If you find yourself in downtown Santa Barbara on a Tuesday evening or a Saturday morning, be sure to make your way to the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market. You'll not only find an abundance of local and organic food, but you'll also find the market to attract a surprisingly diverse pool of local musical talent, ranging from one-man-band gypsy rock music to anarchist jug bands; slide guitar masters to mariachi music; afro-roots a cappella to classical violin duets; and old blues to eastern drumming. If you're lucky, you might also hear some ukulele/kazoo/singing/storytelling by Ricky Rodriguez who performs as Ricky Ooh Laa Laa Cha Cha Cha.
It was at a Tuesday night Farmer's Market that I first saw Ricky performing. I had not seen him there before. He had a magnetism about him that assured those who were willing to lend an ear that they were welcomed into his musical world. His sound was simple, fun, and unique: he was playing a ukulele and alternating his storytelling-style singing with kooky kazoo riffs. His appearance was also unique: he wore overly large glasses and short shorts with a homemade hanger contraption securing his kazoo around his neck. In other words, Ricky was a character. He told deep tales with simple jest, offering little tidbits that were easily absorbed and enjoyed even by the hustling passerby. He expertly fit into the Farmer's Market Musical Brigade.
It wasn't until I saw Ricky perform at the Santa Barbara Open Mic a couple weeks later that I realized just how much people responded to his music. Everyone seemed to know him, he had requests coming from the audience, and he even succeeded at getting people to sing along (a rarity for any open mic). Ricky was a sensation, and I spoke with him afterwards about recording a One Night Music session. The rest is history.
Ricky just finished up a meandering bike tour of California and is now settled back into Santa Barbara where he spends his time playing music, working at the Bici Centro bike kitchen, and bringing a little character to the American Riviera. He is an accomplished photographer, and a joyous person to be around.
Recorded in Santa Barbara, CA on April 03, 2009.