Tales from the Tavern, the popular concert series that brings light to singer-songwriters and traveling troubadours, begins its 12th year in the Valley, starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.
“In those 12 years, we’ve seen so many amazing performances, heard so many soul-stirring songs and fascinating stories and hilarious jokes, and we’ve made friends and been introduced to new artists we otherwise wouldn’t have known,” said Ron Colone, who along with his sister Carole Ann, serves as producer and promoter of the series. “It’s also given us the opportunity to see and hear many well-known musical artists who we’ve grown up with and who have influenced generations of musicians and performers to follow — all right here in our little town.”
The series started in 2003 in what was, at the time, “the tent” at Mattei’s Tavern.
“We wanted to help bring more live music to the Valley,” notes Carole Ann, “and provide a really good gig to these troubadours who we consider national treasures; people who are out there making their living on the road, gathering stories and experiences, and honing their craft. What we didn’t fully anticipate is what an amazing experience of community involvement it has become.”
Following a renovation at Mattei’s, which reduced the size of the back room, the series moved to the taproom at Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Buellton, where it remained for the next three years. In 2007, the series shifted to the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, where it has been since.
“People who have this idea of The Maverick based on its old reputation are really surprised when they come to Tales,” Colone said. “We work really hard to make it a comfortable, quiet, intimate listening experience.”
The series has presented 125 concerts, featuring 225 musical artists, poets, philosophers, storytellers, gospel singers and more — including Hall of Famers, National Medal of Arts recipients, cultural icons, underground legends, up-and-comers, and just plain hard-working folk singers who are really good.
One of the things that separates Tales from the Tavern from many of the other listening venues around the country is the audience and the always-full room.
“The audience is renowned among the artists,” Colone said. “We often say we are as proud of the audience we present to the artists as we are of the artists we present to the audience. They come, they’re present, they listen, and laugh, and they show their appreciation. It’s really an extraordinary experience of connection between the artists and the audience.”
About 75 percent to 80 percent of the tickets are purchased as “a series ticket” for the whole season.
“That’s part of what gives it the community feeling,” Colone explained. “Most people buy for the whole season before they even know who’s going to be playing. The whole thing is based on trust.”
This year’s series starts with a co-bill featuring Jeffrey Foucault (No Depression magazine calls him “one of our most truly poetic songwriters”), Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Sarah Lee is the daughter of Arlo and granddaughter to Woody, patron saint of all folksingers.
Fans of Tales from the Tavern will welcome the return of series favorites Steve Poltz, Danny Schmidt, Carrie Elkin, Steve Forbert, Eric Taylor and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.)
Artists visiting for the first time this season will be Bill Carter, who wrote some of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s biggest hits and is in a band with Johnny Depp, Steve Young, who wrote “Seven Bridges Road” (The Eagles), “Lonesome On’ry and Mean (Waylon Jennings), and actor John Corbett, who, in between movies and TV often tours with his country-rock band.
All concerts take place at The Maverick Saloon and start at 7 p.m.
The series is made possible through the donations and community-mindedness of sponsors and patrons, including Star Drugs, El Rancho Marketplace, Reicker, Pfau, Pyle and McRoy, Grappolo, Maverick Saloon, John Poitras, SY Pet Hospital, Forever Posh, Dan and Debbie Gerber, Stolpman Vineyards, New West Catering and Industrial Eats, Ron and Mila Hart, Drs. Ruby and Rochon — Pediatric Dentists, Dos Carlitos Restaurant and Tequila Bar, Jerry and Chris DiPego, New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, Wine Country Cycling, The Hitching Post, Rancho Latigo, The Vineyard House, Linda and Lee Rosenberg, SYV Community Phonebook, Longoria Wines, Rabobank, Outpost Trading Company, Sandy and John Mastromonaco, SY Kitchen, Glowing Skin Care Salon, Demetria Wines, D’nA-Onsite Recording / Trumpet Vine Sound, Firestone Walker Brewery, Chuck and Marybeth Lepkowsky, Dennee’s of Santa Ynez, Art Lacerte, Teresa and Doug McNeil MacLean and The Charlotte Rose Memorial Fund.
The Maverick Saloon is at 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez.
Tickets for the series and for individual shows are available at www.talesfromthetavern.com or by calling 688-0383.