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Baring All

Six-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow will get personal in Santa Barbara.

April 02, 1999|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sheryl Crow is doing all right, to say the least.

She's released three albums, each of which went platinum, she's won six Grammys, and her mug is all over VH-1. There probably isn't much left for Crow except permanent green lights and a Wednesday-night gig at the tree-lined Santa Barbara County Bowl. Opening will be Eagle-Eye Cherry, whose song "Save Tonight" is a big hit and probably the one the Swedish-born singer will save for last.

Crow has come a long way from a small town in Missouri--she now lives in New York. She grew up in a musical household and became an elementary schoolteacher while playing in local St. Louis bands. But in the late '80s at age 24, Crow headed to L.A., determined to become a rock star.

It worked. Crow recorded demos and played in bands, but the big break that took her from the sidelines to center stage came when she got a job as a backup singer for Michael Jackson, which led to gigs with Don Henley, George Harrison, Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart.

Connections solidly in place, her 1993 debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club," went platinum and won three Grammys, fueled by the star-making single "All I Wanna Do," followed by "Leaving Las Vegas." Named for an informal gathering of pros, the album featured solid songwriting by Crow, assisted by David Baerwald, David Ricketts and Bill Bottrell, who produced the album. And on the road, the hard-rocking singer wasn't just attracting reverent females.

"I've been surprised by the reaction I've gotten from men," Crow says in her biography. "The album is sort of heavy in female content, but men have really picked up on it. A guy came up to me in Minneapolis after we played and said he hadn't felt like going to a club in 10 years until he heard my record, which felt really great. When he called me again from the hotel lobby at 2 in the morning, it felt less great. So I explained to him that he'd better be careful or I'd make a bad example of him in a future song."

The self-titled "Sheryl Crow" was released in 1996 and also went platinum. Featuring the hit singles "If It Makes You Happy" and "Home," it won two Grammys. By then, Crow was touring with the likes of Bob Dylan, doing sessions with the Rolling Stones and headlining her own tours.

Her latest release, "The Globe Sessions," just won a Grammy for best rock album, and now Dylan is writing songs for Crow. The song "Mississippi" was to be on Dylan's latest album, but it didn't make the cut, so he gave it to Crow. One of the catchiest songs Crow has ever recorded, "Mississippi" will most likely have to wait until the monster hit single "My Favorite Mistake" wears thin.

Of the new one, Crow says, "It was a very difficult record to make. The songs come from a place of real self-examination and reassessment. They're certainly more personal than any I've ever done before, kind of like standing on the stage naked. Musically, the arrangements are more creative than in the past, but it's mainly in laying myself bare that this record takes risks. . . . What I want is an intimate moment with the listener."

DETAILS

Sheryl Crow and Eagle-Eye Cherry at the Santa Barbara County Bowl, 1122 Milpas St., Wed. 7 p.m. Cost: $37, $30 or $24. Call: 962-7411.

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About seven years ago, the biggest-drawing band in Santa Barbara was Common Sense. It used to pack the Beach Shack's dance floor, tempting the bar owners to come up with a plan to have the group play more often.

These days, Common Sense doesn't play Santa Barbara much but will try to make a dent in the Ventura market with its brand of rockin' reggae at Nicholby's on Friday night. Opening will be popular Ventura dance band Euphoria.

Common Sense was formed in 1985 by front man and UC Santa Barbara music major Nick Hernandez and another guy. Since then, the band has changed members more often than the lunch shift staff at McDonald's, but the Laguna Beach-based band never slowed down. The album "Psychedelic Surf Groove" was released a few years ago on Virgin, and now the group is shopping for a new deal. Meanwhile, Common Sense remains one of the premier touring dance bands in Southern California, and its reggae-flavored versions of "Hey Joe," "Fly Like an Eagle" and "Sexual Healing" should please the dancers.

Along with Euphoria, this should be an inspired double bill.

DETAILS

Common Sense and Euphoria at Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura, tonight at 9. Cost: $7. Call: 653-2320.

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The Firesign Theatre will bring its hilarious brand of hip madness to the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara during a pair of weekend appearances.

The Firesign Theatre began doing funny radio skits about politics, science fiction, literature, and old movies and television on Peter Bergman's "Radio Free Oz" program on KPFK in the mid-'60s in L.A., back when FM radio was new.

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