Ghost Tiger brings folk-rock sound to New Noise


Ghost Tiger members from left; Chris Stansell on drums, Emma Huston on keyboard, glockenspiel and voice, Kevin Evans on bass, trumpet and voice, Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel as lead vocals, rhythm guitar and songwriter and Chris Norlinger on guitar and vocals.

Linda Sturesson, Staff Writer

A colorful street festival that seemed to take place in the 1970s made one indie folk-rock band fit in beautifully with its hipster fans in front of a stage decorated with a white tiger stuffed animal.

The band, Ghost Tiger, performed at the annual music festival, New Noise Santa Barbara on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Block Party located on Mason street.

Kevin Evans, 29, a gateway tutor for the musicianship class at City College, is a background singer and plays the bass and the trumpet in Ghost Tiger. He is also the production coordinator for a new jazz program that will be brought to campus in summer 2013.

“He juggles a lot,” said Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel, Ghost Tiger’s lead singer and songwriter. “I think he says yes to too many things.”

Evans was previously the system director for the nationally ranked Dos Pueblos high school jazz choir. He has a degree in classical composition and is the member of two other bands: Islay Street, a folk rock band based in Santa Barbara, and Masanga Marimba Ensemble, a 10-member African-inspired band in Los Angeles.

Evans sips on his coffee and leans back in his chair. Surrounded by his Ghost Tiger band members, he squints at the blinding sun glaring off The French Press’s patio at the corner of Anacapa and Cota street.

“Because of all the production work I do, people seem to be surprised by how much music I actually play myself,” he said, “that I’m not just some tech guy, that I’m not just some geek like that. But some people just see me as this weird creative individual.”

Ghost Tiger was created in July 2011. The name was originally a joke, but the group soon grew fond of it. Their trademark stuffed animal appears on stage for every show.

“The one concert we forgot him, I got electrocuted by the microphone,” Macmillan-Fiedel said. “All the power went out and it was a terrible show. We’re not superstitious but yeah, Ghost Tiger comes along.”

The band usually plays in local pubs, such as Whiskey Richards, SoHo, Muddy Waters and The Loft. This was the first year they performed at the New Noise festival.

“They have a pretty unique sound, and they’re in a genre that’s having a lot of success right now,” said Tim Boris, co-founder of New Noise and music instructor at City College. “I think they’re amazing. It’s one of the indie rock bands that has potential to get signed by a label and be internationally famous.”

Ghost Tiger consists of five different people, from five radically different backgrounds. The members claim their diversity is what makes them successful.

Chris Norlinger, guitar player and background singer, said the band has a lot of trust in Macmillan-Fiedel’s songwriting, whereas she trusts them to make the songs better.

“That’s kind of what our job is,” Norlinger said. “We all contribute in our own unique way, and thinking about us without one of our elements is just not right. I feel really lucky to be part of such a talented group of people.”

Ghost Tiger’s drummer, Chris Stansell, described Evans as the person in the band who moves things forward when it comes to getting their shows. He also said he takes care of a lot of the “sound tech difficulties.”

The band never allows any self-doubt or restrictive boundaries in the quality or complexity of their musical capability.

“We are not an easy band because we don’t let our limitations discourage us. It’s hard to have four microphones in small venues.” Evans said. “Rather than changing our sound or eliminating the harmonies or the mics, we just figure it out and make it work.”

Evans explained that while doing music in high school, he learned how to work ceaselessly at something for which he is passionate. He learned to focus and work at things until he is content. He said this mentality has helped him with every project he’s applied himself to since.

“Our music wouldn’t be what it is without his criticism of certain parts because he’s not afraid to critique it and stand back,” Macmillan-Fiedel said. “He is his word, if he says he’s going to do something there is no question.”

Emma Huston of Ghost Tiger sings and plays keyboard during the music festival New Noise, Saturday, Nov. 10, in Santa Barbara.