If you're looking for an uplifting story in the midst of a global pandemic, look no further. Bella is a special place for many, but perhaps none more than for Sebastian Saint James. Amidst the highs and lows of the past 18 months, Sebastian has been a regular at Bella, sharing good vibes and good tunes, making us all feel a little more hopeful. Bella became his musical home: a place to develop his personal music, using live feedback from the Bella community and fine-tuning his "rock-and-roll soul Americana" style. We needed Sebastian just as much as he needed us, and we are so grateful to share his special story.
Sebastian is no stranger to Bella. He has been playing at Bella for many years: you might have seen him rocking out during a lively weekend performing with his band The Highway Poets. In early 2020, Sebastian was doing several gigs a week, performing all over the North Bay. But when the pandemic happened, like all musicians, Sebastian’s life was upended. Live performances were put on hold and Sebastian pivoted to working on his solo music. “I was trying to figure out my voice alone in my garage. Then in the summer of 2020, I got the chance to perform at Bella. Being up at Bella, in front of real live people really invigorated me. I had a chance to get feedback, to develop a set and a repertoire. I was able to hone in these skills: practice using my guitar, a loop pedal, beat-boxing and really create songs from scratch. I was able to jam out. Instead of sitting at home alone, I was able to find myself at Bella, and I am so grateful for it.” Lele (Director of Hospitality and Sales) has been there for it all. "I think Sebastian's songwriting process is incredibly eclectic. He is very aware of people, a moment, a place, a feeling, vibes ... It is so inclusive that you get lost in his music. When he pauses, you think, 'oh wait, I am here with people all around me.' I have often caught myself doing grooves, whistling and clapping on the lawn and forget I am at work and in front of everyone!"
Coming up to Bella, folks are greeted and shown to a private table, where they can sit back, enjoy a wine tasting and listen to Sebastian's melodies. “When I play, I get to take chances, use feedback and perfect my music,” Sebastian says. Nearly all of his recently-released album Live and Unsheltered was recorded at Bella. “It feels like home, I love coming up here, I look forward to it. It’s a deeply-connected part of me now.” Sebastian continues, “I don’t know where I would be without this place.” Say hi to Sebastian the next time you see him on the lawn, and click here to pick up your own copy of his newest album.