EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE KNOWS WE HAVE NO SEASONS IN L.A., summer still feels different, doesn’t it? A sense of freedom, of slowing life down for good times, getting together with friends, enjoying the great outdoors under balmy skies with the stars up above … well, we can’t really see the stars, but they’re somewhere up there, above the bright lights of Hollywood.
If you’re in school, either studying or teaching, you might even be fortunate enough to have most of the summer off. There’s so much to do! But if you love good live music — and if you just shrug at the notion, you need to put down that remote and get out there because you don’t know or have forgotten what you’re missing — then you need to plan, get a calendar and mark it all down, I’m serious, or the best stuff will zip right by and at summer’s end you’ll be listening to my glowing stories of all the great performances, and weeping for your inattention. It’s happened to me.
Can’t afford U2 at the Forum? The Stones at Staples? (If they come back our way, tickets usually run $65-400, plus fees, plus cotton for your nosebleeds.) Then how about TV on the Radio, De La Soul, Cold War Kids, Dwight Yoakam, Kenny Burrell, El Vez, X, Morris Day, Los Lobos, Ariel Pink, Poncho Sanchez, Roberta Flack, Cubanismo, Lisa Loeb, MONK’estra, Blue Oyster Cult, George Kahn, Judy Collins, Bruce Cockburn, Bad Haggis, Bernadette Peters, Bobby Matos, and many many more? All free, all outdoors.
For sure, mark June 21 on that calendar. That’s international “Make Music” day, a celebration of music around the world. Launched in 1982 in France as the “F√™te de la Musique,” it is now held on the same day in more than 700 cities in 120 countries. Including Santa Monica.
“Make Music” is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young, old, amateur, professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, parks, plazas and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors and strangers. All of it is free and open to the public. And of course, right here at home, we also have the 10 Pier concerts, and Summer Jazz on the Lawn every week in August.
Here’s a head start for you: the L.A. Weekly has put together a pretty comprehensive (but not complete) list of free music this summer. Look it over, choose with delight like that kid in a candy store, mark it in your calendar, then keep checking for more.
Again, locally, indoors but with no cover charge, The TRIP and the Basement Tavern have music every night, Finn McCool’s every night but Tuesday, the Craftsman every night but Saturday, Areal occasionally, and Harvelle’s every night but they do charge admission, as do McCabe’s for their famous weekend concerts. A slight shuffle outside our borders yields more free music in Venice, Malibu, West L.A. and Culver City.
LOVE IN OCEAN PARK.
Not free, but here’s the date I’ve got marked in big fat red letters: June 13, at our venerable Moose Lodge on Ocean Park Boulevard, the original co-founder and lead guitarist of the epic L.A. band Love, Johnny Echols, will be performing something you really should not miss — “We do a faithful rendition of the entire ‘Forever Changes’ album,” he told me, “with strings and horns etc. I reunited with Arthur [Lee] around 2004, and we toured the world together with Baby Lemonade until he passed away.”
I showed up in April ’89 at Club Lingerie in Hollywood when co-founder/writer/vocalist/tormented and tragic figure Arthur Lee was scheduled to lead the band through those “Changes.” Lee had not performed songs from that groundbreaking album in more than a decade. I didn’t expect much. He had a reputation for instability due to drug-related emotional problems and was often a no-show. And who was this Baby Lemonade? Buncha young punks pretending they could recreate an album on every critic’s Top 10 list? Feh.
But they amazed me. They did it note for note. And now here they are, just up the street from me, at The Moose, cranking it up with Johnny Echols back on stage. This is an event. If you have any familiarity at all with this great album, I can pretty much guarantee this will be a memorable evening.
Two of the Baby Lemonades live in Santa Monica now, guitarists/vocalists Rusty Squeezebox and Mike Randle (who works at Truetone Music here). Go see him. He loves to talk about… Love. I never dreamed that one of my favorite albums of all time would wind up having Santa Monica connections. You rock, Santa Monica.
I’ll shut up about music now, but you’ll want to know about one more event, this Friday, at Rusty’s on the Pier – a fundraiser for the Church in Ocean Park, so that they may carry on their worthy social agenda for another four decades. Two shows, the first including a buffet and theatrical presentation, feature the Bonedaddys, the L.A. band that just won’t go away. They burst onto the scene in ’84 with a heady mix that came to be known as world music, but silly us, we just thought they were a rockin’ band with mesmerizing grooves. Have a great time supporting a great cause, a Santa Monica institution.
SOMETIMES THE NEWS JUMPS OFF THE TV AND HITS HOME.
The terrible flooding in Texas is not just another “Oh my, how sad” moment for me. My sister-in-law lives in Wimberley, near Austin, above the banks of the Blanco River, which unexpectedly rose 26 feet in one hour a few nights ago and put their house under five feet of muddy water. TV reports usually show distraught people at one point in time, but I got my family’s most recent report this morning of how the emotionally and physically exhausting process of trying to dry out and rebuild your life, your photos, your clothes, your important records can be. They’re doing pretty good. And it made me think: Are my emergency supplies in shape? Have I thought it through? Have you?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.” —Maya Angelou
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com.