit to the Arlington Theater.   I was very exited to attend a show here.  Checking out a new venue is always fun and getting to Santa Barbara involves a nice drive up the coast.     I arrived early and was able to park right in front of the entrance, which was great.    I took a quick stroll down State Street.  
My first stop was Starbucks to wipe out the several dollar balance of a gift card that’s been rotting in my wallet for some time.   After going inside, I kept getting a bunch of weird, almost dirty looks in there. so I quickly got out of that depressing, oppressive Wi-Fi yuppie hell hole.  There should be a 10 minute time limit in that place.    Just buy your darn coffee and then leave, people.   Get on with your lives already!
At this point, I was majorly disenchanted with Santa Barbara as a city and place to visit.    I walked further down the street to plan my “escape route” from the show back to the freeway.   In doing so, I noticed the weirdest thing- there were pianos on almost every corner.   I grabbed a brochure off one of the pianos:
The first person playing had nothing to offer the world of music (much like Coldplay), so I quickly moved along.   The second guy on the next street was phenomenal.   He was playing a KILLER rendition of “She’s Always A Woman To Me” by Billy Joel.   I was astonished.   One more block later and some kid was nailing some familiar classical piece that I know and love but couldn’t tell you the name of it or who it was by.   That was just as impressive.  
I kept going for a while before  I crossed at the intersection and walked back down the other side of the street.   Just after I hit the Apple Store, which brought on a similar feeling of angst to that of the Starbucks establishment (more hipsters with laptops), a man sat down at the piano and played an incredible version of “Takin’ It To The Streets” on the piano.   The caffeine started to kick in, because it made me feel great and I was able to get on with my day – and I didn’t see another laptop in public after that, which was nice.    
I really regret not filming this guy on the piano.  Or even taking a picture.      I stopped and thought about it for a second, but then it was too late.   A missed opportunity.   I guess you can’t capture  every memory on film and video (but maybe the Starbucks and Apple people can).    People playing great piano music on street corners made me like Santa Barbara again in a major way.     That was a quick turnaround.

I then waited in anticipation of the theater doors opening so I could witness the close to 73 year-old Gordon Lightfoot play around 30 magnificent songs, like I have several times in years past.   I grew up with Gord’s music and I skipped a very special concert in Hollywood to hang out with the older crowd and watch a true legend play some great tunes.


I went inside and checked out the lobby and realized this place is usually used as a movie theater- they had your basic popcorn and cokes and stuff.   I headed to the patio that was serving drinks.   I grabbed a spot on the couch and ended up meeting a guy from Brazil and some really cool die-hard Gordon Lightfoot fans.

I met two ladies that were wearing jackets covered with Gordon Lightfoot pins, autographs, VIP passes and patches.  One couple said they’ve seen him over 100 times and this was their 4th Gord show this week.  Right on! That’s dedication.   They were like the equivalent of Grateful Dead fans for singer-songwriter folk rock- it was extremely cool to see how into it they were.  I think they deserve the nickname of “The LightHeads”.   Of course they were at both Gord shows that I’ve seen over the last few years, so that was cool to talk about as well.  One of the ladies was walking around passing out GL pins to people.   It was a bonding experience and I enjoyed talking to a different demographic than I am normally accustomed to for shows and meeting them was the best part of the evening for me..   


And I’ll always treasure my Gordon pin that she gave to be at the intermission- thanks!!!


My seat was really good.  Around 10 rows back practically dead center.   The people around me were cool, but I was kind of cramped being squeezed between two strangers and the guy in front of me made it hard to see.  Gordon came out and did his thing for 14 songs before a break.  The music and vocals sounded great.  He also had good jokes and stories.   He even threw in a dirty joke or two.     His last two songs before intermission were the best- “Sundown” and “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald”.   He relayed an interesting story that the Edmund Fitzgerald incident occurred on November 10, 1975, so this show was one day shy of the 36 year anniversary of that.  Hearing him play his music and talk between songs was a great experience- just like every other time I’ve seen him. 


After intermission, I decided to sit in the very back of the venue.    I realized that the place was only half full- it was packed up front, so I opted to stay back and spread out by myself.  It was perfect.   The theater is pretty nice inside and it was cool to see an old movie theater with a balcony- like the good old days!
The hard rock and heavy metal fan in me wished Gordon would have smashed his guitar Yngwie/ Pete Townsend-style during the encore.   That would have ruled.   Instead, he set it down and walked offstage.   About two seconds later, I was out the door and on the road.

Keep rocking, Gordon!   You keep playing and I’ll keep going to your shows!
Set List

Did She Mention My Name

Carefree Highway

Intro Only

Sea of Tranquility

14 Karat Gold

Never Too Close

A Painter Passing Through

Let It Ride

Spanish Moss



The Watchman’s Gone

Ribbon of Darkness


The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The video here is awful- just close your eyes and enjoy the gentle sounds of Gord and/or scroll up or down to look at pictures instead!


Sweet Guinevere

Cotton Jenny


Minstrel of the Dawn

Home From the Forest

Waiting for You

Make Way for the Lady

Fine as Fine Can Be

If You Could Read My Mind

Don Quixote

Baby Step Back

Canadian Railroad Trilogy


Rainy Day People

First Encore

In My Fashion

Final song


The Arlington Theatre
1317 State Street
Santa Barbara, California, 93101

Merge onto US-101 N via the ramp to Ventura

Take exit 98B to merge onto W Arrellaga St
0.5 mi
Turn right onto State St


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