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New Times / Art

The following article was posted on November 23rd, 2011, in the New Times - Volume 26, Issue 18 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [] - Volume 26, Issue 18

Mood music

A fundraiser for Steynberg Gallery makes for a great date


Dating can be hard when you’re married, especially if you happen to be dating your spouse. Instead of the nervous excitement and curiosity of being out on the town with a new person, married daters get the added pressure of worrying about a babysitter and scheduling a rare evening of fun that had better be outstandingly super great because afterward, it’s right back to childcare, housework, regular work, and the occasional quickie for several weeks before the stars align to allow for another date night.

Anne Stahl and Carol Paquet have both had exhibitions at Steynberg Gallery.

John Bonaventure, Tom Murray, and Fred Frank came to the concert to support the gallery, but they stayed for the music.

Now, my wife and I usually get along great during the day-to-day routine. It’s the date nights that get us. They seem to always be scheduled for the evening after I was way late picking her up from work or when I’ve been festering over a pair of $200 boots she just had to buy. Tensions run high, but rather than arguing it out and moving on, we have to grit our teeth and get along to make the best of our magically uncomfortable evening.

That being said, there are certainly exceptions—glorious exceptions like Nov. 20, when all the moods and moments fall perfectly into place, and our love swells to the brink of bursting, like a heart-shaped balloon so big Macy’s could totally use it if they ever do a Valentine’s Day parade.

Much laughter and flirting occurred on the drive to the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre that night. We were heading to a fundraising concert with local favorites Café Musique and Inga Swearingen. Proceeds went to Steynberg Gallery, who needed help with relicensing fees and remodeling costs that would allow the establishment to continue playing host to live music.

It was rainy and dark, and we got lost as soon as we entered the vortex that is Cal Poly. We were already running late and had done two laps around the campus with no luck, but the situation never got hostile.

“I’ve been doing a series of experiments,” I said as we passed the science hall. “It turns out my heart rate increases when you’re near me.”

“Is that ’cause you looove me?”

“I’ll need more data (read: kisses) to prove a cause and effect relationship, but there’s certainly a correlation.”

By the time we arrived, the music had started and the theater was nearly full. It seemed like SLO’s entire art community was on hand to support Peter and Estelle Steynberg, who run the classiest art and music venue around.

The fundraising evening was practically sold out, which will help Steynberg gallery with unexpected re-licensing and remodeling costs.

Show some support
If you would like to help Steynberg Gallery but missed the concert, you can write a check to “Steynberg Gallery Fundraiser.” Also, be on the lookout for a barbecue/work day within the next few months when volunteers will help remodel the building.

Café Musique was onstage, and it’s nearly impossible to name what I liked best about them. Their sound is something like two scoops of gypsy folk with classical sauce and a sprinkling of chopped jazz. It’s delicious, exotic, and just overflowing with talent—especially violinist Brynn “Blazin’” Albanese, but especially accordion player Duane Inglish. The guy struts about with enough style to somehow infuse Urkel’s favorite instrument with sex appeal.

“You’ve got to learn how to play one of those,” my wife whispered.

The music was phenomenal, alternating smoothly from fast and fun to serious and endearing, but it was the group’s humor that really stole the show. They bantered back and forth between songs with sharp wit that was unapologetically wholesome and sweet.

“You know what I like best about you, Miss Piper?” guitarist Craig Nuttycombe asked singer and percussionist Piper Heisig. “I like saying your name. Those two ‘p’ sounds are really fun right next to each other. Pop pop.”

Maybe you had to be there, but it was really fun saying her name and watching these extraordinary musicians let out their inner goofballs.

After chatting with folks in the lobby during a brief intermission, I returned to my seat in time to hear Peter Steynberg thank everyone for coming to the event, noting that he was blessed to have so many friends. Then the lights dimmed and Inga Swearingen and a trio of musicians advanced on the stage for a relaxing set of avant-garde jazz. Swearingen’s voice was pretty as a flute, and she wore this infectious smile as she sang, like a child struck giddy by her own talent.

At this point, I wrapped an arm around my lady and leaned back for an hour of beautiful music, grateful that the Central Coast offers so much talent in such a tightly knit community.

Calendar Editor Nick Powell isn’t always this cheesy. Send flowers and butterflies to