Country, jazz, rock, bluegrass, opera, folk, blues, classical, punk and Philip Glass. All in five days, actually. All of it memorable. And that’s why I live here. (Um, the weather helps, I hate the cold, but it’s the music, yeah, it’s the music.)
LA was crawling with rock and punk bands both local and just-moved-here, from the mid-’60s on, all trying to make it, get played on the radio or at least get a record deal. But they couldn’t even get a club gig unless they were a known commodity and they were not, so five new guys in town in three bands got together to form Radio Free Hollywood in 1976 and to make a cool story shorter it worked, it blew the scene off its wheels and through the mid-’80s Hollywood was hoppin’ with dozens of the best underground clubs you probably never went to, kid, but I did — Club Lingerie first and foremost, the Central, the Music Machine, Coconut Teazer, the Masque, the Zero, the On Club, Cathay de Grande, Wong’s West in SM and Wong’s Chinatown, Club 88, Al’s Bar, Blackie’s, Raji’s, even the Whisky and the Starwood started booking different, new acts and everyone was getting signed, getting kinda famous but not getting very rich, which for most was never the goal anyway.
From ‘81 through the Olympics of 1984 I handled all the LA Weekly ads for all the clubs in LA, often working seven days, sometimes 8 a.m. through 4 a.m. My clients, the owners and bookers, were mostly insane. Some criminally insane. But that’s a tale for another NOTEWORTHY column. Or maybe a book. Screenplay?
TONIGHT! & Sun – SATYAGRAHA by PHILIP GLASS featuring Sean Panikkar – LA OPERA (Sanskrit for “truth force,” this may be exactly what we all need right now, the finale of the Glass trilogy of operas about personalities who changed the world with the force of their ideas, this based on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, where he developed his ideas about non-violent resistance, the opera being described as “a powerful meditation on the lasting effects of human goodness,” it has gotten rave reviews worldwide), Thurs 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, downtown LA, $21-$300.
LELAND SKLAR (sure you know him, how can you forget that name, that Father Time beard, that bass that’s recorded and toured with just about everyone from his gettin’ famous days with James Taylor through Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen, the Bee Gees, BB King, Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Dolly, Bette, Barbra, Merle, the Doors of Venice, Judith Owen, Derek Smalls, Waddy Wachtel and Jackson Browne of Santa Monica and many more, roughly 2,600 albums so do you think he’s got some stories? — it’s a lecture and performance), Thurs 7:30 p.m., Grammy Museum, downtown LA, $30.
THE TEMPEST – LA PHIL (I almost didn’t see this but… Sibelius! I adore Sibelius! fellow Finn, sensation Susanna Mälkki conducts the music for Shakespeare’s mystic masterpiece about a shipwreck on a magical island, with actors, singers and dancers as only the Old Globe could present them, plus chorus and orchestra), Thurs, Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, downtown LA, $25-$209.
RICK SHEA (always worth catching, he personifies the ethos of music, he is country, California-style, he is folk, he can rock and roll and caress good lyrics and make them sound great whether solo or with a band, you know you can drop into the Cinema Bar every night, very nearby, and have really good odds of hearing some outstanding Americana-type music, and no cover), Fri 9 p.m., the Cinema Bar, Culver City, free.
JOAN BAEZ (it’s Joan Baez… she may not hit the highest notes anymore but… it’s Joan Baez, and she will sing your favorites I’m sure and you will be glad you went), Sat 8 p.m., Royce Hall, UCLA, $39-$119.
THE VERDI CHORUS (“Passione! Opera!” 57 voices strong and we do mean strong, a lifetime of training and practice from every throat for every note, they started at the old Verdi Ristorante de Musica in SM, their Fall 2018 concert here celebrating their 35th year, with “Aida!,” “Don Carlo!,” “Tales of Hoffmann!” and more, but you’ll have to have dinner somewhere else first, this is a church y’all), Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., First United Methodist Church, downtown Santa Monica, $10-$40.
THE RATTLESNAKES, THE STORYTELLERS, 2TON BRIDGE, BLIND HORSE CANYON (look, I can’t keep doing this but sometimes I can’t help myself, looking up bios on performers and playing their videos if I‘m not already familiar with them, do you know how long that takes and it drives my pay down to 25 cent/hr but I’m learning something too and if you see me in a corner yakking music for way too long with a couple of folks and we’ve all got alternating big grins or grimaces it’s because we realize that like mansions and yachts all this accumulated, really fun knowledge and trivia about music won’t be worth a flatworm once we’re laid back in the ground so might as well use it up and enjoy it now, right, but being able to do that on a yacht wouldn’t be so bad either so I’m here to tell you that none of these four bands are going to blow out your chakras numbers four through six but together they should provide a really enjoyable wall of fine folk, bluegrass, Americana and country blues, live and a few feet away, with alcohol at your fingertips and a fine friendly crowd around you, now doesn’t that sound better in some ways than the Foo Fighters or Kanye at the Forum and a lot less hassle and a whole lot less $$?), Sun 7 p.m., the Cinema Bar, Culver City, free.
RADIO FREE HOLLYWOOD FAMILY REUNION with CODE BLUE, ANDY & THE RATTLESNAKES, THE TEXTONES, FUR DIXON, the Gregg Sutton Band, the Last, the Dog, the Model, the Flames, the Furys, the Hollywood Stars, Backstage Pass, Warfield Foxes with former Motels plus members of Wall of Voodoo, the Brats, the Weirdos, the Pop (see above), Sun 6:30 p.m., the Bootleg Theater, Hollywood, $25 (a benefit).
BILLY CHILDS’ Jazz Chamber Ensemble (one of our great pianist-composers, Childs’ new project blends jazz improvisation and rhythms with the classical orchestration of a traditional chamber ensemble, and features music by Paul Simon and Laura Nyro as well as the works of T.S. Eliot, Claude McKay, Walter Benton and others set to music, sounds pretty cool), Sun 7:30 p.m., the Broad Stage, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, $35-$60.
GARY CLARK JR., Bambaata Marley (Oh My Sweet Lord Jah Rasta-fari, now there are Bob GRANDkids coming out of the woodwork, this one is Ziggy’s boy, a good lineage but as a longtime fan I’m showing up for Gary Clark Jr., already playing and gigging at 12 in Austin, he does drop your jaw when you first hear him and brings the blues to every style he plays, simply one of the very best electric guitar players alive), Mon, Tues, Wed, next Thurs 8:30 p.m., the Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, $40.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org