Yes go Agoura Hills, worth it!

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GET READY

For the tsunami of great music, much of it free, that makes LA in the summertime just heaven. Looks to me like we’re starting early.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: 58th Annual TOPANGA CANYON BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST & Folk Festival (here’s where I get to indulge in nepotism and simultaneously defend the integrity of my career as a music critic and music journalist: I never recommended something I didn’t believe in but I sometimes remained silent and did not slam certain things I didn’t believe in because it involved someone I liked, I got to choose among the many which gets included and which left out though I never left out the best, and now I will tell you that this venerable music institution of the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest, not in Topanga Canyon, not so much a contest as a festival, is possibly the best it’s ever, ever been this year because one Nicole Andrews, yes, a relative, a multi-talented musician who ranges from opera to Appalachia, will be crooning “In the Pines” early into the festival, at 10:54 AM on the Railroad Stage — I’ll sure be there and think you should too), Sun May 20, Paramount Ranch, Agoura Hills, $18-$23.

RECOMMENDED:

TONIGHT! STEPHEN STILLS, JUDY COLLINS (the last time I heard Stills, a couple years ago, he could not come very close to those old high notes he used to love but he has some great songs, solo and CS&N/Y, and the man was always one of the best pickers around, and his former squeeze Judy Blue Eyes is still enchanting for her voice and classic songs), Thurs 8 PM, the Canyon, Santa Clarita, $58-$98.

JOHN PRINE (one of our most treasured songwriters, whose voice could transport you and still does but at a lower gravelly gravitas due to his battle, successful, with squamous cell cancer, if you don’t know him this show, any show of his, will make you a fan), Fri 8 PM, the Theatre at Ace Hotel, downtown LA, $69.50-$109.50.

Jeremy Clyde, Peter Asher (you knew them as Peter Asher of PETER & GORDON and Jeremy Clyde of CHAD & JEREMY, pop-folk survivors of the British Invasion with pocketsful of cherished hits and no doubt even more stories, Asher in particular, having had storied careers also as a manager — James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt etc — record company exec — A&R for Apple, Sony VP etc — and more), Fri & Sun, 8 PM, McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, $32.50

BEASTLY BALL with ROBERT RANDOLPH, SLASH, Nancy Wilson, Liv Warfield, others (what a lineup! what a ticket price!! but it’s a benefit for the LA zoo and its local and global wildlife conservation programs so dig deep, you NOMA folks, for a great day wandering the zoo with posh restaurants feeding you, not to mention Jersey Mike’s subs and Krispy Kreme donuts, feeding you in between music sets, there must be a reason so many call it the best party of the year but like the standing ovations at Barry Manilow concerts, when you’ve shelled out big bucks you tend to say things like that, plus, gospel-y steel guitar wizard Randolph is almost worth the price of admission all by himself), Sat 5:30 PM, LA Zoo & Botanical Garden, Griffith Park, $1,500 & up.

RICK SHEA (I love Rick Shea — don’t call him Rick O’Shea! — not a big name but definitely one of our finest California country singers and pickers, a treasure, McCabes is the perfect setting for him), Sat 8 PM, McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, $20.

THE ENGLISH BEAT (if you look on stage and Dave Wakeling seems to be the only original member, don’t be concerned, he’s all you need and is often leading different bands with that name through the catalog and you’ll swear they sound just like the records and you’ll probably say to yourself or your friends, it’s a common remark overheard at their shows — I never realized they had that many great songs!), Sat 8:30 PM, Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach, $35.

FARTBARF (Fartbarf would be a band I would hate if you described them — no guitars or bass, just drums and two guys on synths, all in bright orange NASA jumpsuits, wearing goofy rubber Neanderthal masks with ugly protruding teeth, singing only through vocoders, that robotic sound I despise — and … they’re brilliant, nonstop rockin’ hard, great songs, great stage presence, one of the few bands I would go see again, and again, proving it’s all in the songs, and the arrangements), others, Sat 8 PM, Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, $10.

REGIONAL ACCENTS (three generations of Spanish/Catalan music, with works by Tomas Peire-Serrate, Roberto Gerhard, and Manuel de Falla, exploring the deep roots and tensions leading to the Spanish Civil War and subsequent era of Francisco Franco, the spirit of Catalonia will resonate), Sat 8 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica, $20-$50

DOHENY BLUES FESTIVAL with BUDDY GUY, ERIC BURDON, Kim Wilson, John Nemeth, Blues Traveller, Jimmie Vaughan, more (20th year, blues by the ocean, a gorgeous day no doubt, great lineup, whaddaya want?), Sat – Sun, 11:30 AM, Sea Terrace Community Park, Dana Point, $80-$475.

GOYESCAS BY THE SEA (fundraiser! support Jacaranda! creative, brilliantly curated programs! pianist José Menor, the complete Goyescas by Enrique Granados), Sun 4 PM, after party 5:30, First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica, $50-$200.

PAUL SIMON (last tour: Paul Simon), Tues – Wed 8 PM, Hollywood Bowl, $39.50-$250.

STEEL PULSE (one of the toughest, best reggae outfits you’ll find, from way back, I’d be amazed if they’re not still crankin’ it, rare show, go), Wed 8:30 PM, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, $38.

TERESA JAMES & the Rhythm Tramps (she’s back! an underappreciated star of the blues-R&B scene of the ‘80’s – ‘90s all over LA, she delivers), every Wed 7:30 PM, the Write-Off Room, Woodland Hills, no cover.

BAND NAMES OF THE WEEK: No Small Children, the Evangenitals, Modest Mouse, Mimicking Birds, Twilight Creeps, Life of Agony, Biblical Proof of UFOs, Fetty Wap, Mostly Kosher, Party Poopers, Groovy Rednecks, Coma Twins, Collapsing Scenery, Tasty Face.

LYRIC OF THE WEEK: “He mumbles a prayer and it ends with a smile, the order is given, they move down the line but he’ll stay behind and he’ll meditate but it won’t stop the bleeding or end the hate. As the young men move out into the battle zone he feels good, with God you’re never alone, he feels so tired and he lays on his bed, hopes the men will find courage in the words that he’s said. Sky pilot, sky pilot, how high can you fly? You’ll never never never reach the sky. You’re soldiers of God, you must understand, the fate of your country is in your young hands, may God give you strength, do your job really well, if it all was worth it only time it will tell. In the morning they returned with tears in their eyes, the stench of death drifts up to the skies, a young soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot, remembers the words, Thou Shalt Not Kill.” — Eric Burdon, other Animals (“Sky Pilot”)

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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