The Palomino. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

A TRULY LEGENDARY NIGHTCLUB

Where to begin? Not only a Valley or an LA icon, it was known nationally and internationally, voted the top country music nightclub a couple dozen years in a row, over every famous joint in Nashville and Texas. But so much has been lost since it closed in 1995, even the iconic sign until it was discovered in a warehouse four years ago. That’s why this fundraiser is so important, to preserve the Pal history through the Valley Relics Museum, about to move to the Van Nuys airport. See details below.

So many stories to tell — just mine! The place reeks of history and great music. I met owner Tommy Thompson when I was handling nightclub ads for the LA Weekly in the mid-’80s. He was one of the two smartest club owner clients I had — a very motley crew, several went to prison, one for murder — he was the only one to realize I knew all the club owners, all the dirt, so he would always treat me well, let me in to sold out shows (I sat across from Tom Petty once at an unannounced show by Neil Young), call me into the office and order a drink, then ask me what everyone was up to. Not confidential info but I was the only one who had that overview. Tommy was a genius booker who didn’t really care about the music and didn’t know much about it, but he knew how to fill seats and sell drinks.

I remember walking in one night and pausing to hear a song and a half by the guy on stage, but then Tommy requested my presence in his office and I asked, who is that guy? “Do you think he’s good?” he asked. Yeah, and he’s pretty dang cute too, I think he’ll draw the women like crazy. Tommy chuckled and agreed. It was a very young George Strait, then an unknown.

The Pal hosted everyone, from Patsy Cline to Dwight Yoakam, Kitty Wells to Lucinda Williams, Ernest Tubb, Waylon, Willie, George, Johnny, Buck, Elton, Etta, Bob Dylan-George Harrison-Taj Mahal-John Fogerty jamming together (I missed that one! only 50 people in the place on a rainy Thursday). I saw Jerry Lee shortly after he got out of the hospital, thin and drawn but as the night went on he absorbed energy and became the Killer, right there in front of me, handshake distance. But the best act I ever saw there was a very talented, very cute backup singer who stole the show and stole my heart. Diane Michelle. We’ve been married 34 years. Who says you don’t meet anyone of quality by hanging out in bars?

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

TONIGHT! — EMMYLOU HARRIS (that voice! “a roots music legend and a contemporary artistic force,” Country Music Hall of Fame and three more Grammys than Ronstadt, see below, both surprising because she has taken plenty of non-country risks in her recording career, her list of great songs is so extensive this is bound to be a satisfying show, I cherish her most for her early duets with Gram Parsons), Thurs 8 p.m., Royce Hall, UCLA, $33-$99.

TONIGHT! — WAYNE “THE TRAIN” HANCOCK, Dale Watson (one of my very favorite-ist really old school Hank Williams old school honky tonk country twangers and I’m talkin’ ‘bout his voice, honey, this guy makes you look around the room and wonder where am I and what year is it, and with Dale Watson this is a Texas two-step treat, that coin-covered guitar represents a lot of dusty back road miles to sing in juke joints, the club site features Watson top-billed, these two are treasures, playing in a punk bar in Long Beach, god I love LA), Thurs 7:30 p.m., Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, $17-$20.

I SEE HAWKS IN LA, RICK SHEA (do you like your country classy, with thought and nuance, great words that cut to your soul, great pickin’ that’s not there just to show off, great singing from the heart, SoCal country, is this our folk music? maybe so, then this is the ideal double bill for ya, in the terrific tiny Cinema Bar, live music every night, never a cover), Fri 9 p.m., the Cinema Bar, Culver City, free.

THE RETURN OF THE PALOMINO! One Night Only! ROSIE FLORES, JAMES INTVELD & the Honky Tonk Palominos, JIM LAUDERDALE, RONNIE MACK & the PALOMINO RIDERS, more (oh my soul, what an event, don’t miss even at the high ticket price, it’s a benefit, and history rarely repeats itself, see above), Mon 7:30 p.m., The Palomino, North Hollywood, $200.

RECOMMENDED:

TONIGHT! (and Sat) — LINDA RONSTADT (11 Grammys, 31 gold and platinum records, National Medal of the Arts, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a young Gov. Jerry Brown’s girlfriend, should the Eagles have stuck around as her backing band? Parkinson’s recently stole her superlative, so-familiar singing voice but she can talk and her multi-media show of her life’s journey has won rave reviews, and they say she’s really funny too), 8 p.m., Thurs at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Sat at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, downtown LA, $35-$100.

“KICK OUT THE JAMS” (at the 50th anniversary of the recording of the crushing, genre-transforming, so loud so great MC5 debut album, with MC50, led by original axeman Wayne Kramer — with drummer Dennis Thompson, the last MC2 still standing, — Rolling Stone put him on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list, he promises to perform the great LP in its entirety, plus more from the other two albums, so by the fifth word you’ll know you shouldn’t have brought the kiddies, also their ears may start bleeding, a show with only one original member is usually iffy but knowing Kramer I’m sure he’ll have a gang of screamers who will respect the legend, all proceeds benefit Jail Guitar Doors), Fri 8 p.m., John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, $50-$150.

VERY BE CAREFUL, Healing Gems (should I stop calling a venue that has this bill the night after such a gritty country double bill as Wayne Hancock and Dale Watson, a punk bar? nah, that’s their soul but they’re smart enough to book great acts of any stripe, I don’t know anything about Healing Gems but I have enjoyed Very Be Careful for literally a couple of decades, they play Colombian vallenato music, a traditional cumbia sound that centers around the accordion, and if that sounds too esoteric and maybe bland to you go see them because Ricky G on the squeezebox is a stone-cold charismatic showman Jagger could take lessons from and his mates are simply great players), Fri 8 p.m., Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, $10-$12.

ORCHESTRA SANTA MONICA (it’s a new era, a new conductor-music director, welcoming Roger Kalia in the first program of the season, at acoustically wonderful Moss Theater at New Roads School, performing Jacobsen/Aghaei, Seyfried, and… drum roll… Beethoven’s 7th, reception following the concert, make him welcome, they won’t perform again until mid-February), Sun 2:30, Moaa Theater, New Roads School, Santa Monica, $10-$30.

GRAHAM NASH (that distinctive tenor was coming out of your car radio in the mid-’60s on Hollies hits like “Carrie Anne,” “Pay You Back with Interest,” “On a Carousel” and of course all the amazing CSN/Y songs. he wrote “Our House,” “Marrakesh,” “Teach Your Children,” the latter two rejected by the Hollies, and don’t forget “Immigration Man” as he was always and remains a social activist, but I think his greatest life accomplishment was shacking up with Joni Mitchell for two years, ah, Laurel Canyon days), next Thurs 8:30 p.m., the Theatre at Ace Hotel, downtown LA, $42-$66.

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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