Jackson Browne at Santa Barbara Bowl in Santa Barbara, CA

Jackson Browne, a local in the Santa Barbara area, isn’t known for too much fanfare or attention-getting, and that is exactly how it was when he took the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Friday night. The singer/songwriter came out with his band, waved, strapped on his guitar, and plunged headlong into his 1996 hit “Some Bridges” a love song ballad.

Browne was backed by a seven-piece ensemble including bassist Bob Glaub, drummer Mauricio Lewak, vocalists Alethea Mills and Chavonne Stewart and the extraordinarily gifted guitarist Val McCallum and pedal steel virtuoso Greg Leisz—all of whom were singled out by their leader for elegant showoffs and lengthy solos at various points in the show.

Browne alternated these well-traveled tunes with his more socially conscious songs, including “The Dreamer,” a song he wrote specifically about the ongoing debate over border security and the naturalization of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

For “Lives in the Balance,” his questioning poem about “who the men in the shadows are”, making the decisions about where and when we go to war. Browne brought the outstanding Mills and Stewart to center stage to help sing the song that strives to answer the great whys and wherefores of U.S. foreign policy. Mills and Stewart admirably tackled the verses on their own after Browne’s initial offering, with Browne rejoining them for spirited harmonies on the choruses. Mills and Stewart deservedly received a standing ovation for their work on the tune.

Many of Browne’s works make reference to his native Southern California, and it was there in the early ‘70s that he and a cabal of later famous musicians bounced ideas off of one another in the artistic haven of Laurel Canyon. Browne paid homage to a couple of his late and current musical friends, covering Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” which he produced back in 1978, and “Take It Easy,” which he co-wrote with Glenn Frey. "I Am a Patriot" a Little Steven cover, Little Steven from the E Street Band and also was "Silvio Dante" in the Sopranos.

The packed house was justly satisfied with the outstanding musicians and Jackson Brown’s beautiful singing and lyrics.

Setlist:
1. Some Bridges
2. That Girl Could Sing
3. You Love the Thunder
4. The Long Way Around
5. The Dreamer
6. Lives in the Balance
7. Sky Blue and Black
8. Doctor My Eyes
9. These Days
10. For a Dancer
11. For Everyman
12. Looking East
13. Your Bright Baby Blues
14. For Taking the Trouble
15. Call It a Loan
16. Somebody's Baby
17. Redneck Friend
18. I Am a Patriot
(Little Steven cover)
19. Lawyers, Guns and Money
(Warren Zevon cover)
20. In the Shape of a Heart
21. The Pretender
22. Running on Empty
24. Encore: Take It Easy/Our Lady of the Well