The Santa Barbara Bowl is open for concerts from approximately April through approximately October with an average of about 27 concerts per season. Booked exclusively by Nederlander Concerts in Los Angeles, the Bowl hosts primarily popular music concerts. Since 1991, the Santa Barbara Bowl has been managed by the not-for-profit Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation.
It was carved into the hillside, in 1936, as a WPA project. It was originally built as the home for the final pageant of Old Spanish Days — Fiesta.
The amphitheater's original stage was a revolving wooden stage, but this was washed out during El Niño rains in 1939. The stage was replaced with a concrete slab that remained in place until renovation work in 2001.
Joni Mitchell's 1980 double live album and concert film, Shadows and Light, was recorded at the venue in September 1979 on the tour supporting her Mingus album. Her all-star backing band was made up of prominent jazz fusion musicians Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jaco Pastorius, Don Alias, and Michael Brecker.
The British band Tears For Fears performed at the amphitheatre in May 1990, which was filmed for their Going To California concert video (the American vocalist/pianist Oleta Adams appeared with them).
The British band Depeche Mode performed at the amphitheatre three times: the first one was on August 5, 2001 during their Exciter Tour. The second one was on August 20, 2009 during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a sold out crowd of 4,937 people. The third one was on September 24, 2013 during their Delta Machine Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 4,959 people. The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe.
The show which broke the record for playing past the City of Santa Barbara, California's 10pm noise ordinance curfew was the 2015 performance of Neil Young & Promise of the Real, who played until 10:38pm before leaving the stage.
The Santa Barbara Bowl has undergone over $25 million in renovations since the establishment of the Foundation in 1991.
|1991||Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors regained control of the Bowl from Old Spanish Days|
|1992||Renovation and Restoration Master Plan developed by the Foundation|
|2002||The stage and backstage facilities reconstructed increasing the overall usable square footage by +300% (3,000 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft.) (Master Plan Phase 1A)
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