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GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Heavy Mental : Pianist Scott Cossu calls his New Age music a cross between Gypsy, blues and Pink Floyd.

July 18, 1991|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pianist Scott Cossu has a hard time convincing some people that he plays what is commonly referred to as New Age music.

"I love blues; I don't listen to New Age music on my off time, I don't live in California and I'm not a vegetarian," said Cossu, who performs on the Windham Hill label. "And I like seafood."

In fact, Cossu finds it hard to persuade himself; he isn't so sure his music should be classified as New Age. "I tell people it's heavy mental. It's a cross between Gypsy, blues and Pink Floyd," he said. "If anything, it's Gypsy folk."

Local music audiences will get a chance to decide exactly what Cossu's music is when the Olympia, Wash., resident performs two shows Sunday evening at Santa Barbara's Center Stage Theater.

It will be Cossu's first performance in the city in more than four years, and his first there since suffering a severe brain injury--he was struck by a car while crossing a street in Century City in 1989. The injury caused extensive amnesia, which rendered him incapable of remembering much about his life--including his music.

"I've had to relearn almost all of the pieces. They just slipped away."

Cossu started the relearning process slowly, playing scales at first, then working up to some Bach and ragtime. "I started playing real simple," he said. "It was like an old friend who was lost and now you're getting acquainted."

Little by little, bits of his music came back to him. But even today, he said, he can't remember about 40% of what he once knew. He's had to replace that lost music with some new pieces.

"The new music is different, but not in the sense you can hear. It's probably a little more lighthearted, but there's some sort of deep meaning behind some of the notes for me," he said. "If anything, it has more depth because I have a lot more experience to draw on."

Cossu will perform with Van Manakas on guitar and Santa Barbara's Randy Tico on bass. The shows start at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $16.50. The theater is at 751 Paseo Nuevo. Cossu and his group will also perform Saturday for families and patients of the Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara.

On stage: City College of Santa Barbara begins a two-week run of the classic Stephen Sondheim musical "Sweeney Todd" at 8 p.m. Friday at the Garvin Theatre. The show will run through Aug. 3. Tickets are $12 Fridays and Saturdays and $10 Thursdays and Sundays. Call 965-5935. The college is at 721 Cliff Drive.

UC Santa Barbara students and faculty will join with area actors in a production of Chekhov's "The Seagull" at 8 Friday and Saturday nights and 2 p.m. Sunday at UCSB's Main Theatre. The show will also run July 25 to 27. Tickets are $12. Call 893-3535.

Here's a woman who is bats about bats. Patricia Brown-Berry, Ph.D., will lead a talk about bats and conduct a visit to one local hangout Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. The workshop will begin at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children. For information, call 682-4711. The museum is at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road.

Fans of Santa Barbara's Victoria Street Theater will get a chance to celebrate its 10th year at an anniversary celebration Saturday night. Filmmaker Les Blank will be on hand to show two of his films: "Yum, Yum, Yum!," a look at the Cajun and Creole cooking and the culture of southern Louisiana, and " J'ai Ete au Bal (I Went to the Dance)," a film about the history of Cajun and zydeco music. Of course, there will be plenty of Cajun food to go around and some live Cajun/zydeco music. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door. For information, call 963-7868. The theater is at 33 W. Victoria St.

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